Reasons to visit Papua New Guinea’s Wewak


If you’re up for adventure and looking to discover Papua New Guinea’s untouched treasures, Wewak is the place for you. Nicola Gage reports.

A friendly welcome from the locals. Credit: Nicola Gage

‘Can you see where you’re going?’ I ask John, from the passenger seat. Heavy rain is pelting over the tropical canopies that line the road—as well as our car’s windscreen—as we make our way through the ranges.

We’re on the hunt for a waterfall—specifically, one near Passam High School, inland of Wewak. As we slowly descend the mountain, the deluge clears into a light shower, revealing a quiet street where kids are playing a game of soccer. We turn through an open gate and park on a shady patch of grass.

While I take in the surrounds, three young men walk up and introduce themselves, offering to take us to the water. We must be in the right place, I think to myself. Perfect. After squeezing through a broken fence and traversing a waterway, we begin trekking through steep, dense rainforest, in the hope of finding what we came for.

‘It truly is the land of the unknown—isolated, exhilarating, unique. This is part of its appeal.’

This is how adventures begin in the East Sepik—through a small gap in a fence. You’ll only come across many hidden gems, such as this one, through word of mouth, or chatting with a local. It truly is the land of the unknown—isolated, exhilarating, unique. This is part of its appeal. As the rain grows in strength, the dense landscape peels open on itself; a crystal-clear waterfall—we’ve made it.

Welcome to the Sepik

The Sepik region is a mysterious region, rich with culture, colour and secrets. Tourists often bypass Wewak, however, and head straight to the mighty Sepik, one of the great rivers of the world. There is plenty on offer, though, in and around the East Sepik Province capital, home to about 25,000 people. You just have to look a little closer to find it.

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Like other parts of PNG, remnants of war can be seen right across Wewak. During World War 2 it was home to the largest Japanese air base on mainland New Guinea and subjected to a barrage of bombing attacks. If you search, you can still see bomb craters around both the current and former airstrips, as well as the rusting remains of Japanese landing barges on the beach near the hospital.

The surrounding islands are a holiday in themselves, providing a tranquil escape from the mainland. Turquoise waters run across white, sandy beaches, with palms stretching inland as far as the eye can see. Some of them are rugged beyond belief, then you turn a corner only to find a bustling community.

The majority of people here live a subsistence lifestyle, with villages scattered through town. Locals hunt, fish for crayfish and sell their catch on the roadside. Outside of the mail strip, the town is relaxed and relatively safe, however I would always recommend a high degree of caution when travelling through PNG.

If you’re looking for a helping hand, Sepik Adventures Tours specialises in guides around Wewak as well as as further out (; +675 456 2525). Operators of the Nairobi Guesthouse on Yuo Island can also set up tours of the islands and boats from the mainland (+675 7276 1483).

For any supplies, the best supermarket in town is Garamut, across from the main beach.

With most services spread out, you’ll need to hire a car. Hertz is based in town and will deliver the vehicle to the airport of necessary (+675 456 1338).

The Boutique Hotel also organises airport transfers.

This is an extract of the story ‘8 reasons to visit Wewak’, which was first published in the May-June edition of Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini. 

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