Papua New Guinea Highlands & Islands Adventure
Port Moresby – Mt. Hagen – Goroka – Port Moresby – Rabaul – Port Moresby
Day 1 Port Moresby – Mt. Hagen
Welcome to Papua New Guinea – The Land of the Unexpected. You will be met by your tour leader at Jackson’s Airport before departing Port Moresby on your flight to Mount Hagen at TBA. Our local guide will meet us upon arrival. Mt. Hagen is the second largest city in PNG and provides a cultural immersion into the Highlands lifestyle of the local people. We transfer to a beautiful lodge at the foot of Mount Hagen (3800m) – the 3rd highest peak of Papua New Guinea and an extinct volcano, our home for the next 3 nights. Magic Mountain Lodge is about a 20 – 30-minute hike from the main road. The road is too steep for buses hence porters or a small support vehicle will help carry your bags up to the Lodge. Magic Mountain Nature Lodge consists of a row of stand-alone bungalows with ensuite bathrooms, and a common dining room, situated in a large garden of native plants especially coloured orchids, lichens, mosses and fungi that grow well at this high altitude. If time allows we take a drive to look for the rare Bird of Paradise, a symbolic bird in Papua New Guinea that is featured on the country’s flag.
Heavy mist envelops the mountain at about 17:00 hours every day and the temperature drops rapidly, so it is a good idea to settle quickly into your bungalows on arrival. The Lodge is connected to the town electricity grid and there is a back-up generator. Not far from the Lodge, the summit of Magic Mountain is a round-shaped peak which appears to look the same no matter from which angle you look at it, thus the name “magic”. Due to the altitude (2500m) the temperature drops quite quickly after dusk and it can get cold. (D)
Note: Our accommodation is located remotely. We recommend purchasing alcohol (spirits) duty free upon arrival. Beer is available in local shops in Mt. Hagen Town. Snacks, water and soft drinks can be purchased at the local supermarket in Mt. Hagen Town. Your guide will make sure the group has opportunities to buy any necessary items.
International arrivals should be before midday this day or the day before in order to catch the connecting afternoon flight to Mount Hagen and for the program to run as planned. Air Niugini flies daily out of Brisbane and Cairns, with regular flights from Singapore, Sydney, Manila, Bali and Hong Kong.
Day 2 Mt. Hagen
Wake up early. Enjoy breakfast sitting on a big terrace overlooking the valley below Mount Hagen, surrounded by high-altitude moss forest. After breakfast we take a drive-around tour of Mt Hagen area by private-hire bus or open-back passenger truck stopping at places of interest including the main market – the biggest and liveliest market in PNG and an experience not to be forgotten. We travel out of Mt. Hagen to witness a performance by the Skeleton Boys, their bodies painted with charcoal and white clay, doing a Spirit Dance. After the dance the village leader will explain the story behind the performance. We continue to Paiya village, a typical Highlands village. Visit the Men’s House and the skull house where the bones of ancestors are kept. Meet the village chief and his 3 wives and take a tour of the village before sitting down to a local style “mumu”. Meat and vegetables have been wrapped in leaves and cooked in a pit under hot stones and you will see the parcels of cooked food removed from the earth “oven” and opened before your eyes. After lunch the village people will take you for a walk through their gardens and show you how they cultivate the vegetables that they eat every day. Before departing witness a traditional sing sing – traditional presentation of song, dance and dress, performed by some of the ladies from the village. If time allows visit the local school for a game of football, volleyball or rugby with the kids – a warm experience and possibly one of the highlights of your trip! Return to Magic Mountain Lodge, dinner and free time to rest. (B,L,D)
Day 3 Mt. Hagen
Today will be a full day of nature hiking. After breakfast, depart Magic Mountain Nature Lodge for full day of trekking to the summit of Mount Hagen (3800m) with guides and packed lunch, arriving back at Magic Mountain late afternoon. (B,L,D)
This is not a technical climb, but it is challenging, with some steep sections. The track runs through the jungle and grasslands. It is very muddy all year round due to heavy rainfall. Effects of altitude can be felt and altitude sickness can occur (possible Nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath). You need to be in good condition fitness wise and warm clothing is necessary. Trekking boots also recommended. (If you have any doubt about your ability to gain the summit, you can wait at the lodge. The trek is optional – No one will be pressured to do the trek.)
Day 4 Mt. Hagen – Goroka
Depart Magic Mountain Lodge after breakfast, stopping at the local supermarket for snacks, water, soft drinks. We depart the capital of the Western Highlands Province for Goroka, approx. a 5-hour drive depending on road conditions, with a lunch stop at a hotel in Kundiawa. Admire the Highlands landscape along the way and stop at Daulo Pass (2400m) scenic point overlooking Goroka Town below. Overnight in a local hotel. (B)
Day 5 Goroka
Spend the day visiting 2 local villages. Travel to Asaro to see a cultural performance by the famous Asaro Mudmen. The Asaro Mudmen are famous for wearing fierce looking masks, with their bodies covered in white mud which made them look like ghosts emerging from the morning mist, when attacking their rival tribes. After a village walk through Asaro we continue to Akemeku Village where you will meet the local people, experiencing some cultural performances and taking in traditional village life. Due to the condition of the road the vehicle cannot make it all the way and a 20-minute trek is required to reach the village. The villagers will greet you with a welcome dance and walk you into their home. Try your hand at archery, see a traditional sing-sing and help prepare a traditional Mumu lunch. In Akemeku the food is stuffed into bamboo pieces and these placed on hot rocks. The whole stack is covered by banana leaves and soil. While the food is cooking we enjoy the various performances the villagers have prepared for us and then take a walk to a nearby waterfall, walking through the village’s coffee plantation. After lunch it’s time to say goodbye as we head back to our vehicle. Return to your hotel late afternoon. (B,L)
Day 6 Goroka – Port Moresby – Rabaul
Transfer to the airport after breakfast accommodation for our AM flight to Port Moresby, then connect through to Rabaul. Arrive late afternoon and transfer from Kokopo to your hotel located in Rabaul, approx. a 45-minutes drive depending on road conditions. Rabaul was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the subsequent rain of ash caused 80% of the buildings in Rabaul to collapse. After the eruption the capital was moved to Kokopo. Rabaul is continually threatened by volcanic activity as it is surrounded by six volcanoes. If time allows visit the Bitapaka War Cemetery located a short distance out of Kokopo. Bitapaka cemetery is managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The cemetery contains the Australian and Commonwealth graves of those killed during operations in New Britain and New Ireland during World War II, or who died while prisoners of war. The cemetery also contains World War I Australian and German graves of those killed during operations in the Occupation of German New Guinea, which were relocated to the cemetery. We also stop at the Kokopo Markets, a nice experience and opportunity to buy some local produce and artefacts. (Bitapaka War Cemetery and Kokopo Markets visit subject to change depending on arrival time.) (B)