October 16, 2014

Floating on the Sepik

(or the white man came and it was a mixed blessing.)

The morning started with a beautiful sunrise and breakfast on the ship. We got back into our lawn chairs on the canoe and headed down the river. This time, in addition to umbrellas, they gave us straw fans to help keep cool. Today’s plan was to visit two villages along the Chambri Lakes and Blackwater Lakes area. These are a series of swamps and canals that are filled by the flooding of the Sepik River. The villages along these shores see few tourists and were once headhunters, but no more.

We were again treated to the site of the egrets flying and landing, men and women fishing from their canoes, or cleaning their fish on their canoes, and all sorts of other birds such as kites, gliding overhead. The water again was so still and the sun was low on the horizon, just beginning to rise, and the clouds and sugarcane reflected in the water just like a mirror. And there were birds everywhere The Chambri Lakes are a fantastic wildlife reserve (a real birders paradise). Although we were gliding quietly, it still disturbed the birds and each time as we passed, the birds would soar into the sky. The birds were in all shapes and sizes, black, brown, royal blue and red, with many white long-necked herons (egrets), cormorants, terns, and other brightly colored tiny birds. We passed one tree that was covered in white – like cotton balls. Those were the terns and as we glided by they all scattered into the sky covering the sky with the fluttering white wings.

To read more about floating on the Sepik, about spirit houses and about the initiation rites common here, and to see my pictures, please click on these links:

PNG day 5a Oct 16

PNG day 5b Oct 16

PNG day 5c Oct 16