With amazing natural scenery, over 600 islands to explore and 800 indigenous languages, Papua New Guinea is a fascinating combination of old and new. The fact that there is no recognizable tourist infrastructure however means that traveling around the islands is not an easy experience. If you’re an inexperienced or nervous traveler, forget it. If you’re ready for a bit of adventure and don’t mind things not always going to plan, then Papua New Guinea might be for you. Fascinating tribal people, amazing wildlife, fantastic diving, scorching weather and beautiful rainforests all combine to make Papua New Guinea a unique and challenging travel experience.
The tourist infrastructure in Papua New Guinea is very underdeveloped, which makes getting around and finding somewhere decent to stay a tricky experience at times. The capital, Port Moresby is a pretty dangerous place, with gangs of rascals lurking ready to relieve you of your cash. Head out of the cities and into the country however, and you’ll normally be given a warm yet disorganized welcome.
When to Go
Papua New Guinea’s climate is a bit of a lottery, but it’s safe to say that it’s hot, humid and wet most of the time. The wet season runs from December to March, although the capital Port Moresby is dry at this time. Undoubtedly the best time to go, the dry season runs from May to October, but there is a fair chance of rain at any given moment.
Getting There & Away
The main airport is 11kms outside Port Moresby, and regular international flights arrive from Australia and Asia. Once inside the country, the best way to get around is in one of the many light aircraft flown by friendly Americans and Australians. The roads around Papua New Guinea are limited to say the least, so car and bus travel options are sparse. Traveling by boat is fun, but it gets pretty cold at night.
Health & Safety
Port Moresby is a rascal-ridden blot on the Papua New Guinea landscape so if you’re staying there, be very careful and avoid heading out after dark. Some of the other towns have similar problems so make sure you know what’s going on before you go out. Malaria is very common and preventative measures should be taken. Saltwater crocodiles are all over the place and they are known to be partial to a bit of Western tourist for breakfast so be vigilant.
Three days in Madang
Two days around the Chambri Lakes
Three days cruising up the Sepik River
Two days in Rabaul
Two days around Lake Kutubu
Madang: head to this lovely coastal town and go diving in the beautiful waters or get on a tour around the islands.
Chambri Lakes: check out the beautiful birds and try not to get eaten by crocodiles in this amazing area.
Sepik River: cruising along the river is a heady cocktail of stunning wildlife, fascinating villages and more crocodiles.
Rabaul: the capital of the island of New Britain, this fascinating city lies at the foot of a volcano.
Lake Kutubu: one of only five national parks on the islands, this area is home to some of Papua New Guinea’s most amazing scenery, beautiful wildlife and friendly locals.
Diving: Papua New Guinea is rightly famous for its unforgettable and breathtaking diving and snorkeling opportunities in places such as Madang and Rabaul.
Hiking: the beautiful, rugged countryside can be explored in all its natural beauty on any walking tour.
Climbing: the magnificent mountains offer fabulous climbing opportunities, notably Mount Wilhelm in the Highlands.
Wildlife: whether you’re cruising along the Sepik River or trekking through one of the national parks, the wildlife on view is breathtaking.
People: friendly and welcoming, the people of Papua New Guinea who live outside the cities are as fascinating as the terrain, wildlife, flora and fauna.