Papua New Guinea: Experience Tribal Cultures, Eco-Tourism, and Ancient Customs

Papua New Guinea may sound like one of the world’s more remote destinations – a land that time has largely forgotten, a land where you can immerse in ancient tribal cultures that still flourish today. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the last bastions of traditional lifestyles left in the world. Traveling here goes beyond eco-tourism, allowing a truly unique experience…Did you know it is easily reachable via a short flight from Cairns or Brisbane in Australia – as well as from the likes of Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo?
A fascinating country, Papua New Guinea spans across a huge area, it is also home to the largest area of intact rainforest outside the Amazon. Papua New Guinea lies entirely within the tropics, and is just south of the Equator. Many parts of the country are wild and undeveloped. Papua New Guinea has a very diverse landscape with volcanic mountains, highlands, large rivers, dense tropical rainforests, fertile coastal plains, flooded delta regions, mangrove swamps, wide and sandy beaches, sheltered and pristine coral atolls. The country encompasses the eastern part of New Guinea Island – the second largest island in the world, plus some 600 other islands, atolls and coral reefs, giving visitors access to excellent surfing and diving experiences.
Beyond the dizzying array of ethnic groups to get to know, there are many unique attractions, excursions, and activities on offer. From discovering wrecks of World War II aircraft that lie under jungle, to peeking inside the sacred wooden haustambarans (spirit houses) of towns and villages across the country. Most activities and attractions revolve around the natural beauty and the uniquely diverse culture. Papua New Guinea is a great trekking destination, offering an extensive network of hiking trails. The most popular is the majestic 60-mile Kokoda Trail, a challenge and excellent opportunity to participate in cultural experiences and connect with locals, pay respect to history, whilst viewing unique flora and fauna.
Papua New Guinea is also a bird watching paradise and delight for flower enthusiasts. Over 700 bird species can be found on the mainland and the islands, including the famous birds of paradise. The country is home to a myriad of beautiful orchids. More than 3,000 different kinds of orchids, two thirds of the world’s known species, can be found here. White water rafting trips are another popular activity in Papua New Guinea. The island’s rivers offer all skill levels, from gentle rippling streams to explosive rapids. A more relaxed way to explore the natural beauty, and to discover the culture and history of this great last frontier is a river cruise on the Sepik River and other waterways of the country.
After centuries of colonization by the British and the Germans, these days, Papua New Guinea is an independent nation, a member of the British Commonwealth, with strong ties to Australia. The nation’s economy is based largely on resources such as gold, copper, oil, gas, copra, timber, fisheries, tea, coffee and increasingly, tourism.
Most of the people of Papua New Guinea are Melanesians, closely related to the islanders of Fiji, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu. Two thirds of the population of 5 million live in the rugged highlands. Papua New Guinea’s culture is extremely diverse with 800 different languages and 1,000 local cultures. Architecture, dialect, and dress vary from village to village. The different traditions are kept alive in elaborate rituals involving feasts, marriages, compensation ceremonies, and initiation rites. Cultural heritage is celebrated at the annual ‘Sing Sing’ shows, where villagers from around the country demonstrate their singing, dancing, and elaborate bilas (traditional costumes). Every September, thousands of people from over a hundred tribes come together in Goroka, celebrating their unique culture. This year’s Goroka festival – the biggest of its kind in the world – will take place September 16 – 17, 2017.
The impact of modernization brings daily change to Papua New Guinea, but the majority of people, whether they are from the Highlands to the Coastal regions, still dependent on subsistence farming and live in small villages. Traditionally, women are responsible for the household and daily work of the village, while men take care of hunting, trade, and warfare. Village stays are a wonderful way to spend time with people, and learn more about the local culture and lifestyle.
The climate in Papua New Guinea is equatorial, with very warm temperatures throughout the year, accompanied by high humidity. The dry season, between May and September, is the best time to visit the country.
Air-Niugini headerAirlinePros partner Air Niugini (PX/656) is the national airline of Papua New Guinea. Based at Jackson International Airport (POM) in Port Moresby, Air Niugini operates an extensive domestic and international network, using a fleet of B767, B737-800/700, F100/70 and DH8-400/300/200 aircraft. International gateways include Hong Kong, Singapore Tokyo, Sydney, Bali and Jakarta.