Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is one of the world's most mysterious, secret and unexplored places. This island-state in the southwest Pacific Ocean, north of Australia and east of Indonesia, is the perfect place for those who want to travel as primitive as possible and to as remote places as possible.
A trip to Papua New Guinea is a journey to a completely different world. It is a trip back in time, a trip to the perhaps best example of how our planet looked a long, long time ago. Or in a metaphor: Papua New Guinea is the closest this world comes to a surviving dinosaur from a bygone era.
The vast majority who travel to Papua New Guinea will arrive in the capital, Port Moresby. Here live approx. a quarter of a million people, and the city is connected with major cities in the region through the International Airport Jackson International Airport which has flights to and from Brisbane, Cairns and Sydney in Australia and Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Fiji, among other places.
Port Moresby has not a lot to offer - it may be better advised to hurry out to the great adventure that awaits in the different parts Papua New Guinea.
To hurry is perhaps an exaggeration when it comes to a trip in Papua New Guinea. For here as good as nothing at all is served for the traveler, and likewise nothing is easy and straightforward. But that is exactly why some travelers will find this destination interesting and exciting (besides the fascinating natural and cultural highlights, of course). In Papua New Guinea one must be prepared for an almost total lack of tourist facilities and infrastructure, and the journey itself and much of the practical stuff en route is a large part of the experience.
Papua New Guinea's closest neighbors are Australia, Indonesia and Solomon Islands. It is also the nature and wildlife of these three destinations that has most similarities to Papua New Guinea. Wildlife is a chapter in itself in these parts – here live as many species of mammals as in Australia, although Papua New Guinea is nine times smaller. Also, there are more species of birds and frogs than in the big neighbor to the south, in some ways Papua New Guinea is a kind of biological mini version of Australia. The two countries have many of the same species, but where as Australia through time was predominantly dry and flat, Papua New Guinea was wet and mountainous, with volcanoes, rocky cliffs and rainforest. There are actually kangaroos in both countries, but where as they in Australia they jump around in the flat and desert outback, their cousins in Papua New Guinea are living in the trees.
Make no mistake: Papua New Guinea is a country that is not safe everywhere. Crime is high in some regions of the country, and you must be very careful in certain parts of Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen. The same applies to the Highlands region and the following areas: Southern Highlands, Enga, Western Highlands, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands. One should also keep away from the former Panguna mine in Bougainville.
With some precautions Papua New Guinea may be explored and experienced as the exciting and exotic place it truly is. A trip to Papua New Guinea should definitely include a visit to the Kokoda Track, which is a 96 km long adventurous trail, through jungle, over rocks, demanding hills and slippery, wet steps. This crazy hike is a great adventure even if you only walk a small part of it. The Kokoda Track was the place where the Australian, American and Japanese soldiers fought during the Second World War - against each other and against the terrain. The path offers a number of memorials from the war, you'll also have good opportunities to meet the people who live near the path. For good reason only very few people choose to travel over all 96 km. It is recommended to do as the majority of other travelers: to go in a group (which can be organized locally) on a small part of the track.
For an insight on the local culture, you should visit the village of Tari where you can meet the traditional Huli-people. There is also not much that beats the best parts of the provinces of Central, Oro and Milne Bay. Here you will find wonderful coral reefs, jungle-clad mountains and friendly locals. When it comes to diving and snorkelling one of the special attractions here are the many ships and wrecks from World War II. Places to see these are in Tufi, Alotau and Samarai Island.
Travel north, across the Solomon Sea, to the fantastic Trobriand Islands. Here you may be lucky enough to encounter the exotic Milamala Festival and it's characteristics: 'free' love, cricket and the root called yams, which is used for many things around here. In Milne Bay Province lies the city of Alotau, the provincial capital and one of the friendliest, safest and most attractive cities throughout Papua New Guinea. If you are travelling to this part of Papua New Guinea at the right time of year, you can enjoy yourself with the entertaining Milne Bay Kundu & Canoe Festival, whose main attraction is the sight of local 'warriors' who paddles in ocean going canoes - it’s pretty wild!
Yes, this destination is certainly something for itself and one of Earth's wildest and most fascinating places. So, what are you waiting for? Travel to Papua New Guinea now!
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