Trekking in Papua New Guinea

Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall is on a mission to discover 52 of the most awe-inspiring places to visit across the world. This week Tom gets active in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s obscurity hides a wealth of treasures. It occupies about half of the island of Papua plus a host of outlying islands doing their best impersonation of paradise.

Papua New Guinea is best known, however for its dramatic Highlands. The fertile valleys, soaring mountains and raging rivers are home to often outlandishly dressed local tribes, some of whom met Europeans as late as the 1930s. Taboos, ancestor worship and tribal ties are still very much observed, making meeting the locals a fascinating experience.

Why go to Papua New Guinea?

The real reason to come to Papua New Guinea though is to get active. The Sepik River is an opportunity for a classic adventure – travellers can paddle between stilt villages, spotting birds of paradise and enjoying sunsets on flower-strewn waters.

Try one of the world's greatest walks

The Kokoda Track is rightly heralded as one of the world’s greatest walks. This path, crossing the Owen Stanley Range became one of the great battlegrounds of WWII. Here Australians and Japanese soldiers scrapped over 60 miles of mountainous jungle during 1942 and into 1943, with nearly 20,000 fatalities. Today the six-to nine-day trek is a pilgrimage for some and a highlight for everyone who undertakes it.

Planning your trip to Papua New Guinea

August is cooler and drier than at other times of year, making it the best time to tackle either river or mountain. Attempting either can help make Papua into a more affordable destination. Most other travel is by plane which becomes expensive quickly – stay on land and keep the costs down.

Further information

For a very wild country Papua New Guinea has some excellent digital information. PNG Tourism has a mix of official information and links to tour companies.

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