Geographically and culturally diverse, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a journey into the unknown and a rewarding experience for any traveller. Situated in the Oceania region north of Australia, this island nation is one of the world's fastest growing economies but also one of its most rural with strong tribal cultures and natural beauty.
With little tourism infrastructure outside the main tourist areas, PNG is a largely DIY experience. Comprising the eastern half of the island of New Guinea (the western half is an Indonesian territory) and smaller islands, the country achieved independence from Australia in 1975 and is still reconciling its independent status. The capital of Port Moresby is the entry point for most holidays with zoological gardens, government buildings and the museum.
The fascination with PNG lies with its stunning natural beauty and myriad ethnic groups and cultures. Of a population of over six million people there are 820 different languages spoken with the pidgin languages of Tok Piksin and Hiri Motu the most widespread. With such a variety of people within this nation, you'll also find a wide range of art and culture including dance, art, music and local handicrafts.
The island's geography is breathtakingly beautiful. From isolated mountainous terrain to tropical jungles, PNG is home to unique flora and fauna and countless species of marsupials, birds, mammals and marine life. Visitors to PNG can enjoy snorkeling and diving around coral reefs, swimming in pristine waters and hiking through the mountains and lowlands.
Trekking the 96km Kokoda Track from Port Moresby and into the Owen Stanley Range is the most popular attraction in PNG and a pilgrimage of sorts for many Australians. The historic World War II site takes about five days to traverse through challenging terrain for a truly memorable and life-affirming experience. Other areas of interest include the Highlands region, which is home to many distinct tribes and amazing cultures, the stunning and diverse islands, and the northern coast is the place to go to view still-active volcanoes and enjoy diving among colourful fish.
Due to the diversity of geography, getting around PNG can be quite difficult with some areas only accessible by airplane, which accounts for the almost 500 airports in the country. PNG is historically one of the world's aviation centres and the view from above as you traverse this beautiful land is not to be missed. For an unforgettable holiday to a truly unique locale, PNG is the ultimate adventure.