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Papua New Guinea

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Oceania : Papua New Guinea
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Efogi and Kagi Villages, Kokoda Track
Location
Papua New Guinea in its region.svg
Flag
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Port Moresby
Government Constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy
Currency kina (PGK)
Area total: 462,840 km2
land: 452,860 km2
water: 9,980 km2
Population 5,545,268 (July 2006 est.)
Language English spoken by 1%-2%, Tok Pisin widespread, Motu spoken in Papua region
note: 820 indigenous languages
Religion Roman Catholic 22%, Lutheran 16%, Presbyterian / Methodist / London Missionary Society 8%, Anglican 5%, Evangelical Alliance 4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1%, other Protestant 10%, indigenous beliefs 34%
Country code +675
Internet TLD .pg
Time Zone UTC+10

Discussion on defining regions for Papua New Guinea is in progress. If you know the area pretty well, please share your opinion on the talk page.


Papua New Guinea [1] is an island nation in Oceania.

Regions

The country can be conveniently divided into 9 regions:

Map of PNG with regions colour-coded

Cities

  • Port Moresby — the capital city with its interesting Zoological gardens, the Parliament building, the museum, and general Melanesian atmosphere.
  • Alotau — laid-back capital of Milne Bay province and gateway to some fascinating but remote islands.
  • Goroka — an attractive highland town with pleasant climate and the annual Goroka Show. Centre of the country's coffee industry.
  • Lae — the country's second city, main commercial center and gateway to the Highlands.
  • Mt. Hagen — the 'wild-west' frontier town in the Highlands, which will introduce you to the cool, crisp Highlands weather and Highlands culture.
  • Madang — a beautiful city with breathtaking flights of bats in the evening (it is illegal to hurt them), and even more breathtaking diving.
  • Rabaul — the city at the foot of an active volcano which was evacuated and severely damaged by a major eruption in 1994.
  • Vanimo — the border town if you want to make you way to or from the province of Papua in neighbouring Indonesia. Popular surfing destination.
  • Wewak — the gateway to the Sepik river, where you can experience Sepik culture, the river itself, and the elaborate carvings typical of the region.

Other destinations

  • Kokoda Track — an ancient trail across the Owen Stanley Range which became especially famous for its part in WWII.
  • Louisiade Archipelago — beautiful island group well off-the-beaten-path; world-class diving and yachting heaven.
  • Trobriand Islands — referred to by the anthropologist, Malinowski, as the "Islands of Love".

Understand

There is evidence of human settlement as long ago as 35,000 years in what is now Papua New Guinea. This comes from an archaeological site at Matenkupkum, just south of Namatanai in New Ireland province. Other archaeological digs at several locations in New Ireland have discovered tools and food residue dating back 20,000 years.

In more modern times, Papua New Guinea (known popularly as 'PNG'), the eastern half of the island of New Guinea (which is the second largest island in the world), was divided between Germany ('German New Guinea') and Great Britain ('British Papua') in 1884. The Dutch had West Papua, now the Indonesian territory of Papua. The southeast part of the island, also known as Papua, was owned by the UK but administered by Australia, and thus a colony of a colony, until Australian independence in 1901, when it became an Australian colony. In 1914, the Australians did their part in the Allied war effort and took control of German New Guinea, and continued to administer it as a Trust Territory under the League of Nations and (later) the United Nations. However, it was not just disinterested colonialism. Gold had been discovered in several places and was rapidly exploited. Remnants of vast gold dredges can still be seen in the Bulolo and Wau area.

During World War II, New Guinea was the site of fierce fighting on land (at Buin and on the Kokoda Track) and sea (at the Battle of the Coral Sea). It was the first place in the war where the Japanese advance was checked and then reversed. After the war, both New Guinea and Papua were administered from the government center of Port Moresby on the south coast, in Papua. In 1975, the country, now united as 'Papua New Guinea', achieved independence from Australia. Today Papua New Guinea continues to be the foremost country in Melanesia. The country struggles to fulfill the dreams of independence as economic stagnation, corruption, law and order problems, and a nine-year secessionist revolt on the island of Bougainville all conspire to make the country somewhat less than a tropical paradise.

The attempts by Bouganville to break away at the time of Independence led to a decision to offer the regions of the country a certain amount of political autonomy. Decentralization led to the establishment of nineteen provincial governments and the process of dividing up the country into unviable administrative units seems to be continuing, with a decision in 2009 to split both Southern Higlands and Western Highlands provinces into three new provinces.

In 2009, Papua New Guinea received 125,000 visitors, but only around 20% of these declared themselves as tourists. The country offers the traveler a true paradox. With little tourist infrastructure outside the main tourist areas, getting around can be tough. But Papua New Guineans themselves are wonderfully welcoming people who will go to great lengths to accommodate strangers. Tourism is well developed and growing in a handful of locations. Beyond these, the country is 120% adventure travel and not for the inexperienced or faint of heart.

For people who can make it out here, the experience is unforgettable. The incredible natural beauty is simply indescribable. Its unique flora and fauna includes enormous radiations of marsupials and birds, including the Raggiana bird-of-paradise (the national symbol) and several species of tree kangaroos. Untouched coral reefs compete with spectacular World War II wrecks for the attention of divers, and the hiking is out of this world.

With rugged terrain, inter-tribal mistrust, and diverse languages, intermarriage between the peoples has, until recently, been very limited. Physical and facial appearance varies significantly throughout the country; from those who look almost Polynesian in some coastal areas, through the short, stocky Highlanders, to the tall and statuesque people of the area around Rabaul in New Britain and the dark-skinned inhabitants of Bouganville, who could almost come from Africa.

The central highlands of Papua New Guinea were not mapped until the 1930s and not effectively brought under government control until the late 1960s. As a result, the people are as interesting as the geography, flora, and fauna. Papua New Guinea is a place that often markets itself as 'the Last Unknown' or a place where you can still find 'Stone Age People'. Of course, telling a Papua New Guinean that you consider them a stone age savage is incredibly rude. While you can, if you try hard enough, find old men who remember the first time they or anyone in their society saw metal, you'll also have trouble finding anyone who has not seen Titanic. Indeed, what makes Papua New Guinea so interesting today is not the fact that it is some sort of living museum, but its incredible dynamism. In the hundred-year shift from stone to steel to silicon, Papua New Guineans have turned the shortest learning curve in human history into one of the most colorful, and often idiosyncratic, experiments in modernity ever produced by human beings. Featuring ritual garb made of human hair and rolled up Instant Noodle wrappers, rap in Pidgin English, or tribal warriors named 'Rambo' for their valor in combat, Papua New Guinea's collision with global culture has been intense and fascinating. So don't worry about the fate of 'traditional culture': in the bar room brawl between Papua New Guinea and the global culture industry the biggest worry is keeping Papua New Guinea from pummeling global culture to a pulp.

A Huli Wigman from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

Climate

Papua New Guinea is just to the south of the equator and has a tropical climate. In the highlands, though, temperatures are distinctly cool. The (very) wet season runs from about December to March. The best months for trekking are June to September.

Terrain

The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, at the point of collision of several tectonic plates. There are a number of active volcanoes, and eruptions are frequent. Earthquakes are relatively common, sometimes accompanied by tsunamis.

The country's geography is diverse and, in places, extremely rugged. A spine of mountains, the New Guinea Highlands, runs the length of the island of New Guinea, forming a populous highlands region mostly covered with tropical rainforest. Dense rainforests can be found in the lowland and coastal areas as well as very large wetland areas surrounding the Sepik and Fly rivers. This terrain has made it difficult for the country to develop transportation infrastructure. In some areas, airplanes are the only mode of transport. The highest peak is Mount Wilhelm at 4,509 metres (14,793 ft). Papua New Guinea is surrounded by coral reefs which are under close watch to preserve them.

Read

There are many great books about Papua New Guinea, including great fiction as well as non-fiction. An excellent book for the general reader about Papua New Guinea is Sean Dorney's Papua New Guinea: People, Politics, and History Since 1975. The third edition is the best, but it is pretty hard to find outside of Australia (and is not that easy to find there).

John Laurel Ryan, a former employee of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), also wrote an excellent book, "The Hot Land" which was published about 1970. Among other fascinating historical information it contains accounts of various manifestations of cargo cult, John Teosin's "baby garden" on Buka Island, and eye-witness reports that have been rigidly suppressed in other media about the Indonesian takeover of what was formerly Dutch West Papua. This excellent and at times disturbing book will also be hard to find, and sadly its author even harder!

There is also a lot of anthropological work that has been done in Papua New Guinea (leading some to term the area an "anthropologist's laboratory"), which can contribute greatly to an understanding of the different groups in the region. Some of the more accessible volumes include Malinowski's "Argonauts of the Western Pacific", centred on the Trobriand Islanders, living just north of Papua New Guinea itself; Reading the skin - Michael O'Hanlon; Coaxing the spirits to dance - Welsch, Webb et al; The Art of Kula - SF Campbell; Inalienable Possessions - AB Weiner.

Get in

Entry requirements

All foreign nationals who wish to enter Papua New Guinea are required to obtain a visa (either in advance or on arrival).

A visa (valid for 60 days, also known as 'Easy Visitor Permit') can be obtained on arrival in PNG (fee: 100 kina per person) if the applicant is not a national of one of the following countries: all African countries (including North Africa), all Middle Eastern countries, all Central American and Caribbean countries (except Mexico), all Central Asian countries, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, China (not including Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan), Cyprus, Georgia, India, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam (see here for the full list of countries).

Alternatively, a visa (also known as an 'entry permit') can be obtained in advance at a PNG embassy, high commission or consulate. The application fee (per person) is 75 kina (tourist/visitor), 200 kina (yachtsperson), 500 kina (businessperson/journalist) or 50 kina (sportsperson). The application form is available at [2].

If you live in a country that does not have a Papua New Guinean embassy or consulate, you may be able to apply for a PNG visa in advance at an Australian or British embassy, high commission or consulate. For example, the Australian Embassy in Copenhagen [3] accepts applications for PNG visas from residents of Denmark, Iceland and Norway; the Australian Embassies in Budapest [4] and Warsaw [5] also issue PNG visas. The British Embassy in Minsk [6] and Riyadh and the British Consulates in Al Khobar and Jeddah [7] accept applications for PNG visas (this list is not exhaustive). British diplomatic posts charge £50 to process a PNG visa application and an extra £70 if the PNG Department of Immigration and Citizenship requires the visa application to be referred to them. The PNG Department of Immigration and Citizenship can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.

More information about the PNG visas is available at the website of the PNG Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

By plane

Jackson International Airport in Port Moresby is the nation's international airport.

View over Port Moresby
  • Pacific Blue [10] connects Port Moresby to Brisbane four times a week.

By boat

The ports include Madang, Lae, and Port Moresby on the mainland, Kieta on Bougainville, and Rabaul and Kimbe on New Britain. However, they are only internal ferries. International ferries are unavailable.

There are also cruises such as the Coral Princess [12] and ones from Aurora Expeditions [13].

By land

The only land border is with Papua (Irian Jaya), Indonesia, and crossing it involves some preparations but is not that difficult as it might have been. In Jayapura, Indonesia, there is a consulate to apply for a tourist visa. The consulate is located in Mendi, a 10 min green PMV (public motor vehicle) ride away from Jayapura's capital. The price is 2000 rupiah.

Depending on your Indonesian visa there are different options to cross the border. If you have a visa on arrival, issued to you for example at the Jakarta Airport, you can only cross the border using a boat or by stamping out at customs in Jayapura and then immediately traveling to the border 30km away. Western travelers attempting the latter should expect to pay some miscellaneous fees and jump moderate bureaucratic hoops before leaving.

Boats can be rented from Hamedi. Any other type of visa you can rent a car, or an ojek and cross the land border. If renting a vehicle for the crossing one should expect to pay approximately 300,000 rupiah from Jayapura town and travelers should expect to pay upwards of 500,000 rupiah to return from the border to Jayapura.

Get around

By car

Papua New Guinea is a strange place when it comes to travel. The tropical conditions, fierce geography, and lack of government capacity means there are very few paved roads in the country.

With the exception of a brief span of road connecting it to the immediate hinterland and a road that will enable you to follow the coast southeast for a few hours, there are no major roads linking Port Moresby to anywhere else.

On the north coast, a tenuous highway runs from Madang to Wewak only in theory.

The big exception to this is the Highlands Highway, which begins in Lae (the country's main port) and runs up into the highlands through Goroka to Mt. Hagen with a fork going back to the coast and Madang. Shortly outside Mt. Hagen the road branches, with southern line going through the Southern Highlands to Tari while the northern line runs through Enga province and ends in Porgera.

Minivan PMVs navigating muddy "highway" near Madang

By public motor vehicles (PMV)

The most common way to travel is by PMV/bus with the locals.

Lae, Madang, Goroka, Tari, and Mount Hagen are all connected by a good highway. As a newcomer it is probably advisable to get help from locals (e.g., hotel-staff). Most towns have several starting points. A trip from Lae to Madang costs around 20 Kina, to Mt. Hagen 30 Kina.

By plane

Papua New Guinea has historically been one of the world centers for aviation and still features some of the most spectacular flying in the world. In the 1920s, Lae was the busiest airport in the world - it was there that aviators in the gold mining industry first proved that it was commercially feasible to ship cargo (and not just people) by air. In fact, Lae was where Amelia Earhart set off on her last journey.

Air transport is still the most common way to get around between major urban centers - indeed, pretty much every major settlement is built around an airstrip. In fact, the main drag of Mt. Hagen is the old airstrip! Travel from the coast into the Highlands is particularly spectacular (don't take your eyes off the window for a second!) and pilots from Australia, New Zealand, America and other countries work here just for the great flying experience. If you do not like like small planes (or even smaller helicopters) however, flying to more remote locations here may not be the best option for you.


The two major domestic airlines are Air Niugini and Airlines PNG:

  • Air Niugini connects Port Moresby and, to a lesser extent, Lae with most of the provincial capitals, but does not offer much of a service between the smaller towns. A domestic route map is available at [14]. The airline flies Fokker F100s as well as smaller propellor planes.
  • Airlines PNG connects a large number of smaller centers. Planes with a seating capacity from 20 to 36. It operates on the mainland and does not serve the main outer islands. A route map is available at [15].
Ferry from Madang to Wewak

By boat

People living in the archipelagos get around locally with the ubiquitous banana boat, a 30-40 ft fiberglass hull with an outboard motor.

Also, two or three shipping lines also sell tickets for passengers who want to leapfrog from one city to another. These ferries run only two or three times per week and offer upper and lower class. Upper gets you a bunk to sleep on while lower gets you a hard seat.

There is a ferry twice a week between Madang and Wewak.

One small ship leaves the city of Lae once a week, stopping at Finschhafen and Umboi Island. Sleeping on the open deck of a ship as it crawls slowly through the South Pacific night is about as romantic as it sounds, but beware - it gets cold on the open ocean no matter where you are, so take some warm clothes or buy a cabin inside.

Talk

With over 800 languages, it was pretty difficult to get everyone talking to each other. Two pidgins grew up in this area; Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu, and when the Anglophones married the Hulis and the babies learned the only language they had in common, Tok Pisin became a creole. Tok Pisin sometimes looks like it is English written phonetically ("Yu dring; yu draiv; yu dai" means "You drink; you drive; you die"), but it is not; it has more personal pronouns than English and its own quite different syntax.

Tok Pisin is spoken in most of the country and short, inexpensive guidebooks on learning Tok Pisin can be acquired in the many bookstores.

Hiri Motu is spoken in Port Moresby and other parts of Papua, though since Port Moresby is the capital, you're likely to find Tok Pisin speakers in the airport, banks, or government. When approaching locals, try to speak English first; using Tok Pisin or another language can make it look like you are assuming they don't know English.

You might sometimes have trouble hearing what the locals are saying because they speak very quietly. It is considered rude by some of the local groups to look people in the eyes and to speak loudly.

See

Welcoming party at a Hiro Moale Festival

South New Guinea

The Kokoda Trail is a 60-mile trail, beginning in the Port Moresby area and leading up into the Owen Stanley Range. This trail was first used by gold miners in the 1890s and is most known as a historical World War II site as the Japanese tried to reach Port Moresby along it. It takes about five days to hike this track, which includes plenty of ups and downs between mountain ridges and streams.

Village show for tourists in Tari Basin

The Highlands

The Highland region is made of long string of fertile valleys, each separated by mountains, that mean the Highlands are composed of many distinct tribal regions.

In the Eastern Highlands is Mount Wilhelm, Papua New Guinea's highest mountain (14,880 feet). Climbing Wilhelm is relatively easy; but three or four days are recommended to allow for sightseeing. There are views of both the north and south coasts of New Guinea from the peak. The Wahgi River in this area is considered one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the world.

Haus Tambaran in Sepik River Region

The Northern Coast

  • Madang is good for scuba diving of all levels,and the coral reefs are home to a variety of rare species of colorful fish. There are also underwater wrecks of Japanese fighter planes, with weapons and cargo intact. There are still-active volcanoes for trekkers to hike up not far from Madang.
  • Further west you come to Wewak. It is the gateway to the Sepik River region with a fascinating culture distinct from that of the Highlands. Take long canoe rides up the river and it's tributaries to visit the impressive Haus Tambaran's[16].
A Baining firedancer entering the flames on New Britain

The Islands

  • New Britain. This island offers excellent swimming and snorkeling. Trails in the area are perfect for day hikes and treks through the rainforest. There are also hot thermal springs and bubbling mud holes in this region of the island. The Baining people who inhabit the northeastern area of New Britain are famous for creating ephemeral art-forms, perhaps no better demonstrated than by their firedance. A dramatic and beautifully made mask is constructed from bark for this ceremony and thrown away as worthless immediately afterwards.
  • Bougainville. Well off-the-beaten-path in the far east of the country, with great untapped tourism potential. World-class diving, dramatic treks and World War II Japanese relics are the key attractions.
  • Trobriand Islands. The so called Islands of Love are well known for their unique culture.

Do

Coral reefs in crystal clear waters

Scuba Diving

Go scuba diving, using one of more than a dozen local scuba diving operators. The national Scuba Diving industry body [17] is a good starting point. Papua New Guinea has some of the very best tropical reef diving anywhere in the word.

Birdwatching

This a birdwatching mecca with over 700 species of birds including many birds of paradise[18]. Definitely bring a pair of decent binoculars and ask in the villages for a volunteer to help you find the birds. An amazing experience!

Surfing

Information through the Surfing Association.[19]

Trekking

Another popular attraction here is trekking through the mountains, coastal lowlands and rolling foothills of the Kokoda and other trails. The Kokoda Track attracts many hundreds of walkers a year.

Festivals

The most popular activities for tourists here are festivals such as the The Sing-Sing performances at the annual Goroka and Mt. Hagen shows. During these shows, there are usually more than fifty ensembles that turn up. The festivals are competitive and the winning ensemble is rewarded by being invited to give concerts at many restaurants and hotels during the following year. This beauty and colorfulness of New Guinea’s festivals is both pleasing to watch for tourists and helps the locals financially.

Fishing

Fishing is becoming increasingly popular. Species include Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Yellow Fin, Skipjack and Dogtooth Tuna and the Giant Trevally. Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish), Mackerel and Wahoo. A particularly challenging fish is the black bass, which, pound for pound, is considered to be the toughest fighting fish in the world.

Flightseeing

Flightseeing is a word that should have been coined here. If you can afford it, just flying around some of the remote airstrips is an adventure in itself. There are strips that seem impossibly short, strips that seem to end with a mountain, strips where if you don't take off in time you will plunge into a ravine, and airstrips surrounded on three sides by water. From Port Moresby you don't have to fly far to get the experience. There are flights to villages on the Kokoda trail and others in the Owen Stanley mountain range in Central Province and you can fly a scheduled circuit or "milk run" in one morning, although you will have to be at the airport by 5:00 a.m. Check with Airlines PNG[20] for schedules. Fane, Ononge and Tapini strips are particularly scary. Remember your life insurance.

Buy

There is not so much shopping in the regular sense. In the major cities there are a few malls and supermarkets. Otherwise, most of the shopping is done in small markets that are held irregularly. A great place to visit is the craft market which is held once per month in Port Moresby opposite Ela beach in the car park of the IEA TAFE College. There it is possible to buy handicrafts from every part of the country. Although it is slightly more expensive than out in the villages, the prices are very reasonable. Haggling is not really an accepted custom, one can haggle a bit but to do it excessively could annoy the locals.

Don't buy bird feathers.

Eat

The food is largely devoid of spices. A typical way of cooking is a Mumu, an underground oven in which meat and vegetables, such as Kaukau (sweet potatoes), are cooked. In just about every meal, there is rice and another form of starch.

In the lodges that tourists stay, in there is usually a blend between this type of food and a more Westernised menu.

Drink

There are brands of local beer. The local brew, SP (short for South Pacific) Lager, is owned by Heineken. Excessive alcohol consumption, primarily of beer, is a major social problem. Beers and wines are often served fairly warm due to a lack of refrigeration in certain areas. Also, while the water quality varies from place to place (and in some cases from day to day), it is generally best to stick to bottled water, even in the upper-market hotels.

Sleep

Papua New Guinea offers a wide choice of accommodation for tourists with very little of it budget.

Hotels are very expensive (about $100/night). Guesthouses are the best budget option in the towns but even then still expensive (about $40/night.) The least expensive option is to stay in village guesthouses (about $15/night), and that is where the fun is anyhow.

Port Moresby has international hotels including the Crown Plaza and Airways International, mid range hotels such as Lamana and guesthouses. The regional areas offer International and budget hotels depending on the size of the town and some provinces have guest houses. There is a new eco-tourist lodge in Alotau called Ulumani Treetops Lodge, the place is beautiful overlooking the Milne Bay and offers a new bungalow or backpacker options.

There is a very expensive lodge ($200/night) that sits on the edge of Tari basin, called Ambua Lodge that is run by Australians. This lodge is "an inspired mixture of local architecture, spectacular views and modest luxury off the beaten track." It is in the Tari Gap 2100 m in the Southern Highlands, which is the homeland of the Huli clan with their human hair wigs adorned with colourful flowers. It borders on the mid-montane rain forest and grasslands which gives a spring feeling all year round. This lodge won the 1991 Pacific Asia Travel Association's Pacific Heritage Award which cited it due to its "superb example of culturally sensitive and ecological responsible tourism."

A stone's throw down the road from Ambua Lodge is the more rustic Warili Lodge, which is run by locals, is only $20/night, and offers birdwatching as good as, or better, than that offered at Ambua Lodge.

Learn

Work

There is a workforce of close to two million people in a few different industries. There is high demand for skilled people but it is still difficult for women and men that are considered to be "unskilled" to find work. Many people have informal small businesses to make money.

Stay safe

Tavurvur volcano is very close to Rabaul, in East New Britain

This has a reputation as a risky destination in some circles (primarily Australian ones), predominantly because of the activities of criminal gangs (known in Tok Pisin as raskols) in major cities, especially in Port Moresby and Lae.

That is generally a result of unemployment stemming from increased domestic migration from subsistence farming in the hills to the nearest urban area.

There is no history of heavy settlement in the Port Moresby and Lae areas. Hence, they are colonial cities comprised of a mix of tribal people which fosters instability. Madang, Wewak, Goroka, Mt. Hagen, and Tari are much safer with longer periods of settlement and a more stable tribal homogeneity.

The villages are quite safe as the locals will "adopt" you as one of their own.

If you are planning a trip to Papua New Guinea, avoid spending time in the cities as they are boring and devoid of the culture to be found in the villages.

If you must, the most important thing is to stay up to date on the law and order situation in the locations you are planning to visit.

Most hotels in Port Moresby are secure and situated inside compounds, generally with guards patrolling the perimeter. However, actual gunfire in the capital is mercifully rare. If you plan on taking a tour of any city, make inquiries with your hotel or accommodation provider, as many will be able to either walk with you or drive you to wherever you are planning to go, or just around the local area if that is what you want to do.

Avoid going out after dark, but if you must, stay very alert.

Flying in small planes can be very risky. Hardly a year goes by without at least one fatal accident (the most recent in August 2009 when 12 people were killed). While the planes are usually well-maintained and the pilots technically proficient the problem is the mountainous terrain. Many smaller airfields are situated in steep valleys. When there is cloud cover planes have difficulty in finding them and sometimes crash into a mountain. The national airline, Air Niugini, which flies internationally and to the major cities of the country has, however, an unblemished safety record in 32 years of operation.

Saltwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are common in Papua New Guinea and are capable of growing to immense lengths of 7 m or more (although individuals over 6 m are rare). They occasionally devour humans and should be shown respect at all times. They are equally at home in coastal waters as they are in freshwater lakes and rivers. Swimming is generally not advised except at higher elevations and in hotel swimming pools. Papua New Guinea, along with Australia, has the highest and healthiest population of large Saltwater Crocodiles in the world.

Papua New Guinea is home to many active volcanoes and several of the most popular treks involve getting close or actually climbing one or more of these. Always heed local advice and a regular check of The Smithsonian Institute's Volcanic Activity Report [21] would be wise.

Scams

There are some rogue travel operators in Papua New Guinea who have taken people's money and then failed to provide the itinerary agreed or even in some cases have not bought the flights that were paid for, leaving travellers stranded or having to buy new tickets themselves. It is wise to use a search engine and travel forums to investigate the operator you are considering before paying any deposits. Be aware that these operators will often change their names from time to time.

Stay healthy

Tap water in some regions can be unsafe to drink.

Malaria can be a hazard as well, although many villages, particularly those connected to industry, are regularly treated for mosquitoes. Take the appropriate precautions against mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases.

Malaria medication can be purchased at the pharmacies and, in addition to warding of malaria, will keep your stomach happy as well.

Respect

As in many Melanesian cultures, greeting people with a friendly handshake is very important. Be aware, however, that it is a sign of respect not to make eye contact. The sight of hotel staff calling you by name, shaking your hand and looking at the floor may seem unusual at first.

Cope

Newspapers

Papua New Guinea has two daily newspapers that include up-to-date exchange rates and other important information:

  • The Post Courier [22] ('the Post')
  • The National [23] The National

Contact

Get out


This article contains content from Wikipedia's Papua New Guinea article. View that page's New Guinea}}&action=history revision history for the list of authors.




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