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At the Heart of Papua New Guinea

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Swain Destinations, USTOA and AFAR sent me halfway around the world to get at the essential nature of the PNG travel experience; to meet local folks here, there, and everywhere; and to discover a remarkable moment or two. But how to do all that in a place as unique as Papua New Guinea? Where to begin? Come to PNG with me, and I'll show you.
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Highlands Hwy, Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea
The Mount Hagen Market serves as something as the commercial center of Papua New Guinea’s third-largest city, a fascinating destination where old-world traditions are buttressed against modern technologies conveniences. The market was my first...
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The Asaro Mudmen originally hail from the village of Goroka, and while it still may be possible to visit them on their home turf, it’s much easier (and far less frightening) to spend time with the Mudmen at the Pogla Cultural Centre in the hills...
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The Karawari River is one of the wildest places I’ve ever visited, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to share my images with you. I’ve never been to a place that had such a feeling of disconnect from the modern world – the...
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Karawari River, Papua New Guinea
Karawari Lodge is one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever stayed in what is the most incredible country I’ve ever visited. There’s no AC at the lodge, no WiFi, and very little hot water. But what there is is a real sense of adventure....
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Our Swain Destinations party met the fascinating Huli Wigmen at a small village in the Southern Highlands near Tari. The Huli people, one of the largest indigenous groups in PNG, have lived in this region for more than 1,000 years, and continue to...
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One of the most interesting places we visited on our Swain Destinations trip to PNG was the wig school, located in a large Huli village near Tari, in the Southern Highlands. Wig schools are run by Wig School Masters, and are open only to young...
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I’m not sure exactly how to express in words our Swain Destinations experience at the Tigibi village spirit dance on the Makara River. During this spectacular ceremonial performance, local tribal elders engaged in song and dance dressed in rattan...
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Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
The iconic masks worn by the Baining people are made from bamboo, leaves, grass, bark and cloth and used only once before they’re burned or discarded. The fire dance itself is traditionally performed by young men as an initiation into adulthood;...
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On my last day at Lissenung Island I had an opportunity to hop in a skiff and venture over to nearby Enuk Island for a glimpse a local village life. Enuk is actually two islands separated by a narrow channel – pictured here – where it’s not...
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Lissenung has been in operation since 1996, and is run by Dietmar and Ange Amon—certified PADI instructors, welcoming hosts, and lovers of all things PNG. From Lissenung, it’s possible to visit well-preserved WWII wreck sites, sea cliffs,...