For those with a wanderlust for less chartered territory, Papua New Guinea could be the ideal destination for you. Although tourism is starting the catch on, Papua New Guinea has yet to develop into the sought-after tourist destination that it perhaps should be. Its lack of infrastructure and limited tourist information probably means you’ve never even considered travelling here. If you’re looking for five star hotels and fancy restaurants, this isn’t the destination for you. But if you’re a beach-loving adventurer, you’ll be left speechless! With clear turquoise waters and authentic tribal culture, a trip here ticks all the boxes. Be prepared to marvel at magnificent headdresses, traditional rituals, and outstanding landscapes. Situated in the Pacific, just above Australia, it is also developing a reputation for its diving spots.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, with over 850 indigenous languages, making it the perfect trip if you’re longing to experience a unique culture. However it is still shrouded in mystery. Read on to see what rumors are true, and which ones need to be debunked.
Real or Rumour?
Parts of Papua New Guinea are dangerous
Parts of Papua New Guinea are best avoided, as they are notorious for tribal fighting and high crime. Foreigners are not common targets in tribal disputes, but they can escalate quickly, and it’s best to avoid areas at risk. In order to avoid these areas, speak to local contacts and keep an eye on media. Urban areas are a high risk for crime, including burglary, assault, and carjacking. Consider safety precautions, such as traveling in groups, only keep small amounts of cash on you, do not wear expensive jewelry, lock your car when driving, and avoid being out late at night alone. For up to date travel advice covering everything from safety to health precautions, see here.
There are cannibals
Cannibalism has been illegal in Papua New Guinea since the 1970s, and yet headlines as recently as 2012 have circulated regarding certain tribes and their potential involvement in the practice of cannibalism. The practice is rooted in their belief in evil spirits, and in the past they thought it was necessary to kill and eat someone possessed by a demon (i.e. sorcerers). However, cannibalism is not accepted or practiced in present day Papua New Guinea.
Locals are unfriendly to foreigners
There are hundreds of different tribes, amongst which there are some more reclusive groups, who are less accustomed to strangers and are best left alone. However, most tribes are incredibly welcoming! If you’re looking for a trip where you have the opportunity to connect with people, away from the 21st Century distractions of internet and social media, you’ll love Papua New Guinea (although when you get back to civilisation you’re bound the have plenty of photos to share). Travelling with an organised tour will ensure you visit tribes who enjoy contact from foreigners, otherwise just make sure you do your research and use local contacts.
In short, the less adventurous may be put off by this destination, but as long as you take necessary precautions and travel with knowledgeable groups, you’ll be able to get off the beaten track and safely experience a beautiful, vibrant culture, untouched by western civilization.
So, are you adventurous enough to visit this slice of paradise?
Written by Jade Touron, follow her adventures on Instagram.