There is no place on earth like Papua. The island of New Guinea is not only our planet’s highest and second largest island, it boasts an astonishing diversity of flora and fauna and is home to the world’s greatest number of human cultures and languages.
This study adventure offers international school students experiences most people can’t even imagine. From Port Moresby we will fly to the remote Tari Valley in the central highlands of New Guinea to immerse ourselves in the culture of the Huli – a tribal group of warriors and horticulturalists that was completely unknown to the outside world until 1935 when a few Australian gold seekers stumbled upon them. Displaying the most artistic body expressions of any society on earth, the Huli “wig men” immediately captured the world’s attention.
Students on this trip will look at the impacts of religious conversion and colonization on Huli culture and their remarkable resilience to change. They will learn to prepare and plant garden plots for yams, sweet potato and cassava on lands that have been cultivated longer than almost any others on earth. Students will learn to start a fire using bamboo chord as our Neolithic ancestors once did and the Huli still do. They will cook food underground in a traditional “mumu”, decorate themselves with elaborate face paints and bird of paradise feathers, join in celebratory “sing sings” and overnight in a communal Huli hut.
One of the most endearing traditions still alive in the Tari Valley are the Huli “wig schools” where young men submit themselves to monastic conditions for 18 months while they grow their hair into elaborate wigs that will be used for ceremonial purposes. Spectacular bird of paradise feathers adorn these wigs from a great range of species found in the Tari Valley. Students too will have opportunities to view these majestic birds in their native habitat at 9,200 ft. in the Tari Gap and at lower elevations during rainforest hikes to breathtaking waterfalls.
After four amazing days exploring the highlands, we fly back to Port Moresby and boat to an offshore island to discover an entirely different realm. New Guinea sits at the eastern edge of the Coral Triangle with the world’s greatest diversity of coral reef life. Based at a comfortable dive lodge, students will set out by boat daily to explore a number of islands, snorkel over pristine reefs and meet some of the delightful island peoples of Melanesia.
“Expect the unexpected,” it is said of New Guinea. Students on this unique learning adventure are likely to have their expectations surpassed.