Rafting in Papua New Guinea – An expedition on the Watut River

14th November 2016

We pride ourselves on continuing to explore great rivers of the world and mix that in with wild and fascinating destinations. Rafting in Papua New Guinea on the Watut River is an expedition that ticks that box. As well as exploring Papua New Guinea’s best river, we’ll spend time exploring the stunning coastal regions by sea kayak. Papua New Guinea has long been one of the world’s least known countries, even though it is the worlds second largest island behind Greenland.

Awesome locals! Image: David Kirkland

Awesome locals! Image: David Kirkland

Papua New Guinea – a fascinating nation

The Kukukuku tribes people are shown from archaeological records to be some of the oldest people to inhabit earth. There are links between the aboriginals of Australia and the Kukukuku tribes people from the Watut River valley, as they crossed the now submerged Melanesian land bridge which connected the land masses some 60,000 years ago. Papua New Guinea has a fascinating culture based around more than 700 languages. Since it’s independence from Australia in 1975, Papua New Guinea has continued to thrive with its vibrant industries of palm oil processing, wood and chipboard processing, construction and increasingly tourism. Traveling to Papua New Guinea is like traveling back in time, but you’ll be fascinated by the people and their friendliness.

Culturally amazing! Image: David Kirkland

Culturally amazing! Image: David Kirkland

Rafting in PNG – The Watut, an iconic wild river
First explored by raft in the late 1970’s, along with other rivers in the country, the Watut was singled out as a wonderful whitewater run. We’ll start our trip high in the mountains on the Bulolo River, a small tributary of the Watut. Our 180km journey begins through the open grasslands where people have settled to make a living from farming. Remnants of gold mining still lie on the banks of the river, where they started mining the river for gold in the 1920’s. As the Snake River joins, we enter the Watut gorge itself, the volume increases dramatically from the additional rainfall from the Kuper Range, leading to fun whitewater at every corner. Much coffee is grown in the area and with no road access, villagers hike out their produce along trails to main centres where they can sell them. This province, called Morobe, it the most important coffee growing region in the country.

The section of rapids through here is very fun, but committing. We’ll be treated to an awesome run through Four Part Harmony, a series of substantial drops offering plenty of thrills for the most avid whitewater thrill seeker. The river is packed with polished bounders, tight moves and turns and provides lots of challenges for guides and guests alike. For people who have done some challenging rivers like the Zambezi, Chile, Peru or Nepal, this is a great follow on river.

We’ll be treated with amazing bird life on the trip. Cockatoos, swifts and kingfishers, Papuan hornbills, egrets, herons, crows as well as the Raggiana bird of paradise with their elaborate head dresses prized by the locals. We tend to see these on the lower reaches of the river after most of the rapids before we reach the Markham River.

Between A Rock & A Hard Place Image: Bruce Keller

Between A Rock & A Hard Place Image: Bruce Keller

Compliment Your Adventure With Beautiful Oceans
The oceans surrounding Papua New Guinea are spectacular to say the least. Our journey takes us around the New Ireland set of islands where we’ll paddle from island to island setting up camps on stunning beaches. We’ll meet local tribes face to face, experience tribal greetings and even get the opportunity to paddle traditional outrigger canoes.

Perfect Oceans Image: David Kirkland

Perfect Oceans Image: David Kirkland 

Rafting in Papua New Guinea is a unique adventure expedition, which captures the soul of this wonderful country. 

Gutbai (Pidgin for goodbye)

by Hamish McMaster

Hamish McMaster is the Water By Nature owner. He has spent the past 25 years exploring and playing on the world's great rivers. He still loves nothing more than getting out there and sharing adventures.


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