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Wonders of Papua New Guinea

View across Bosavi crater, Papua New Guinea
View across Bosavi crater / Nyctalimon, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

One of the most exciting and mysterious lands in the world is Papua New Guinea. Here live diverse indigenous people speaking in 820 languages who have very diverse cultural traditions.

The country has a very rugged terrain and still to a large extent is covered with pristine rainforest. Up to this day, Papua New Guinea is poorly investigated, and here are expected numerous exciting geological, biological, and archaeological discoveries.

The most impressive wonders of Papua New Guinea could be its giant caves. Here are located also some of the largest sinkholes of the world, very impressive gorges, canyons, and cliff walls, as well as possibly the most powerful springs in the world. Papua New Guinea contains diverse volcanos, several geyser fields, hot springs, and other exciting landmarks related to volcanism.

The biological diversity of Papua New Guinea is very high and there are locations that contain a 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.

New Guinea is one of the few locations in the world with independently developed agriculture. 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.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Papua New Guinea

Geological wonders

Minyé sinkhole and cave

East New Britain Province

One of the largest and most impressive tiankengs (giant sinkholes) in the world, located in an exotic jungle and crossed by a powerful underground river. Up to 510 meters deep, 350 meters across, volume – 26 million m³. It continues as a cave system. The explored length of cave passages is 5,421 m, maximum depth – 468 m. Contains one of the largest cave rooms in the world – the Tuké room, 240 m long, 200 m wide, and 130 m high.

Crossection of Minyé sinkhole, compared with Boeing 747-400, Papua New Guinea
Crossection of Minyé sinkhole, compared with Boeing 747-400 / Gatis Pāvils, basing on T.Waltham, 2006, CC BY-SA 3.0
Selminum Tem

West Sepik Province (Sandaun)

A giant cave system, the total explored length is 20.5 km. In the cave was found a skeleton of Miocene sirenian and endemic snails. The cave is very old, with deposits from two glacial periods in it. Contains engravings and other traces of human habitation.

Naré sinkhole

East New Britain Province

One of the most spectacular sinkholes in the world, also located in an exotic jungle. Up to 310 meters deep, up to 150 meters across, volume – 4.7 million m³. Walls are overhanging and below flows a powerful river. At the top part of the sinkhole, inside it often is seen clouds. The further cave reaches 415 m depth.

Cross section of Naré sinkhole (Papua New Guinea, compared with Boeing 747-400
Cross section of Naré sinkhole, compared with Boeing 747-400 / Gatis Pāvils, basing on T.Waltham, 2006, CC BY-SA 3.0
Mount Kaijende pinnacle karst

Enga Province

Very impressive “forest” of limestone pinnacles that rise up to 100 m tall. An almost impenetrable area with extremely high biological diversity.

The Hindenburg Wall

Western Province

Giant, more than 300 m tall, and 25 km long escarpment, has caused unique patterns of air movement that have sculpted the rock surface. Extremely high rainfall (more than 10,000 mm per year) causes frequent landslides.

Bagana volcano

Bougainville Autonomous Region

The most active volcano in Papua New Guinea with nearly continuous eruption. Height 1,750 m.

Mamo Kananda Cave

Southern Highlands Province

Giant cave with explored passages 55 km long, the longest known in Papua New Guinea. The three largest cave chambers have a volume of 1 million m³. An enormous cavity called Space Oddity is located 525 m below the entrance.

Kasiloli geysers

West New Britain Province

Group of 14 active geysers, eruptions are up to 3 m high.


East New Britain Province

Enormous tiankeng (giant sinkhole), located in an exotic jungle. Up to 480 meters deep, 380 – 300 meters across. Volume – 12 million m³. A vertical wall on one side, while debris reaches up to the other side.

Benua Cave and sinkhole

Bougainville Autonomous Region

Giant cave at the bottom of impressive, 100 m deep jungle-covered sinkhole. The cave consists of a single chamber – but this chamber is one of the largest in the world, with a volume of 4.5 million m³, length of 470 m, width of 150 m, and height of 170 m. It would be easy to fly by helicopter inside this cave. The cave contains an 18 m tall stalagmite.

Kukumbu sinkhole

West New Britain Province

Up to 300 meters deep and up to 1000 meters long sinkhole, volume – 75 million m³. Forms a part of the extensive Arrakis cave system.

Wawoi Falls

Western Province

Powerful, wide, and tall waterfall in a beautiful jungle setting.

Mageni cave and waterfall

East New Britain Province

An enormous cave opening in the gorge with an 80 m tall waterfall falling into it. The beautiful cave has been mapped in a 7.2 km length.

Bikbik Vuvu and Wowo cave

East New Britain Province

Very impressive, more than 140 meters deep and up to 190 meters wide sinkhole. Its walls are nearly vertical and below is a river in a deep canyon. Underground river at rain can become furious. Further Wowo cave system is at least 15.5 km long and goes up to 682 m deep. It contains beautiful, pristine dripstone formations.

Atea Kananda Cave and Atea Doline

Southern Highlands Province

A giant, beautiful cave system, total explored length – 35 km. The sink of the river into this cave starts at more than 100 m deep (some sources state 300 m) Atea Doline. The river forms a gorgeous, impressive waterfall leading into the underworld.

Gabuna hot springs and rivers

West New Britain Province

Group of bright blue hot springs and hot rivers.

Mamo plateau

Western Province, Southern Highlands 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). The volume of the largest sinkholes reaches 31 million m³, their walls though are not vertical. Numerous waterfalls are falling into sinkholes.

Ora sinkhole and natural bridge

East New Britain Province

Up to 275 meters deep and up to 1400 meters long sinkhole, one of the largest in the world by volume (26 million m3). A degraded sinkhole contains a rock bridge in the center that has been created by the cave river flowing through it. More than 5 km in length and contain impressive, up to 40 m tall waterfalls.

Rouna Falls

National Capital District

Approximately 65 m tall, wide, and very picturesque falls.

Rouna Falls, Papua New Guinea
Rouna Falls / , Flickr, SA BY-2.0
Bisi Falls (Wasi falls)

Southern Highlands Province

Impressive, beautiful waterfall, some 100 m tall and 90 m wide. The main falls are supplemented by some 200 m wide group of spring waterfalls from the cliff face in the canyon.

Biological wonders

Mount Bosavi Crater

Southern Highlands Province

Forested volcano (some 4 km wide and 1 km deep) that is isolated from other highlands of Papua New Guinea. Here in the montane forest live numerous species of plants and animals that are not met anywhere else in the world, including the 82 cm long Bosavi Wooly Rat and fish that emits grunting noise.

Cave in Bosavi crater, Papua New Guinea
Cave in Bosavi crater / Nyctalimon, / CC BY-SA 2.0
Mount Giluwe subalpine grassland

Southern Highlands Province

Vast alpine grasslands near the top of the second-highest mountain in Papua New Guinea, the 4,368 m tall volcano. Starts at a height of 3,200 m and contains numerous endemic species of animals and plants, including endemic tree ferns, frogs, and wooly ground cuscus. Snow is covering the area occasionally.

Ropen of Umboi Island

Morobe Province

According to tales and legends sometimes there 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 frequently it is in Umboi. Some believe that this might be a flying reptile similar to a pterosaur.

Purported bioluminescence of indava "birds", Papua New Guinea, 1996
Purported bioluminescence of indava "birds", Papua New Guinea, 1996 Paul Nation. Screenshot from video.

Archaeological wonders

Skull Cave of Bilubilu

Milne Bay Province

One of the burial caves in Papua New Guinea where numerous skulls of deceased people were brought and still are here up to this day.

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. Often color has been sprinkled, leaving negative images of objects – hands, feet and cassowary feet, and leaves. Beautifully carved, up to 400 years old wooden figures made by the Ewa people.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Travels in Papua New Guinea

This is the story of a young Englishwoman who set out to travel alone through the highlands, jungles, and rivers of Papua New Guinea. It is the remarkable tale of a two-year expedition that included an eventful two-week walk and a thousand-mile journey on a stallion (in a country where almost nobody knew what a horse was) during which Christina witnessed a tribal fight with bows and arrows and a pig-killing celebration. She was accosted by bandits, sank into swamps, fell through rotten bridges, and got stuck in a ravine. For the fourth stage of Christina’s journey, she bought a dugout canoe and spent four months paddling alone on the Sepik River and its tributaries.

Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea

At the age of twenty-four, Kira Salak took a three-month solo trip across Papua New Guinea, making her the first woman to have traversed the whole country. Amid the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife, she navigated the island by dugout canoe and on foot. Along the way, she stayed in a village where people still practice cannibalism behind the backs of the missionaries; met the leader of the OPM, the separatist guerrilla movement opposing the Indonesian occupation of Western New Guinea; and undertook an epic trek through the jungle.

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