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wojtekd Tari - A travel report by Wojciech
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Tari,  Papua New Guinea - flag Papua New Guinea
17329 readers

wojtekd's travel reports

Papua's exotic Highlands

  26 votes
Page: 1 2

Tari travelogue picture
For the traveller Papua is still a legend. The country is, in the truest sense, the last frontier on earth. In our 21st century there is no single road between the capital Port Moresby in the south and tourist places on the northern coast... The first explorers arrived to Papua only a little over a hundred years ago. Entry to the interior of the island was blocked by thick jungle and razor sharp mountains. The exploration of the mysterious interior was left to Taylor and Leahy brothers who were the first Europeans to interact with the highlanders, only in 1933. There are still many areas of Papua New Guinea which remains virtually untouched by western influences. Going to PNG you will probably fly first to Australia - the main gateway. There are also flights from Singapore, Manila and Solomons and land border crossing from Irian Jaya... In Port Moresby on arrival you will get your visa. But you will not find any folklore there. To see the people like on my picture you must go to Tari..

Favourite spots:
Tari travelogue picture
The Highlands region is populated by Wigmen and has its traditional culture. The Highlands were thought to be uninhabited until gold miners ventured up from the coast in the 1930s and discovered 100 000 people living Stone Age-style unaware of the outside world. The countryside is dramatic, with wide, fertile valleys, numerous rivers and craggy mountains. Tourist highlights of the area include: traditional costumes, dancing and ceremonies, handicrafts - intricately decorated bows and arrows, basketry and woollen goods. There is also accessible Mt Wilhelm, the tallest mountain in the country (there are great views from its 4500m top).

What's really great:
Tari travelogue picture
How can I get to Tari to see these huts constructed of bush materials? There is only road going to the Highlands from Lae on the coast. Cheap Public Motor Vehicles (PMVs -modified Japanese minibuses and trucks) operate this route. But it is safe only as far as Mt. Hagen. So it is better to fly. The main carrier is Air Niugini, with several small operators touching down at very small airstrips like that one in Tari. Travelling on any of Air Niugini's domestic flights, make sure you check-in an hour in advance, otherwise booked seats will be given to passengers on waiting lists. They offer domestic airpass - one segment costs around 80 USD. MAF is slightly cheaper...

Tari travelogue picture
Southern Highlands where Tari is located is the tribal wonderland. Clans in the Southern Highlands have a strong and intricate social system little affected by change. It is one of the few places where the traditional way of life can be seen in everyday living. Ceremonial rituals are strongly observed. Men and women can still be seen wearing traditional dress, tending their gardens and pigs and building their bush material huts. Tari is one of the few places left where men and women can be seen wearing traditional dress as part of daily living and men's wealth is still counted by the number of pigs and wives they possess.

Tari travelogue picture
There is rather basic guesthouse in the Tari village. Much better option is to stay in comfortable Ambua Lodge operated by Transniugini Tours. It is located at 2100 metres above sea level (nights are cool!) few kilometres out of the village (45 min drive back to Mt Hagen direction). Can you see small points on the slope? - that's it - a short jump to the jungle. Ambua Lodge offers an "...inspired mixture of local architecture, spectacular views and modest luxury off the beaten track...". Guests are accommodated on a full-board basis in 40 twin-bed bungalows. Each unit features 180-degree picture windows and a bathroom.

Tari travelogue picture
The advantage of staying in expensive Ambua Lodge are walking tours and village visits included in the room rate. It is only short jump from the bungalows to the rainforest: visitors are venturing along nature trails with traditional vine bridges, take pictures of a secluded waterfalls, and if they are lucky, the bird of paradise. ( take a big zoom with you - I saw them, but they fly like 20 meters above). The advantage of the birding in the Tari Gap area where one may chance to observe up to 10 species of the birds of paradise. The flamboyant Huli Wigmen of the Tari Valley have formed a strong bond between themselves and these beautiful birds, men revere the birds by imitating them in both daily and ceremonial life, decorating their human hair wigs with the plumage of only the most beautiful birds - see the first picture above...

The bar located in Ambua Lodge dining room close to a cozy fireplace is probably the only place in the region where you can have your beer. And probably the only place where suply of electric power is guaranted - they own mini hydro electric power plant. In the bungalows there are even electric blankets for the cool highland evenings...

Tari travelogue picture
It is real outback and except hotel restaurant in Ambua Lodge it is hard to find other place. If you want to cook on your own go to the marketplace for products. Sweet potato is basic food here. Local ladies carry handmade, colorfull bags called bilum. Bilum is always hanging on theirs foreheads and back - see picture...
You are welcome to see more pictures from Papua on my private pages:

Other recommendations:
Tari travelogue picture
I add a map of PNG just to Give you idea where is Tari - it lies at the end of the red marked road...
Before you go it is worth also to know that PNG is subject to third world's problems facing many emerging nations - urban unemployment, a rising crime rate and environmental exploitation. Country has 'rascal problem', which means anything from petty street crime to carjacking. Precautions should be taken. These include not wandering around late at night (especially in cities), dressing conservatively (applies mainly to women), avoiding overt public displays of affection and concealing valuables.

Published on Friday October 31th, 2003

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Wed, Dec 21 2005 - 08:26 AM rating by delfster

hi wojchiech,
i just read your report on papua new guinea. i like it and it's very informative. i went to the western end of papua, and dreamth about going to PNG. it's just a great final frontier story. thanks for sharing and hope to read more of your story.



Sat, Nov 12 2005 - 06:38 PM rating by alfonsovasco


Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 05:25 AM rating by miguelmarchi

Reading your reports is like travelling with Marco Polo

Wed, Oct 06 2004 - 02:43 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii ,
well this is most facinating article i read on this site ,i am amazed how you can explose so much .

Wed, Sep 29 2004 - 07:25 PM rating by picasso

Wery interesting Islands to visit for some adventurous traveles.Is there any tribes there practice canibalism,or they have panishment for this?


Sat, Nov 01 2003 - 05:33 AM rating by trampi

Fantastic! I loved Wigmens' picture. Someday I'll also go there!

Fri, Oct 31 2003 - 02:01 PM rating by marianne

You have done it again, another perfect article. This is a country I truly like to visit. We will probably combine it with Irian Jaya in about two years' time when work no longer interferes with travelling.

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