You’d be forgiven for jumping out of your skin and backing up a pace when black-painted warriors leap out of the Papua New Guinea forest at you, brandishing spears and issuing a fierce and intimidating challenge. You can’t help a little tingle of trepidation shimmering its way down your spine. Luckily, you know it’s just a demonstration and that your excursion group comes in peace because it’s not an encounter you’d like to experience on your own!
On the other hand, once your peaceful arrival is accepted, out come the welcoming party resplendent in plumes of brightly coloured feathered headdresses. This is a sight to behold and as the drums start beating and the dancing begins, you can’t help but be caught up in the mesmerising performance.
Image:PONANT/ Olivier Blaud
Here in Tufi, located on the south eastern peninsula of Cape Nelson, Papua New Guinea, visitors are treated to an unforgettable insight into local life. You’ll discover how boys coming of age have to venture into the jungle on their own to collect feathers for their very first headdress. The vibrant colours of these feathers – reds, yellows, blues and more – give just a glimpse of the incredible birdlife here in Papua New Guinea.
You’ll learn about the art and meaning of facial tattooing and visit villages with huts made of with woven walls and palm frond roofs. There are no roads in some parts, access being by either canoe or simple walking tracks. Electricity is also non-existent with wells being dug for water.
You’ll learn about methods of preparing food and gain a greater appreciation for our short cooking times compared to the hours spent here harvesting and preparing. The locals will tell you about farming methods and how they survive in an area with limited jobs and opportunities. High school education is a privilege and those who do attend generally leave for the bigger towns where they can earn and send money home to their families.
Aside from the intriguing lifestyle, this area is quite simply spectacular. It’s been dubbed the Scandinavia of the Tropics due to the lush tropical fjords – although that’s not an accurate description as fjords are carved by ices, whereas in Papua New Guinea the “fjords” have been carved by volcanoes. Sitting in a canoe, paddling down the river is breathtaking nonetheless!
Under the water, the scenery is just as captivating. The coral reefs here are amazing with shoals of colourful fish darting amongst them. You may even spot a turtle.
On Ponant’s “Ancient Cultures of Papua New Guinea” cruise, you’ll spend a day in Tufi but the experience will stay with you for a lifetime! This is quite simply an incredible experience into a world so removed from our own and one you’ll never forget.
To find out more about cruises to Papua New Guinea, have a look at our packages page or request a call from one of Ultimate Cruising expertsto discuss the options for cruises to Papua New Guinea and beyond.
Images: PONANT/ Olivier Blaud