New Guinea boasts more than 1,000 distinct languages. This vast linguistic & cultural diversity arose because the people arrived in several waves, settled in different parts of the island & were largely isolated from one another for thousands of years because of the extremely rugged terrain (mountains reaching 16,000 .ft form the spine of the island).
Papua New Guinea (PNG) occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea & it's offshore islands of Melanesia. Most of it's 7 million people live in customary rural communities, many still following a self-sustainable natural lifestyle. Historically, PNG was colonized by Germany & Great Britain in 1884. After WWII the area became a territory of Australia. In 1975 the nation of Papua New Guinea gained its independence & elected to remain a member of the British Commonwealth.
We traveled along the southern & eastern coasts & outlying islands aboard the Orion, visiting Port Moresby, Fergusson Island, Samarai Island, the Trobriand Islands & the city of Rabaul. We went ashore in several seldom visited villages & were greeted by wonderful warmth, local celebrations & beautiful handcrafts. After Rabaul we flew to the Tari Highlands in western PNG & spent 4 days visiting Huli Wigmen villages & hiking the mountains in search of elusive Birds-of-Paradise.
My favorite photo of the entire trip is the last one in this gallery. I think it evokes both the ancient Huli culture & its ongoing transformation. I'd like to credit National Geographic photographer Jason Edwards
for teaching me the technique I was able to use to capture this image.