Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Papua New Guinea, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.
Few places in the world fascinate anthropologists more than Papua New Guinea. Occupying the eastern half of the world’s second largest island, “PNG” is known for its warm seas rich with marine life and sunken World War II ships. On land is a vast array of flora and fauna, including 762 species of birds (with over 400 unique to the island), the world’s greatest variety of orchids, and more than 400 species of butterflies.
1. The Highlands Sing-Sing Festival (pictured above): Come to Papua New Guinea during a “sing-sing,” or cultural show, when drums thunder and hundreds of Huli adorned with lavish face and body paints as well as elaborate headdresses stop and chant in friendly inter-tribal competition. The sing-sings began in the 1960s as a government effort to halt centuries-old tribal rivalry and warfare. The largest today is the Mount Hagen Sing-Sing, during which nearly 80 tribes come from all parts to “mock fight” on a soccer field in the Western Highlands trading town while some 500 tourists watch.
- Where: Mt. Hagen is 320 miles/514 km northwest of the capital city, Port Moresby.
- How: U.S.-based Asia Transpacific Journeys offers tours that coincide with the sing-sings. Tel: 800-642-2742 or 303-443-6789; www.asiatranspacific.com.
- When: May for Tumbuna Sing-Sing; August for Mount Hagen Sing-Sing.
- Best Time: April-October is cooler and drier.
2. Sepik River: Winding across a vast delta before ending 685 miles from its headwaters in the soaring highlands, the Sepik River was once the domain of anthropologists, naturalists, and adventure seekers. Today, an expedition up this mysterious river is for anyone wanting to explore one of the world’s last unspoiled reservoirs of nature, culture, and—most especially—tribal art.
- Where: The town of Timbunke is 444 miles/715 km northwest of Port Moresby.
- How: U.S.-based Asia Transpacific Journeys offers tours that coincide with the sing-sings. Tel: 800-642-2742 or 303-443-6789; www.asiatranspacific.com. In PNG the long-established operator Trans Niugini Tours manages and owns many of the wilderness lodges, such as the Karawari Lodge and the Sepik Spirit: Tel: 675/542-1438; www.pngtours.com.
- Best Tim: July-November is cooler and drier.
Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.