Ethno-tourism in Papua New Guinea
We are glad to announce that we are opening a new unique ethno-tourism destination in Papua New Guinea on the trail of Miklouho-Maclay to the Maclay Coast. All, that was previously available only to scientists, now is available to a group led by Miklouho-Maclay Jr., who passed this route with scientists in September 2017. Non-trivial travelling enthusiasts will be able to take part in the expedition in the company of extraordinary people. Nickolay Nikolayevich Miklouho-Maclay, the descendant of the great scientist and traveler of XIX century, will conduct this expedition. Only at his presence, the locals could be able to provide hospitality and share their unique identity. Join and you will discover a new fascinating world, a unique culture of people who have kept the unique traditions and life of their ancestors for thousands of years. Hospitable Papua New Guinea is getting closer! Today in this exotic country, they are ready to receive “tamo boro rus” – compatriots of the Russian scientist and humanist Nikolay Miklouho-Maclay, who left an indelible impression in the history and memory of local people. You can become a part of a team that will go down in history. Safety, comfort and, at the same time, the opportunity to live in the village with the locals — all this became possible for the first time because of Miklouho-Maclay Jr.
Maclay group members woun’t have to worry about VISA.
Seats are limited.
TOURISM IN MADANG AND ON THE MACLAY COAST
Papua New Guinea has been attracting tourists from all over the world for decades, as one of the last places “where yesterday meets today”. Hundreds of different peoples and ethnic groups with original indigenous cultures, in many ways, having preserved the elements of the traditional way of life, live in the country. At the same time, the other regions of Papua New Guinea have uneven tourist attendance, which primarily depends on the lack of awareness of the country cultural diversity and the areas inaccessibility.
The Maclay Coast is located in the North-East of Papua New Guinea, in Madang province. The famous Russian scientist, traveler and humanist Nikolay Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay conducted his research here in the 70s and 80s of the 19th century. His warm and friendly attitude to the Papuans allowed him to get their trust and respect and to become a hero of their legends and stories of all times. Nowadays (as the expedition “Miklouho-Maclay. XXI century. Maclay Coast” participants verified), the Gorendu, Bongu and Gumbu villagers still remember about “tamo rus” and tell the stories about him with deep respect. These villages are located on the Astrolabe Bay coast, about 40 km from the city of Madang (the administrative center of the homonymous province). The inhabitants of these villages have preserved many of the old cultural traditions, and the innovations from the outside world are very organically imposed in the old way of life. Thus, all residential, household and religious buildings have a rectangular shape and built mainly of traditional materials (only some huts, as well as schools, churches and other administrative buildings are built of modern materials): the roof is covered with sago palm leaves, the walls are constructed of split bamboo; most of the buildings are built on piling. In everyday life, mats are widely used, woven of coconut palm leaves. When approaching any of these villages there is a feeling of transfer not only in space but also in time. The villagers themselves are very friendly to the guests, especially if they come from the “Maclay homeland”. They are easy to talk about their lives and customs, show various tools and household items.
The most interesting is their colorful song and dance pantomimes, during which the Papuans wear traditional loincloths, skirts and a variety of ornaments, and as musical instruments, they use okamas – hand-made wooden drums, reminiscent of the sandglass shape. There are large slotted signal gongs preserved in Bongu and Gumbu villages – barums, always in a horizontal position. The sound is produced by a bat beating. And, there is a special signal language. In addition, signal triton shells are used.
Very picturesque and the surrounding nature, as the villages are located just 100-200 meters from the Bay coast, and just behind the village gardens there are high hills with dense tropical greenery. Several small rivers flowing into the ocean give the area even more charm, as in some places are shaded by tall trees and that’s why appear as cool oases. On the shore you can always see the traditional boats with a balancer, on which the local Papuans go fishing. The most convenient way to reach the Bongu, Gorendu and Gumbu villages is by sea transport from Madang. From the Madang Resort Hotel 4-star (located right by the ocean) the luxury yacht Kalibobo Spirit reaches the Gorendu village in 1 hour and 45 minutes. There is Bilbil village to the South of Madang (it takes half an hour to get to Bilbil from Madang by automobile), whose inhabitants also keep the legends of Miklouho-Maclay. In the past, its inhabitants inhabited the Bili-Bili island (Bilbil) about a kilometer from the New Guinea coast. They created a wide trading system, being the main part of it, because they had skilled potters and shipbuilders. They exchanged their amazing ceramic vessels for various goods in many villages of Astrolabe Bay, which they were reaching by large two-masted ships. Mikloukho-Maclay frequently visited this island and established friendly relationship with its inhabitants. After the First World War, the inhabitants left their home island and moved to the opposite coast of New Guinea. But, its ancient pottery tradition, they have firmly preserved to the present time (women are engaged in pottery production), and now they produce a variety of ceramic vessels mainly for sale to tourists. It is often possible to observe how women with great skill make these products from clay by manual molding. The buildings in this village are still traditional, as the boats with the balancer along the shore. A special Bilbil’s attraction is a replica of an ancient two-masted vessel (now, however, the mast is not preserved) with about 9 meters length of, painted with traditional ornaments.
Exotic cruises from Madang can be arranged to remote areas of Papua New Guinea. The most exciting is a tour over Sepik river (East Sepik province) and a tour to the Massim island region (Milne Bay province), which includes the Trobriand Islands, D’Entrecasteaux Islands, etc.
The cruise (on Kalibobo Spirit yacht) along the lower and middle current of the Sepik river (including tributaries, Murik lake and Chambri lake) lasts seven days, during which tourists get acquainted with the bright and rich cultures of the peoples living on the banks of the river. Magnificent woodcarving, ritual masks unsurpassed in their expression, impressive cult men’s houses and mysterious rites – all this makes the Sepik river area one of the cultural pearls Papua New Guinea. The villages visited during this tour are: Kopar, Mendam, Tawau, Angoram, Kambaramba (lower Sepik current), Tambanum, Timbunke, Kamindimbit, Aibom, Vombun, Kanganaman, Parrembei, Surimbu (middle Sepik current), etc. On the way back to Madang the Bois and Manam islands are visited.
Travelling to the Massim island region takes 9 days and introduces tourists to completely different peoples and traditions. In the past, these Islands and archipelagos were part of the extensive system of ceremonial Kula exchange, some elements of which were preserved to this day. The main part of this tour is the Trobriand island where the locals have preserved many of their unique customs. The Trobriand traditional constructions, including yam barns, are very interesting. Original dances in bright dresses and jewelry leave an indelible impression. This island group became world famous at the beginning of XX century, when the famous English anthropologist (born Polish) Bronislav Malinovsky worked there. “Argonauts of the Western Pacific” and “The Sexual Life of Savages of North-Western Melanesia” are the most famous works about this archipelago. Several other Islands are visited on the way to the region.
In addition, the trips to world-famous cultural events such as the “Mount Hagen Show” (Western Highlands province) and “The Goroka show” (Eastern Highlands province), held in August and September respectively, are organized from Madang.
Thus, the city of Madang provides an excellent opportunity to visit several different ethnic and cultural regions of Papua New Guinea, and this can be done in turn, without a flight to the capital. The city itself also provides a variety of interesting programs, including a large-scale and colorful “Madang Festival”, held in June, on the occasion of the birthday of the Queen of Great Britain.
Ethnograph notes (Igor Chininov)
When the members of the expedition visited the village of Bongu, many interesting details about the life of its inhabitants were revealed. On the one side, Bongu is a kind of public center for several neighboring villages, as it has a large school, sports stadium, church and a number of other administrative buildings. And, in terms of population (2000 thousand people) it is much superior to many other settlements in the area. On the other hand, the Bongu inhabitants still firmly adhere to many aspects of their traditional way of life. This is especially noticeable when inspecting their residential buildings. All of them are built on piling, built of wood materials, have a rectangular shape, and the roofs are mostly gable. In addition, the new houses construction says about the demographic growth in the Bongu.
The dwellings, which are quite close to each other, are grouped around the central square, where important village-wide events take place. There are many small traditional boats with a balancer, on which the bonguans go fishing, are scattered right on the shore of the Astrolabe Bay. Currently, agriculture prevails in Bongu as in the times of Miklouho-Maclay, the villagers are engaged in agriculture (grow yams, talo, sweet potato, coconut palm, bananas, etc.), fishing and hunting (birds and wild pigs) are rather auxiliary. Poultry, livestock and dogs remains the same, with the exception of pigs.
The most impressing that the locals treasure and protect their song, dance and narrative folklore. The members of the expedition were shown several traditional dances with chants, during which the participants dressed in colorful old clothes and used wooden drums – okamas. It is amazing that they use a large slotted signal gong – Barum, which plays an important social function and testifies to the vitality of many cultural traditions.
Bongu village is rarely visited by guests from the outside world, and tourists especially. Therefore, the cultural heritage of the Bonguans is “natural”. As part of the ethno-cultural area of the Rai Coast (formerly known as the Maclay Coast), Bongu is a vivid example of the diversity and uniqueness of the traditional cultures of Papua New Guinea.