Introducing The Sepik
The mighty Sepik is one of the great rivers of the world, in serpentine fashion it flows for 1126km through a largely undisturbed environment of swamplands, tropical rainforests and mountains. However, the Sepik is more than just a river – it’s also a densely populated repository of complex cultures, dying languages and the most potent art in the Pacific.
As you motor around one of the endless river bends, the scale of the river, the towering façades of the haus tambarans (spirit houses), the splash of a crocodile as it slithers into the water, the bird life, the eerie lagoons and the beautiful stilt villages make it all too easy to believe that you’ve travelled clean out of the 21st century and straight into an adventure.
Despite the erosion of some cultural values and the trappings of Western influence, life continues in much the same way as it has for centuries. Local populations are clustered into different language groups and clans. There are still virtually no roads in the region and the river still carries all the traffic – from naked children poling dugout canoes to sunburnt tourists in their luxurious yachts.
The Sepik region also takes in the sleepy provincial capitals of Wewak and Vanimo, two beachside towns that boast vast stretches of white sand, excellent diving and seasonal surf. Untouched coastal islands such as that of Muschu off the coast of Wewak are only now seeing a trickle of tourists.