With superb dive sites, surfing reefs and game fishing, jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes (fierce in parts), remote villages and genuinely friendly locals, it’s surprising that more of us aren’t searching for cheap flights to Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea is composed of its mainland and 600 islands (New Ireland, New Britain, Bougainville and Manus are among the biggest). There are 6.5 million people living in about 1,000 tribes speaking 800 languages; PNG is one of the most diverse countries. About 85 per cent of the population are subsistance farmers, living very traditionally, the remaining 15 live in the cities – Port Moresby (the capital), Lae, Mount Hagen, Madang, Wewak, Goroka and Rabaul.
There is one place in Papua New Guinea that has the greatest significance for Australians – the Kokoda Track. This 96km track through the Owen Stanley Ranges to Kokoda and beyond to the lowlands close to the Solomon Sea is the site of a series of battles between an ill-equipped Australian militia and the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942. Knowing that if Port Moresby fell, the Japanese Army would turn their attention to Darwin and Brisbane, the Australian soldiers dug in, securing victory for the Allies. Today, about 5,000 Australians walk the track through rain forest, crossing rivers, making steep ascends and descends. It’s a physical and emotional challenge and, for those following in the footsteps of loved ones who fought in 1942, a spiritual journey.
Papua New Guinea, located south of the Equator, has a Tropical climate. The northwest monsoon brings rain between December and March, the southeast monsoon dry weather between May and October. Port Moresby and other towns along the coast are hot and humid during the summer months, the highlands, naturally, will be cooler. There’s great variation throughout Papua New Guinea. In Lae and Alotau, for example, May to October is the wet season. The islands, New Britain, New Ireland and Bougainville, have rainfall patterns that differ to those on the mainland.
Peak Season / Off Season:
The peak season in Papua New Guinea really depends on what you want to do when you get there. Early March to the end of November is busy domestically as this is when several public holidays and school holidays fall and there are cultural shows such as the Mount Hagen cultural show (August) taking place too. Domestic flights are busy during this time.
July, August, and September are the best months for trekking holidays (including the Kokoda Track). The peak surf season runs from November through to late April. The peak flowering season is December to March.
Just a few of the popular events that take place in Papua New Guinea throughout the year are the Kavieng District Cultural Show (once known as Malagan Festival) in July, Mount Hagen Cultural Show in August, Goroka Show in mid-September and Alotau Canoe and Kundu Festival in November.
There’s a great air network in Papua New Guinea. Jacksons International Airport is the major airport. From there, travellers can connect to more than 100 airports around the country.
The road network is good between the Northern zone and the Highlands, but there’s no road link between the Northern zone and Port Moresby due to the terrain.
There are taxis and local buses in the cities, bus services also operate around the country.
Boats and ferries ply the waters – river cruises and ferries to the islands.