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Port Moresby
 
Where ever you may be coming from, you will first arrive into Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea's capital. Situated on the south coast, within a stunning natural harbour, the capital is further protected by the Papuan Barrier Reef, that stretches along the entire coastline. The Owen Stanley Ranges, Papua New Guinea's backbone, rise only a few miles inland from the coast, and cause a rain shadow effect that leaves Port Moresby dry for 6 months of the year.

Port Moresby was named after Admiral Sir Fairfax Moresby by his son, Captain John Moresby, who was the first to map the south coast in 1873. Moresby, as the city is known, has a population of about 160,000 or some 5% of the total population of Papua New Guinea, and is a bustling and vibrant metropolis. People from all over the country live and work in Moresby, giving it a cosmopolitan flavour unique in Papua New Guinea.

The main city is built on a peninsula at the entrance to Fairfax Harbour, where Paga Hill offers the best views of the city, harbour and reef beyond. From the hill you can see Hanuabada, a stilt village that was the original settlement of the Motuan people before the city was established. Stilt villages were built because colonial powers taxed houses, but only if they were on land, so the resourceful villagers moved their houses onto the water to avoid paying taxes! The National Parliament building is a striking blend of ancient and modern architecture, designed as a traditional Haus Tambaran, or Spirit House. When Parliament is sitting it is possible to go and listen to their impassioned discussions. Nearby is the National Museum that houses a variety of artefacts from all over Papua New Guinea. It is a useful place to visit to learn of the history of not only Papua New Guinea's people but also the formation of the land mass many millions of years ago.There are a number of excellent markets in Moresby, selling carvings, bilum bags (woven carry-alls that are the traditional accessory for all good Papuans!) and shells. We suggest you do not purchase shells for two reasons. Firstly, it is illegal to export shells from Papua New Guinea, and secondly the indiscriminate collecting of shells from the local reefs does untold damage to the marine environment.

There are many interesting locations around Port Moresby worthy of visit. Sogeri Plateau, about 30 miles to the east, is a delightful spot to go and have a picnic lunch, walk through cool forests and visit waterfalls. Variata National Park is a spectacular mountain region affording superb views of Moresby and the southern coastline. Flora and fauna is varied and plentiful, including the Reginanna Bird of Paradise, butterflies and orchids.

Accommodation in Moresby is of excellent quality, ranging from the standard Ambers Inn, through The Gateway, the Islander Travelodge to the first class Port Moresby Travelodge. For a one-night stopover to tie in domestic flights we recommend the Airways Hotel, located just 5 monutes from the airport. A luxury hotel with stunning views down to the airport and across to the Owen Stanleys, it offers all the creature comforts you would expect from a hotel of this standard, including a wonderful swimming pool in a verdant tropical setting. However, we recommend that you try something alittle different to your usual city hotel! A 30 minute ferry ride from Bootless Bay on the mainland is Loloata Island Resort, popular as an expatriates' weekend retreat. On the edge of a Marine National Park, Loloata provides access to some world class dive sites. Attractive bungalows set on stilts overlooking the water make this a beautiful and romantic destination. When not diving, the opportunity to relax on a sandy beach, enjoy a spot of bush-walking or a spot of water-skiing make Loloata a fantastic destination for anybody.

For those with a little more time on their hands we would recommend that you stay at Loloata Island Resort.

We recommend that you use Moresby as a base from which to enjoy your Papua New Guinea holiday. On arrival you will no doubt be jet-lagged, and we suggest a few days on Loloata Island to relax and clean up. If you require a stop-over in Moresby at a later date in your holiday, then that is an ideal time to visit the National Park and surrounding areas.

 

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