Sepik River guesthouse
It isn’t easy getting to Jerry Gonjuan’s threeroom guesthouse, in the remote town of Ambunti, on the banks of the Sepik River.
First, there’s a four-hour bus ride from Wewak to Pagwi, then a two-hour boat journey up river, followed by a three-kilometre walk.
The Wombun guesthouse sits among palm trees and neatly kept lawns. It has a living room and three bedrooms (PGK100 a night per room). Each room is furnished with the basics – such as beds with mosquito nets, fans, table and chairs – and there is running water and a diesel generator for power.
Meals are cooked by Gonjuan’s wife, Regina, and include sweet potatoes, yams and other garden foods, as well as freshly caught fish and fruit.
Gonjuan conducts motorised canoe visits, for up to five people, to villages along the Sepik River. The canoes have woven-cane chairs, bringing a degree of luxury to the river journey. But you’ll need a big sun hat for protection from the tropical sun.
Villages that are visited include Yamanumbu, Korogu, Palimbe (stopover village), Yenchen, Kanganamun, Kamanimbit (stopover village), and Aibam and Chambri, in the Chambri Lake area (stopover village).
Kanganamun has one of the oldest spirit houses along the Sepik River. It was built in the pre-World War 2 days and is three storeys. Among the interesting features is the carving of a naked woman sitting at the front of the haus
tambaran (a spirit house for sacred rituals). In Aibam, villagers have unique, traditionally styled clay pots that are available for sale, there’s a crocodile farm at Yamanumbu, and in Kamanimbit you can see sago making. Most villages have haus tambarans and haus
bois (a house used for sacred male rituals with total female exclusion) that you can visit. Some villages showcase their tumbuna (traditional) dances, carvings and other art.
Other activities include hiking into lowlying hills to see birdlife, including the bird of paradise, and going on a crocodile hunt with Wagu villagers.
The guesthouses are primarily made of traditional materials, but have electricity from generators and water tanks for guest use.
The region’s main attraction is the annual Sepik River Crocodile Festival at Ambunti, to be staged this year on August 5–7. (Gonjuan will take visitors to the festival.)
His motorised canoe trips start from PGK3415 for one day. The cost includes accommodation in guesthouses at stopover villages, meals and hired help, such as escorts and drivers. Extra costs are payable to see dances and take photos.
To contact Jerry Gonjuan, phone +675 71431905 / +675 75433200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerry Gonjuan ... offers motorised boat tours of the Sepik River.
Souvenir hunters … tourists buying local handicrafts along the Sepik River.
Wombun guesthouse ... four hours by bus, two hours by boat and a three- kilometre walk.