After reaching our destination near Kainantu, our New Zealand host took us exploring the backroads of the area in his Electricity Commission 4WD Toyota Landcruiser. A vehicle like this is definitely recommended once you get off the main road.We chose a little-used road to the small nearby village of Aiyura. Due to muddy patches and washouts caused...more
The village of Aiyura was quite interesting with its traditional huts and wooden pallisade. Papua New Guineans in the Highlands count their wealth by the number of pigs they have, so they keep a close watch on them with fences and, in some cases, even letting them sleep within their huts at night!We found the people to be both friendly and curious...more
Although the drive up the Markham River Valley was nice enough in itself, it was a real pleasure to climb into the cool airs of the Eastern Highlands mountains. Here, near the top of the 1500-m (4900-ft) Kassam Pass, we stopped to have a look back at our trail. At this elevation, the forests have not been logged out and it is starting to feel like...more
The Kainantu Lodge is a two-story hotel, located on a hill above Kainantu. It is close to both the local Golf Course and the Eastern Highlands Cultural Centre. The Lodge features 22 rooms, 3 conference rooms, a restaurant and a bar/lounge with a log fireplace. It also has a swimming pool, tennis courts and will supply a free shuttle service to and from the Goroka airport, 80 km (50 miles) distant.
With our New Zealand hosts arranging child-minding services for the older children, we enjoyed a very pleasant outing at the Kainantu Lodge with them and our youngest daughter. The meal was excellent, the beer cold and it was very enjoyable to have a fireplace in action with a slight tinge of smoke in the air!
Dress Code: Wear something long-sleeved for the cool nights of the Highlands, in case the fireplace is not on!
Once we had settled into our accommodations just outside Kainantu, I switched to an Elcom Landcruiser for some backcountry explorations. Here, my youngest daughter (delivered in Port Moresby about 8 months earlier by me and a nurse!) and I take a break in one of the typical alpine meadows that makes this part of PNG so lush and habitable for the...more
My family and I flew into Lae from Port Moresby, where I picked up an Elcom car for the 3-hour drive to Kainantu, in the Eastern Highlands. As we left Lae, the Highlands Highway first travels along the flat terrain of the Markham River Valley.This is a scenic drive, with the deep banks of the River showing here and the velvety green slopes of the...more
We stopped to have a look at this local market that we encountered on our off-the-beaten-path drive near Aiyura. My oldest daughter is wandering among the many sellers checking out what is available for sale in this most scenic location, surrounded by the distant mountains.
What to buy: The typical Highlands foods are sweet potatoes, taro, yams and cassava, so there were small piles of these available for purchase. Also, woven bags, mats and various trinkets. I don't think they get too many 'tourists' at this market!
Our countryside drive took us to the small village of Aiyura, not too far from Kainantu. As soon as you start to explore in the Highlands, it will not be long before you come across the locals going about their everyday tasks in this heavily populated part of Papua New Guinea.These two ladies very kindly let me take their photo, and they are quite...more
Not much later, we came across this couple meandering along the side of the unsealed back-country road we were travelling. This gentleman is carrying his trusty bow and arrow combination, probably in the hope of spotting some small wild game. However, even into the 1980s, when I was there, the tribes were not afraid to resort to battles with arrows...more
As you would expect, Papua New Guinea had it's share of insects and other creatures that you had to be wary of. Both in the Highlands and around our house in Port Moresby, we had Orb Weaver spiders. The females of this species were about 2-3 inches across. They would spin their web, which included long spokes upon which they sat, waiting to see if...more
The Highlands Highway, running from coastal Lae and up into the central mountain ranges via the 1500-m (4900-ft) Kassam Pass is the main land transportation route in Papua New Guinea, serving 40% of the country's population. After continuing onward through Kainantu and Goroka, it climbs again into the Western Highlands via the 2470-m (8100-ft)...more
The lifeblood of the towns and cities in the Highlands of PNG was dependent on the Ramu Hydro station, located only a few miles from Kainantu. Two of Papua New Guinea's rivers, the Sepik (to the west) and the Ramu, starting in the mountains not far from Lae and Madang, drain almost all the water on the north side of the main island part of PNG. As a result, it was a natural to tap the Ramu River for a hydro dam, built between 1972-76 by Hyundai from South Korea. Elcom had its own small village, Yonki, located there to house the staff running the complex. It was there, either with an expatriate family from New Zealand or in an Elcom guest house that I normally stayed when in the area on a work assignment.
The three 15,000 kW hydro generators there (with their grey transformers sitting above the building) were enough to supply this whole area of PNG, by means of a 66,000 volt transmission system. One line went west to supply Kundiawa, Goroka and Mt. Hagen, another went east to supply Kainantu and Lae while the final line went north to Madang. For cases of trouble, smaller diesel generating stations were also connected to the system at Lae, Madang and Mt. Hagen. After I left the country, another dam was built upstream, allowng addition of two more 15,000 kW generators to the combined Ramu complex.
I visited Ramu several times to sort out various problems, including solving one that had been periodically blacking out the whole power system in this part of the country ever since the dam went into service. There were also trips to the outlying towns to deal with transmission-related problems, so there was never any shortage of work!
Favorite thing: Kainantu is the first major settlement you will encounter upon driving up into the Highlands. The quickest way to get there is to fly into Goroka and then make the approximately 1-hour drive to the east. However, my family and I took the 'scenic' route on our trip by flying into Nadzab airport outside of Lae, on the northeastern coast, and then enjoying the slightly longer 2-hour drive from there. As you can see, Aiyura is not too far south of Kainantu.