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Papua New Guinea

Main attractions

Cave in Bosavi crater
Cave in Bosavi crater / , Flickr, SA BY-2.0

One of the most exciting and mysterious lands in the world is Papua New Guinea. This country takes half of the second largest island and numerous other larger and smaller islands. Here live diverse indigenous people speaking in 820 languages who have very diverse cultural traditions.

Papua New Guinea for most part has very rugged terrain and major part of the country is covered with primeval nature - mostly rainforest. Up to this day Papua New Guinea is poorly investigated and here are expected numerous exciting discoveries of geological, biological and archaeological nature.

It is hard to single out the most impressive kind of landmarks in this land of wonders - but it is possible that this country has got the most impressive caves in the world. Here are located also some of the largest sinkholes of the world, very impressive gorges, canyons and cliff walls, as well as possibly most powerful springs in the world. Papuea New Guinea contains diverse volcanos, several geyser fields, hot springs and other exciting landmarks related to volcanism.

Papustyla pulcherrima - endemic snail from Manus Island
Papustyla pulcherrima - endemic snail from Manus Island / Dennis Hill, Wikimedia Commons, SA BY-2.0

Biological diversity of Papua New Guinea is very high and there are locations which contain large amount of endemic species of plants and animals. Here live the largest butterflies in the world. There are exciting legends and reported sightings of cryptids - mysterious animals.

Archaeological investigations in Papua New Guinea have been rare and we can be sure that many exciting archaeological monuments will be discovered in future.

New Guinea is one of the few locations in the world where independently developed agriculture and traces of ancient fields are seen here up to this day. Megaliths thus far have been found in Trobriand Islands. Diverse cliff paintings recently have been found in hundreds of caves in different regions of the country.

Natural landmarks

Volcanic landmarks

  • Bagana volcano - Bougainville Autonomous Region. Most active volcano in Papua New Guinea with nearly continous eruption. Height 1,750 m.
  • Deidei geysers (Dei Dei) - Fergusson Island, Milne Bay Province. A group of three interconnected geysers erupting every minute up to 4 - 5 m high.
  • Gabuna hot springs and rivers - West New Britain Province. Group of bright blue hot springs and hot rivers.
  • Kasiloli geysers - West New Britain Province. Group of 14 active geysers, eruptions are up to 3 m high.
  • Pangula geisers and hot springs - West New Britain Province. Powerful geyser with up to 10 m tall eruptions of gas-charged water.

Sinkholes and caves

Karst features in New Britain

Exceptional geological landmarks are the extremely large collapse dolines - sinkholes of Nakanai Mountains in New Britain. This area contains the largest underground rivers in the world in extremely impressive, giant cave passages. Exits of underground rivers represent some of the most powerful springs in the world. Here are located also eight impressive canyons with depth often exceeding 1 kilometre.

  • Bikbik Vuvu and Wowo cave - East New Britain Province. Very impressive, more than 140 metres deep and up to 190 metres wide sinkhole, volume - 1.5 million m³. Walls are nearly vertical, below is a river in a deep canyon. Underground river at rains can become furious, with volume more than 1000 m³ per second, while normally it is 20 m³ per second. Further Wowo cave system is at least 15.5 km long and goes up to 682 m deep, cave contains beautiful, pristine dripstone formations.
  • Kavakuna - East New Britain Province. Enormous tiankeng, located in exotic jungle. Up to 480 metres deep, 380 - 300 metres across. Volume - 12 million m³. Vertical wall in one side, debris goes up to the other side.
  • Ka 2 - East New Britain Province. Up to 125 metres deep and up to 130 metres wide sinkhole, volume - 1.2 million m³. Walls are vertical, base is covered with river deposits.
  • Kukumbu sinkhole - West New Britain. Up to 300 metres deep and up to 1000 metres long sinkhole, volume - 75 million m³. Forms a part of extensive Arrakis cave system.
  • Lusé - East New Britain Province. Partly collapsed, up to 250 metres deep and up to 800 metres wide sinkhole, volume - 61 million m³. Largest sinkhole in New Britain and even - whole world, although not the most impressive one. Below there is debris covered with jungle.
  • Mayang Spring - East New Britain. Extremely powerful spring, output circa 20,000 l/s. Source of Galowe River.
  • Megeni cave and waterfall - East New Britain. Enormous cave opening in gorge with 80 m tall waterfall falling into it. The beautiful cave has been mapped in 7.2 km length.
  • Minyé sinkhole and cave - East New Britain Province. One of the largest and most impressive tiankengs (giant sinkholes) in world, located in exotic jungle and crossed by powerful underground river. Up to 510 metres deep, 350 metres across, volume - 26 million m³. It continues as a cave system. Explored length of cave passages is 5,421 m, maximum depth - 468 m. Contains one of the largest cave rooms in the world - Tuké room, 240 m long, 200 m wide and 130 m high.
  • Casoar Cave (Muruk Cave, Berenice) - East New Britain Province. 17.3 km long, up to 1,258 m deep cave.
  • Naré sinkhole - East New Britain Province. One of the most spectacular sinkholes in the world, also located in exotic jungle. Up to 310 metres deep, up to 150 metres across, volume - 4.7 million m³. Walls are overhanging, below flows a powerful river. At the top part of sinkhole, inside it often form clouds. Further cave reaches 415 m depth.
  • Ora sinkhole and natural bridge - East New Britain Province. Up to 275 metres deep and up to 1400 metres long sinkhole, one of the largest in the world by volume. Degraded sinkhole which contains a rock bridge in the centre - created by the cave river flowing through it. Ora Caves have been explored to more than 5 km length, contain impressive, up to 40 m tall waterfalls.
  • Poipun - East New Britain Province. Up to 160 metres deep and 150 metres wide sinkhole, volume - 1.7 million m³. Somewhat degraded, with debris at the base.
  • Wunung - East New Britain Province. Up to 160 metres deep and up to 500 metres wide sinkhole, volume - 24 million m³.

Caves and sinkholes in other parts of Papua New Guinea

  • Atea Kananda Cave and Atea Doline - Southern Highlands Province or Western Province. Giant, beautiful cave system, total explored length - 35 km. River sink into this cave starts in the more than 100 m deep (some sources state 300 m) Atea Doline with gorgeous, impressive waterfall leading into underworld.
  • Benua Cave and sinkhole - Bougainville Autonomous Region. Giant cave at the bottom of impressive, 100 m deep jungle covered sinkhole. Cave consists of single chamber - but this chamber is one of the largest in the world, with volume 4.5 million m³, length 470 m, width 150 m and height 170 m. It would be easy to fly with helicopter inside this cave. Cave contains 18 m tall stalagmite.
  • Mamo plateau - Southern Highlands Province and Western Province. Unique landscape - here close together are located more than 100 giant sinkholes, up to 600 m wide and up to 420 m deep (Uli Malemuli sinkhole). Numerous waterfalls falling into sinkholes.
  • Mamo Kananda Cave - Southern Highlands Province. Giant cave with explored passages 55 km long, longest known in Papua New Guinea. Three largest cave chambers have a volume of 1 million m³. Enormous cavity called Space Oddity is located 525 m below the entrance.
  • Selminum Tem - West Sepik Province. Giant cave system, total explored length is 20.5 km. Skeleton of Myocene syrenian found, endemic snails. Cave is very old, with deposits from two glacial periods in it. Contains engravings and other traces of human habitation.
Waterfalls in Bosavi crater
Waterfalls in Bosavi crater / , Flickr, SA BY-2.0

Unique ecosystems and organisms

  • Highlands of Fergusson Island - Milne Bay Province. One of the little explored areas in the world (biologically) - pristine montane rainforest which most certainly contains numerous unknown species of plants and animals.
  • Klinki in Bulolo Valley - Morobe Province. Reported (but not verified) 88.9 m high specimen of Klinki Araucaria hunsteinii (K.Schumann 1889) in 1941. These trees are very tall and there is high probability to find very tall specimens today as well.
  • Emerald green snail of Manus - Manus Province. The bright green, beautiful snail Papustyla pulcherrima Rensch, 1931 is endemic to Manus Island. Shells of this snail are popular for use in jewellery.
  • Mount Bosavi crater - Southern Highlands Province. Crater in extinct volcano, some 4 km wide and 1 km deep. In 2009 here were discovered 40 new, endemic species, including the 82 cm long Bosavi Wooly Rat.
  • Mount Giluwe subalpine grassland - Southern Highlands Province. Vast alpine grasslands near the top of second highest mountain in Papua New Guinea, the 4,368 m tall volcano. Starts at the height of 3,200 m and contains numerous endemic species of animals and plants, including endemic tree ferns, frogs, wooly ground cuscus. Snow is covering the area occasionally.

Cryptids

There are diverse reports about unusual animals unknown to science from different areas of Papua New Guinea. Some of the most interesting are:

  • Ropen of Umboi Island - Umboi Island, Morobe Province. According to tales and legends sometimes here is seen a featherless, enormous flying creature. In the night, while flying, it is glowing for several seconds. It is seen in other parts of Papua New Guinea as well but most frequent it is in Umboi. Some believe that this might be a flying reptile similar to pterosaur.
  • Lake Murray Monster - Western Province. Over the last 10 years in Lake Murray repeatedly has been spotted enormous carnivore, a reptile which is named Au Angi-Angi. It is similar to Theropoda dynosaurs.
Rouna Falls
Rouna Falls / , Flickr, SA BY-2.0

Other natural landmarks

  • The Hindenburg Wall - Western Province. Giant, more than 300 m tall and 25 km long escarpment, has caused unique patterns of air movement which has sculpted the rock surface. Extremely high rainfall (more than 10,000 mm per year) causes frequent landslides.
  • Beaver Falls - Southern Highlands. Impressive, beautiful waterfall and rapids, nearly unreachable by land.
  • Rouna Falls - National Capital District. Approximately 65 m tall, wide and very picturesque falls.
  • Wawoi Falls - Western Province. Powerful, wide and tall waterfall in beautiful jungle setting.

Man made landmarks

Archaeological monuments

  • Awim Cave art - East Sepik Province. Several caves here contain up to 60 m wide panels covered with numerous paintings, some contain up to 500 figures. Figures are colored with white clay, coal and red ochre. Often color has been sprinkled, leaving negative images of objects - hands, feet and casssowary feet, leaves. In many caves of Upper Karawaru river in this area have been found numerous cave paintings. Some of these caves contain beautifully carved, up to 400 years old wooden figures made by Ewa people.
  • Buin megaliths - Bougainville Autonomous Region. In the area around Buin village are found numerous megaliths - stone tables (large, flat stones placed on smaller ones), stone rings (tsigoro), standing stones. It is possible that these monuments were created circa 1000 AD.
  • Bunmuyuw megaliths and other megaliths and burial caves on Woodlark Island - Milne Bay Province. Stone rings and other stone settings of large corall blocks - burial structures from 500 - 1,200 AD. Often placed around the entrances in burial caves. Caves contain ancient writings (?) or petroglyphs. Megalithic structures are found also on other Trobriand islands.
  • Kalate Egeanda - Southern Highlands Province. Deep in this cave have been found ancient paintings made in finger fluting technique.
  • Kuk Swamp - Simbu Province. Papua New Guinea is one of the few locations in the world where developed indigenous agriculture. Kuk Swamp is good representative of this ancient local agriculture. It has been cultivated for 7 - 10 thousand years and up to this day there are well visible ancient ditches and drains.
  • Marana Kepaté Cave - East New Britain. Cave in Nakanai Mountains, adorned with engravings. Depicted different animal motives - turtles, birds, masks. Engravings are comparatively old as in some places they are covered with dripstone formations.
  • Nambaiyufa Amphitheatre - Simbu Province. Enormous sinkhole with ancient rock paintings on its walls.
  • Skull Cave of Bilubilu - Milne Bay Province. One of burial caves in Papua New Guinea, where numerous skulls of deceased people were brought and still are here up to this day.
Poreporena village in Port Moresby
Poreporena village in Port Moresby / , Wikimedia Commons, SA BY-2.5

Other monuments of culture and etnography

  • Agaiambo Swamp - Northern Province. Large swamp, last refuge of uncontacted pygmy people with very short legs, most likely extinct by now.
  • National Parliament House - National Capital District. Building with unique architecture, merges modern architecture and Papuan traditional house of spirits. Built in 1984.
  • Poreporena villages and Koki - National Capital District. Whole wooden city parts inhabited by indigenous Motuan people are built above the sea, with streets and buildings on stilts in the open sea.

List of described attractions by provinces

Papua New Guinea is divided into 18 provinces, Autonomous Region of Bougainville and the National Capital District.

Bougainville Autonomous Region
Central Province
Eastern Highlands Province
East New Britain Province
ArrowMinyé sinkhole and caveCaves, Sinkholes
ArrowNaré sinkholeCaves, Sinkholes
East Sepik Province
Enga Province
Gulf Province
Madang Province
Manus Province
Milne Bay Province
Morobe Province
ArrowKlinki in Bulolo ValleyTrees
National Capital District
New Ireland Province
Oro Province (Northern)
Simbu Province (Cimbu)
Southern Highlands Province
ArrowMamo Kananda CaveCaves
ArrowMamo plateauSinkholes
Western Province (Fly)
Western Highlands Province
West New Britain Province
West Sepik Province (Sandaun)

Map of Papua New Guinea