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Pictures of our Papua New Guinea trip
(Part 5: Goroka – Mount Hagen – Kumul Pass – Mount Hagen – Goroka – Lae  - with our vehicle)
 
Part 1: Milne Bay – (Port Moresby) – Mount Hagen – Lae
Part 2: Mount Hagen Cultural Show August 13th, to 15th, 2010
Part 3: Lae – Madang – Goroka
Part 4: Goroka Cultural Show September 17th, to 19th, 2010
 
 
Papua New Guinea Map
 
 
      Map of the Pacific

 

latest picture: October 18, 2010
  • click a picture to see details

 
 
 
 
 
 
124  The Lutheran Church in Goroka
has a Pacific character and fits
wonderfully into the local
modest architecture
125  Round huts, typical for the
Eastern Highlands, come in sight,
when we climb from Goroka towards
the 8’040ft. high Daulo Pass …..
126  ..... in their structure
they remind us to Africa
 
The Goroka Cultural Show has ended with an impressive finale. For us it means that we have to decide what next: Either we penetrate further into the highlands and go for the 110 miles from Goroka to Mount Hagen where about 20 miles are said to be in a disastrous condition, where we will have to cross the over 8’000 ft. high Daulo pass with our rather weak fuel pumps and where a 20% chance of a hold-up is predicted. Or: We return to Lae and ship our car out of the country. To throw the towel would be hard though and is actually not our philosophy! By chance we meet Shirley and Dwayne from “Trans Niugini Tours” at the “Bird of Paradise Hotel” again, who both looked after us so wonderfully at the Mount Hagen Cultural Show a month ago. Talking about our indecision, Dwayne comes up spontaneously with an offer: To drive in a convoy with one of his empty returning tour busses in two days time. Why not? Even if driving in a convoy is not our cup of tea, it gives us at least a pretended security, be it only psychologically or should our LandCruiser strike at the wrong time in the wrong place.
 
 
 
 
 
 
127  After the Daulo Pass (direction
Kundiawa), sugar fruit is sold along
the road for 2 Kina (US$ 0.75) a
bundle. It is a kind of passion fruit,
but tastes much sweeter
128  Villagers from the village of
Paiyaguanda, which lies along the
road from Mount Hagen to Kumul
Pass display their fresh garden produce
129  A woman from the village
of Paiyaguanda is selling corn
cobs at her makeshift stall
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
130  In the highlands at the
border between Enga and
Western Highlands province a
bundle of carrots is sold for
2 Kina (US$ 0.75) …..
131  ..... there are also broccoli
and cabbage from the
own vegetable garden .....
132  ….. and potatoes
 
Due to our slow way of driving and also to allow us to proceed at our one pace, we start one hour earlier than the tour van and have crossed already the steep pass without any car problems when it catches up with us. Also the rest of the journey is not really a convoy drive. Sometimes, the tour vehicle is far behind us, sometimes in front of us, waiting then somewhere along the road. That gives us the comfort that in a case of emergency we are not left alone – telephone connection we have anyway. Luckily this emergency never occurs and we reach Mount Hagen in 5 hours time (normally it is done in 4 hours). Unfortunately we did not see any of the promising views due to the persisting high fog in the valley. But as we will have to retrace the same highway anyway, we are not too disappointed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
133  Vegetable gardens are a vital
part of a home. Here at the village
of Paiyaguanda West of Mt. Hagen,
along the road to Kumul Pass
134  Along the route from Mt. Hagen
to the Kumul Pass in the Enga Province,
the typical round huts often nestle on steep
slopes; here on an altitude of about 6’500ft.
135  A small cluster of thatched
houses, hidden by tropical greenery,
between Mt. Hagen and Kumul Pass
 
The next Lutheran Guesthouse where we check in is somewhat rundown – a disappointment after the good experiences we made at Lutheran premises in Lae, Madang and Goroka. Next morning, we are already on our way to the Kumul Lodge in the Enga Province, 25miles to the Northeast – a unique place to observe birds of paradise from very close. Unexpectedly, the road climbs further, from 5’000ft. to 9’400ft., past cabbage, carrot, broccoli and potato fields that nestle between typically thatched hut settlements. Shortly before the pass, we cross the checkpoint of the Enga Province and once more we are welcomed enthusiastically by the police and involved in a little chat. One mile further, we reach the summit of the Kumul pass and a bit further also the lodge. We are amazed to find a kind of alpine vegetation with carpets of lupines growing at the roadside.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
136  The road from Mt. Hagen in
Western Highlands to the Kumul
Pass in the Enga Province climbs
from 5’000 to 9’400ft. altitude
137  Two scalawags pose for a
picture behind our LandCruiser
138  The vegetation is a bit alpine
on Kumul Pass at 9’400ft. altitude.
Carpets of lupines flower
by the roadside
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
139  View of the mountain of
“Mount Hagen” from the Kumul
Lodge in the Enga Province
140  Our LandCruiser is parked at
the parking lot of the Kumul Lodge, which
is surrounded by dense tropical forest …..
141  ….. looking very
atmospheric with the rising fog
 
Surprisingly, at an altitude of 9’400ft., the Kumul Lodge itself is surrounded by a pocket of dense jungle again. From the very beginning when we are sitting on the balcony of the traditionally built main building – where abundant natural fiber does the work of screws and nails – we know that we have arrived at an exceptional place. Words are not enough to describe our feelings when we see the first birds of paradise settling down at the feeding platform only three yards away from the terrace at eye level. They feed on papaya and pineapple slices. Everyone whispers when the stars of the birds appear: The male of the “Ribbon-tailed Astrapias” – a pitch black bird with its two huge white feathers and turquoise face and the “Brown Sicklebill”. Our cameras go wild! But they are not the only visitors. We also enjoy the “Belford’s Honeyeater, the “Short-tailed Paradigalla”, with its yellow spot around its eye that turns into red when it is upset due to the rising blood pressure, the “Brehm’s Tiger Parrot” with its quiet nature, the “Belford’s Honeyeater” and the tiny red “Mountain Firetail”.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
142
143
144
Male of the “Ribbon-taled Astrapia” Bird of Paradise (Astrapia mayeri):
It is the star of the four species of Bird of Paradise that come to the feeding table of the Kumul Lodge.
With its long white tale, black body and turquoise spots around its head, it looks stunning
 
We never would have dreamt to have the possibility to observe these wonderful birds of paradise from so close and are surprised that they still exist in the wild. Apparently it took years until they lost their shyness and became regular visitors of this feeding table. PNG indeed is the “land of the unexpected” as it is often called. We booked a budget room for two nights for Kina 156 a night (= US$58) and end up staying totally three nights after the owner upgrades us for the second night in an own luxury bungalow and offers us additionally to stay for free the third one. What we really appreciate in the own bungalow is the electric heater and the heated blanket, because at night it gets quite cold at this altitude. The third day happens to be my birthday. It is the most beautiful present to be able to celebrate this special day with the birds of paradise at this unique spot, which by the way is also considered to be the highest situated hotel in PNG.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
145
146
147
Yellow, blue, red – all kind of beautiful flowers bloom around Kumul Lodge
 
 
 
 
 
 
148
149
150
Female of the “Ribbon-taled Astrapia” Bird of Paradise (Astrapia mayeri)
 
It is a long time ago since we left a place that reluctantly as the Kumul Lodge, where we also reached the point of turnaround of our PNG journey. To drive further into the Enga Province or even into the neighboring Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces is not recommended due to the increasing danger of hold-ups in that region. The chance is estimated by 50% to get caught. Admittedly a well developed mobile phone network bears many advantages, but also disadvantages. Thus, nowadays “raskols” (road bandits) are also communicating with mobile phones among themselves. And a heavily loaded car like ours draws easily the attention in the villages. Therefore, we return to familiar Mount Hagen and the hospitality of the people at “Trans Niugini Tours”. All the staff houses being taken, Shirley, the South African sales manager, spontaneously offers us her home for a week and moves to Chris, her boyfriend. We return the favor by cooking lunch for her and Dwayne, the operation manager from Swaziland. It recalls our time in Georgetown/Guyana in early 2005, where we were invited to share the home of Suresh, the Trinidadian manager of the local Toyota distributor for a couple of weeks. He too could rely that lunch was ready when he came back at noon from work.
 
 
 
 
 
 
151
152
153
The diversity of delicate flowers that bloom on the 9’400ft. high Kumul Pass is surprising
 
 
 
 
 
 
154  “Short-tailed Paradigalla“
(Paradigalla brevicauda): The
yellow around the bird‘s eye
means: I am peaceful …..
155  ..... does it change to red
due to rising blood pressure
it means: I am upset!
156  The “Brehm’s Tiger Parrot“
(Psittacella brehmii) is a frequent
visitor at the Kumul Lodge food
table. It is of quiet nature and there
is not much that can disturb it
 
When after a week one of the staff apartments is vacated, we are invited to stay ten more days at the fenced-in compound behind high walls. “Have you already heard what happened last night?” Dwayne asks us the other morning and comes up with the story that the company’s truck loaded with empty diesel barrels heading to Lae run in an armed hold-up and was stolen – the whole truck! Strangely enough, the police – alarmed by the crew – had already a guess where to search for. Are they eventually working together with the bandits? Anyway, the truck is found next day in the suspected village – empty of course, without the diesel barrels. And of course the police expected to be honored for the tip. Yes, this is also a side of PNG! If this would happen to us, it would be disastrous. All the data’s recorded on our computer and all our security backups would be lost, most probably unrecoverable.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
157
158
159
From berries, to orchids, to “cup” flowers – everything is growing around Kumul Lodge
 
After this incident, our return journey to Lae is not worrying us less. Once more we hope that our guardian angels will make overtime! On October 14th, 2010, we say good-bye to all the lovely people of “Trans Niugini Tours”: To Bob, Shirley, Pauline (Dwayne is on a diving vacation on the Solomon Islands) and the local crew. And, of course, also to Max, the red cat that is always on the lookout for some cuddles. We decided to drive the 300 miles to the port town of Lae in three stages: Mount Hagen-Goroka; Goroka-Kainantu; Kainantu-Lae. “Ordinary” drivers do it in one day – we need 14 driving hours.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
160
161
162
“Brown Sicklebill” Bird of Paradise (Epimachus meyeri):
In the dense forest surrounding the Kumul Lodge, the “brown sicklebill” is camouflaged
 
The mountain scenery is cloudless and gorgeous, raising our spirits and easing our tension with each mile we drive – that much that we even have no worries to stop for a picnic along the road. This causes a white car driver to stop and ask if everything would be OK with us. A little boy from a nearby hut comes along with his sister and shows us self made garlands made from yellow and red flowers. To make them happy we buy one. Then an old woman on her way back home appears at our window. We share a bun and give her two Kina (= US$0.75). She is so happy that she kisses my whole hand.
 
 
 
 
 
 
163
164
165
On our forest walk we discover sprouting ferns and moss pockets on tree trunks. Even on the logs they start to sprout again
 
 
 
 
 
 
166  Nearly invisible is the tiny red
Mountain Firetail (Oreostruthus
fuliginosus) that is also
looking for food at Kumul Lodge
167  A young bird of paradise (???)
is checking the situation before it
flies to the feeding table
168  The “Belford’s Honeyeater”
(Melidectes belfordi) is also
a regular visitor at Kumul Lodge
 
Yet later on there is a moment where we really feel uneasy: Suddenly we see in the distance a barricade with stones and tires. “A holdup, now they also got us”, we are sure. Emil just intends to reverse, when a man standing at the roadside shouts: “No worries, they are just in the process of repairing the road and collect some money to do it. Give them two Kina (= US$0.75) and they will let you pass”. And this is how it goes. By the way: Repairing means here that villagers are filling up the holes with stones, which are in abundance in the Chimbu Province. For sure the main purpose is earning some coins. Considering that all the provinces get the same amount of money from the central government for road maintenance – little is invested in this province!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
169  Tree ferns are numerous
in the tropical forest and
always an exotic sight
170   At a closer look, we discover
amazing plants that nature produces
171  A giant plant rising
towards the sunlight
 
 
 
 
 
 
172  A fairytale forest with its
twined moss covered branches –
and Emil standing amidst it
173  A little red dot in all the
jungle greenery: A delicate flower bell
174  Liliana is looking for
the bird that is enjoying us
with its exotic calls
 
Goroka is overcast and it is raining when we arrive. We park at the best hotel in the city, the „Bird of Paradise“, where we hope for a discount, which we get easily from its manager. He has only one wish: To make a picture with his staff in front of our LandCruiser for his hotel magazine. No problem! At the same time Serej, a Swiss lady living in Goroka, passes by and spontaneously offers us her guestroom. Now we have to make a decision: Hotel or personal accommodation? It is no question. Meeting people always enriches our travels. Serej and her husband Manuel both work at the „Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research”. They tell us about their activity, e.g. collecting malaria strains and researching other PNG health problems. They tell us that they run into a hold-up already on their second day in the country. Today they laugh about it. We enjoy the evening and when we bid farewell next morning, they spontaneously give us a Swiss Lindt chocolate to take along. We will keep it for a special occasion just in front of us.
 
 
 
 
 
 
175  Shirley and Dwayne, our new friends
from South Africa resp. Swaziland, who
work at Trans Niugini Tours in Mount Hagen
and who made the ball rolling in many cases
176  The friendly faces of the team
of Trans Niugini Tours in Mount
Hagen join for a farewell picture
in front of our LandCruiser
177  Liliana saying goodbye to Max,
the cat of the Trans Niugini Team in
Mount Hagen that always was
on the lookout for cuddles
 
The weather has cleared up during the night. Patches of fog and white clouds sail over the mountain peaks during our next short leg to Kainantu. It is a mystical atmosphere. The only thing preoccupying us on this lovely drive is that exactly on this stretch we have to cross the feared Kompri Valley again, where the most hold-ups occur. But our luck is not abandoning us on our last days in PNG either. Apart from some aggressive voices shouting after us everything remains calm and at noon, we are already at safe Ukarumpa (“Little America”), where we made a stop already on our inward journey. It was interesting to notice that armed police was posted at two minor road construction sites with red lights in order to protect the car drivers from being harassed, i.e. robbed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
178  Brother and sister visiting us when
we stop for a picnic on our descent from
the 8’130ft. high Daulo pass …..
179  ..... an old woman appears
also at our car window. We give
her 2 Kina. She is so happy that
she kisses Liliana’s hand all over
180  ..... a young sheep is curious
too and watches us shyly
through the tussock
 
 
 
 
 
 
181  A single modest house made
of bush material stands lonely in a
forest clearing at the Daulo Pass
182  One can hardly live
closer to the skies!
183  The Highland Highways follows
barren and dry mountain scenery
between Goroka and Henganofi
 
After having a good night’s sleep at the quiet guesthouse of the “Summer Institute of Linguistic (SIL) – by the way the cleanest guesthouse in PNG – we are ready for the last leg of our PNG journey: The 125 miles back to the port of LAE to ship our LandCruiser out of the country. During the whole time I feel a lump in my throat, but not anymore due to a lurking hold-up. We both are fully aware that we will leave soon behind us a very special country – a country that besides its unique culture offers still true adventure – but also a country with extremely friendly people, which hardly can be outmatched. When we arrive in Lae, the skies open and torrential rains flood the streets. It looks as if the end of the world would approach. It matches our feelings. We take refuge in the best hotel – the Melanesian – its manager offering us the “star tariff” for three nights, i.e. we pay “only” Kina 110 a night, around US$42.
 
 
 
 
 
 
184  From Henganofi to Kainantu,
the Highland Highway snakes through
the notorious Kompri Valley where
hold-ups occur over and over
185  Ukarumpa, the PNG Headquarter
of the American-founded „Summer Institute
of Linguistic” (SIL) – also called „Little
America“ – is situated in the Aiyura
Valley 6 miles from Kainantu .....
186  ..... it is a fenced in Western-style
village. The goal of “SIL”is amongst others
to translate the bible into as many languages
as possible in the world (so far about 170
in PNG). Out of the 6’912 worldwide
spoken languages, alone 820 can be
found in Papua New Guinea
 
October 18th, 2010: It is a hot day under a deep blue tropical sky again. We are sitting in our comfortable air-conditioned hotel room watching the palm leaves swaying in the sea breeze. A bottle of Australian “Shiraz” red wine lures in front of us – the gift from Shirley and Chris in Mount Hagen on our departure. We kept it especially for this day – the celebration of our 26th anniversary of exploring the world that at the same time becomes the day that our LandCruiser will be stuffed into its 20th container, whatever its final destination will be: Either the Philippines or Sri Lanka! (It was finally the Philippines, Sri Lanka became the destination after next).
 
 
 
 
 
 
187  Every family grows vegetables.
They all are self-supporters and there
is rarely anybody starving in PNG
188  The “Upper Ramu Hydroelectric
Project” – also called Yonki Lake – is
situated 14 miles South of Kainantu in the
Arona Valley and supplies power to Lae,
Madang and most regions of the Highlands
189  White patches of fog rise from
the Ramu Valley when we are
leaving the Highlands
 
 
 
 
 
 
190  A last glimpse from the
Eastern Highlands towards the Ramu
Valley and the Finisterre Range .....
191  ..... then we continue over the
Kassam Pass towards the Ramu Valley
192  While the Ramu River flows in its
valley towards Northeast into Madang
Province, the Markham River shown here
runs Southeasterly towards Lae at the
Huon Gulf in the Morobe Province
 
Finally our second last day dawns in this country. We became very fond of PNG and will leave with tearful eyes. Before we entered it three months ago with our car we asked ourselves with some doubts: “Are we eventually a bit crazy to take this risk?” Today we can say with full conviction: “Our portion 'craziness' rewarded us with an unforgettable experience.” It is a country that will leave a deep impression on us and we will always keep unforgettable memories of the people with the incredible friendliness and enthusiasm unique to PNG. We drove 1’102 miles criss-crossing PNG, partly on miserable roads, partly with considerable thrills regarding the security – but do not regret a single one!
 
 
 
 
 
 
193  This is how we will remember
the people of PNG: Always curious,
interested but over all genuinely friendly.
Here at our last gasoline station
194  Container terminal in the port
city of Lae. It could hardly have
a more exotic setting
195  Our 3-months stay in Papua New
Guinea is over. On October 18th, 2010,
– coincidentally on our 26th jubilee day
of being on the road – our LandCruiser
is stuffed into its 20th container in the port of
Lae and sent to Subic Bay in the Philippines
 
More websites from Papua New Guinea:
 
Articles in newspapers about us in Papua New Guinea:
Article: "26-year journey around the world", Daily Newspaper "The National" - August 20, 2010
Article: "Travelling the world none-stop for 26 years", Daily Newspaper "The National" - October 21, 2010