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Tribesmen, Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Holidays

A fascinating place in every respect; and one more akin to Africa than its Pacific surroundings. Come face to face with friendly tribes and bizarre customs while you traverse this stunning island.

Papua New Guinea is a wild, raw, captivating frontier of a country – more like Africa than any of its close neighbours. The Papuan people are proud and welcoming and their traditions and sometimes bizarre customs will enthral.

From the still prevalent Highland culture of ‘an eye for an eye’ to the fact that pigs remain the ‘glue’ which binds PNG society, as the number of pigs a man owns reflects his material wealth and social standing. It is not a cheap destination, however, if you have a penchant for adventure and the path less travelled, it really doesn’t get much better than PNG. Its tagline ‘land of the unexpected’ is very apt.

Child at school, Fergusson Island, Papua New Guinea
Child at school in Papua New Guinea

What to expect on your holiday to Papua New Guinea

This tropical land of extraordinary topographical variety encompasses the Highlands, with peaks over 14,000 feet, the lowlands of the Sepik River and an extensive coastline dotted with stunning outlying islands. The most linguistically diverse country on earth, Papua New Guinea has 850 languages and wonderfully rich flora and fauna. Home to numerous species of birds of paradise and marsupials including tree kangaroos and wallabies that took to the trees of PNG’s rainforests some five million years ago.

In such a topographically torturous country even now the road infrastructure remains modest and the best way to get around is by air. However, delays are inevitable and published departure times no more than a ballpark guide, so always travel in PNG with a good book and a sense of humour.

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Explore Papua New Guinea

  • The Sepik River
  • The Highlands
  • Port Moresby
  • Tufi Peninsula
  • Islands of PNG

Experiences

A selection of activities and experiences you could consider including in your holiday to Papua New Guinea.

Wigmen and Mudmen

Meet Huli Wigmen and Asaro Mudmen in the Highlands.

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Bird Watching

Track resplendent birds of paradise in the Highlands.

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Rabaul National Mask Festival

Held every year in July, take part in this four day celebration of the rich island heritage when tribes from across the country gather to summon their ancestors through displays of dance and elaborate costumes.

Sepik River by Dugout Canoe

Explore the spirit houses and backwaters of the mythical Sepik River by dugout canoe – the traditional mode of transport for this part of the world.

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Crocodile Initiation

Witness and learn about the famous crocodile initiation ceremony, an ancient coming of age ritual when young men are cut, leaving scars resembling the scales of a crocodile.

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Diving

Experience world class diving in waters that are part of the Coral Triangle, an area named for its vast number of coral species.

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Meet the Melpa People

Discover the traditions and customs of the Melpa people, a Highlands tribe who were among the first horticulturists in the world and for whom pigs are a sign of wealth.

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Board a Luxury Cruise

Access secluded and remote parts of the country on the luxurious True North boat.

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Snorkelling Adventure

Snorkel or dive in some of the clearest and coral-rich waters in the world.

Baining Fire Dance

Watch a Baining Fire Dance on East New Britain, a spectacular dance performed by the locals on special occasions including bereavements, birth and coming of age ceremonies.

PNG by Air

Journey between remote lodges by air and understand what early explorers must have felt like to gaze down on uninterrupted jungle.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Amy Waters

After my degree in Fine Art I didn’t really know what career I wanted or what path I would take. The only thing I knew is that having spent a summer in America it had given me the desire to explore and see as many places as possible before becoming a grown up and entering the real world.

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Deborah Brock-Doyle

My first journey for Steppes was in 1999 when I set off to explore Thailand to gather those little details that constitute Steppes Travel’s trademark knowledge. I have since been lucky enough to travel extensively in Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East and India. A few special memories include being joined at dinner by an otter in Laos, proudly being shown an illicit picture of the Dalai Lama in Tibet and diving with manta rays on Christmas day in Indonesia. I’m pretty sure I always leave a country wishing I had done more, seen more, learned more ….. but I also always hope to return …

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  • 1 855 2037885

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Deborah was simply fantastic in terms of helping out, putting together a first rate itinerary, finding solutions and giving advice. Thank you.

Papua New Guinea

Frequently asked questions about Papua New Guinea

What should I see?

Dive in the fjords of Tufi, a virtually unexplored underwater world or explore the Sepik River by dug out canoe, spotting crocodiles and bird of paradise and tree kangaroos.Meet the Huli Wigmen and Asaro Mudmen in the highlands, flying over the uninterrupted jungle below. The ‘cultural shows’ in both the Sepik and Highlands around Goroka are a particular highlight, though they may seem somewhat artificial, please be aware that they are helping to keep cultural traditions alive at a time of profound change in PNG.

Will I have one guide in Papua New Guinea throughout my holiday?

As a result of the extreme topography of PNG, huge diversity of languages and cultural differences between areas you will have different local guides in each place, rather than a single guide accompanying you throughout. The benefit of this is that you get a local guide in each place who is fully versed with regards to the local area, language and cultural mores.

Is it safe to be out in the sun?

Papua New Guinea is known for its extremely hot summers and it can take only 15 minutes in the sun for the skin to burn. Even on cloudy days, the suns rays are still very strong and protection will be needed. Make sure you bring a high factor, water-resistant sun cream, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and some form of cover-up. We always advise avoiding the sun during the middle of the day when it is at its most intense, and making sure you drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated.

What is the time zone in Papua New Guinea?

Papua New Guinea is 10 hours ahead of GMT and doesn’t observe daylight saving time.

How long are the flights to Papua New Guinea from the UK?

The flight time from London to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea via Singapore typically takes approximately 22 hours.

Are there laundry facilities?

Laundry facilities are available at all hotels, typically with a 24 hour turnaround time.

Will I have one guide in Papua New Guinea throughout my holiday?

As a result of the extreme topography of PNG, huge diversity of languages and cultural differences between areas you will have different local guides in each place, rather than a single guide accompanying you throughout. The benefit of this is that you get a local guide in each place who is fully versed with regards to the local area, language and cultural mores.

Is it safe to swim in Papua New Guinea?

You cannot swim in the Sepik (due to crocs), but do pack swimwear for snorkelling/ diving and use in pools when abluting in the Sepik, where a bucket of water is provided.

Can I use my mobile phone in Papua New Guinea?

The local PNG mobile network is surprisingly extensive; however, in remoter parts including parts of the Sepik there are obvious black spots. International network coverage can be sporadic (Blackberry for some reason doesn’t work at all) and tends to be unreliable.

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Why Choose Steppes?

These may be uncertain times but they are, without a doubt, still full of opportunity to discover the extraordinary safely. Through knowledge and expertise, we can connect you to those destinations embracing travellers with the added confidence of flexible booking and decades of insight.

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