Like every place you’ve never been! PNG is just being discovered. It’s the world’s hottest new surfing destination, offering virtually un-surfed waves, affordable accommodation, friendly locals and a laid back lifestyle. Beneath the waves is a crystal clear paradise of healthy reefs, 460 species of coral and an abundance of pelagic and reef fish. On land there are treks of every kind, the most famous and popular being the historic Kokoda Track. Papua New Guinea remains one of the last great frontiers – a destination where everything hasn’t been seen and done before.
The infrastructure for travel throughout PNG is firmly in place. As such, every visitor to PNG has the opportunity to be part of the endless discovery. PNG occupies the eastern portion of New Guinea, the second largest island in the world. Precariously situated on the Pacific Rim of fire, it is the cumulative result of two of the world’s largest geological upheavals. The ensuing terrain is a rich, rugged collage of towering mountain peaks, dense rain forests, mangrove jungles, fertile valleys, white sands and glistening coral islands.
The underwater topography is a reflection of the dramatic landscape. Hills and valleys translate into majestic pinnacles, fishfilled passes, lush colourful gardens and coral-draped walls. Capital Port Moresby, PNG’s capital and gateway is situated on the western coast of the mainland peninsula. Other popular coastal regions on the mainland include Alotau, Lae, Wewak, Vanimo and Madang. Alotau, at the eastern tip of the Owen Stanley Range, is an upcoming seaside resort town with rich culture and gorgeous scenery. Lae is the second largest city, situated on the eastern coast, at the mouth of the Markham River.
Wewak and Vanimo are in the Sepik Basin famous for their art, custom and culture. The Sepik River runs 1126 kilometres from source to sea and is one of the world’s largest waterways. Further north is Madang, which has one of the South Pacific’s most beautiful harbours with lush tropical vegetation. It was the center of heavy fighting during World War II and has 34 sunken ships and coral gardens to explore with superb visibility. Many of the most rewarding cultural opportunities can be found in the Highlands.
Goroka is the capital of the Eastern highlands; Mt. Hagen is the capital of the west. Papua New Guinea’s outer islands cover an enormous area, offering access to both the Solomon and Bismarck Seas. In this region opportunities for exploration and adventure are enormous. New Britain, the largest island, has two tourism centres: Rabaul on the eastern tip, and Kimbe in the west. Other popular spots include Kavieng on New Ireland and Manus Island further north. The People Nationals are predominantly Melanesian, though in appearance they are varied.
More than 800 indigenous languages are spoken throughout PNG. Melanesian pidgin (Tok Pisin) and Police Motu are the two most widely used, but English is the official language in education, business and government circles. History It is suspected that the first human settlers arrived in Papua New Guinea from mainland Asia about 50 000 years ago. Two Portuguese explorers claim the first sighting in 1512 and in 1660 the Dutch finally claimed the territory. Unfriendly warriors and inhospitable terrain deterred all others who tried to settle on the land before. European traders and missionaries followed, settling along the coastal regions in the 1870s.
Towards the end of the 1800s, the country was divided between three nations: the Dutch, the Germans and the British. Australia took over the British sector in 1905 naming it ‘The Territory of Papua’ and then captured the German New Guinea sector during WWI. The country became fully independent in 1975 and is now a member of the British Commonwealth with strong ties to Australia. It wasn’t until 1930 that the inner region of Papua New Guinea was explored. Two Australian gold prospectors, Michael Leahy and Michael Dwyer, literally stumbled into the stone age – a lost civilization with more than a million inhabitants.
The villagers, who had never seen white faces, panicked when they saw the visitors, fearing that the pale creatures wearing bizarre clothing were ancestral spirits returning to haunt them. Interaction between villages throughout PNG has been largely restricted due to the topography of the land and the diversity of languages. Apart from areas where traders and missionaries exerted their influence, many tiny, independent villages account for most of the traditions and cultural heritage, which is preserved today.
Nature Papua New Guinea’s enormously rich diversity of animal and plant life has earned the esteemed designation of being a ‘mega diversity’ country. Scientists believe that PNG, along with the 16 other countries bearing this unique distinction, account for more than two-thirds of the earth’s total biodiversity. The fact that so many of PNG’s natural ecosystems and human cultures are intact makes it fascinating and scientifically important.
On land it is estimated that there are 242 species of mammals including shy forest wallabies, slow moving cuscuses and tree kangaroos. Birds are one of PNG’s biggest natural attractions. There are 762 different species, 85 endemic, including 38 of the world’s 43 species of the spectacular Bird of Paradise. The world’s only known poisonous bird called Hooded Pit-Hui is found in Papua New Guinea.
There are also 303 species of butterflies including the Queen Alexander Bird Wing, with a wingspan of 30cm, as well as more than 15 000 species of plants including more orchid species than any country in the world. Climate 23 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius in coastal areas and 14 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees Celsius in the highlands. Time Zone GMT + 10 hours. Same as AEST. There is no daylight saving. Currency The Kina is divided into 100 toea.
Visas & Health
A 60-day tourist visa is available on arrival for a fee of K100. Visas can be obtained prior to travel for a fee of K75 or equivalent from any PNG Overseas Mission. Air Travel Nobody knows Papua New Guinea like Air Niugini