Papua New Guinea – another planet
Perhaps for me, since the beginning of my independent travels around the world, Papua New Guinea has been the most mysterious country of Terra Incognita. Ever since I was a kid, playing Indians in the backyard, I wanted to try to really dive into the primitive life, when man and nature were one. For some reason it seemed to me that Papua New Guinea was one of the few places left on earth where this primal feeling could be experienced in modern times. I prepared for the journey thoroughly, having gone through the school of “young fighter” in communication with the wild tribes of Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. But, in these interactions I almost always had an inner feeling about the somewhat theatrical and feigned behavior of the “wild” people. There was only hope for New Guinea, where, in my opinion, civilization had not yet reached.
I spent a lot of time preparing for the trip and thoroughly studying the itinerary. Finally, the last day of work before my vacation, I eagerly awaited my manager from the travel company, which was to bring my passport with a visa stamped Brunei, in which I wanted to “look” before meeting with the wild tribes. But, what was my disappointment, I just could not believe it, it can not happen to me – I get a call from the manager, and she left me speechless, saying that she had stolen a bag with my documents from the car in traffic. The trip is disrupted, I withdraw my vacation request. My co-workers reassure me that it’s a sign from above, which means you shouldn’t have flown there. But, poorly they know me – I’m not used to giving up on a dream and backing out of halfway there, this event has only fueled my interest. Having recovered all the stolen documents and visas, I still flew to my cherished Papua 3 months after the incident. The reality exceeded all my expectations, Papua is an extraordinary country.
So, I begin the story. Once in Singapore, at the airport from which planes fly to the capital of Papua, for some reason I can’t find the coveted name of Port Moresby on the list of departing flights. Has the flight been cancelled? With some anxiety I go to the information desk, and she kindly told me that it’s okay, the departure will take place as scheduled, just – because of the congestion of the airport, they do not overload the information boards for such rare areas such as Papua. I exhaled, thank God – everything is fine. I was going to land, expecting to see a semblance of a “corn aircraft”, but to my surprise there was a modern liner with three rows of seats, packed to capacity, and what was even more surprising was that I could hear Russian speech among the passengers, there were about 15 Russians on the whole flight. The flight was all right. On approach to New Guinea the sky is covered with dense clouds, the plane suddenly dives under their veil, and through the window I see a green sea below me – here it is my Papuaia, my first impressions are fascinating – as in a King Kong movie, as if you get to the fairy tale island from another planet. I go out of the airport into the city and start looking for the local natives in loincloths with my eyes. It seemed to me that starting from the capital I would immediately plunge into the exotic. In fact, my idea that there are wild people everywhere in Papua was as mythical as the bears walking around Red Square. I am met by a guide in European clothes, and we get into a Japanese jeep and drive to the capital, the airport is right in town. On the way there are very ordinary people, quite neatly dressed, the only thing – with their own standards of beauty, almost incomparable with the usual European standards. Even children, with few exceptions, are unfriendly and without fire in their eyes. But, unlike the Third World, the natives of Papua are respected, and will never run after foreigners with open mouths, asking for alms or anything else of this series.
The town of Port Moresby made the most favorable impression on me, very clean and green, with a modern business center even by European standards.
I did not expect it at all from the poorest country, and even less from that primitive image of it, which was formed in my head before the trip. And I also read on the internet that Port Moresby is considered to be almost the most criminal city in the world. In fact I did not notice it, it was a perfectly normal and friendly city, or my guardian angel took all the possible problems away from me.
In addition to the guide, I was accompanied by his student. They communicated with me in English, which at first I could hardly understand because of their specific pronunciation, and with each other in Papuan. What was my surprise when I began to partially understand their communication with each other. Could it be that I was Papuan in a past life – I thought, or that all modern people are rooted in these places? This is the second time this has happened to me. As I traveled around Romania, I noticed that even though I did not understand a word of Romanian, I subconsciously understood the local population. The same thing happened in my coveted “Papuaasia”, I understand the natives. It turned out to be more banal, in Papua the local population communicates in more than 800 languages, which differ from each other as Japanese and Russian. Sometimes people from neighboring villages speak completely different languages from different language groups. For international communication during the colonization of these territories an artificial Papuan language was created, which absorbed many words from European languages (especially English), and which today, along with “classical” English is widely used as a language of international communication.
In Port Moresby I visited the main attractions – the national museum, parliament, botanical garden, orchid garden and bird garden, a couple of universities and that afternoon flew to the center of the country to the town of Mount Hagen, as I thought closer to the wild heart of “Papuasia”. By the way, Papuans affectionately call their country Newjini (from the English New Guinea), or short and business-like PNG (something like the USSR in Soviet times).
The nature of the mountainous Mount Hagen made a lasting impression on me. I have never seen so many shades of green in my life in any other place on earth, plus the green was very delicately diluted with splashes of other colors, which on closer inspection are a huge variety of vibrant colors. The fauna of the island is represented mainly by birds, small animals and insects, which are also multifaceted and bright in their colors. It seems that the nature of New Guinea was not enough colors of the rainbow, and it somehow – in some unknown way has brought to light its own, its own colors. The land here is so fertile that one gets the feeling that every square centimeter of it produces as much vegetation as 1 square meter in the Russian climate.
I pester my guide with requests: “Hurry up to the tribes, I can’t wait any longer. Finally, we reach the agreed upon place, turning off the main road into some green jungle corridor. The thatched dwellings of the natives are barely visible through the leaves. We enter the settlement, get out of the van, and my guide leads me to a cleared clearing. Honestly, it feels like some kind of outdoor scene. A group of half-naked girls with moss on their heads and painted faces appear and start bouncing around, emulating a dance. Then their leader appears – a scary bearded aborigine who, like Karabas-Barabas, keeps shouting at me to take photos, while the other one is shouting at the girls to move around more and pose for the camera. Next, a group of boys painted as skeletons came on stage. And, again, Karabas-Barabas yells: “More expressions of horror on their faces!” What is this, theater? Where did I go? I asked to let me into the village to get acquainted with the local way of life, to which I was told by the guide that it is strictly prohibited, and I can only wander in the surrounding brush, taking pictures of wild orchids and other representatives of local flora and fauna, but strictly to the area marked with symbolic heads of the idols. I was disappointed, of course. Where were my Papuans living in unity with the surrounding nature? The only thing that comforted me at that moment was that there was still some forbidden territory, which I had not yet been allowed into, but which I would certainly be able to break through and find myself finally immersed in the primitive human culture.
The next day began with a couple more equally theatrical performances in the neighboring village. This was evidenced by a one-year-old village child, who looked in bewilderment at his family and friends who were doing previously unseen things for him. I made a conscientious photo shoot of the actors.
Next we had a long off-road drive (in my case a minibus) from Mount Hagen to another province, the Tari area. The drive was truly exhausting, taking almost 8 hours. I especially liked the fact that at the beginning of the trip the van, which I had paid for in Russia, was full of bags of vegetables, which the driver was carrying to his many relatives and friends. In spite of its tedium, the road was extremely scenic. Behind the windows the scenery changed frequently: from rainy equatorial forests, to deciduous groves and flooded meadows. Along the way there were a couple of interesting passers-by with painted faces and another native with a long case for the place, which Adam covered with a fig leaf.
We reached Tari at about 8 p.m., and it was completely dark, and it was starting to rain heavily. “Where is my bungalow?” – I ask the guide. He answers that it still takes us about 40 minutes to go deep into the jungle. Here it is, I thought happily. Finally we reached the real natives. After 50 minutes our bus was hopelessly stuck in a completely washed-out rain road. However, resourceful guide called someone on the cell phone, and after a short time before us inexplicably appeared full of bearded natives about 40 years old. Gesture of this alien indicated that I need to go with him, and I obediently wandered after him into the pitch darkness. Good thing I had left most of my luggage in Port Moresby, or I wouldn’t have been able to drag it through the knee-deep mud. After about 15 minutes of this walk, my “Susanin” said that we were almost there, and soon my bungalow. I immediately remembered my favorite job, that I should check my mail and was about to ask a question: “Do you have Wi-Fi?”, but the thought was cut off and impudently was replaced from my mind by the realization that in the neighborhood I hear a working diesel generator – so the hotel has no electricity, and what internet can we talk about? I increased my pace, and immediately I ran into an obstacle of some kind in the darkness. The conductor said: “That’s it, this is your bungalow, do you need a flashlight?” I took the lantern offered to me, pointed the beam of light inside, and was horrified. I thought it was some kind of barn for chickens or some kind of livestock. The hut had woven cane walls covered with palm leaves. In the corner were four logs with a bed of reeds, proudly called a bed.
I was told that I had 30 minutes, and then the generator would automatically turn off and the only light would be a lantern. I was told that I had 30 minutes, then the generator would automatically turn off and the only source of light would be a lantern. “Excuse me, but where do you have a shower?” – I asked. I was told there was no shower (somewhere in the forest, about 50 meters away, there was a trough with rain water, you can take it there). It was recommended not to go to the toilet near the shack as it can attract snakes. Near the vessel with water was dug a special hole for this purpose. I was even more wary; if I ran to the bathroom once near the hut and it would attract snakes, then there must be a densely populated serpentarium near that hole. No, I would have to wait until morning. While I was messing with my luggage and making the bed, a native ran somewhere and brought dinner (it turned out to be a 7-minute walk from my den, was his village). The dinner was fish. I was very hungry after a long day of traveling, but I did not really want to eat fish in the dark, if I choke on a bone – the nearest doctor in Tari was about 40 minutes away by car, which was hopelessly stuck, and I doubted greatly in the quality of cooking the fish. Still, the hunger took its toll, and besides it was not convenient to offend the host with my European squeamishness. I came here for the exotic, and the fish was eaten (thank God, without consequences). It was time to go to bed, and the mosquitoes tried to tear pieces of fish out of my hands while I was still eating dinner. It was going to be a fun night. I made a sort of mosquito net out of my shirt, and before falling asleep I decided to look around. Slipping the beam of my pocket-light over the ceiling, I found out that I was not alone – there was a huge spider, similar to a tarantula, sitting right above me. Something squeaked in the corner, and I pointed the flashlight there, and immediately noticed a mouse. It’s perfect, I thought, this is the union with nature – I should try to sleep as soon as possible. I was sure that for all these inconveniences tomorrow would finally be a reward – acquaintance with the life of wild people. I managed to fall asleep with difficulty in the morning…
The next day began promisingly … At first we have walked a long path through the woods to the local wizard, who realizes his magic through communication with ancestors. The old man seemed to me very picturesque and credible – he shook the bones of his ancestors for a long time, and in the end he said that the way home would be safe and without accidents. I thanked him, but apparently in vain, because on the first flight after the communication with the sorcerer flight was delayed for 6 hours, and during the flight was very shaking, and all the passengers were in for a surprise, about which I will tell a little later. Apparently the sorcerer shook the bones of his relatives too much.
All about vacations in New Guinea
New Guinea is located in Oceania, occupying about half of the island of the same name and in addition, includes the neighboring islands: Bismarck Archipelago, northern Solomon Islands (Bougainville, Bouka), D’Antrusto Islands and more than 200 smaller islands. This article will tell you about holidays in New Guinea, the sights, entertainment and prices in the country.
General information about the island
The total area of New Guinea is 462.8 thousand square kilometers. Once the island was part of the mainland, then due to rising sea levels became an island separated from Australia by the Torres Strait. This fact explains the fact that New Guinea is home to the same marsupials as the mainland.
New Guinea was settled more than 45,000 years ago by people from Asia. Europeans arrived here in the 16th century. During the colonization period, the island belonged to several European countries. New Guinea gained independence in 1975.
Island relief is mixed, here is both plain part and territories covered by mountain massifs. The highest point rises above sea level at 4.9 kilometers. A subequatorial climate in the south of the island replaces the equatorial in the north. Winter here lasts from May to September, and December to March is the season of heavy rains.
For domestic tourists visiting this country seems distant exotic. Partly, they are right. Here you can see things you would not see at the famous resorts. In New Guinea, a miraculously preserved untouched by human civilization, pristine nature. Along the entire ocean coast stretched white, sandy beaches, bringing tourists back hundreds of years, when, in the 16th century, these lands first set foot on the European.
New Guinea on the map:
And today the white man begins to get acquainted with these edges with the capital of the state of Port Moresby. The city is very interesting, colorful, and offers a rich excursion program. Although local hotels do not boast a “Hilton” level of service, but the guest is provided with everything he needs.
The islands of New Guinea are of volcanic origin, and surrounded by countless picturesque lagoons, reefs, underwater plateaus, around which the underwater life in its amazing variety. The coastal ocean waters, since the time of great geographical discoveries, hide the wrecks of sunken ships full of treasures. It is an amazing region with its own mysteries and secrets.
New Guinea has a humid, tropical climate, and much of the area has mountainous terrain. High ranges (Bismarck Ridge, Central Ridge, Owen-Stanley Ridge) stretch across the country. Many volcanoes and mountain peaks rise to 3,000 meters or more above sea level, and the peak of Mount William is 4,509 meters high. Between the huge, considerably dissected cliffs lie the intermountain basins, which are about 1,500 meters above sea level.
Climatic features of this region can be considered the fact that the year here is divided into two seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. When they change, there are no abrupt temperature variations. The temperature fluctuates within +25 ° C (lower in the mountainous areas) and really hot it is only near the coast. Another surprising thing is that each season comes to different areas of the country at different times. It rains mostly from December to March in most areas, and the dry season lasts from May to October.
An interesting event took place in New Guinea in 2005. Scientists from the U.S. discovered a place where an untouched ecosystem was preserved. They called this place the Garden of Eden. The area of the garden is 300,000 hectares, on its territory were found previously unknown animals, insects, several species of palm trees, a lot of different plants, not familiar to science. Representatives of the local fauna is not afraid of humans, even allow to take themselves in his arms. This proves that they, too, for the first time have met people. “Gardens of Eden” – is essentially a safe from the influence of outside, forgotten by time, the virgin rainforest, in which man has not yet tread a single path. In this wonderful place, everything remains as it was at the moment of creation.
Giluwe Volcano is located in the province of Stern Highlands and is the highest volcano in all of Australia and Oceania. The slopes of the volcano are covered with green meadows. The summit of Giluwe was first conquered by Australians. Now many climbers come to New Guinea to repeat this climb.
The National Botanical Garden is located in the capital city of Port Moresby. There are 3,000 varieties of orchids, this is the largest collection of orchids in the southern hemisphere. This is a bird’s paradise where you can enjoy the local birds of paradise singing. Tourists from all over the world flock here to admire the amazing, huge collection of orchids, walk the hanging trails and get to know the “plant map” of Guinea.
The Bayer Reserve is another natural attraction worth seeing. This – river reserve, founded in 1968, has a huge area. Different species of parrots, possums, tree kangaroos and other animals live here. Here you can take a tour of the river, walk through the extremely beautiful places and admire the scenery.
Where to visit
As mentioned above, coming here, tourists have an amazing opportunity to experience a world of pristine, wild nature, virtually unaffected by human activity. Many nature reserves, national parks and gardens have been created here. First of all, we should mention the “two-headed” (with two peaks) shield volcano Giluwe. It is located in the Stern Highlands, and rises at 4368 meters, being the second highest peak in Guinea after Mount William, and the highest in Oceania and Australia. On the surface of Giluwa the view opens up amazingly beautiful green alpine meadows.
Another no less famous and wonderful place is Bayer Reserve, mentioned above Created by nature itself, it is located in the river basin, 55 km from Mount Hagen. And it is an amazing place where you can best get an idea of the animal and plant diversity and richness of this region.
Certainly, Lake Kutbu should be included in the list of places worthy of attention. Located in the Southern Highlands, it is famous for its scenic views and for the fact that rare species of fish have been found in its waters. The area of the lake is about 50 km². Kutbu Lake is surrounded by forested wetlands, which are protected by the state.
The first National Park of New Guinea, Varieta, cannot be overlooked in this review. Located near the capital city (only 42 km), it spreads over an area of more than 1,000 hectares. In the old days, this land was a favorite hunting ground of the local tribes. There is even a cult structure in the park – a tree-house worshipped by the Coiris tribe.
Separate mention should be made of the so-called “Kuk Swamps” – in the past, it was a settlement of farmers, located at 1500 meters above sea level, on the Western Highlands and occupies an area of 116 hectares. Since the middle of the last century, archaeologists have been constantly excavating on the site of the settlements.
Last on the list, but by no means the last in importance and value, is the National Museum of New Guinea. Visiting its exhibition halls, you can get acquainted in detail with the features of national culture, existing traditions and rich history of the country. The museum complex is constructed in such a way that different, thematically divided, parts of its exposition are located in different parts of the city. On the one hand it seems inconvenient, but on the other hand, residents and visitors to the capital, have the opportunity to address the spiritual heritage from different “angles”, including architectural.
Features of the national Guinean cuisine
The local menu looks not quite usual for Europeans. To common foodstuffs, such as fish or meat, local cooks abundantly add stewed vegetables and exotic fruits (for example, passion fruit, papaya, mango, pineapple, bananas, etc.). Tuber crops such as kaukau, taro, sago, yam, and pygue are widely represented in the national cuisine. And the most popular dish among the local population is “mumu”. It includes such ingredients as rice, yams, meat, herbs, and spices.
However, the increased flow of foreign tourists contributes to the appearance of restaurants offering Chinese, European and Indonesian cuisine. Of alcohol, the locals prefer beer made from recipes that have come from Australia and the Philippines.
Where to Stay
Finding a place to stay is not a problem. Moreover, it is possible to find a suitable option for any budget. If you can not afford to stay in a hotel, you can easily take advantage of the hospitality of the locals who will take a tourist for accommodation symbolic fee for breakfast. And for those who prefer to stay in a hotel, you should pay attention to Kimbe Bay. Dotted around the hotel are beautiful tropical gardens and quite close to coral reefs to engage in scuba diving. The apartments are air conditioned and have free internet access, as well as bars and restaurants.
Another, excellent hotel to consider is the Kimbe Bay West New Britain. It has a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean and, itself, is located in Kimbe Harbor, the “coral capital” of the world. The hotel is adjacent to the New Britain Island Highway. In the morning, there is a buffet for guests, and at all other times, the restaurant offers traditional Guinean dishes, as well as dishes from all over the world. The hotel has a currency exchange and a guarded parking lot.
Shopping in local stores
There are many large shopping malls and stores in the country. Most of them are open from 9:00 to 17:00, on all days except weekends. But some outlets also serve customers on Saturdays (until 1 p.m.) and even on Sundays. The counters are full of unusual goods produced in Guinea. Large outlets serve international bank cards, but withdrawing cash from them is very problematic.
ATMs are few and far between, and those that are there are mostly in big cities and the capital, and only serve customers who have a national bank account. It is almost impossible to pay with a card in the countryside. But, traveler’s checks are accepted in all branches, but you should be prepared for lines.
Bargaining is not customary in Guinean markets, and in the province, you can only pay in local currency, and, because of the scarcity of small denomination bills, it is quite possible not to get your change.
International Airport of New Guinea is located in the capital city of Port Moresby. An air ticket from Moscow to New Guinea will cost at least 800 euros one way. There is coastal shipping between all islands of the country. There is a problem with other types of transport in the country. This is because the road infrastructure is poorly developed. Cab services are also very rare. Tourists usually take a car for rent, but for this you need to have a credit bank card, an international driver’s license and driving experience. But when you have a “wheel,” there is a great opportunity to visit everywhere and see everything.
New Guinea’s crime rate is not much different from any other country. The same crimes as elsewhere: crooks, thieves, car thieves, burglars, etc. Also, the Guinean police do not mind making extra money on visitors. Most crimes take place in the cities and in the capital city. There are various criminal youth gangs. However, these crimes are not becoming epidemic, thanks to the efforts of the authorities.
Everyone who is going to visit the country, doctors strongly advise to make a set of inoculations. In the tropics are much more common diseases such as typhoid, cholera and malaria. Especially if for some reason it is not possible to stay in a hotel and eat only in a restaurant. And in relation to children, doctors are even more categorical and urge parents to immunize their children against a whole bouquet of possible diseases, which include: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, Japanese encephalitis and hepatitis B.
Knowing these subtleties and careful preparation for the trip is the key to an interesting vacation in New Guinea in 2022.