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The Journey to Paradise Photos of great cultural and natural beauties of Papua New Guinea

 
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Old 30-11-2002, 04:45 PM
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East Sepik Region - Rich And Diverse

By Steven Mago

There is no region in Papua New Guinea that is more naturally diverse than the Sepik. Well-known more for the 1,100-kilometre long Sepik River, with its ancient and primitive arts, this region is Papua New Guinea’s equivalent to the Amazon and the Congo rivers.

The mere mention of the word the Sepik also conjures up images of the secret men’s house, the haus tambaran but its best-kept secret is the Sepik Blue (Dendrobium lasianthera), a species of orchid that is endemic to this region.

Reflections of the Sepik - Photograph taken by McKie Photography :
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Old 30-11-2002, 04:47 PM
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But the Sepik is much more than just the river, its people and arts. It’s about magnificent coastlines with while sandy beaches, beautiful volcanic islands, tropical rainforests, grassy plains, high plateaus and plenty of war history.

The East Sepik’s provincial capital of Wewak is the only major town in PNG with a white-sandy beachfront, perfect for swimming, light surfs and as a perfect anchorage for visiting yachts.

White Sandy Beaches at Wewak - Photograph taken by Malum Nalu - TPA :
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Old 30-11-2002, 04:51 PM
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The river region’s fame and importance is largely due its richness in art and the river itself serves as a source of inspiration and influence for its dwellers, their lifestyle, traditional beliefs, customs and art forms, reflected in statues, masks, neck-rests, stalls, hooks, shields, baskets, pottery and skin cutting.

From the air, the Sepik River and its many tributaries and estuaries looks more like a collection of brown snakes of numerous sizes, meandering over the forests floor for 1,100 km on its way to the Bismark Sea.

Mighty Sepik River - Photograph taken by McKie Photography :
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Old 30-11-2002, 04:53 PM
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The Upper Sepik is mountainous and known for its insect cults while the Lower Sepik is primarily swampland and its people’s life and culture is based around their relationship with and reverence for the crocodile.

The Middle and Lower Sepik experience seasonal floods which come as a blessing because they sweep down-stream hard wood logs that are collected and used as material for building houses and carvings. Up and down the river, people make use of the rising river levels to move between villages, attend to their clan and tribal obligations and trade fish, sago and clay pots.

Some Sepik boys seen here playing on a log - photograph Steven Mago :
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Old 30-11-2002, 04:55 PM
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Sepik art is known to be richer and having more variety than any other region in the Oceania Region. The main area that is rich in art is the middle river region, a densely populated area with nearly 30 large villages of the Iatmul language group people.

Sepik Art admired here by some Japanese visitors to our shores. Photograph taken by Stephen Mago :
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Old 30-11-2002, 05:01 PM
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Turning back to Wewak, this is a spread-out town and is clogged in places by swamps and mangroves and has an extensive mountain range as its backdrop. For the holidaymaker, this is a scenic town and has its fair share of war history to tell. The town and surrounding hills are littered with remnants from the war.

A must-see is Mission Hill which houses Japanese AA guns, the look-out at Boys Town and Wom War Memorial Park, the site of the Japanese surrender in WWII.

The War Memorial at Mission Hill - photograph taken by Malum Nalu - TPA :
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Old 30-11-2002, 05:02 PM
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Further out of town, a recommended stop is Maprik for the haus tambaran and yam ceremonies and masks while Angoram is the best place to pick up Kambot storyboards.

For those wanting a feel of PNG’s own version of the sun, sand and the surf, there are many off-shore islands close to Wewak that are perfect for this activity, among them, Mushu Island which has some of the most pristine blue waters, high pounding waves and unexplored coral reefs in PNG.

Surf - photograph taken by Malum Nalu of TPA :
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Old 30-11-2002, 05:07 PM
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Kairuru Island, volcanic in nature, is an island worth exploring. The main area of focus is the Catholic mission station and school and there is enormous potential for nature-based and adventure activities. You can trek following traditional gardening routes or if you would rather stay close to the sea, there is snorkeling or you can choose to observe thermal springs or take a hike to a beautiful natural lake in the island’s mountainous interior.

All this diverse activities and attractions in a region of PNG that is more known for its river and primitive arts. Agreeing with the old adage, there is more to the Sepik than meets the eye!

Ends…/


Note: The author, Steven Mago is a journalist, travel writer and tourism promoter. He was born at Matupit Island, Rabaul, East New Britain Province but for the time being is living in Sydney studying for his Masters in Tourism.


Catholic Church in the Sepik Region - photograph taken by Stephen Mago :
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Old 30-11-2002, 05:12 PM
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If you are interested in any other articles written by Stephen Mago which appear on our website, please click on the SEARCH BUTTON top right hand corner.

Simply type in his name Steven, followed by the 'perform search' icon, and you will be taken to other articles supplied by him.

We sincerely hope you have enjoyed this article on the Sepik River.

Canoe seen here on the Sepik River - photograph taken by Steven Mago :
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