One of the world’s last great travel frontiers, Papua New Guinea offers pristine rainforests teeming with undiscovered wildlife, exotic tribal cultures and fascinating histories, fantastic diving, sparkling beaches, smoldering volcanoes, and remote mountains… an incredible array of delights for the adventurous traveller.
In the capital of Port Moresby, see the Botanical Gardens, the mosaic facade of Parliament Haus, and the collections of the National Museum. Ride a boat to Loloata Island, and experience the monthly craft markets and the Hiri Moale Festival on Ela Beach. Follow in the footsteps of history along the Kokoda Track, and spot birds of paradise in the D'entrecasteaux Islands. Experience unique cricket matches on the Trobriand Islands, stunning coastlines along Tufi, and beautiful marine life at Tawali and Alotau.
Dive into the wrecks among the reefs of Madang, spot leatherback turtles at Kamiali, hike the Black Cat Trail, and watch the dancers and drummers of the Morobe Show. Explore the War Cemetery at Lae, and the bizarre smoked bodies of remote Menyamya. See the mud-covered warriors of Asaro, the fantastically costumed performers of the Goroka Show, and the spectacular wigs of Huli tribesmen in Tari. Go birdwatching in the Tari Basin, explore sleepy villages around Lake Kutubu and ascend Mt Wilhelm, the highest peak in the country.
Take a canoe trip down Sepik River, and visit the woodcarvers of Tambanum and the spirit houses of Palambei. Laze and surf at the towns of Vanimo and Wewak, and the beautiful islands of Muschu and Kairiru. Explore the frontier in remote Bougainville, dive in Kavieng and Kimbe Bay, ascend the extinct volcano of Kombiu, and relax at the charming town of Kokopo and the islands off Lavongai.
Air travel is probably the only way to cover long distances, though services can be irregular due to weather conditions, unpredictable reservation systems and flight cancellations, so make allowance for delays when planning your travels.
Otherwise, travel, especially in rural areas, is by PMV (passenger motor vehicle). This is a catch-all term that includes buses, trucks or even motorboats, depending on what's available. Self-driving is only really possible along the Highlands Highway, but do be aware that robberies or tribal warfare sometimes occur.
Within towns, your best bets are taxis. However, they rarely use meters, and practice a foreigner-local double standard of pricing. Do check with a local how much a trip should cost, and negotiate from there.
With over 850 indigenous languages, Papua New Guinea has the greatest language diversity in the world. Also, it has almost as many different tribes, out of a population of only 6 million! But don’t worry - English is the common language of education and tourism. Whew!
The World Heritage Site of the Kuk Swamp, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, may have been home to some of the world’s first farmers. Evidence for the planting and tending of food crops dates back to almost ten thousand years ago. The earliest crops? Taro, yam and banana.
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