Wild Frontiers traveller Siobhan visited Papua New Guinea and found an enchanting land that made a lasting impression.
Papua New Guinea is a country wrapped in mystery, myth and mis-information. It has called to me strongly for a long time, remaining immovably at the top of my list of places I wished to explore, as I busily crossed off various other destinations.
At times it felt like it was not meant to be, the wary tales of others who had not been but felt opinionated enough to force their warning onto others, the lack of any of the main tour operators listing it in their drop down menus and the undeniable random events that can make anyone think twice about a holiday destination - political insecurity and natural disasters.
Yet for those who persevere, who ignore the naysayers and find a way to traverse the country, they discover that PNG is the most beautiful, bright, shining jewel of a country. PNG had inhabited my dreams for so long there I was concerned that the reality may not live up to my hopes. It ended up exceeding them. The beetlenut bright red genuine smiles that greet you everywhere, the enthusiastic waving as you drive past, the warm welcoming handshakes, the bright vivid colours and the ubiquitous beat of the kudu drum that permeates through to your soul and can’t help but make you grin like a child.
In a world which at times feels like everything is sanitised with the same Western corporate brush, PNG revels and thrives on the diversity of its sub cultures. From the scarification resembling crocodile scales on the Sepik river, to the iridescent shimmering headdresses of the Kalam comprising the miniscule heads of thousands of beetle heads, to the bright yellow faces of the Huli men, whose necks are adorned with the formidable beak from a hornbill. The pride they each have in their culture and where they are from is palpable and they are delighted to share it and explain it to those travellers intrepid enough to make the journey.
It was the unexpected moments that completely stole my heart. Sitting in a hand hewn boat traversing the mighty Sepik as dawn broke, the unexpected large community welcome given to us at Simbai, falling asleep high in the mountains to the sound of a sing sing going long into the night.
Papua New Guinea is certainly not a cheap destination - this was the most expensive trip I have taken by far. Was it worth it? Yes, every single penny. I am already planning on how I will visit again.