Would you go backpacking alone to a place that has a reputation of being notoriously dangerous like Papua New Guinea?
In spite of the bad press and information I was given, I took the risk, and I had an absolutely wonderful time up there. Quite frankly, I have rarely experienced such hospitality!
The key to success was making friends from this amazing country before I started traveling. Hanging around Cairns for a few weeks gave me a chance to meet the right people to start planning my adventure. In Papua New Guinea, I spent one month in total: one week in the capital, Port Moresby, then two weeks in The Highlands, and the last week in Madang Province. Once I met friendly Papuan, I could always rely on someone recommended while on the road. Port Moresby, being avoided by tourists like a plague, I found to be a great place. Unless you have someone local to hang with, you will enjoy its laid back atmosphere. Roaming around colourful, busy markets, or using PMV buses full of music, locals singing in Pisin language, or explaining to curious people around what is a reason of your visit, are simply exciting! If you overcome your prejudice to betel nuts and try to chew a few with your newly made friends, you will become a 100% Papuan.
The Highlands, discovered barely sixty years ago, offer other attractions as well. Once getting to the village, you automatically become a member of the tribe. As walking alone in the capital might be a bit risky, there is no fear in walking by yourself in a village. You will be always assisted by autochtohons, who will show you the best of the village and explain whatever you wish to know about their life. An amazing tropical forest with its birds of paradise and plenty of breath taking walking tracks are just the cherries on the top of an already wonderful experience!
Those who love a real adventure will find a fifteen hour long trip by crowded PMV bus from Wabag to Madang really fun. Constantly changing varieties of stunning landscapes watched from a window, and heaps of opportunities to chat with talkative passengers, make it definitely worth experiencing.
After the fascinating, albeit cold, Highlands, Madang town and Province with their tropical influence, beautiful beaches full of sparkling sand, jaw dropping reefs and bays, was a welcome change. I found instantly the reason why the town is considered a pearl of the South Pacific.
The trip to Papua New Guinea was the best one I have done in my life. I guess, if I had taken an organized trip, I wouldn’t have met so many authentic people on my way, and possibly wouldn’t have experienced so much. The trip gave me a chance to learn not only about Papuan life and disincentive cultures, but about some of the problems they’ve been facing. Papua New Guinea is an amazing place with beautiful people, and I cannot simply wait to visit it again. It definitely does not deserve the bad reputation it has received from todays media.