Posted on July 21st, 2009 No comments
Papua New Guinea
The amount of time spent on each island on this magical tour of Papua and the area was just right. I especially enjoyed the free days for personal exploration. The festivities at the Bargam Cultural Show were fascinating and the contrasts of Mount Hagen were just captivating. I wish I had more time so I could continue and do a third week!
One of the most defining features about Papua New Guinea is its cultural diversity. Many countries across the globe pride themselves in being host to a multitude of cultures, but Papua New Guinea is in a league of its own.
This second largest island in the world—the first being Greenland—owes its assortment of cultures not to the influence of other nations, as is often the case with multicultural societies, but rather to its own geography. In the Highlands, where mountainous peaks and thick forests dominate the landscape, many local tribes of yore remained either unaware of or indifferent to each other’s presence, instead developing their own customs, language and traditions in isolation.
The Papua New Guinea of today is as diverse as that of centuries past, with a staggering 700 or more indigenous languages, an excess of 1,000 indigenous groups and several thousand distinct communities, all within the country’s meagre population of five and a half million. A tour to Papua New Guinea promises travellers the once-in-a-lifetime experience to mingle with not just one, but with many tribes, many of which retain the ancient practices, traditions and culture of their forefathers. However, since seashells have not been currency in Papua New Guinea since 1933, be sure to take your wallet with you on tour.
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Posted on June 2nd, 2009 No comments
Fiji, After a century under British rule, Fiji managed to gain its independence in 1970, leaving the inhabited regions of the country displaying a charming blend of traditional and colonial architecture, with modern skyscrapers and edifices perforating the skyline in some of the larger cities. With a curious blend of Polynesian, Melanesian, Indian, Micronesian, Eastern and European influences, Fiji serves as a feast for the eyes for any traveller.
As interesting and noteworthy as its cities are, Fiji’s natural environment is in a different league when it comes to scenic marvel. Indeed, the small South Pacific country has few rivals even on the world stage, so abundant and striking as its topographical, ecological and physical surroundings are. Rugged mountains, volcanic craters and dense tropical rainforests with spectacular, cascading waterfalls dominate much of the inland portions of the Fiji islands, providing not only stellar vistas and considerable biodiversity (hundreds of plants and more than two dozen species of animal are endemic to Fiji), but also ample opportunity for exploration, hiking and other such active pastimes.
The most famous features of Fiji’s natural surroundings, however, are undoubtedly its coastline and offshore attractions. Boasting a total coastline that exceeds 1,000km, Fiji has a worldwide reputation for being home to some of the most paradisiacal and pristine beaches on the planet. As palm trees gently sway in the warm afternoon breeze and the tranquil, clear ocean waves tenderly lap against glistening white sand, you can’t help but relax and savour the best that Mother Nature has to offer. The plethora of sparking lagoons serve as the perfect swimming locales and more adventurous travellers may venture to the iridescent coral reefs that skirt the islands for a spot of snorkelling or diving, where they will be well rewarded with sights of a huge range of colourful tropical fish.
As tempting as it might be, staying close to Fiji’s coastlines will mean that travellers miss out on what makes Fiji unique. Venturing to the cities and mingling with the cosmopolitan mix of indigenous peoples is the only way to understand the reason behind most return travellers’ love of Fiji.