Crocodile festival at the Sepik River

The tribes of upper Sepic gather in this feast wearing traditional costumes and participating in frenzied dances. Feathers of various birds like the mighty Cassowary or the emblematic bird of paradise, shells, grass skirts, teeth of crocodiles and warthogs, bows and spears and of course full body painting are just a few elements of these traditional costumes. The decoration is completed with live baby crocodiles, hanging on men, women and children.
Photography / Text: Alexandros Tsoutis

The annual Crocodile festival takes place in Ambunti, a small settlement upon the shores of river Sepik, which unfolds like a snake for 1000km in Papua New Guinea.

The tribes of upper Sepic gather in this feast wearing traditional costumes and participating in frenzied dances. Feathers of various birds like the mighty Cassowary or the emblematic bird of paradise, shells, grass skirts, teeth of crocodiles and warthogs, bows and spears and of course full body painting are just a few elements of these traditional costumes. The decoration is completed with live baby crocodiles, hanging on men, women and children. 

Chewing betel nut is a widespread tradition and an unhealthy habit all over Papua New Guinea. Betel nut is consumed by a mixture of three components, chewed simultaneously. An acrea nut, a twig of the betel plant dipped in white powder made from limestone and powdered shells. Apart from its direct stimulatory effect, it causes profuse salivation, tinting the user's mouth bright red and triggering the need of spitting .

Chewing betel nut is a widespread tradition and an unhealthy habit all over Papua New Guinea. Betelnut is consumed by a mixture of three components, chewed simultaneously.

The crocodile festival of Ambunti is not a commercialized touristic event, mostly due to the remoteness of the location and the absence of infrastructure and accommodation. Though, a small cruise ship appeared on the second day, bringing some few tourists.

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Location

Crocodile festival at the Sepik River

Ambunti Ambunti-Dreikikir
East Sepik Province, Momase Region, Papua New Guinea