Postcard From Our Traveler: The Power of a Tour Leader

I have no doubt you have heard this many times before, but we wanted to share our enthusiasm about our Tour Leader, Suzanne Noakes! We were greeted at the airport like this was her first group tour! She focused in on each individual’s special interests, was always available for extra bird walks, always had a sense of humor and always kept us fully informed about up-coming activities and all the extras that were added. She was a natural for special touches for special needs—she would say to the local guides, “SPEAK LOUDER, I am hard of hearing!” when in reality, it was my husband Bob who was hard of hearing.

She went out of her way to ensure the safety of all group members, especially on the walks on slippery mud paths—she was always right there to assist. She always made sure to do a personal re-introduction to the chief villagers, before we intruded on their territory, and it was obvious they loved her greetings. And, very best of all, she never rushed us out of any village visit. She gave us plenty of time to explore on our own. We felt the itinerary was an ideal mixture of destinations and cultures and to end up in Tufi was spectacular. We are so glad to have had the extra days—the snorkeling was awesome!

One of Suzanne’s comments really stuck with us. When a bridge was destroyed on our way to the airport in Mt. Hagen, in no time at all, she had a Plan B. We knew we were in good hands when she said “leave the worrying and stress to me—thats what you are paying for!” LOL! Suzanne made the trip exceed our expectations! Thanks so much for this adventure of a lifetime!

– Sue and Bob

Suzanne & the Huli

Sue and Bob embarked on our Small Group Tour Papua New Guinea: Island in the Clouds – Tumbuna
 with a Custom Extension to Tufi to relax and explore the beautiful coastal environment. Asia Travel Specialist, Tom Lastick, planned their itinerary. This was their first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

Photography Tips for Your Trip

 Michele WestmorlandWant to take that perfect photo on your next trip? Renowned photographer Michele Westmorland shares her tips for capturing those memorable images.

1.  Ask permission when photographing people.

Respect will get you a long way when photographing people in foreign lands. Engaging a person and getting their approval is the cornerstone of cultural photography. Of course, with large crowds, that is not always possible, but when singling one person out,  just ask or move on.

2.  Pack light and review equipment needs.

Review all your equipment needs and make a list. Not only will this ensure you don’t forget any important gadgets but it will also help you to be selective and abide by airline weight restrictions.

3.  Lenses

I tend to select my lenses based on weight and needs. A wide-angle zoom lens such as a Canon 16-35 will provide the capability of photographing landscapes and large groups of people. A medium zoom, such as a 24–70mm, will give you nice portrait photos or detail shots. Then to finish, a telephoto zoom will provide the best results for wildlife, such as birds.

4.   Details

It’s easy to just focus on capturing the “big picture” but don’t forget to get the details. When taking portraits, focusing on interesting elements such as the hands, an interesting piece of clothing or jewelry or a musical instrument being played.

5.    Circular Polarizer

I never leave home without mine. A polarizer allows those rich forest images or puffy clouds to really pop.

6.   Back-Up Those Images

Don’t rely on just your laptop or viewing device—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about people losing their precious images from device failure. Small portable drives are inexpensive and can give you peace of mind that you will get all of your images home safely.

7.  Why RAW 

If your camera has the ability to shoot in RAW format—use it! RAW format this is like having a negative of your image—it allows you to post-process the images the way you saw the scene through the lens. JPEGs take up less space but they compress the image, limiting your post-processing options.

8.   Know Your Camera

Make sure you understand your camera. I am always happy to help sort out cameras but with so many cameras on the market it’s impossible to know the details of all of them. If you do not know the ins and outs of your camera, bring or download the manual—it will come in handy.

Experience Papua New Guinea with Michele this June on our “Through The Lens” small group trip. Michele Westmorland, a veteran of dozens of trips to Papua New Guinea with deep local connections, will facilitate wonderful cultural interactions and provide expert technical advice.This is travel as artistic endeavor, a deep immersion in the sound, shape and color of the world’s most kaleidoscopic land.

Postcard from Our Traveler: Papua New Guinea! On my Short List of 1,000 Places

Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, recounts her experience with travel to Papua New Guinea on an Asia Transpacific Journeys group trip:

A belated e-note to wax on about our August trip to PNG  — to say it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience is a gross  understatement!  The list of superlatives is long – from the local  people, to those who comprised our group (all of whom had glowing things to say about Jarrod and Asia Transpacific Journeys btw — am cc’ing Jarrod on this so he  can bask in the praise, though I imagine he hears it often!) to our  leader Suzanne who everyone agreed was possibly the nicest and brightest  and funnest guide we’d ever come across – and that was one very well-traveled group of people (and one of the joys of the trip for that  reason).

The trip was especially wonderful to me, as I had  proofread my last chapter for the 1000 Places revision on the plane from  NY to Sydney — and for the first time in 4 years, I was able to  truly feel liberated and free to immerse myself entirely in the adventure  without any stress and deadline concerns. Now THAT was priceless!

So the revision (a complete rewrite) and gorgeous app for 1000 Places are out Nov 15 – just in time for Christmas!! :)

Big Book Tour Jan-March.

Many many (many!) thanks again for everything.

Warm regards,

Patricia Schultz
New York, NY


Patricia Schultz is the author of, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. This was her second trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys, and we look forward to helping her explore many more of the destinations on her list.

See Another Side of Papua New Guinea

Asia Transpacific Journeys offers once-in-a-lifetime tours to Papua New Guinea, taking travelers to remote tribal villages, sing-sing celebrations and wildlife explorations. Although there is much to discover on land, travel to Papua New Guinea and you’ll find a wealth of incredible uninhabited islands some of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world.

On True North’s Adventures in Paradise cruises, travelers are able to relax on a series of isolated deserted islands, such as the Lusancay Islands, that are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and fishing. Travelers also have the opportunity to embark on thrilling helicopter flights to the Isurava Memorial on the Kokoda Track and then discover the wrecks of WWII ships, planes and submarines while snorkeling in the shallow waters of Kavieng.

The True North’s Adventures in Paradise cruise is a wonderful add-on to any of Asia Transpacific Journeys’ Small Group Trips to Papua New Guinea. For a traveler who wants to experience the land, the people and the sea of Papua New Guinea, there really is no better way to go.


Learn more about Asia Transpacific Journeys‘ trips to Papua New Guinea and True North cruises by speaking to a Papua New Guinea Travel Specialist at 800-642-2742.

A Staff Postcard from the Field: Travel to Papua New Guinea

I Am Wontok

Papua New Guinea travel notes from Kirsten Louy-Nasty, Operations Manager at Asia Transpacific Journeys

Papua New Guinea Travel

My Trip to Papua New Guinea

Twenty-two years ago, when I was in college, I was fortunate enough to travel Papua New Guinea to visit my parents who were living there, working on various developmental projects. They lived in Port Moresby for over 3 years; I was able to visit them twice.

I’ll never forget my first night when I peered out my bedroom window and saw a man—who I was later to find out was our security guard—creeping through the backyard with his bow and arrow, barefoot. This was Papua New Guinea….However, the reason I was there was to be with my parents, to be “home,” because home was anywhere they were at the time. While we did do some exploring ourselves such as river rafting, accessing some remote tribal communities in the highlands, visiting small villages outside of Madang and testing our will for the taste of beetle nut, I was really there to be with family, to touch base, to go to the market with my mom, to celebrate being together and to reconnect. Papua New Guinea, in essence, became a home for me, because that is where my family was.

Twenty-two years later fate played its hand and I was presented with another opportunity to travel back to Papua New Guinea for business. I was invited by Papua New Guinea Tourism and Myriad Marketing to represent my company, Asia Transpacific Journeys (ATJ), to explore the lodges, the itinerary possibilities, observe a very local sing-sing (celebration or festival), travel by boat on the Karawari River and to meet our ground staff and reconnect with our tour leader. All in an effort to bring updated travel information and knowledge about travel in Papua New Guinea back to our team in Boulder, Colorado.

As the chosen representative of my “tribe” I took the opportunity with open arms. I vowed to bring back vital information, what was happening, how have things changed and what remains the same.

As soon as we flew in to Port Moresby and glimpsed the landscape, the famed bird of paradise logo on the black and red flag, I knew I was home. I came home to the level of comfort offered by the lodges amidst tribal structures and guarded negotiations for bride price. I came home to the raw sense of people living their lives still somehow untouched by forces that fill our stress levels here in North America. I came home feeling at ease with a ‘community’ I somehow already knew. I came home to the smoky earthy smell of villages and people. I came home to the muddy thick earth beneath my feet. I knew the smell of hot fresh coffee from the plantation down the road each morning and I knew the feeling when I shook hands with the people greeting me and welcoming me to their village.  I knew by the smiles of those that I came in to contact with that we should be there, we should be observing and experiencing one of the most amazing still very tribal destinations on earth. I knew the value of a pig, a woman and of land (sometimes in that order) and how these three key elements play a vital role in the survival of its people, even today. And finally, I knew the meaning of “First Contact” and how the bulus, or airplane, has played a role in this rich and rugged landscape and still does today, delivering food, supplies, medical inventory, parts to machinery and the wonderful local beer.

Papua New Guinea remains the land of the unexpected and is a true mind-boggling adventure. Even after having been there some years ago, I am in awe of what I observed. Some things have changed but in a sense nothing has changed at all. I was saying goodbye to one of our business associates, who is from Papua New Guinea, the night before flying to Brisbane to begin my long journey home. She looked at me and said, “you are wantok” which means “one talk”— someone who speaks my language, part of my tribe, my relative.

I am wantok…and when we travel, we are all wantok too. We do become part of a global community, a force that is bigger than just you and I. We become part of a family of understanding, a family that crosses borders and offers forgiveness. I am wantok and every time you choose to cross time zones and borders or reach out to others and call a place home, even if temporarily, you are wantok too.

Contact us at 1-800-642-2742 or for information on joining one of our signature Papua New Guinea tours to visit this amazing area.