Papua New Guinea Travel Guide
Situated east of Indonesia and north of Australia, Papua New Guinea is one of the most exotic nations that make up the quasi-continent of Oceania.
While its capital Port Moresby bears most of the hallmarks of civilization, the vast majority of the nation consists of remote villages and towns where indigenous ways of life largely continue on as they have for time immemorial, save for a few intrusions by modern society.
While your trip to Papua New Guinea will require a bit more planning than ones to more developed countries, the effort you put into preparing for this legitimate adventure will be paid back with memories that will last a lifetime.
Currency: Papua New Guinean kinas
Languages: Tok Pisin, Motu, various indigenous languages, English
What To Do
Start off your time in Papua New Guinea by visiting the National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby. Within the halls of this institution, you will find exhibits that showcase the culture of this nation’s various indigenous cultures.
Containing musical instruments, body jewelry, sea-worthy outrigger canoes, masks, totem poles, and much more, you’ll get a good primer on this country’s rich diversity before heading out into its wild hinterlands.
Papua New Guinea hasn’t been a sovereign nation for long, though, as it was an Australian territory during the Second World War. During this trying time, the Japanese army made an ambitious bid to capture this wild land by beating a path across what was thought to be an impenetrable jungle in a bid to take the capital, Port Moresby.
Along the route which came to be known as the Kokoda Track, they were intercepted by Allied troops (most Australian), triggering touch and go battles along this path from July to November 1942.
These days, the Kokoda Track is a hiking adventure that attracts the attention of hardcore trekkers worldwide. This multi-day trip is no walk in the woods: severe elevation changes, hot/humid days and cold nights, and the ever-present threat of tropical diseases like malaria makes it a journey that requires advance planning and past
experience to do safely.
Those wanting to experience one of the most famed cultural traditions in Papua New Guinea will want to take in a Baining Fire Dance. Specific to the Baining tribe on the island of New Britain, it is part of a sacred ceremony that sees its performers dance on and kick fiery embers, with spectacular results. Paired with the elaborate body-sized masks they wear, it is a show you won’t want to miss.
Want to climb one of the world’s most active volcanoes? If you happen to catch it on a quiet day, it may be possible to trek up Mount Tavurvur. It is highly advised you do this with a guide, as they are dangers on the mountain (poisonous gases, scalding hot thermal springs, etc) you may not know about.
They are also able to provide background on the volcano’s past eruptions, and are happy to answer questions about their daily lives and culture as well, making an investment in their services well worthwhile.
Sick and tired of overcrowded beach destinations? If so, making for one of the many remote beaches scattered throughout Papua New Guinea will give you what you have long sought but failed to find: solitude on an empty (or nearly empty) exotic beach.
Panasia Island, located in the Louisiade Archipelago, is one such place, as it has bleach white sand, crystal clear water, and a village filled with locals who have lived off its land and the surrounding sea for countless generations.
Bramble Haven is another spot worth a stop if you are on a sailing expedition through the islands of Papua New Guinea. With an even more remote location than the previously mentioned isle, you can play out your castaway fantasies here, or you can strap on a mask and snorkel or SCUBA gear and check out some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world.
What to Eat
What the cuisine of Papua New Guinea lacks in spice, it makes up for in heartiness. Mumu is a meal that you should definitely try to have during your time here.
It is a roast pork dish that is slow cooked in the ground for hours on end, producing a tender end result that needs to be savoured to be properly appreciated.
Served with sweet potatoes, rice, and greens, this meal may end up being one of the highlights of your visit to Papua New Guinea.
Chicken Pot is another well-loved meal, as it is also cooked beneath the earth with vegetables and coconut cream to create a heavenly culinary experience you won’t soon forget.
When the time comes for dessert, ask where you can find some Dia. A sweet dish made with sago, bananas, and coconut cream, it will end off your meals in Papua New Guinea in fine fashion.