If you’re eager to ditch the crowds and travel to a remote place full of adventure, Papua New Guinea is calling.
There is no other place like it Papua New Guinea. With staggering mountain ranges, bubbling volcanoes, talcum-white beaches sheltered by rainforest and hundreds of tribes, languages and cultures, it’s fair to say that this island nation is one of the most unique places on earth.
Here are eight reasons why PNG should be your next destination, from world-famous hikes to fervent festivals.
1. Conquer the Kokoda Range
Guaranteed to test your mind, body and soul, the 96 kilometer Kokoda Track is more of a pilgrimage than a hike. The trail weaves through some seriously breathtaking scenery and it’s hard to believe it was the site of one of the bloodiest WWII battles for Australian troops.
As you tackle steep mountain ridges, hike through steamy jungles and listen to stories of incredible bravery, you can’t help but feel a deep reverence for the soldiers who fought and lost their lives here. It’s no small feat, but with lush rivers to cool off, friendly locals ready to welcome you into their villages and a personal porter and trekking leader to support you, every drop of sweat is worth it.
2. Feel the heat at the Baining Firedance Festival
You may have been to a cultural festival or two, but we bet they didn’t leave you with your jaw close to the floor. The Baining Fire Dance Festival is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. The Baining people hold fire dancing ceremonies to mark special occasions such as birth, death, marriage and the coming of age of young men. Watch in awe as villagers add bundles of firewood to a roaring fire, while masked men dance over the flames to the hypnotic rhythm of drums and chants.
3. Find wildlife at Port Moresby Nature Park
You’d never know you were in PNG’s bustling capital when you walk around this blissful nature park. Follow the path under tree canopies, explore gardens with tropical plants and meet some of the native wildlife residents including noisy fruit bats, tree kangaroos, cassowaries and birds of paradise.
4. Swim with spinner dolphins
Who needs a morning coffee when you can wake up and swim with East New Britain’s resident spinner dolphins? Take it for an adrenaline rush. These guys can jump and spin up to three meters above the water, hence the name. A few hundred show up every morning to ride the bow of the boat and play in the waves. Watch from the deck or jump in to get closer to these curious creatures.
5. Snorkel at the Duke of York Islands
Strap on your flippers, strap on your snorkel and jump into the crystal clear waters of the Duke of York Islands. These islands offer some of the best opportunities to explore PNG’s vibrant marine life, with coral reefs and schools of tropical fish in all the colors of the rainbow. If you are lucky, you may see playful pods of dolphins or dugongs.
6. Stay with a local family
PNG is home to hundreds of tribes – each with their own languages, cultures and customs – and many communities have maintained their traditional ways of life with little interference from the outside world. Learn about rural village life and experience local hospitality at a homestay. From eating home-cooked meals to being involved in a sing-sing (traditional gathering), staying with a family is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a new culture.
7. Experience island life on Matupit
It is a miracle that the small island of Matupit is still standing. Matupit was almost untouched by the eruption of the Tavurvur volcano in 1994, although it destroyed most of Rabaul – a town located just across the bay. Home to just a few hundred people, this laid-back island is a great place to pick up locally made crafts, enjoy fresh seafood or mingle with the locals. You might also be interested in seeing how the islanders collect megapode eggs (hint: it’s not in a hen house).
8. Visit Bomana War Cemetery
Thousands of soldiers lost their lives in PNG during the Second World War and the Bomana War Cemetery is where they were laid to rest. Set in beautiful grounds, it’s a sober but peaceful place worth a visit if you want to honor the brave soldiers who fought and died here.
Experience festivals, wildlife, tribal cultures and more in one small group adventure in Papua New Guinea.