Getting Around Papua New Guinea

  • Chinese Cemetery Manila - Phillppines
    Chinese Cemetery Manila - Phillppines
    by wabat
  • Chinese Cemetery Manila - Phillppines
    Chinese Cemetery Manila - Phillppines
    by wabat
  • Sunset Manila Bay - Phillppines
    Sunset Manila Bay - Phillppines
    by wabat

Most Viewed Transportation in Papua New Guinea

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    Getting to PNG

    by wabat Written Mar 12, 2014

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    Having secured a job in Port Moresby in 1988 it was then necessary to get there. Knowing that the last couple of weeks in Belfast were scheduled with “the client from hell” I decided that a few days stopover en-route to PNG were necessary. In any case then, as now, there were no direct flights from Belfast to PNG (I wonder why?) so I had to change planes somewhere!

    Basically I had to get to somewhere in Asia or Australia with connections to PNG. In those days, again as now, the only major airlines flying servicing PNG were the national airline, Air Niugini, and QANTAS from Australia. I discounted going via Australia as there would be plenty of time for that later and having looked at Air Niugini schedules I decided on a few days stopover in Manila as I knew return trips to Europe, work and holidays would take me to the other Air Niugini destinations later. The accountant in me also veered me towards Manila as well as it was Air Niugini’s most expensive routing from PNG and I wasn’t paying this time round!

    I have absolutely no recollection of how I got to Manila (except that there was a refueling stop in the Middle East – Abu Dhabi as I recall). I do however have very clear recollections of Manila.

    I recall being amazed at the beautiful sunset over Manila Bay (picture 2) and my guided tour of the Chinese Cemetery. Yes, dear reader the buildings you see in picture 3 are tombs and not houses and picture 4 if of a rather younger Wabat sitting at the bar inside one of the larger tombs. From what I read the cemetery is rather run down these days.

    My biggest surprise, or was it shock, in Manila awaited me at the airport. Having made my way to the departure lounge I looked out the window and was confronted by a plane almost completely covered by a bird. This was my first sighting of an Air Niugini plane – and my first realization that I was really bound for the Pacific. I had, a year or two earlier, encountered planes covered in pictures in the Caribbean and considered them rather tacky. I felt the same about this one from PNG and welcomed myself to the developing world.

    I soon learned that in PNG the tok pisin word for aeroplane was ‘balus’ which also meant pigeon (or bird more generally). Not so many years earlier and certainly within living memory the Highlands of Papua New Guinea were being explored by westerners. Given the terrain much of this exploration was done by overflying areas by plane. Locals, unfamiliar with such devices, likened them to birds and they were referred to as and the name stuck. This explains the consequential painting of much of the Air Niugini’s fleet in a ‘balus’ livery. Picture one is a model in this livery.

    Very shortly after my arrival Air Niugini decided to modernise itself and out went the balus livery and in came the rather more slick designs of later years, my favourite of which is depicted in picture 5 (circa 1990).

    Today Air Nuigini flies to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Honiara, Fiji and a number of ports in Australia – with Fiji and Kuala Lumpur not being serviced in my time there.

    Current flight details can be found at www.airniugini.com.pg with additional flights to and from Australia at www.qantas.com . Be warned though that the Air Niugini – QANTAS monopoly have not partaken of the trend among airlines elsewhere to discount flights. Also English readers should be aware that when your bags get labeled POM this refers to the Port Moresby airport’s designation code and is not an attempt to insult you!

    In terms of quality both airlines are of a high quality and I have no problems recommending either.

    Air Niugini has a significant network within Papua New Guinea. This I will comment on in a separate review.

    Air Niugini Balus Livery Sunset Manila Bay - Phillppines Chinese Cemetery Manila - Phillppines Chinese Cemetery Manila - Phillppines Air Niugini 1990 Livery (Wiki)
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    Catch a Plane to Rabaul

    by jadedmuse Written Dec 19, 2005

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    The local carrier (Air Niugini) is the best way to get to Rabaul. It's about 1.5 hours from Port Moresby, and about 20 minutes from Kimbe Bay area.

    Flights are scheduled daily, but you should try to book in advance - or at the very least, be aware of the time tables.

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    What the Hell is a River Truck?!

    by jadedmuse Written Dec 19, 2005

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    I thought it was hysterical to refer to these things as "river trucks" but the more we used them, the more I came to appreciate the name.

    These flatbeds were motorized and offered the most room at the fastest speeds, affording us visitors a quick and easy (not to mention relatively dry) way to get around between villages.

    They were a bit noisy so if you have any kind of earplugs, bring them along for the ride!

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    Getting Around the Karawari River

    by jadedmuse Written Dec 19, 2005

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    It always amazed me to see how well the locals can balance as they stand up in these narrow, carved out canoes.

    Here two women are floating down the river, probably returning from another village.

    Standard mode of transporation among the villages, where the canoes don't actually belong to any specific person, they're considered communal property of the village itself.

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    Getting to the Karawari Region (Lower Sepik)

    by jadedmuse Written Dec 19, 2005

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    Don't expect any real landing strips or even an airport for that matter.

    When you're heading in and out of the Sepik Region, just be glad you're boarding a plane with two wings.

    Note: rough landings ahead!!!!

    Look out - ROUGH landings ahead!!
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    When in the Highlands, go 4x4

    by jadedmuse Written Dec 19, 2005

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    The best way to get around the Highlands is by jeep. When I was in PNG, there were no rental operations in the Highlands as it was still quite undeveloped. Ambua Lodge supplied the jeep (and the guide) courtesy of Trans-Niugini Tours, which we gladly accepted.

    When you're not hiking or exploring on foot, the way to go is by jeep (or Land Rover).

    Our trusty chariot
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  • Getting around Port Moresby

    by Mark_24 Updated Jun 15, 2005

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    One way to get around Port Moresby is by PMV. These are mini buses. Many are extremely unroadworthy. This is the main transportation used by the locals to get around. They are very cheap and shouldn't cost any more then maybe 50 Toia to get to a location within Port Moresby. When you need to get off, just call out for the driver to stop.

    Something you must be aware of is that on occasion, PMV's are held up by armed raskals. This happens everywhere around Port Moresby but be particularly mindfull of this when travelling through the 2 Mile area. Also remember you're going to stand out on these buses and if you have valuables you risk loosing them. You probably won't see many (if any) foreigners getting about on PMV's.

    I wouldn't use PMV's due to the high crime rate and the possibility of being held up. That's my personal choice. I don't believe it's worth the risk.

    If you decide to travel on a PMV may I suggest you go with local friends, know the route of the PMV so you don't end up in a dangerous area and make sure you don't display any valuables.

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    Personal service

    by grets Written Jul 3, 2004

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    We were initially booked on an Airlink flight later on this morning, but there has been some sort of mess-up, so Bob, the owner of Trans Niugini, is flying in with his little Baron six-seater aircraft to take us to Mount Hagen.

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    Trans Niugini

    by grets Written Jul 3, 2004

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    Flight from Port Moresby to Tari:

    We have a baggage allowance of 10 kg each, but the hotel did not have any scales we could check out our bags on this morning. We needn’t have worried though; they are only 15 kg between them. We are certainly getting better at travelling light.

    There is some confusion at the gate, as two flights are leaving at the same time from the same gate. They probably only have one door leading to the planes. Nobody is there to directs or greet us at the aircraft once we are out on the tarmac; we just have to guess that the plane with the door open is the one we are going on. It is a 40-seater Dash 8 and most of the passengers are locals. Personal hygiene seems to be rather lacking and a very unpleasant aroma is wafting through the aircraft. Still, it doesn’t stop me from sleeping.

    Air Niugini plane
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    Flying into Lae

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Dec 16, 2003

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    We flew in direct from Honolulu (12 hours in the air), or from Australia and from Singapore on one occassion. It was strange when leaving Port Moresby for Hawaii - because of the International Date Line, leaving PNG at 10:30 PM on Friday night and arriving in Honolulu at 10:30 AM on Friday morning! Air Niugini or Quantas were the usual airlines. I also took a lot of internal flights, some by F-28 jets, most by F-27 or Dash-7 turboprops and the odd small charter Twin Otter, etc. Photo taken of the Markam Valley as we approach a landing in Lae.

    Approaching Lae
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    Land Cruiser in the Highlands

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Nov 14, 2003

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    Although regular cars and trucks were OK for getting about - some parts of the highway system in the central part of the country required 4WD. There were several river fords when trying to drive overland to Madang. Photo of an Elcom Land Cruiser in the early morning hours - Kundiawa area of the Highlands. PS - we are on the correct side of the road, driving in PNG is on the left side in the British tradition and just like in Australia!

    Highlands Highway near Kundiawa
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    As PNG is an island - it's...

    by dayfiel Written Aug 26, 2002

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    As PNG is an island - it's best not to try to drive there as it's surrounded by the sea.
    Planes and Bannana Boats.
    If you do fly, try not to go in a plane that does this .
    This Cesna is not having a bit of a rest.
    It locked its brakes on landing at Weam airfield on the Bensbach river.

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    Jackson Internation Airport,...

    by Aragina Updated Aug 25, 2002

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    Jackson Internation Airport, Flights from New Zealand, Australia and Los Angles, We flew in thanks to the Royal Air Force :-)
    Any kind of transport is not easy in PNG but we found that you could hire canoes even motorised ones from the local people.
    If you want to go further afield you can hire a small airplane to get you to the other Islands.

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    I came to Singapore or Hong...

    by pita Written Aug 24, 2002

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    I came to Singapore or Hong Kong and then had to use Air Niugini. Be prepared to inhale a strong dosis of disinfection spray shortly before landing. Be prepared to enter a country that is different to what you have experienced before.
    Use the trucks called PMV. This is a Public Motor Vehicle and means a pick-up-car filled with 20 people, a coffe-body-car with 30 people or a light truck with up to 50 people. When there is rain, a canvas is provided. In Lae you can stay a Lutheran Mission Guest House. Have a voyage 1st class from Lae to Wewak with Lutheran Shipping and try to fly around with small airplanes from MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship, friendly called Mission Air Force). From Wewak you can fly with Captain Cabbage to the Highlands, but I do not know, if he is still doing his business. Stay at Ralph Stuettgens's hideaway in Wewak, take the PMV to Angoram and take my best greetings to the place, where I have lived for more than 2 years, take a motorcanoe to Timbunke or even higher, buy an old canoe and let you move down the way to Angoram by the mighty old man Sepik. Enjoy the coconuts, pawpaws, watermelons and all the great kaikai from there. If you like prawns, you will find the greatest kindam you have ever seen. Or take the PMV at Wewak to Timbunke direct or further on. Do not miss to see several house Tambaran on the way and in that area. But take the canoe-trip down to Angoram and the house Tambaran. The Sepik area is full with great carvings, all different styles depending on the place. The mosqitos (natnat) are steady compagnions, so have a mosquitonet with you all the time. The natnat attack time is mainly from 6 to 7 pm and all night long.
    I loved Papua New Guinea and the people and often think back to this beautiful 3 years in East Sepik and Enga-Province.

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  • Travel to Papua New Guinea is...

    by tim_macready Written Aug 24, 2002

    Travel to Papua New Guinea is not east or cheap. The country's main airline, Air Niugini, maintains a reasonable monopoly on air travel from Port Moresby, although within the country there are numerous small carriers if you don't mind small aircraft.

    Once in PNG, the best forms of transport are the small airlines, such as MBA (Milne Bay Air), Southwest, and many others. Road travel is usually safe for those who know the country, however tourists should be wary, as rascals often sieze opportunities to rob someone who does not know their way around. If you are to travel by Public Motor Vehicle, try to go in a group.

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Papua New Guinea Hotels

  • Airways Hotel

    4 star: swimming pool and restaurant with great view over airport and surrounding hills. Lively bar...

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  • Coastwatchers Hotel

    Coastwatchers Avenue, Madang, 511, Papua New Guinea

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Couples

  • Kimbe Bay Hotel

    PO Box 32, Kimbe, 621, Papua New Guinea

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