Vanimo – Ambunti, Sepik River (PNG 2012)


In August 2012 I crossed from West Papua to Papua New Guinea, planning to stay a few days in Vanimo, a small border town, to renew the Indonesian visa. The process took only one day, so, why not, I left east for a short trip, just to have a sight of Sepik River.

I arrived in Pagwi, on the Sepik bank, where I looked for a boat to go downstream, back to the coast. But the first canoe which stopped was heading upstream. I hopped in and ended up on a two-month journey along Sepik River.

My first stop was in Ambunti, an administrative center, on Middle Sepik. There, under a religious–public administration, a few ethnic groups divided into clans, live together. On Sepik, most of the public administration, education and other services are run by Catholic and Protestant missions.

In Ambunti I met a few “savvy men” from the Kwoma clans, who took me to the world of Sepik people. I met tribal artists and art, tangled up in a net of taboos and superstitions, I saw churches with spirits-houses like make-up (or vice versa?). I watched a trial held by a village court, applying customary laws. (After the trial, I even had my share of the compensation received by “my family”). And I listened to stories from the local mythology told by the “savvy men”.

I post here photos I took in Ambunti.

2 Replies to “Vanimo – Ambunti, Sepik River (PNG 2012)”

  1. dragos dubina Post author

    Hi Tommy,
    I’m glad if you find interesting my photos from Sepik. I wasn’t that active on my blog last years, but I kept going to Sepik. Last year I returned to the communities from Ama Mountain, where many things changed in between. (I started to post something on Instagram)
    Now I’m looking to apply for a research grant, or a ma-phd program, based on the data I collected so for along Sepik River. I’m interested to know more about your research project on Sepik.
    I’d be happy to provide more info about Middle and Upper Sepik and Maprik area, where I spent 6 months, mingling with the locals, recording stories and taking part to communities events. At the beginning of August (2018) I plan to go again to Sepik, for 60 days., FB: Dragos Dubina, Instagram @dragosdubina

  2. Tommy

    Hi Dragos,

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos and writeup. I am a doctoral student seeking to visit groups in the Ama mountain region and yours is one of the few accounts I have come across of a recent visit to the area. If you’d be willing to share any more details of your trip, or advice on how best to reach the area, I’d appreciate hearing it. Thanks very much.

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