Very few parts of Papua New Guinea are well-known to travellers. It is not for nothing that the current tourism campaign of the country has the slogan ‘a thousand different journeys’, as each part of PNG has its own culture and environment. YPT has been doing tours to Mount Hagen for the annual cultural show there for some years now. Mount Hagen is the biggest cultural show of the country but another cultural show comes close second: Goroka. Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highlands province, is truly worth a visit. Here are some things you’ll want to know if you visit Goroka!
Getting to Goroka
Goroka is located in the center of the Eastern Highlands province. From Mount Hagen, which is the capital of the Western Highlands province, it takes about a day’s drive to get there due to the state of the road.
Goroka also has an airport with multiple daily flights connecting it to the capital of the country, Port Moresby.
Staying in Goroka
As one of the biggest tourism hubs of Papua New Guinea, Goroka has a few options when it comes to accommodation. Most accommodation is available throughout the year except during the Cultural Show, during which most hotels in the city will be booked out months in advance.
YPT’s favourite hotel in Goroka is the Phoenix Hotel. The Phoenix Hotel is a comfortable yet affordable hotel, with nice staff. It doesn’t hurt either that the hotel has a (somewhat-aged) swimming pool and that its restaurant is one of the cities’ best bakery and steakhouse.
Travellers looking for more luxury will probably head towards the Pacific Gardens Hotel. Located right into the jungle outside of town, Pacific Gardens is the most luxurious option available in Goroka. There, you can arrange bird-watching and trekking. If you do not intend to stay there, it might be worth it to pop by and try their wide selection of pizza and burgers.
For those looking for luxury while being centrally located, the option would be the Birds of Paradise Hotel, which is right in the center of the city. Birds of Paradise offers nice rooms, a bar and a restaurant while being right on the main road of Goroka
Where to eat in Goroka
Most food options in Goroka except a few kaibars (local fastfood joints) along the main drags are the restaurants in each hotel. Phoenix hotel has a steak house, Birds of Paradise has a franchise of Enzo Pizza and Pacific Gardens has a western style restaurant.
Big Rooster, PNG’s pride when it comes to fried chicken, also has a franchise in Goroka
People who are more budget conscious can grab some food from the snack bar located in the Papindo Supermarket, the biggest supermarket of Goroka.
What to do in Goroka
Most people will come to Goroka during the Cultural Show, happening close to the airport. At that time, tribes from all the provinces of the Highlands gather to showcase their dances and costumes.
If you are not coming during the sing-sing, there are still some things to do!
Your first stop should be the J.K McCarthy museum. J.K McCarthy museum is renowned as the country’s only other national museum after the National Museum itself in Port Moresby. In this modest yet interesting museum, you will find exhibits about customs and costumes of Papua New Guinea but also exhibitions by local artists and finally a section about World War II. WWII geeks will be happy to see the whole fighter plane kept behind the museum.
While the Asaro Mudmen are usually seen at the surrounding cultural shows, know that they originate from a village of Goroka and that visits and private cultural shows can be organised with them at any time of the year.
Goroka also has a massive market where people trade all sorts of wares. It is a great place for people watching and shopping. Just be mindful of your belongings while you are there and try to go with a local.
Goroka also has a post office, so go crazy on postcards!
While Goroka is a city (by PNG standards) it is surrounded by nature so treks and outdoor activities can readily be arranged throughout the year