Papua New Guinea bucket list: Trans Niugini Tours


Karawari Lodge (courtesy Chris McLennan)

Karawari Lodge (courtesy Chris McLennan)

With a stable of six, and soon to be seven, strategically located lodges, Trans Niugini Tours (TNT) is expanding its tourism reach in Papua New Guinea.

The company’s newest lodge, being constructed on Lake Murray in Western Province, adds to an impressive list of addresses, built up over 35 years.

They include Karawari Lodge in East Sepik Province, Ambua Lodge in Hela Province, Malolo Plantation Lodge outside of Madang, Bensbach Wildlife Lodge in Western Province, the floating Sepik Spirit on the Sepik River, Rondon Ridge outside Mount Hagen.

Special places

‘It seems almost everything we offer could be described as unique in the travel world,’ TNT Director, Bob Bates, says.

‘Most of our clients are on 10 to 14 day all-inclusive itineraries that take them to PNG’s most iconic places, the highlands and river lowlands, where most of our wilderness lodges are located.’

The majority of guests are experienced international travellers with a taste for adventure, international and domestic business people, and Papua New Guineans and expats who want to explore the country.

Clients visit villages and clan lands, learn about traditional and modern daily life, shop for tribal art, hike trails, fish or go bird watching.

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‘There is a definite interest in travelling to unspoiled and genuine places like PNG. There are so few of them left,’ Bates says.

Bensbach (courtesy TNT)

Bensbach Wildlife Lodge (courtesy TNT)

Travellers want to be exposed to different cultures and different ways of living and thinking. Many opt to spend their days in nature and then return to comfortable lodges in the evening.

Ongoing Investment

To make this transition possible, TNT has continually developed tourism  infrastructure: Building and maintaining access roads, airstrips, hydro-electric plants and communications systems.

While business is good, Bates notes it can always be better.

Exceptional lodges and staff, maintaining the industry as a renewable resource and avoiding the pitfalls of diluted mass tourism remain key elements of the TNT strategy.

‘After 35 years we’ve learned what works well in terms of tourism in PNG. We continue to be innovative in response to the needs of the market.’

Sonja Heydeman is a freelance journalist with interest in the Asia Pacific region.