Discovering the regions of PNG

 

Milne Bay

Few adventurers make the journey to Milne Bay and those who do usually go for the diving.  Milne Bay sits at the eastern tip of mainland PNG, and Air Niugini has daily flights from Port Moresby to the tranquil town of Alotau, the provincial capital located on the bays’ northern shore. Alotau International Hotel has 22 well-appointed rooms with panoramic views of Milne Bay. 

Milne Bay is a region of age-old cultures, friendly villages and amazing wildlife. Discover hot springs, waterfalls, superb virgin rainforests, breathtaking pristine waters, volcanoes and excellent game fishing – an adventurers dream. Together with the local birds of paradise, butterflies and orchids, Milne Bay has to be one of PNG’s most beautiful areas.

Milne Bay is a sheltered deep-water harbour, more than 35 kilometres long and some 15 kilometres wide. There are about 210,000 inhabitants, who speak close to 50 different local languages. Trekking and village stay programme make a visit to the area all the more special.

Milne Bay has more than 600 islands, but only about 160 are inhabited. The coral reef systems of the region are some of the most biodiverse in the world. Most diving is done in a dozen or so locations, all with their own underwater attractions. Several reliable dive operators, including live-aboard options, are located at Milne Bay

Milne Bay Marine Charters offers top-class live-aboard diving adventures on M.V. Chertan, captained by Rob van der Loos and his highly experienced crew. Chertan dives all year round apart from February.

Tawali Resort is located in a secluded area of Milne Bay amongst local fishing villages and accessible only by boat. Tawali offers guests a private retreat constructed by local craftsmen -- you will find beautifully carved totems and woodwork in the spacious main lodge and throughout the resort.

Check out the Milne Bay video

New Britain and Kimbe Bay

Papua New Guinea is a special destination for divers, birdwatchers and ‘last frontier’ seekers -- and one of its very special places is New Britain Island and Kimbe Bay.

Kimbe Bay sits in a tropical setting with coral reefs, and offers popular live-aboard diving expeditions that attract divers from around the world.

Walindi Plantation Resort is located on the shores of Kimbe Bay, and is the home port to the boutique live-aboard dive boat, the MV FeBrina, which has been exploring the waters of New Britain for many years

Getting to Walindi Resort and MV FeBrina means a short flight from Port Moresby to Hoskins airport in West New Britain. Looking out the window on your flight you will realise that this is going to be no ordinary adventure. Towering mountain ranges divide the main island of New Britain.

While Walindi Resort is well-known for its excellent diving opportunities, it also caters for nature lovers, especially bird-watchers.  Tours are offered to nearby rainforests and small islets in Kimbe Bay to see a host of exotic birdlife.Walindi is also well-located to explore the vast bird diversityalong the north coast of New Britain and the Bismarck Archipelago.

New Ireland

New Ireland is the long narrow Island north of New Britain.The province also includes a number of islands to the north west  the largest being New Hanover. To the East lie a further string of islands including Lihir, one of the world's largest gold mines. One of the ‘last natural frontiers’ aptly describes New Ireland, one of the most diverse and untouched regions on earth

The people are very friendly and would like to invite visirors into their communities and their homes to experience their tropical island ways – a ‘must do’ experience..

The sleepy town of Kavieng is the capital of New Ireland, an area known for its white-sand islands and beaches, diving and surfing. Air Niugini operates daily flights to Kavieng from Port Moresby

Lissenung Island Resort is located a 20-minute boat ride from Kavieng -- a small private island with a white sandy beach, tall palm trees, beautiful flowers, magnificent sunsets and traditional bungalows. This is the place to relax in real 'PNG time'

Surrounding this attractive adults-only hideaway are some of the most colourful reefs and the best fish to be found anywhere. And there are several traditional villages where visitors are welcomed with traditional local hospitality..  

Check out this New Ireland video

The birdlife of PNG has been captured magnificently by photographer Tim Laman, who has logged thousands of hours sitting perfectly still in the treetops of dense New Guinea rain forests to photograph all 39 unique species of PNG’s famous birds of paradise birds of paradise..

 
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A Mt Hagen adventure

Rhett recently returned to Mt. Hagen for the first time in more than 20 years. It was a short familiarisation visit, and these are some of his comments on the adventure

 “I had last been in Mt Hagen back in the late 1980’s and was very interested to see what had changed over the years. I was surprised -- it is now the second biggest city in New Guinea, and is full of the hustle and bustle that goes with progress. Today, Mt Hagen is a city of about 50,000 residents, but about half a million people live in the surrounding area. Having said that, our flight landed on an airstrip that was built by the Americans in World War Two: the approach was up the long Wagil valley, carved by the similarly named river. Mt Hagen’s elevation is a little more than 1,500 metres (5,000 feet) and it was a spectacular flight.

On arrival at Mt. Hagen I was met by a driver from the very efficient Trans Niugini Tours and taken to Rondon Ridge, one of the operator’s delightful properties in New Guinea -- a 20-minute drive up a dirt mountain road by 4WD, set high up the surrounding valley of Mt Hagen.

The next morning we set off on an adventure in and around Mt Hagen. We visited a number of local villages, seeing how the people live their sedentary lifestyle and cultivate their sweet potato (kau kau) and carrots. We visited one village where the local chief had prepared a traditional meal of kau kau in a mumu – a pit in the ground filled with very hot rocks which provides the slow heat to cook the food. No fast food, in this part of the world.

It turned out that the chief is also a master stone worker, producing sharp edged stones for axes and knives from the Dolomite rock found in his part of the river.  He told me this is the best rock for making spears and axes. Very primitive, but it is still very much the way of life in this part of the world. I’m glad to have had an interpreter as the chief spoke only Pidgin and his own tribal language Melpa. Papua New Guinea accounts for 40 per cent of all spoken languages spoken on the planet – an amazing statistic. 

We then drove past a pig market and stopped to see this very important commercial and social aspect of Papua New Guinea life.  Pigs are very important.  They indicate a person’s social status, and are used as a bride price. Evidently, the going rate to marry a village girl would cost about 5,000 – 10,000 Kina, where as a Royal Class bride (a chief’s daughter) could cost 30,000 kina upwards. Typically, a bride price could involve 20 – 30 pigs (which cost anywhere between 800 – 5,000 Kina), a snake, a tree kangaroo and one or two cassowaries. All this plus the costs of the celebration. And you can marry many wives. Quite a price for a poor village family. 

On the second day, we headed out to the Mt Hagen markets, a ‘must do’ on any Mt Hagen itinerary (or any township you are visiting in PNG) and marvelled at the array of fresh fruit, vegetables, the ubiquitous buai (betel nut), squawking chickens and of course, pigs.

I also visited Magic Mountain Lodge about 30 minutes out of Mt Hagen towards the famed mount itself, which is one of five old volcanic summits in the area.  It’s a delightfully tranquil property set in the rain forest at the base of, Mt Giluwe.  We also drove to a village called Paiya to meet the chief and his wives. Worth noting: the village hosts a cultural festival the day before the famous Mt Hagen festival.

Then it was off for some lunch in a local nature park, where there was time to commune with cassowaries and tree kangaroos before  the return to Rondon Ridge for the night. All in all, it had been a marvellous experience – a true journey back in time.”

Major Papua New Guinea festivals for 2014

Papua New Guinea is known for its colourful festivals. Here are three that make superb inclusions in a PNG itinerary.

The Crocodile Festival is a two-day event that celebrates the region’s breath-taking pristine environment and wildlife. Crocodiles are significant to the Sepik culture where they have cultural traditions, beliefs and legends based on this particular animal.

The Sepik River is home to some of the world’s largest freshwater and saltwater crocodile populations. Crocodiles are part of the Sepik heritage. Men and crocodile share a special bond. The crocodile symbolizes strength, power and manhood. Many boast of scars cut into their skin during initiation. The scars resembling the back of a crocodile run from the shoulder to hip.

The World Wildlife Fund-supported crocodile festival in East Sepik highlights the importance of crocodile conservation and the species’ habitat along the Sepik River, one of the largest unpolluted rivers in the Asia-Pacific region. The dates for 2014 are August 5 and 6

Mt. Hagen Cultural Show was first staged in 1961 by many different tribes from the Western Highlands Province. The idea of the show was for tribes to share the cultural experience with each other, appeasing the ever-present tribal animosities by bringing all tribes together in a cultural event to highlight the positive side of life, and to celebrate the diversity of tribal cultures.

There is also now prize money on offer for the winning cultural group, which makes the competition aggressive, colourful and exciting. More than 50 different cultural groups perform their different dances (or ‘singsings’). Local musicians and other entertainment events and attractions also occur during the show. The dates for 2014 are August 16 and 17.

Known simply as the Goroka Show, the Eastern Highlands Cultural Show is a significant event in the province. It provides entertainment to the people of the Eastern Highlands and to visitors from Papua New Guinea and overseas.

The Goroka Show is probably the most well-known tribal gathering and cultural event in Papua New Guinea.  It is held every year, during the weekend closest to Independence Day (16th September), in the town of Goroka. About 100 tribes arrive to show their music, dance and extraordinary displays of tribal rituals. 

Although the festival started in the mid-1950s, from the initiative of missionaries, the Goroka show now offers a rare opportunity for visitors to experience the customs of over a hundred tribes that populate the Papua New Guinea highlands. The dates for 2014 are September 12 to 14

 A great new Papua New Guinea video

Have you seen the new Papua New Guinea promotional video?  It’s a winner. It shows the beautiful Mt Hagan, Sepik, Tari and Port Moresby. It illustrates the experiences available at each destination, as well as the accommodation options. Check out the enriching cultural experiences, untouched natural beauty and either river or coastal experiences. It showcases the Rondon Ridge (Mt Hagen), Karawari Lodge (Sepik) and the Ambua Lodge (Tari).

 

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It has been a busy year so far for our client Papua New Guinea. Team TCMG kicked off with Boot, Europe’s largest Dive and Boat Show held in Dusseldorf in mid-January, in conjunction with the PNG Dive Association and members – Lissenung Island Resort, Walindi Resort andMV Fabrina (dive boat).  We also attended FESPO – the big Swiss travel show at the end of January in Zurich.

Surfing , diving and the generic promotion of the destination were big focus points for Papua New Guinea during the recent South Pacific Tourism Forum Roadshow which swung through Milan, Brussels, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Berlin. TCMG helped train more than 200 agents and Wontok Specialists during the tour – which saw great interest and desire for PNG as a destination and what it has to offer. 

As the SPTF Roadshow ended it was time for the team to pull out all the stops for the annual ITB in Berlin (as good as ever). PNG as a destination has attended every ITB since 1978 – 36 years, which must be some sort of record. A press conference on the PNG Stand at ITB drew some 40 journalists, which is an indication of the level of interest in PNG.  In this edition of our PNG Newsletter, we offer a reminder of who was on the Roadshow and at ITB – which will come in handy also if you were unable to meet up with us at the time.

Surf and dive

The Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea  offers a thousand miles of coastline and a hundred possibilities. PNG is a surfer’s paradise -- one of the few remote destinations left in the world with magnificent uncrowded waves. SAPNG has a trained team of local surf guides, operators and non- profit partners who have mapped out dozens of Papua New Guinea's top surf breaks – all of them offering the perfect tropical weather to ensure an unforgettable  Melanesian holiday.

The Turpira Surf Club at Ulingan Bay is just one example. It has access to more than half-a-dozen uncrowded breaks and is one of the most consistent swell magnets in Papua New Guinea. The Tupira Surf Club Bay is easily accessible - located around 180 kilometres north of Madang and just a two-hour hour scenic drive from Madang airport on a sealed road.

Elsewhere, Nusa Island Retreat on New Ireland is set on a point surrounded by a beautiful swimming beach teeming with marine life. It is the perfect choice for those seeking a slice of paradise. The environmentally low impact retreat is within easy reach of the township of Kavieng (just two minutes by boat).

No Limit Adventures  is an inbound tour operator based in Cairns. One of its specialties is preparing personalised tours for groups and independent travellers to Papua New Guinea. – with packages aimed adventure seekers, those looking for more than just sitting on a beach, by the pool sipping drinks at a holiday resort. No Limit Adventures takes visitors to remote villages in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, where they get a taste of local culture and experiencing the region’s amazing wilderness. No Limit Adventures can also arrange diving to see the Papua New Guinea’s WWII wrecks and local surfing adventures.

Surfing is close to the hearts of the No Limit Adventures management, who work closely with SAPNG to promote PNG as a surf destination. Watch out for more great news from Team TCMG on surfing the waves in PNG over the next couple of months. It will involve several European surfing associations.

PNG Explorers International is another member of PNG Divers Association and the Surfing Association of PNG. The company also has a policy of only promoting travel experiences that the owners have personally enjoyed. It is committed to contributing to local job creation, village development and cultural heritage protection in a sustainable manner.

Tufi Resort  is one of the few destinations in Papua New Guinea to offer all year round diving. Tufi is located in Oro Province on the north-east side of the mainland of Papua New Guinea Tufi is only accessible by air or sea. You fly directly into the resort. The flight time from Port Moresby to Tufi is a little less than an hour. Domestic flights and local charter flights are available.

The clear, calm and protected waters of the tropical fjords close to Tufi are perfect for macro and muck diving, such as the popular House Reef, which is only a couple of minutes or so walk from the resort -- the nearest open water reef is just fifteen minutes by boat. Tufi Resort offers more than 30 major dive sites in the nearby tropical waters of the Solomon Sea, with many uncharted reefs waiting to be explored. Coral outcrops are abundant with fish -- tuna, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, white tip and black tip reef sharks, hammerheads and the rare white hammerheads inhabit these exotic waters, and turtles, manta rays and eagle rays also cruise the area.

Experiencing the mighty Sepik

The serpentine flow of the Sepik makes it one of the great rivers of the world. It runs for no less than 1,126 breathtaking kilometres through landscape consisting of largely undisturbed swamplands, tropical rainforests and mountains. However, the Sepik is more than just a river – it’s also a densely populated repository of complex cultures, dying languages and the most compelling art to be found anywhere in the South Pacific.

Sepik Adventure Tours runs tours along the Sepik River and to Wewak town. The parent company also owns two guest-houses – Ambunti Lodge and Sepik Surfsite Lodge. The company has also turned to putting together some interesting PNG tour packages, promoted under the Melanesian Adventure Tours brand.

Ambunti Lodge has seven double rooms, two shared bathrooms and its own generators to run the air-con. It mainly caters to the clients of Sepik Adventure Tours, but it is possible to stay here if it has rooms available. By Sepik standards it’s quite comfortable – don’t forget we are talking the last frontier here! Take a look at what the travel press are saying 

Hiking in the mountains

One of PNG’s ultimate adventures has to be mountain hiking. Local guides working with Paiya Tours, http://paiyatours.com/ a hundred-per-cent locally owned operator, know the mountainous regions off PNG like the back of their hand. Visitors are offered the opportunity to hike some PNG’s most renowned mountains, including Mt. Wilhelm (4,900 meters above sea level) or Mt. Giluwe, the second highest volcanic mountain in the Oceania pacific region. 

Spend time at Magic Mountain Nature lodge - accommodation in a natural setting that perfectly blends with the nature and take time out for Magic orchids, or birding in the afternoons when birds come to feed around the lodge.

Paiya Tours also offers visitors the chance to experience moka a special ceremony involving dance/sing sing, marriage, pig killing, courting ceremonies and celebration in a traditional fashion. Moka is owned by the people of Paiya village and is hosted a day prior to the Mt. Hagen show.

Paiya Tours is a member of Papua New Guinea Tour Operators Association and works closely with major tour operators in PNG.

PNG Trekking Adventures  also offers the opportunity of exploring Mt Wilhelm, while it is also focussed on one of the world’s most challenging treks -- the Kokoda Trai, which is steeped in WW11 history. The PNG Trekking Adventures team have a strong bond with the Koiari people along the track. Sustainable development projects in the villages are ongoing and bring an income for the villagers.

Trans Niugini Tours is again offering a couple of spectacular cultural experiences this year. As they sell out fast, it is advisable to book well in advance.

Mt. Hagen Cultural Show was first staged in 1961 by many different tribes from the Western Highlands Province. More than 50 different colourful groups perform their different dances (or singsings). Local musicians and other entertainment events and attractions also occur during the show. The dates for 2014 are August 16 and 17.

Known simply as the Goroka Show, the Eastern Highlands Cultural Show is a significant event in the province. The Goroka Show is probably the most well-known tribal gathering and cultural event in Papua New Guinea.  It is held every year, during the weekend closest to Independence Day (September 16), in the town of Goroka. Some 100 tribes arrive to put on extraordinary displays of tribal rituals, with much music and tribal dancing. The dates for 2014 are September 12 to 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BIRD WATCHING BECOMES A MAJOR ATTRACTION

Sport Fishing Papua New Guinea has acquired a new mother vessel to enhance its. Apart from sport fishing in remote and isolated regions of Papua New Guinea, the boat, which offers state-of- the-art facilities can comfortably sleep 10 – 12 people plus crew and can also be used for bird watching and eco‐tours as well, especially in the Western Province.  

 Another region that is getting a big thumbs up for bird watching is remote Wasu in Morobe Province, which is home to some of the world’s rarest bird species. A recent study carried out by PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, in collaboration with Walindi Plantation Resort, found there is huge potential for bird watching, nature tours and village stays in the area. There are five unique bird species that are only found in this remote part of the world, which is only accessible by air and sea. The species include the Huon Astrapia, Whanes Parotia, Emperor Bird of Paradise, SprangledHoneyeater and the Huon Bowerbird.    http://www.walindi.com/

Elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, PNG Country Tours owns and operates Makara Bird View Lodge one of the best wilderness lodges located in a rainforest in the wild forests of Ambua-Tari Southern Highlands Provinces. The lodge, which is named after the river that flows beside it. Offers 14 self-contained and spacious rooms with hot water and a communal lounge room.

Apart from a popular range of regular tour programmes PNG Country Tours offer programmes to suit your clients' interests at any time of the year – with special programmes put together on request. Visits to areas of active volcanoes, island visits, beach walks, snorkelling, harbour cruises are just some of the activities available. As an established inbound operator, PNG Country Tours cater for all travel requirements from F.I.T to groups.

PNG Country Tours can arrange airport/hotel transfers, meet/greet services, day tours, boat charters, car rentals, accommodation booking, , birding watching, diving, trekking, canoeing, cycling, 4WD safaris, cultural festivals and much more.

NEW IMMIGRATION OFFICE OPENED AT THE TOKUA AIRPORT  

Tourists visiting Rabaul and Kokopo can now have their visas processed on arrival at Tokua Airport.  This follows the recent official opening of the Tokua Airport Office of the PNG Immigration Services.Visa‐on‐Arrival arrangements are being extended to Tokua, meaning travellers will be able to obtain single‐entry tourist or business visas on arrival. Air Niugini offers twice weekly direct flights between Cairns and Tokua. 

NEW HOTEL FOR PORT MORESBY

Port Moresby has welcomed its latest hotel development with the opening of the Laguna Hotel along Waigani Drive in Port Moresby. The new boutique property incorporates some unique water features, including a large lagoon‐style outdoor swimming pool with a pool bar. All 60 air‐conditioned rooms feature a balcony and a flat‐screen television. Guests enjoy free buffet breakfasts, free WiFi and free airport transfers. Jacksons International Airport is a 13‐minute drive away. Guests enjoy 24‐hour check-in and the services of a concierge and tour desk. The onsite restaurant offers Asian and Western cuisine.

If you need to overnight in Port Moresby, another option is Loloata Island Resort where you will find true Melanesian hospitality. It’s a tranquil and more natural alternative to the bustling Port Moresby. http://www.loloata.com/

Loloata Island Resort offers two types of bungalow – those over the water have no air conditioning, those a row back and slightly uphill do. 

There are steps that lead up to the very top of the island which is a great look-out point. Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes.

TOURS FROM A FLOATING LODGE

Tours from a floating lodge are becoming increasingly popular in Papua New Guinea. Owned by Trans Niugini Tours, the Sepik Spirit is a ‘floating lodge’, originally used to cruise the Sepik and Karawari Rivers. The Sepik Spirit is now permanently moored at a strategic site on the Sepik River.

In its role as a ‘floating lodge’, the Sepik Spirit offers greater booking flexibility, enhanced touring programmes and even more comfort.

From their base on the Sepik Spirit, guests explore the Sepik River and the connecting tributaries and lakes on 18-seat jet-boats. These boats have shallow drafts and the ability to manoeuvre in areas where large vessels cannot reach

Village life in the remote middle Sepik region continues as it has for centuries.  Guests meet the people who live in these villages.

PNG PROMO VIDEOS

Just a reminder. Have you seen the new Papua New Guinea promotional video?  It’s a winner. It shows the beautiful Mt Hagan, Sepik, Tari and Port Moresby. It illustrates the experiences available at each destination, as well as the accommodation options. Check out the enriching cultural experiences, untouched natural beauty and either river or coastal experiences. It showcases the Rondon Ridge (Mt Hagen), Karawari Lodge (Sepik) and the Ambua Lodge (Tari). And you will find another ‘site inspection’ video of Rondon Ridge here

 

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Diary dates

Papua New Guinea kicks off 2015 with some important European diary dates.  Together with PNG Dive Association, Rhett will be attending Boot in Düsseldorf from January 17 to 25. Starting out as a sailing show several years ago, Boot now includes the world’s biggest consumer show for divers. Catch up with Rhett and the PNG team in Hall 3, booth D85. 

Papua New Guinea will also be present with a booth at the Swiss trade fair, FESPO, in Zurich with Rhett being available there from January 29 to February 1.

Rhett will also participate in the SPTO Roadshow (South Pacific Tourism Operators) from March 26 (prior to ITB in Berlin) with stops in several different European cities.

Major Papua New Guinea festivals for 2015

Papua New Guinea is known for its colourful festivals. Here are four that make superb inclusions in a PNG itinerary. 

The Ambunti Crocodile Festival is a two-day event that celebrates the region’s breath-taking pristine environment and wildlife. The Sepik River is home to some of the world’s largest freshwater and saltwater crocodile populations.

Crocodiles are significant to the Sepik culture where they have cultural traditions, beliefs and legends based on this particular animal. Men and crocodile share a special bond. The crocodile symbolizes strength, power and manhood. Many boast of scars cut into their skin during initiation. The scars resembling the back of a crocodile run from the shoulder to hip.

The World Wildlife Fund-supported crocodile festival in East Sepik highlights the importance of crocodile conservation and the species’ habitat along the Sepik River, one of the largest unpolluted rivers in the Asia-Pacific region. The dates for 2014 are August 5 - 7

Mt. Hagen Cultural Show was first staged in 1961 by many different tribes from the Western Highlands Province. The idea of the show was for tribes to share the cultural experience with each other, appeasing the ever-present tribal animosities by bringing all tribes together in a cultural event to highlight the positive side of life, and to celebrate the diversity of tribal cultures.

There is also now prize money on offer for the winning cultural group, which makes the competition aggressive, colourful and exciting. More than 50 different cultural groups perform their different dances (or ‘singsings’). Local musicians and other entertainment events and attractions also occur during the show. The dates for 20145 are August 14 -- 17.

Known simply as the Goroka Show, the Eastern Highlands Cultural Show is a significant event in the province. It provides entertainment to the people of the Eastern Highlands and to visitors from Papua New Guinea and overseas.

The Goroka Show is probably the most well-known tribal gathering and cultural event in Papua New Guinea.  It is held every year, during the weekend closest to Independence Day (16th September), in the town of Goroka. About 130 tribes arrive to show their music, dance and extraordinary displays of tribal rituals.  This year the population of Goroka swelled to in excess of 200,00 peoples.

Although the festival started in the mid-1950s, from the initiative of missionaries, the Goroka show now offers a rare opportunity for visitors to experience the customs of over a hundred and thirty tribes that populate Papua New Guinea. The dates for 2014 are September 11 --13

The National Mask Festival takes place every year in Rabaul and is run by the PNG National Cultural Commission. Highlighting Papua New Guinea’s mask culture, it attracts artists and performers nationwide.  Many types of ancestor, spirit and tumbuan masks are visible, both old and new. The dates of the National Mask Festival July are 14 –17.

Find out more here

Air Niugini launches subsidiary airline: Link PNG

Air Niugini has made travel to remote parts of Papua New Guinea (PNG) much easier with the launch of its new subsidiary air service, Link PNG The inaugural flight was on November 1 last year, connecting Nadzab Airport in Lae (Morobe Province) to Hoskins and Rabaul. The new air service is geared to open up better services to remote areas where airstrips are unsuitable for larger planes. The launch of Link PNG coincides with Air Niugini’s four decades of service as PNG’s national flag carrier.

There is also now a non-stop Air Niugini Cairns-Rabaul flight twice a week (Tuesday and Saturday), departing at 08.00. A great way to experience PNG for travellers to Cairns. Visitors organising travel on the direct Cairns to Rabaul flight,should be aware that visas are still not available on arrival in Rabaul at this stage. Air Niugini advises travellers from Cairns to organise visas prior to departure.

Check out the Air Niugini schedule

Mount Wilhelm Adventure

PNG Trekking Adventures shows travellers another of Papua New Guinea's hidden secrets --Mount Wilhelm. It reaches 4.509 meters, taking approximately seven to eight challenging hours to climbMount Wilhelm is rapidly attracting European adventure seekers, many of whom have climbed Mount Everest or even all seven of the highest summits in the world. But this adventure is not all about the mountain. Getting to your destination is just the start of your adventure. Driving from Mt Hagen is never dull. The road is challenging, but the views are worth it. 

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WANTOK NEWSLETTER No. 8. March, 2015

The year has started well for Papua New Guinea, with exciting new product coming on stream; exploring new European markets, including Poland; some great travel press coverage; a coveted eco-award; and lots of keen interest in the destination at this year's ITB in Berlin – still the world’s biggest travel industry event. It was PNG’s 31st consecutive attendance at ITB, one of the longest continual attendances by any country at the Berlin show.

Air Niugini in the news

Air Niugini, one of the sponsors of the XV Pacific Games hosted by Papua New Guinea this year, takes delivery in March 2015 of the first F70 -- the perfect aircraft to operate mid-haul routes such as Port Moresby to Cairns, And with the recent launch of its subsidiary airline Link PNG, Air Niugini now offers a low-cost carrier to the country’s remoter places, using the Dash 8 aircraft owned by Air Niugini.

New trekking adventure

PNG Trekking Adventures has come up with an exciting Milne Bay Expedition – it’s raw and out there, exactly what adventurers are looking for -- there have been very few tourists in the region, so it’s a great chance to be one of the privileged first groups to trek and paddle the region. Among other attractions, guests will have the opportunity to visit Samarai and Kwato islands, once home to a thriving traditional boat building industry. Check out the guys behind PNG Trekking adventures here

Year-round packages for international explorers

PNG Explorers International is an ITO based in Port Moresby, active now for fifteen years. It was good to see them in the PNG line-up at ITB this year. With their experienced staff and extensive network around the country, PNG Explorers International offers tailor made tours as well as scheduled departure tours year round. Tour services include: diving, surfing, soft adventure to real adventure trips, trekking, bird watching, culture tours, educational tours and incentive packages. The company has also built up a reputation for its work with TV crews, as well as newspaper and travel magazine journalists, including the BBC, Discovery Channel and many others. The company’s business is 99 per cent B to B, working with leading tour operators and agents in the international market. 

No limit to new markets

Cairns-based No Limit Adventures turned up in Warsaw recently with Rhett to introduce Papua New Guinea to a new market – with a good turn-out of Polish tour operators, agents and local press. No Limit Adventures, which is recognized as a Wantok Specialist for PNG, went on to ITB in Berlin, where its director, Konrad Borowiecki also represented the long-established PNG Surfing Association. No Limit Adventures is a passionate ambassador of Papua New Guinea offering personalized tours to the country for private, group and corporate clients wishing to experience a journey on “the road less travelled”.  

Bob Bates of Trans Niugini Tours – 50 years in PNG

One of PNG’s most well-known tour operators, Bob Bates of Trans Niugini Tours, who has spent the last 50 years in Papua New Guinea. celebrated his 75th birthday in January. Bob will also clock up 10,000 commercial flying hours in the coming months which is no small feat for any pilot, especially given that the hours have largely been flown in PNG. A regular exhibitor at ITB and other major travel trade shows, Trans Niugini Tours is (of course) one of the country’s leading tour operators. The company owns and operates seven highly acclaimed wilderness lodges as well as boats, buses and aircraft to facilitate tours at, and travel between the lodges.  For more than forty years, Trans Niugini Tours has provided visitors with unforgettable cultural and ecologically responsible experiences– gearing its packages to the adventurous traveller with discerning tastes – and that includes comfortable accommodation in some of PNG’s most remote areas.

Clients can explore Papua New Guinea this August on one of Trans Niugini’s famous Mount Hagen Cultural Festival tours. The 11 to 13 day itineraries include the festival and visits to Papua New Guinea’s most iconic places:  the fascinating highlands and the mysterious Sepik river lowlands. Traditional villages, legends, Huli Wigmen, Spirit Houses, rivers, tribal art, birds of paradise and knowledgeable guides are all part of the experience. 

Trans Niugini Tours latest product, Lake Murray Lodge, which opened last year, is beginning to generate traction in the market place as an eco-friendly resort and is totally solar powered It’s also a great resort for a spot of fishing.

New lodge for Country Tours

Country Tours now has a new lodge built in the wild forest of Ambua –Tari, in Hela Province. The Makara Bird View Lodge is built within the rainforest and is a superb birders and a paradise for nature lovers. It is a gateway to Tari from Mt. Hagen and Mendi, the home of the Huli Wigman. It takes 30 minutes to get to the lodge from Tari airstrip. All rooms are self-contained with a running hot/cold water system and with electricity supply. 

Great reading for divers

Just letting you all know about this fantastic article about Kimbe Bay in the latest Alert Divers Magazine in the US. Written by Jen Hayes and her photographer husband David Doubilet – one of the world’s best underwater photographers. This magazine goes out to all of the Divers Alert Network members, so it gives fantastic exposure in the diving world. Check it out here.

Another great diving story, with excellent photos appeared in the Under Water Photography Guide   -- and yet another article to read during your coffee break was written by our friend Linda Honey, who has been living in Papua New Guinea since 1996. An Aussie originally from Queensland, Honey is an owner of the popular Tufi Resort, a boutique hotel in Oro Province. Check it out here  

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WANTOK NEWSLETTER September 2015

Roger Winter from Germany’s Roger Tours who has completed nearly 12000 dives says his dive out on the reef at Tufi was one of his best ever. Roger was one of a five product managers from Continental European dive specialists to part in a recent TCMG-led fam trip to PNG’s best dive spots. The other participants on the trip were equally enthusiastic. The group explored the reefs of Lissenung Island (New Ireland), Walindi (West New Britain) and Tufi (Oro Province on the main land). There’s no doubt about it – if it’s great diving you are looking for, look no further than PNG.

The dive trip was one of several PNG fam trips set up by TCMG, either recently or just about to happen. September will see both a trade fam and a press trip – keeping increasingly popular PNG in the limelight. Rhett will be attending the annual Lukim Nau travel trade show at the Port Moresby Nature Park on September 27 and 28, with six travel agents from Continental Europe. They will go on a fam trip just before the expo.

NEW MARKETING MANAGER

To keep up the momentum; TCMG welcomes aboard Stella Dielhenn as PNG Marketing Manager Continental Europe. Stella, who joined Team TCMG on September 1 previously worked for a specialist dive wholesaler for three years during which she visited and sold dive trips to destinations around the world, including of course PNG.

You can contact Stella at stella.dielhenn@theconjointmarketinggroup.com

HOTEL AND RESORTS UPDATE

Port Moresby will soon boast a brand new 212-room Hilton Hotel -- scheduled to open in mid-2017. The development will include a state of the art 4-level convention centre modelled on the traditional long house of Lake Kutubu. The hotel’s unique design will capture traditional PNG features and offer panoramic views of the surrounding areas for visitors and guests.

Meanwhile; the 60-room Laguna Hotel in Port Moresby, is a new business hotel that is attracting overseas visitors. Business and leisure travellers have the convenience of being in the commercial district with an abundant of choice of shopping venues, while only 20 minutes away from the airport.

Papua New Guinea offers a range of accommodation, much of it ideal for divers, surfers – and all of it appealing to nature lovers. Here’s a recap on some of the properties.

A new addition to the exciting lodges in the Trans Niugini Tours portfolio is Lake Murray Lodge, set on a very remote area and on the largest lake in Papua New Guinea, in the Western Province. The lodge offers 12 individual cabin rooms overlooking the lake. 

The stilted houses of the island’s communities dot the water landscape of the lake. There is a local population of about 5,000 people scattered in small villages, both on tiny islands and coastal areas of the lake. Dugout canoes are the primary mode of transportation and fishing is a major source of food to the local population. Time out at Lake Murray Lodge offers a true adventure – there is even talk of a Loch Ness-like monster deep in the lake.

The lodge arranges excursions around the lake in eight-seat river boats to visit local villages, fishing spots and birding sites-- Western province is home to more than half of PNG’s total bird population, andLake Murray is one of the best bird watching areas in the region. 

Lake Murray is accessible with Trans Niugini Tours own air service from either Mount Hagen or Ambua Lodge on Mondays, and Fridays.

THE DIVING SCENE

Jais Aben Resort, owned by Pacific Resort Hotels, is located directly on the seafront in a former coconut plantation, nestled on the tip of a peninsula between the Bismarck Sea and the Nagada Harbour, a little less than 20 kilometres north of Madang.

The property features twin bungalow style units, all strategically located to catch the sea breezes. The sea at the resort is pristine, with marvellous underwater life to see right at the resort itself. There is even an underwater plane wreck directly off the private beach.

Due to its relative remoteness, Jais Aben Resort offers unique and private experiences for both novice and experienced divers. Snorkelers will also enjoy the ultimate in reef life. Reef fishing is also popular from the resort, as is sea-kayaking.

Out of the water, Jais Aben Resort offers tours of a local village and the bustling market, as well as a jungle trek and a coastal tour by boat.

Lissenung Island Resort, Walindi Plantation Resort and Tufi Dive Resort each offer a range of different dive options and cultural activities.

Lissenung Island Resort is located a 20-minute boat ride from Kavieng in New Ireland -- a small private island with a white sandy beach, tall palm trees, beautiful flowers, magnificent sunsets and traditional bungalows. One of the ‘last natural frontiers’ aptly describes diverse and untouched New Ireland. 

Surrounding Lissenung Island Resort, an attractive adults-only hideaway, are some of the most colourful reefs and the best fish to be found anywhere in the world. And out of the water there are several traditional villages where visitors are welcomed with traditional local hospitality.. 

Air Niugini operates daily flights to Kavieng from Port Moresby.

Walindi Plantation Resort nestles on the shores of Kimbe Bay and is also home port to the boutique live-aboard dive vessel, MV Febrina. The resort is an hour's drive from Hoskins Airport, the airport serving Kimbe - the capital of West New Britain province, which in turn is an hour's flight from Port Moresby with connection by Air Niugini.

Celebrating more than 30 years of operation, the resort is world famous for its quality diving, and has been the location for a wad of international award-winning photography.

Walindi Plantation Resort offers a variety of land tours exploring the areas surrounding the resort. Guests can choose from a relaxing swim in a hot river, bushwalking, a trek up a volcano, a visit to rare WWII plane wrecks and much more.

Tufi Resort is one of the few destinations in Papua New Guinea to offer all year round diving. Tufi is located in Oro Province on the north-east side of the mainland of Papua New Guinea, and is only accessible by air or sea. You fly directly into the resort. The flight time from Port Moresby to Tufi is a little less than an hour. Domestic flights and local charter flights are available. http://tufidive.com/ 

The clear, calm and protected waters of the tropical fjords close to Tufi are perfect for macro and muck diving, such as the popular House Reef, which is only a couple of minutes or so walk from the resort -- the nearest open water reef is just fifteen minutes by boat.

Tufi Resort also offers more than 30 major dive sites in the nearby tropical waters of the Solomon Sea, with many uncharted reefs waiting to be explored. And visits to the local villages and McLaren Harbour are a must on the days when you’re not under water.

Few adventurers make the journey to Milne Bay and those who do usually go for the diving.  Milne Bay sits at the eastern tip of mainland PNG, and Air Niugini has daily flights from Port Moresby to the tranquil town of Alotau, the provincial capital located on the bays’ northern shore.

Alotau International Hotel has 22 well-appointed rooms with panoramic views of Milne Bay.

Milne Bay, one of PNG’s most beautiful areas, is a region of age-old cultures, friendly villages and amazing wildlife. Discover hot springs, waterfalls, superb virgin rainforests, breath-taking pristine waters, volcanoes and excellent game fishing – an adventurers dream.

Tawali Resort is located in a secluded area of Milne Bay amongst local fishing villages and is accessible only by a 20-minute boat ride. Tawali offers guests a private retreat built on a towering limestone bluff by local craftsmen -- you will find beautifully carved totems and woodwork in the spacious main lodge and throughout the resort. 

With an abundance of natural beauty found in the surrounding rainforest and sea life in the waters below, Tawali, which means reef, offers guests of all ages and fitness levels plenty to see, do and experience during their stay. There is ample opportunity for swimming, fishing, scuba diving and snorkelling, with plenty of coral coves dotted along the coastline.

And if you are travelling up the awesome Sepik River, a good place to consider before the journey is the Wewak Boutique Hotel. It has a great view of Kairuru Island from the back balcony and the bustling market is a just a five-minute walk to stock up on fresh exotic fruits. There is also a welcome pool to cool down  

SHOW TIME

The Pacific Gardens Hotel in Goroka offers guests the newest hotel accommodation in town, ranging from standard to newly built premier rooms and self-contained apartments. Foodies will enjoy the Pacific Gardens with its Friday night barbecues, Sunday brunches and Asian buffet evenings. 

The Goroka Show is a probably the most known tribal gathering and cultural event in Papua New Guinea. It is held every year close to the Independence Day (16 September) in the town of Goroka, and some 100 tribes arrive to share their music, dance and culture.

Here are important dates to put in the diary for next year from Tran Niugini Tours  Its 2016 "show tours" are the Tumbuna Show in May, the Mount Hagen Show in August and the Goroka Show in September. 

 

WANTOK January 2016

PNG PRODUCT VISITS EUROPE

The PNG Dive Association -- Tufi Resort, Lissenung Island, Tawali Resort and Walindi with MV Febrina -- will be at BOOT in Dusseldorf (the world’s largest water-sports trade fair) in January along with Rhett and Stella. Find us at Hall 03 / A91) from January 23 to-25. We will be co-hosting a PNG evening with Diving Specials on the evening of January 23. If you're into diving and attending BOOT register to come along at https://www.facebook.com/events/1684433421825369/

Prior to BOOT, on January 19 and 20, Stella and Rhett, along with the PNG Dive Association, will be running a  product training workshop for Knecht Reisen and Hotelplan in Zurich – and then from January 28 -31, they will be at FESPO in Zurich (Switzerland’s annual travel show) for PNG’s Tufi Resort and Tawali.

For those of you who have not yet met Stella, she joined us at Team TCMG last September as PNG Marketing Manager Continental Europe. She worked previously for a specialist dive wholesaler for three years during which she visited and sold dive trips to destinations around the world – including, of course, PNG. Soon she will be launching our PNG webinair – watch this space. Meanwhile, meet Stella athttp://theconjointmarketinggroup.com/stella-dielhenn/.

Tufi, Lissenung, Tawali and Walindi  resorts each offer a range of different dive options and colourful cultural activities

Located in Oro Province, on the north-east side of the mainland of PNG, Tufi is only accessible by air or by sea – and it is one of the few destinations in PNG to offer all year round divingYou fly directly into the resort. The flight time from Port Moresby to Tufi is a little less than an hour. Domestic flights and local charter flights are available.

Apart from the clear, calm and protected waters of the tropical fjords close to Tufi, the resort offers more than 30 major dive sites in the nearby tropical waters of the Solomon Sea, with many uncharted reefs waiting to be explored. http://tufidive.com/ 

Lissenung is one of the ‘last natural frontiers’ on New Ireland, a 20-minute boat ride from Kavieng. Air Niugini operates daily flights to Kavieng from Port Moresby. Set on a small private island, Lissenung is an adults-only hideaway with traditional bungalows, a white sandy beach, tall palm trees and spectacular flowers.

Surrounding Lissenung are some of the most inviting reefs and some of the world’s most colourful fish. Out of the water there are several traditional villages that welcome visitors with traditional local hospitality. http://www.lissenungisland.com/

Tawali is located in amongst local fishing villages in a secluded area of Milne Bay and is accessible only by a 20-minute boat ride. Tawali offers guests a private retreat on a towering limestone bluff. Beautifully carved totems and woodwork adorn the resort. Tawali, which means ‘reef’, offers guests of all ages and fitness levels plenty to experience. http://www.tawali.com/

Walindi sits on the shores of Kimbe Bay and is also home port to the boutique live-aboard dive vessel, MV Febrina. Each dive area visited by MV Febrina has its own special attractions and a wide range of dive types -- all scheduled to take advantage of the best weather conditions in each area.

The resort is an hour's drive from Hoskins Airport, the airport serving Kimbe - the capital of West New Britain province, which in turn is an hour's flight from Port Moresby with connection by Air Niugini.

The resort, which celebrates more than 30 years of operation, is world famous for its quality diving, and has been the location for a wide collection of international award-winning photography. Walindi offers a variety of land tours exploring the areas surrounding the resort. Guests can choose from a relaxing swim in a hot river, bushwalking, a trek up a volcano and much more. http://www.walindifebrina.com/

CAPITAL TIPS

Just a reminder that the PNG capital, Port Moresby, is getting ready to boast a brand new 212-room Hilton Hotel -- scheduled to open in mid-2017. The development will include a state of the art 4-level convention centre modelled on the traditional long house of Lake Kutubu. The hotel’s unique design will offer panoramic views of the surrounding areas for visitors and guests. Watch this space.

Meanwhile; the 60-room Laguna Hotel in Port Moresby, is a new business hotel that is attracting overseas visitors. Business and leisure travellers have the convenience of being in the commercial district with an abundant of choice of shopping venues, while only 20 minutes away from the airport

TRIBAL GATHERINGS

A major PNG attraction, the country’s many cultural shows have announced dates for 2016. Book early not to be disappointed – accommodation is snapped up fast, and so are organised packages to attend these colourful events.

The Goroka Show is a probably the best known tribal gathering and cultural event in PNG – it has been described as 'most colourful show on Earth'. It is held in the town of Goroka (located in the Eastern Highlands Province), and more than a hundred tribes will turn up to share their music, ritual dances and culture. The Goroka Show this year runs from September 16 to 18.  It offers a rare opportunity for travellers to experience the customs of the many tribes that populate the Papua New Guinea Highlands and neighbouring regions.

The Pacific Gardens Hotel in Goroka offers guests the newest hotel accommodation in town, ranging from standard to newly built premier rooms and self-contained apartments

The annual Hagen Show is set for August 20 to 21. Held in the Western Highlands township of Mt. Hagen, the Show is always a rousing event. The Hagen Show was first staged in 1961, before PNG's independence, as an event to unify tribes – and it certainly succeeds. Local entertainers from the modern music scene also perform during the show, and a wide array of arts and crafts will be on display.

Another ‘must’ is the annual Crocodile Festival (August 5 to 7).This special festival celebrates the significance of the revered crocodile – to be found throughout Sepik River culture. The Sepik River Crocodile Festival is staged annually in Ambunti in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. The Sepik River is one of the largest rivers in the Asia-Pacific region and is home to some of the world’s largest freshwater and saltwater crocodile populations.

Another important annual show is the Madang Festival on June 11 and 12, an exciting celebration held in one of PNG’s most visited provinces, and showcasing its many unique resident cultural groups. Madang also offers diving, snorkeling, surfing, nature and war-history tours.

The Kenu & Kundu Festival is set to take place towards the end of the year, from 4 to 6 November, in Alotau, in Milne Bay Province, Alotau canoes and 'kundus' feature prominently in this exciting festival. The stunning traditional canoes and kundu drums are a significant part of the lives of the people of Milne Bay The 'war canoes' are especially crafted from special woods in the same way as those made by local ancestors . Traditional dancing groups will be represented from all over the Milne Bay province, including Eastern parts of the Papuan Region - ensuring a rich variety of performances.

The PNG National Mask Festival takes place from July 13 to 17 in Rabaul on the island of New Britain. This spectacular event focuses on displaying the country’s different traditional masks, their purposes and believes associated with them. The festival includes groups from the New Guinea Islands, which includes Rabaul, Kavieng, and Buka, and to the North coast, which includes Madang, Wewak and the lowlands of both provinces.

Another festival of note is the Enga Show in Wabag (August 5 to 7).Enga is the northern most province in the Highlands region and is the only province in PNG where the people speak the same language - making them the largest ethnic and linguistic group in the country

DID YOU KNOW?

Papua New Guinea is a bird watchers paradise! There are many locations throughout PNG where you can see the beautiful species of birds, including different types of the famous Birds of Paradise - found only in PNG. Birding is available throughout the country from coastal and island locations right up to the rugged peaks of the country’s highlands. Some 400 species of birds have been found also in the environs of Port Moresby, within two-and-a-half hours drive of the capital. Check out the tours offered at www.countrytours.com.pg

There are more than 800 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea. While English is used in many business settings, it is PNG's Tok Pisin that is used within communities and between language groups.

MUST READ

You must read a great article (in English) by Adrian Pickshaus with photos by Meiko Hermann. Their experiences meeting bush pilots, crocodile hunters and proud tribal warriors has been published in Lufthansa Magazine. http://magazin.lufthansa.com/de/en/travel-en/the-most-beautiful-end-of-the-earth/

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