Roam with Intrepid in Papua New Guinea

Intrepid has always promoted positive and meaningful exchanges between travellers and the local places and people they visit. With a focus on respecting different cultures and respecting local religions, religious places and rituals, Intrepid have continued this philosophy into Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea was a destination that ranked on the second annual Intrepid Adventure Travel Index for undertourism. The report ranked destinations with the lowest tourism density ratio, by comparing the number of tourists to locals in each destination using 2018 figures. Papua New Guinea’s Tourism Density Ratio is 2.75 percent.

“As concerns with the impact of overtourism grow, we believe the concept of undertourism will become more relevant. Particularly as responsible travellers opt to spend their dollars wisely in economies where their holiday can provide positive benefits to the communities they visit,” the report states.

Image: Kate Webster

The Papua New Guinea Firedance Festival tour is the third tour offered by Intrepid in Papua New Guinea, adding to the Kokoda Trek and National Mask Festival. However, with very limited departures per year, this is a niche trip with small group numbers. It’s perfect for those interested in tribal cultures, war history, village life or volcanic landscapes – or who simply love to take the path less travelled.

The actual Firedance Festival, based in East New Britain province in the islands of Papua New Guinea, is held across two days as local villagers invite you into their communities and perform traditional dancing rituals.

Image: Kate Webster

Papua New Guinea has an abundance of unique cultures and subcultures and the Firedance Festival gives an insight into how culturally diverse the region is. There are over 50 masked performances and each one is as unique as the other. You will also get an insight on how kind, welcoming and friendly the Papua New Guinean people are as they show their colours through the cultural celebrations.

Giving further insight into each individual cultural performance is thanks to the research of a man called Dr Jacob Simet, who has translated the narrative of each individual cultural group so that you can see, hear, feel and understand each performance at the festival.

Image – Kate Webster

This event is a community driven initiative with over 1200 performers in attendance and many more help prepare for the event. Bringing tourists to the festival consistently will allow for many people from rural communities to benefit. Unlike other events in Papua New Guinea where the show ground is within town, this event brings tourism directly into the villages. So, when you purchase goods and items your tourism dollar goes directly into the villages.

Along with this festival, travellers will discover the wild beauty of the Duke of York Islands, learn of the fascinating military history of East New Britain, encounter resident spinner dolphins, and let local island life delight your senses.

Image – Kate Webster

Working with Intrepid on the ground operations is South Sea Horizons. General Manager Alan Manning said, “Intrepid Travel are a great fit for us here in Papua New Guinea as there are some good synergies between our companies.”

“They don’t compromise on Responsible Tourism practices and we like that about Intrepid Travel. They attract tourists who are respectful, well-travelled and adventurous which we find get the best out of Papua New Guinea as a destination.”

Born and raised in Papua New Guinea, Alan Manning said in Papua New Guinea there is an abundance of unique cultures and East New Britain province is no exception to this.

“But what makes this Firedance Festival unique is it has over 50 different masked tribes or clans and each one is as unique as the other.”

Since their first days as a tour operator, responsible business has been at the heart of what Intrepid do. Intrepid is committed not just to treading lightly, but to making a real difference – by investing in local communities, human rights initiatives, wildlife conservation projects and the environment.

The company is all about operating in a responsible manner and incorporating principles of sustainable tourism and development into the way they provide travellers with real life experiences. These values are more than just words; they’re ingrained in the culture and daily operations of every Intrepid office and trip.

Intrepid Destination Manager – Australia & Oceania, Yolli Rado said “we’re passionate about responsible travel (Intrepid became a BCorp in 2018) and we believe travel should have a positive impact on the places we visit. Intrepid’s Papua New Guinea trips are all locally operated, which means they contribute to local employment opportunities and support the local economy.”

“As part of the Firedance Festival experience, travellers not only watch and learn about the dances, they also have the chance to meet and talk with local people taking part and get really immersed in the action. To ensure the Fire Dance Festival continues to be a sustainable celebration for local people, and is not overcome with international visitors, there will be a limit imposed on tourist numbers each year – a move which we support.” 

To find out more about the Papua New Guinea Firedance Festival with Intrepid, visit

Kate Webster is a world traveller, ocean lover and conservation warrior who is determined to make every moment count for not only herself but the world around her. This has inspired Kate to translate those moments and share them through her storytelling. A dedicated David Attenborough and Jane Goodall fan, Kate has delved into the world of wildlife and conservation travel to bring awareness.