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Things to see and do in Papua New Guinea

Attractions in Papua New Guinea

Explore the Eastern Highlands

Rugged mountains and verdant valleys characterise the Eastern Highlands, making it popular with hikers. But it's not just about nature: the region is a fine place to explore Papua New Guinean heritage. Bena Village, near Goroka, is a sight to behold with its megalithic ruins and thatched houses, which are decorated with human skulls. Then there's Asaro, where men coat themselves with mud and re-enact their historic revenge on a neighbouring village.

Go scuba diving

Make the most of spectacular swimming, snorkelling and diving opportunities off the beautiful beaches of Papua New Guinea. From wrecks to reefs, Madang, Port Moresby and Rabaul offer a wide variety of dive sites. Diving excursions can also be arranged at Loloaka, Milne Bay and off the island of New Britain, where some of the region's finest sites can be found.

Kick back in the capital, Port Moresby

The Papua New Guinean capital nestles on Fairfax Harbour and is one of the least liveable cities in the world, according to The Economist. Don't let that put you off, though. Port Moresby has a fair share of attractions including the National Parliament, the National Museum, the Botanical Gardens and the Catholic Cathedral, built in the style of a traditional haus tambaran (meetinghouse). Nevertheless, most use it as gateway to the rest of the country.

Marvel at Madang

Once described as the "prettiest town in the South Pacific," Madang is a popular launching pad for travellers looking to explore Papua New Guinea's extraordinary underwater world. As well as being a gateway to reefs, wrecks and crystalline waters, Madang has a variety of shops and markets, where local crafts can be bought. The scenery is also unremittingly beautiful.

Shop for crafts in Kanganaman

Visit Kanganaman, a traditional Papa New Guinean village, where carvers of exceptional talent whittle wood into elaborate masks, totems and figurines. The village is also home to a beautiful haus tambaran (meetinghouse), which is perhaps one of the finest examples of such a building in the country.

Soak up the scenery of the Mendi Valley

For a hair-raising experience with spectacular scenery, take a trip to the Mendi Valley in the Southern Highlands, also known for its limestone caves and sheer rock faces. It is also home to the Huli wigmen, who decorate themselves with face paint and elaborate wigs made of human hair.

Spot birds-of-paradise

Witness the beauty of the famous birds-of-paradise at Baiyer River Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Highlands. Located 55km (34 miles) north of Mount Hagen, this beautiful nature reserve is also home to possums, tree kangaroos, parrots, cassowaries and bandicoots. The area boasts some great trekking opportunities.

Take a hike on the Kokoda Trail

Starting just outside Port Moresby, the Kokoda Trail offers magnificent views as it wends through ravines, rainforests and rubber plantations. The 96km (60-mile) route is not for the fainthearted: hikers must endure extreme humidity, mosquitoes and torrential rail. Other places of interest include the Wairiata National Park, Moitaka Crocodile Farm and Loloata Island.

Trek through Chambri

Take a river or jungle tour in the Chambri region, stopping at remote villages where houses are built on stilts, and the dugout canoe is still the main means of transport. Hear villagers play slit drums and see elaborate local carvings.

Wake early for birdwatching

Pack your binoculars and head to Chambri Lakes, which are home to myriad species from brahminy kites to kingfishers. Go on an early morning jungle excursion to experience a wonderful cacophony of bird song, which brings in the new day.

While away the day in Lae Botanical Gardens

Stroll through the beautiful botanical gardens in Lae, a verdant oasis in the capital of Morobe Province. The grounds are home to roughly 2,000 different plant species and are crisscrossed by various creeks. Adjacent to the botanical gardens is the Lae War Cemetery, which holds the remains of some 2,800 soldiers who gave their lives in WWII.

Tourist offices

Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority

Address: Port Moresby, PO Box 1291
Telephone: 320 0211.
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