Papua New Guinea (known as PNG) lies south of the equator, just north of Australia, and shares a border with Indonesia. The country consists of 87 districts, 22 provinces, 600 islands.
No where else on the planet can one explore so much diversity with 600 different tribes and almost 800 spoken languages, accounting for 45% of languages spoken in the world!
PNG has warm wet and dry seasons, with spectacular landscapes – high ridges and steep valleys on the mainland and islands fringed with coral reefs. The bio-diversity is astounding with 646 species of birds, and a plethora of flora and fauna that thrive here. If you’re lucky, you might spot the elusive birds of paradise, the Raggiana, King of Saxony, Stephanie’s Astraphia.
This is a destination for nature lovers, adventure seekers, bird watchers, divers, trekkers who follow the famous 8-day Kokoda Trail or hike to the peak of Mt Wilhelm. Many travelers come to PNG just for cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
Sharing our week’s itinerary with some favorite places to stay, dine & where to go & more. Our tour itinerary included a 1 night stay in Port Moresby before and after our travels, to account for any potential delays in our schedule.
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Interested in traveling to Papua New Guinea? We can introduce you to local tour operators, email us at: email@example.com
TOUR ITINERARY (Port Moresby – Wewak/Sepik River – Mt. Hagen – Goroka – Port Moresby)
Day 1: Port Moresby – We highly recommend overnighting in Port Moresby at the Hilton on your first and last night in PNG.
The Hilton Port Moresby delights you with unique architecture that reflects the diverse tribal art. Once indoors you are met with staff that embody the kindness of Papua New Guinea and the hospitality of a luxury hotel experience.
Our king-size bed suites were spacious with a contemporary design, luxury linens, towels and a large bathtub by Progretto.
Enjoy a meal at one of the first class restaurants, or enjoy complimentary breakfast or happy hour at the exclusive Executive Lounge on the top floor with panoramic views.
Relax by the pool or follow the ‘Wander Wonder’ walking tour of the grounds to learn more about the fascinating history of “the land of the unexpected”. There is 24-hour security and complimentary airport meet/greet shuttle service. The hotel is connected via walkway to the Kutubu Convention Centre, offering a range of state-of-the-art event spaces.
After checking into our hotel, we met Director Elle Paine of Pepeta PNG and her team, Wesley & Kayla who presented us with a gift, the local Bilum string bag commonly carried by locals.
Pepeta PNG gave us a city tour of the Parliament Building and Arts and Culture Museum& Port Moresby Nature Park with 30 acres of manicured gardens, cultural displays, and areas where we saw birds of paradise, tree kangaroos, cassowari, and even a crocodile!
Day 2: Wewak to Sepik River – After a 4 hour drive to Pagwi on rough road and 1 hour ride in a dug out canoe, we visited the Korogu village on Sepik River and met villagers, learned about the local way of life and saw the stilt homes & a Spirit House or Haus Tamburan where rituals, initiations and community meetings take place.
If there was more time, we would have continued to Ainom Village, known for its clay pot makers and the Kanganum Village to see how they fish, make sago & build canoes.
You can opt to overnight in a Village (very basic accommodations) or return to Wewak and stay at Wewak Boutique Hotel.
Day 3: Wewak to Mt Hagen – We departed Wewak for Mt Hagen via POM. After a driving tour of Mt Hagen with our driver and guides to see tea plantations, a coffee factory, markets and the scenic landscape outside of Mt Hagen, we returned to town for dinner at Sweet Spot – delicious and clean.
Overnighted at Hotel Kimininga – basic accommodations but clean.
Day 4: Mt Hagen Sing-Sing Pre-Show – We drove to Paiakona village and met tribes from all over PNG – Western & Eastern Highlands, Madang & more! We also met the Asaro mud men. There was a pit oven roasting lunch with pork, chicken, sweet potatoes and local foods.
For dinner, we visited the Highlander Hotel and enjoyed the variety of local dishes at their buffet & dessert table.
Day 5: Mt Hagen Sing-Sing is one of PNG’s oldest shows that celebrates the rich heritage of the local culture with 75 tribes that come from all over PNG to perform. Our guide Ben and driver Amos picked us up early so we could see the pre-festival activities and watch the tribes prepare their costumes, body & face make-up.
This was the 60th year of the Sing-Sing Festival. Our guide told us the festival’s origins started as a peaceful way for tribes to come together and showcase their dance and song.
The tribes people draw inspiration from the region’s landscapes, and some even mimic birds in their dress, song & dance. Watching the performances was like seeing the pages of National Geographic come to life. Truly an amazing spectacle!
There were about 75 tribes present with almost 50,000 visitors and locals. We learned about various tribes and their customs, as well as met tribes people including:
- Lufa group
- Kaula group
- Black Mama Women group
- Huli Wigmen
- Keltiga women group
The tribe with the Red, white, blue faces were from the western highlands. There were thousands of local people outside the show gates and walking to show.
Overnight and Dinner at hotel Kimininga
Tip! If you’re in Mt Hagen on a Saturday, visit the local market and see the range of produce or buy a Highland Hat.
Day 6: Drive to Goroka, capitol of the Eastern Highlands. Our driver and guide drove us across the Highlands, stopping along the way to buy a locally handmade floral wreaths sold on the roadside.
We saw a performance at the Asaro mudmen village where they originated.
The drive was scenic was we were transferred between the Western to Eastern Highlands.
PNG Experiences We hired local guide Steven Tendi, owner of PNG Experiences to prepare the itinerary in Wewak and the Highlands. We spent most of our time in Wewak & the Sepik River, and the Western & Eastern Highlands from Mt. Hagen to Goroka. Our main focus for this trip was the Mt. Hagen Sing-Sing Festival that takes place each year in August.
Our driver and guides were professional and attentive to our needs.
Steven Tendi is an Inbound Tour Operator and established his company in 2001 with its head office in Mount Hagen, the heart of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. His services includes tours to Sepik River, Madang, Tari ,Enga, Trobriand Islands Milne Bay Province, Rabaul and Kavieng.
Good to note: Add some extra time to your itinerary and anticipate potential delays & cancellations. Some roads in the Highlands could be blocked due to landslides, vehicle issues, etc. and there are often delayed & cancelled flights on local airlines Air Niugini & PNG Air. Coordinate a back-up plan with your local guide, and add an extra day in Port Moresby to ensure you catch your outgoing international flight.
Word of Caution: Check the U.S. Department of State site for travel advisories & alerts prior to traveling. Papua New Guinea is aptly called the “land of the unexpected”. While full of amazing culture, beautiful landscape and kind people it is not for the faint of heart. Travel is, more often than not, difficult. Due to a developing infrastructure travelers must anticipate delayed or canceled flights, unfinished roads with potholes, and political unrest. Safety precautions should be taken very seriously to avoid theft, carjacking, and physical harm.
Written by: Patricia Stone & Melissa Stevenson
Acknowledgements: Global Adventuress thanks Hilton Port Moresby & Pepeta PNG for hosting us.