5 wild experiences to have in Papua New Guinea
In the vast tapestry of the world’s travel destinations, Papua New Guinea remains a hidden gem, a place where adventure and discovery entwine. Remote and still relatively undiscovered, this Pacific paradise beckons intrepid explorers, offering a chance to truly go off the beaten track. It’s a land where ancient cultures thrive, unspoiled nature reigns, and history’s remnants are strewn across the landscape like echoes of time.
Papua New Guinea unveils a million different journeys waiting to be discovered. With cultures and traditions that seem like anthropological secrets, unspoiled wilderness, a rich history from the Pacific War, and unique wildlife such as the iconic birds of paradise, this land offers a multitude of experiences.
While selecting just four journeys from this treasure trove is a daunting task, here are a few that stand out.
1. Trek the Kokoda Track: A Journey of Remembrance and Challenge
The Kokoda Track is more than a trail; it’s a place of ANZAC reverence and personal challenge. Australians, in particular, are drawn to this pilgrimage site, paying tribute to their military history. Stretching 96 kilometres, the gruelling Kokoda Track winds over the rugged Owen Stanley ranges, connecting Kokoda in the north to Ower’s Corner near Port Moresby in the south. Originally used for trade and cultural interactions, it played a pivotal role during World War II, when the Japanese attempted to seize Port Moresby. Today, it’s a journey that tests one’s mettle while connecting with history and nature. Where Wild Things Roam Travel has Kokoda Tours going in 2024.
2. The Baining Firedance: A Spectacle of Spirit and Culture
The Baining Firedance is an ancient ritual that summons the spirit world—a dance that has mystified and captivated those fortunate enough to witness it. This mesmerizing tradition is performed to celebrate births, harvests, remember the departed, and initiate young men into adulthood. Once a taboo, the Baining Firedance is now unveiled during a late September festival for travellers to witness. This cultural spectacle, based in East New Britain province, unfolds over two days and offers a glimpse into the region’s remarkable diversity. Where Wild Things Roam Travel has an exclusive Firedance Group Tour going in 2024. Click here to find out more.
3. Dive into Paradise: Papua New Guinea’s Underwater World
Nestled within the Coral Triangle, Papua New Guinea boasts some of the world’s finest diving locations. Kimbe Bay and Kavieng, in particular, stand out for their remoteness and astonishing marine diversity. Imagine diving into crystal-clear waters, surrounded by towering reef pinnacles adorned with a riot of colourful marine life. This underwater wonderland is accessible with a short flight from Port Moresby to Hoskins Airport. Walindi Resort, the main dive operator, offers private bungalow-style accommodation, scuba diving, and land tour packages. They even have their own liveaboard boat operation for those seeking uncharted diving adventures, which is bookable through Diveplanit.
4. Cruise the Sepik River
Jump aboard TRUE NORTH to fine marine biodiversity and nature at its best on an unforgettable journey, where every moment is a discovery and every smile is a warm welcome to paradise. The Sepik Soiree, a 10-day adventure that will see days spent by guests up the Sepik River on a nothing short of humbling and eye-opening experience. Here, the lucky few on board will be able to witness culture in its rawest form, immersing themselves in the traditions of the indigenous communities, venturing far enough upriver to visit otherwise inaccessible villages.
Among the many highlights of this adventure is a visit to the ‘Stilt Village’, where guests will have the opportunity to meet a community that lives on the water, offering a unique perspective on life by the river. TRUE NORTH also offers a rare opportunity to fly in the on-board helicopter, to an even more remote part of the river to witness the ancient scarification tradition of the ‘Crocodile Men’. The Chambri Tribe – commonly called The Crocodile Men of Papua New Guinea – believes humans evolved from the prehistoric river predators and that the creature is therefore sacred. They pay homage to this sacred animal every 4-5 years through a ceremony involving scarification. Departure dates for 2023 are 9 October – 29 October, 29 October – 8 November and 8 November – 18 November.
5. Rabaul’s War Remnants: A Journey into History and Geology
Rabaul, perched on the northeastern tip of New Britain Island, is a destination that blends natural wonders with poignant history. The town is shadowed by several active volcanoes, including Tavurvur and Vulcan, creating a dramatic skyline. Yet, Rabaul is more than just a geological marvel; it’s a place of World War II significance. Throughout the area, remnants of the war linger—a network of Japanese underground tunnels, bunkers, aircraft wrecks, and submerged shipwrecks. These remnants offer a glimpse into the intense battles fought in the Pacific.
Papua New Guinea is a destination that embraces the unconventional, a land where extraordinary encounters are the norm. Choosing to explore this hidden gem is an invitation to venture beyond the ordinary, delve into the mysteries of ancient cultures, traverse untamed landscapes, and discover the essence of a place still untouched by the masses. Your journey into the heart of Papua New Guinea promises not just adventure but the rare opportunity to become part of a living story—one that has been evolving for millennia in one of the world’s last frontiers.
Fly to Papua New Guinea from select cities in Australia with Qantas, Virgin, or Air Niugini.