Papua New Guinea is an exotic, beautiful and unspoilt tourist destination boasting with a lively and colourful culture, dating back thousands of years ago. Located in the South East Pacific region, sitting just under the equator and above Australia, PNG is an interesting and adventurous destination offering a variety of tourist activities. With its long coastline of water accompanied by over 600 islands, the country is home to thousands of endemic flora and fauna. Not only is its scenery beautiful but also are the people. Known as a friendly and welcoming destination, everyone will feel at home with the smiling locals. One aspect that makes this country so different than the others is its strongly varied tribal cultures and languages. Papua New Guinea is an exotic location with pristine warm waters, sandy beaches, lush greenery and mountains just waiting to be explored. Whether one wants to relax, go on an adventure, meet local people or all of that combined, Papua New Guinea is the place to go!
Capital: Port Moresby
Important cities: Port Moresby, Lae, Mount Hagen
Territorial boundaries: Papua to the West, Australia to the South, Solomon Islands to the East and the Bismarck Sea to the North
Important waterways: Bismarck Sea, Coral Sea, Gulf of Papua, Fly River, Sepik River
Highest point: Mount Wilhelm
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean
Time zone: AEST +10 hours ahead of Montreal
Climate: Tropical, hot and humid all year long, Average of 28 degrees celsius
Tourist seasons: Peak : May to October, Shoulder: April and November, Low: December to March
Issues: Deforestation, Violence, Corruption, Poverty, Gender Inequality, Cannibalism
NATURE, FLORA AND FAUNA:
Due to its isolation in the South Pacific for millions of years, Papua New Guinea boasts with varied wildlife and plants that are unique to the country.
More than 700 species of birds, 3 000 types of orchids, the world’s largest pigeon (Southern Crowned Pigeon), the world’s largest butterfly (Queen Alexandra Birdwig).
Population: 8 million
Languages: English, Hiri-Motu + 800 ethnic dialects
Political regime: Constitutional Monarchy
Prime Minister: Peter O’Neil
Currency: KINA (PGK) 1CAD $ = 2.21 PGK
Religions: Predominantly Christian (95%) combined with indigenous beliefs and traditions
Main sources of revenue: Palm oil processing, plywood production, mining, timber production and tourism.
The gastronomy in Papua New Guinea is based on indigenous ingredients such as sweet potatoes, bananas, taro roots and saksak, a paste extracted from sago palm trees. The majority of the population lives on a vegetarian and eat very little meat except on special occasions where they treat themselves to chicken and mutton imported from New-Zealand, and beef meatballs served with rice and noodles. Fruits are a staple of the diet with bananas, coconuts, guavas, pineapples and mangoes due to the tropical climate and often accompany most meals. Also, those who live on the coast enjoy fish, crab and crayfish.
It is thought that the first inhabitants of the country were migrants from the Indonesian archipelago and arrived about 50 000 years ago. The arrival of these various waves of migrants had a remarkable effect on cultural development. Different groups developed in virtual isolation due to the extremely rugged and mountainous territory. This resulted in groups developing their own languages and cultures which gives PNG its diverse and colourful culture. The 16th century marked the first European contact with the island when Portuguese explorer Jorge de Meneses encountered the island and named it ‘’Land of The Fuzzy-Haired People’’, translation for ‘’Ilhas Dos Papuas’’. In the 1800’s, European missionaries and traders began to settle on the island mostly along the accessible coastal regions. For several decades, the country was claimed by the Germans, British and Dutch but was divided by Germany to the North and the UK to the south in 1885. Papua New Guinea came under the control of Australia during World War I until independence in 1975.
ACCESSIBILITY , ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:
Main hub: Jackson’s International Airport
Main airlines: Air Niugini and PNG Airlines; Flights departing from Montreal (Air Canada) stop in Vancouver or Hong-Kong before stopping in Papua New Guinea.
Travellers are required to have a passport (valid for 6 months after departure) and a tourist visa.
SAFETY AND HEALTH:
Travellers should exercise a high degree of caution due to high levels of crime, most often involving lethal weapons. Violent crime is a serious problem as law and order remain poor, specifically in the Highlands provinces and in the cities of Lae and Port Moresby. Tourists must exercise a high degree of caution, particularly in commercial, public establishments and tourist areas. Notably, travelling alone increases the possibility of being a victim of robbery or sexual assault. Therefore it is recommended to stay in groups. More so, women should not travel alone and should dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention. Foreigners are targeted for gang rape and sexual assault. Since road conditions are poor and driving can be hazardous, avoid self-driving and leaving personal belongings unattended in vehicles. Tourists are encouraged to register with the High Commission of Australia in Port Moresby in order to receive the latest information on events that could affect one’s safety.
As for health concerns, travellers must be sure that their routine vaccines are up to date but specific disease threatens the health of tourist. However, like in most areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, food and water can potentially carry diseases like cholera and hepatitis A. So remember, boil it, cook it, peel it or leave it!
Day 1: Mount Hagen
Day 2: Sepik River Bassin Region(2 nights)
Day 4: Tari Town
Day 5: Port Moresby
Day 6: Port Douglas (Australia)
Day 7: Great Barrier Reef
Day 8: Free day
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS / POINTS OF INTEREST:
Kokoda trail: A historical and adventurous attraction is the Kokoda Trail, one of the world’s great treks that links the southern and northern coast of Papua New Guinea. This track became famous after playing an important role in World War II where Australian armies fought against the Japanese Imperial Forces along this treacherous stretch of land. The famous route runs from Port Moresby in the South to Owens Corner in the north, previously known as Kokoda Village. Stretching 96km through rugged mountains in the rainforest, Kokoda Trail is to be enjoyed by the fit bushwalker. Tourists trekking this route will encounter unspoilt villages where the Kolari and Orokaiva people will great them with smiles and offer them seasonal fruits and vegetables. This trek is for adventure and cultural tourism.
Goroka show: Held annually, the Goroka Show is an opportunity for tourists to experience customs of over a hundred tribes that populate the Papua New Guinea highlands. During the course of the weekend-long festival, the tribes gather for music, dancing and extraordinary displays of tribal rituals. The staging of the show started back in 1957 when Australian Kiaps from each district built roundhouse typical of their districts. Proudly displaying the cultures of their tribes, the Kiaps brought in singing groups from their area in order to reflect the languages and cultural societies. The Goroka Show is for cultural and classical tourism.
Hagen show: Local entertainers from the modern music scene, along with tribes from all over the Western Highlands Province and the Highlands region, gather in the township of Mount Hagen to put on exciting cultural performances. The traditional dances, songs and rituals rival those of the Goroka Show and arts and crafts are displayed reflecting various cultures.
Mask festival: In many regions of the country, masks are a significant projection of cultural expression. Thus, the Mask Festival was first introduced in 1995 and continues to attract tourists and locals in order to promote the mask culture of East New Britain, New Ireland and other areas of Papua New Guinea. This festival is a five-day extravaganza of cultural dancing, ritual performance, display, story telling and exchange. What’s even more impressive is the spectacular Baining Fire Dance where young men perform dances through blazing fires while chanted by their elders.
Crocodile festival: Held annually, like other festivals in Papua New Guinea, the Crocodile Festival is a three-day celebration highlighting the importance of the crocodile and its cultural significance amongst different Sepik River communities. The Sepik River is one of the largest rivers in the South Pacific region and the largest freshwater and saltwater crocodile populations live. Men and crocodile have a special bond in Sepik culture, as the crocodile symbolizes strength, power and manhood. There are various cultural traditions, beliefs and legends based on this ancient reptile and skin-cutting initiations are an important part of Sepik communities. Men proudly wear the scars that were cut into their skin in order to resemble the back of a crocodile. This festival is held in Ambunti, located in the East Sepik Province.
In a few words, Papua New Guinea is a unique and colourful South Pacific wonderland. Characterized by its exotic and unspoilt nature, breathtaking scenery, old-age history and lively culture, the country is a destination for all types of tourism. There are endless opportunities to learn about local tribes and their traditions as it is home to hundreds of different tribal communities. It is a green and mountainous paradise surrounded by clear blue waters and sandy beaches providing tourists with a mix of adventures. PNG is one of the world’s last great frontiers and remains mostly untouched by mass tourism. Its preservation is important which makes it a great eco-tourism destination. Two thirds of the country’s flora and fauna are endemic, which is only one aspect that makes PNG so exclusive. Diverse, colourful and extreme, Papua New Guinea is an island nation like no other. A trip to this exotic destination is not just memorable and heart stirring; it is a trip of a lifetime!