Birdwatching in Papua New Guinea

The country's extensive tropical rainforest provides the perfect habitat for a wide variety of birdlife, including the world's smallest parrot and 38 of the 43 known species of birds of paradise. Papua New Guinea is famous for these brilliantly coloured birds, and many tribal groups use their plumes to decorate traditional costumes and headdresses, especially in the Highlands. Other bird species include parrots, pigeons, kingfishers, kokomos (hornbills), palm cockatoos and Papua New Guinea’s largest bird, the giant cassowary.

Bird enthusiasts should make time to see the National Botanic Garden in Port Morseby, just beyond the university on Waigani Drive. As well as a boardwalk through the jungle canopy, the wildlife displays include cuscuses, birds of paradise, cassowaries and parrots.

National Capital District
Varirata National Park: This tranquil 1063ha park near Port Moresby is a popular spot for birdwatching – early morning is the best time to see birds of paradise. You can camp in the park or stay in the small park lodge.

Western Province
Bensbach: While there are few people here, this area of vast floodplain close to the Indonesian border teams with wildlife and birds.
Tabubil: Tabubuil is another good base for birdwatchers, with 16 different birds of paradise within 25km of the town.

Gulf Province
Lakekamu Basin: This huge forested basin is rich in birds and wildlife. Guesthouses in the area are located at Makara, Kakoro and Tekaku villages.

Western Highlands
Baiyer River Wildlife Sanctuary: North of Mount Hagen, this is one of the best places to see Papua New Guinea’s colourful birds of paradise.

Eastern Highlands
Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area: South of Goroka, this remote area is a great place for birdwatching, and the friendly people of Herowana and Ubaigubi villages will act as guides.

Southern Highlands
Wasi Falls Wildlife Management Area: Virgin rainforest here has a wealth of bird and wildlife. Tubo Lodge can organise birdwatching and wildlife tours
Lake Kutubu: Butterflies and birds of paradise are plentiful around this peaceful place and the local people still live traditional lives. You can swim, visit villages or just enjoy the scenery.
Tari Basin: This beautiful area is known for its superb birdwatching. Ambua Lodge, surrounded by dense tropical rainforest, and Lakwanda Lodge can organise tours.

Morobe
Wau and Bulolo: Birdwatching and butterflies are the attractions in this goldmining area in the hills south of Lae.