Top Ten Papua New Guinea Adventures - Page 2

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A child looks on as a man prepares his face paint for a singsing, Papua New Guinea
While traditional ways of life are no longer practiced in all villages, some areas of Papua New Guinea have been little affected by the outside world. This is the case particularly in the Southern Highlands Province, where the social systems are still intact. The province is one of the few places where the traditional way of life can be seen in everyday living.  (courtesy, Papua New Guinea Tourism)

10. Climb an Active Volcano
In September 1994, plumes of hot ash exploded from the Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes on the eastern end of New Britain Island, raining hellfire onto the lively island town of Rabaul, which is flanked by PNG's most explosive peaks. And even now, much of Rabaul remains charred and buried like a tropical-island Pompeii. A new volcano observatory keeps close watch on things today, and volcano watchers can explore the eerie moonscape of the ruins before hiring local guides to lead day hikes up any of the half-dozen active volcanic vents that ring the Rabaul caldera. Along the way, take a dip at one of the geothermal hot springs found around the vents. Since the last eruption, many people and businesses have left Rabaul and relocated to nearby Kokopo. Managers at both Kokopo Beach Bungalows and Rabaul Hotel can arrange personalized volcano tours with local guides.

9. Ride a Secret Surf Break
Imagine swells rolling through clear-blue South Pacific seas, tossing up consistently beautiful barrels as they pass over lush coral reefs on their way to virgin shorelines, the breaks empty of people except for the smiling, sun-bleached local kids riding shoreward on handmade surfboards. That's the scene off Lido Village, near Vanimo, in the far northwest of the country, and prime surf spots like this can be found in Kavieng, Weewak, and even Port Moresby. The waves are easily on par with other world-class surf spots in the region—like Indonesia, Tahiti, or Fiji—except for one thing: no crowds. And luckily, even when the word does get out, the waves will remain blissfully secluded due to a surf area management plan enacted by the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea [link to] that limits the number of riders allowed into the water on any given day. Head to the north shore from April to October, the south from June to September. And bring a board—equipment is still hard to find on island.

8. Scuba Dive Kimbe Bay's Undersea Pinnacles
Located on the north side of New Britain Island, Kimbe Bay sits along the southern edge of the Coral Triangle—a swath of Pacific Ocean famous for its unparalleled marine-life diversity. And true to form, Kimbe Bay boasts more than 900 species of fish among its reefs and more than 400 types of coral—nearly half of the known coral species worldwide. The diving here runs the gamut: nearshore coral gardens burst with color, and offer shallow, sun-drenched reefs loaded with macro-critters like harlequin ghost pipefish and pygmy sea horses. Out in the bay, dive sites like Susan's Reef fringe the edge of the undersea shelf, where divers can explore the steep walls overflowing with waving soft corals and clownfish hiding among the tentacles of their anemones. And just outside the bay, coral bommies and undersea pinnacles—like Inglis Shoal and Kimbe Island Bommie—rise from the open ocean to within 50 or 60 feet of the surface and attract swarms of roving sharks, great schools of Pacific barracuda, and other pelagic predators.The Walindi Resort is the only dive operation on Kimbe Bay. From the resort, which is nestled into an oil-palm plantation overlooking the bay, guests can make day trips out to the diving grounds. For hardcore divers, Walindi also offers itineraries on its liveaboard dive boat Febrina, which explores the farthest reaches of Kimbe Bay and beyond.

7. Hunt for Artifacts in the Sepik River Valley
The people of the Sepik River valley are famous worldwide for their distinctive carved spirit masks, cassowary-bone daggers, and other artwork. Even the design of the PNG government's Parliament building in Port Moresby is based on the haus Tambaren, or spirit houses, of the Sepik Region. But despite their renown, the incredibly diverse people who populate the banks of the Sepik River and its tributaries live today much as they have for hundreds of years, hand-line fishing from dugout canoes, subsisting off the starchy pulp of the prevalent sago palms and passing down stories of their war ravaged, cannibalistic past through their art, dances, and oral traditions. No roads permeate the thick jungles and grasslands that flank the country's largest river, so the only access into this remote section of the country is by bush plane or boat. Trans Niugini Tours operates the riverboat Sepik Spirit which visitors can live on-board and make forays by flat-bottom boat on artifact-hunting expeditions to nearby villages.

6. Spend the Night in a Sepik Family House
Go beyond simply visiting the villages and shopping for artifacts in the Sepik River region, get a firsthand look at local life by spending the night with a native tribe. The Karawari Lodge arranges overnight trips at the Kungriambun, Konmei, and Kaiwaria villages along the Karawari River, a tributary of the Sepik. The villagers provide accommodations in one of their stilted, sprawling family houses, and the accompanying guides furnish it temporarily with sleeping pads and mosquito nets. During the day, visitors can take nature walks or go fishing with the village women, and at night join the meals and storytelling around the fire before heading off to bed.

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