It has been nearly 7 months since I landed back on British shores from my once in a lifetime trip to Papua New Guinea with my dad. The more I look back on our experiences, the more I realise that PNG is like no other place on Earth.

Parts of Papua New Guinea are completely unspoilt and unexplored, and it’s baffling to me how travellers can fly over one of the most unique countries on the planet without visiting and exploring. Australians skip it for Indonesia, and we Brits head straight for Australia.

Wandering around Papua New Guinea is like wandering around a country that hasn’t discovered civilisation. The vibrant colours, the tribal traditions, the tropical birds, the complex cultures, the diet variations…Papua New Guinea is the land where time stands still. And you will LOVE it.

So, as if you needed any more inspiration, here are 22 reasons Papua New Guinea should be on your bucket list for 2016 and beyond.

1. HIKE AROUND ACTIVE VOLCANOES

The Manam volcano erupted in July 2015 and spewed an ash cloud 12-miles high. There is also a active volcano in Rabaul, which recorded the world’s largest eruption in 2006. Why not take a hike around an active volcano in Papua New Guinea?

THE SPECTACULAR RABAUL VOLCANO, EAST NEW BRITAIN
Photo source: David Kirkland

 

2. SEE WORLD WAR II AIRCRAFT IN THEIR FINAL RESTING POSITIONS

 

World War II jungle plane wreck - Papua New Guinea

 

This was one of the highlights of my trip. A World War II plane, surrounded by jungle, only affected by the surrounding nature and weather.

3. IT HAS SOME OF THE BEST DIVING IN THE WORLD

 

Colourful diving in Papua New Guinea
Photo source: Framepool.com

Papua New Guinea is one of the best dive locations in the world. Exotic, unexplored waters are filled with coral, tropical fish, and littered with old World War II plane wrecks. Dive at Kimbe Bay, Tufi, Madang and Kavieng.

4. TRIBAL TRADITIONS

One thing that struck me as a travelled around was that traditions, dress, language and ways of life vary from tribe to tribe. From the island tribe to the East and West Highland provinces, you’ll be amazed by the diversity.

A spirit dance in Hela Province, Tari, Papua New Guinea

 

5. OUTRIGGER TRAVEL

As part of our village stay in Tufi, we had to choose one of five villages. Each one was only accessible by boat or outrigger. Effectively, we stayed in one of the most remote locations in Papua New Guinea.

Canoeing through the mangroves near Tufi, Papua New Guinea

 

6. OVER 630 DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

Papua New Guinea has what is probably the highest language density on the planet, with 830 languages in a land area of 462,840 sq. km. You’ll learn some words in one language in a village in Mount Hagen, and be completely baffled by another in Tari.

 

7. QUENCH YOUR HIKING THIRST ON THE KOKODA TRAIL

 

A river crossing on the Kokoda trail, Papua New Guinea
Photo source: Malum Nalu

The Kokoda Trail is one of the most challenging and rewarding hikes in the world. Over 7 – 10 days, you will encounter river crossings, steep and gradual ascends and descends, lush rainforest, incredible views and diverse wildlife. The 96 kilometre trek was made famous during World War II and still bares the scares of fighting between the Allies and the Japanese.

8. IT HAS A RICH WORLD WAR II HISTORY

Mentioned above several times, Rabaul was a key base for the Japanese during World War II so the area is filled with old base buildings, plane wrecks, ammunition and a lot of other history.

9. THE INCREDIBLE, VIBRANT COLOURS

From the birds of paradise to the tribal face paint, Papua New Guinea is by far the most colourful country I’ve ever visited. Perhaps only India could rival its vibrancy.

A young Tufi girl in Papua New Guinea
Photo source: David Kirkland

 

10. THE BIRDS OF PARADISE

Papua New Guinea really is a bird watchers paradise. There are types of birds here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Birds of Paradise in Papua New Guinea
Photo source: David Kirkland

 

11. CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS

Parts of the ocean around Madang, Tufi and many of the Island provinces are brilliantly clear, especially around the coral reefs. It makes for great photography!

Clear waters near Tufi, Papua New Guinea

12. THE CLIMATE

There is no summer, spring or winter in Papua New Guinea. There is only a rainy season or a dry season. Find out more in my previous blog post here.

13. YOU CAN STAY WITH A LOCAL VILLAGE TRIBE

 

Simon Heyes with a village tribe near Tufi, Papua New Guinea

Lonely Planet announced this was one of their top travel experiences for 2015. This is the best way to get under the skin of the real, rugged, raw Papua New Guinea.

14. GREAT SURFING

 

Papua New Guinea Women Surfers with surfboards
Photo source: Radio Australia

You probably wouldn’t associate Papua New Guinea with surfing, but the waves at Vanimo, Kavieng and Madang have proved incredibly popular. In fact Vanimo attracts surfers from as far as Japan and the USA. Vanimo Surf Lodge is one of four surf camps now operating across PNG. For those looking for elusive, uncrowded waves, Papua New Guinea is the perfect place.

15. NONE OF YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY OR COLLEAGUES WILL HAVE BEEN THERE

I only know one other person that has been to Papua New Guinea, and she is a travel blogger too. Other than Nelly, I don’t know of anyone else that has visited. Be exclusive. Be different!

16. BECOME COMPLETELY DISCONNECTED

I won’t lie, WiFi is a luxury in Papua New Guinea. But you know what? That’s what makes it even more alluring and endearing. Papua New Guinea is meant to be cut off from civilisation. The more you switch off and disconnect, the more you’ll immerse yourself.

17. VISIT THE MOUNT HAGEN SHOW

 

Picture taken at the Mount Hagen Show - Papua New Guinea
Photo source: David Kirkland

Most of the pictures you will see of Papua New Guinea in national newspapers will be taken at the Mount Hagen Show. Taking place in August each year, the Mount Hagen Show brings together tribal groups and sing-sings from all over the country.

 

18. THE VIEWS FROM RONDON RIDGE

 

The view from Rondon Ridge, Mount Hagen - Papua New Guinea

Enough said.

19. THE VIEWS FROM AMBUA LODGE

 

The view from Ambua Lodge, Tari - Papua New Guinea

The views are good from anywhere up high in fairness.

20. YOU CAN MEET A WITCHDOCTOR

 

Witchdoctor around a fire - Papua New Guinea

You really can. He’s not guaranteed to cure your ailments though.

21. YOU CAN BE A SPIRIT, RISEN FROM THE DEAD

 

The mudmen story reenacted - Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea

Most of the Papua New Guinea population is dark skinned, so if you’re white, be prepared to be stared and pointed at. Children in the street will yell ‘White man! White man!’, and more remote tribes have never seen a Westerner, so your light skin makes them believe you could only be a spirit, risen from the dead. Check out this story of the mudmen.

22. THE VIEWS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA FROM THE AIR

In order to get around Papua New Guinea, you’ll need to travel by air. A lot. The good news is that the best views are from the air.

The Papua New Guinea landscape from the air
Photo source: WestEastSouthNorth

FLY TO PNG – For UK travellers, the most direct route is via. Singapore, although you can also fly via. Hong Kong, the Philippines, Bali, Cairns, Sydney and Tokyo. There are direct flights to Port Moresby from Australia.

TOUR IN PNG – Tour around PNG with Intrepid Travel, and hike the Kokoda Trail.

STAY IN PNG – Kimbe Bay: Walindi Plantation Resort, Mount Hagen: Rondon Ridge, Tari: Ambua Lodge, Tufi: Tufi Dive Resort.

Thanks again to PNG Tourism UK for giving me the chance to explore Papua New Guinea!

2 replies
  1. Unknown
    Unknown says:

    My daughter is researching PNG for school and came across your site. Great to read about it from someone who has been there and not just a boring website. Cheers from the U.S.!

    Reply

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