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Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea travel guide

Little-visited Papua New Guinea is a land of pioneering travel: find pristine reefs, highland tribes and jungles bursting with the world's most bizarre birds

Papua New Guinea is the stuff of true travel legend – a distant, exotic, little-explored land laying just north of Australia in the Coral Sea, that will garner serious kudos at the water cooler.

Papua New Guinea and the nearby Solomon Islands are diving Mecca. WWII wrecks, manta rays, odd-looking multi-coloured fish and incredible reefs are among the underwater delights here.

Divers aren’t the only ones who will love remote Papua New Guinea. Nature-lovers come to spot forest-dwelling tree kangaroos, giant leatherback turtles and birds of paradise. Culture vultures love the local festivals where Highlanders dress in traditional regalia, powder and paint and dance for all they’re worth.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Diving Simply, world-class: find corals to rival Australia's Barrier Reef at spots such as Kimbe Bay while numerous wrecks lurk off Rabaul.
  2. Trekking As well as Kokoda, try the Black Cat Track around Morobe – a brutish coastal hike. Expeditions can be arranged to PNG's highest summit, Mt Wilhelm (4,509m).
  3. Surfing PNG has some of the world's best waves and reef breaks, with year-round action at locales such as Kavieng, on New Ireland, and Vanimo.
  4. Islands PNG has many islands, from New Britain (home to smoking Rabaul volcano) to the wilderness of Bougainville Island.
  5. Community tourism Mangalas is a lovely region of rainforest plateau in Oro Province. Stay with the Ese people and take safaris to find the world's largest butterfly, the Queen Alexandra's birdwing.
  6. Birdwatching Among PNG's 700 species are 38 varieties of birds of paradise, the world's smallest parrot and the only poisonous bird. Tari and Varirata National Park have lodges set up for birdwatchers.
  7. Culture With 820+ languages no other country boasts such unaltered human diversity. Cultural spectacles include the Huli Wigmen, the Skeleton Tribe, the Asaro Mudmen and the Baining hot coal dancers.

Wanderlust tips

Papua New Guinea is expensive. Get off the beaten track and stay in rural villages: it’s much cheaper. You can also save money by booking hotel rooms in advance from outside the country thus avoiding the 10% VAT that’s levied on higher-end accommodation.

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