This is the fourth blog describing various stages in a Madang-Hagen road trip that Tom, Sarah and I went on in January 2010. We only stayed a couple of nights in Madang and could easily have stayed longer. This entry describes the places we visited while we were there. Had we stayed longer, we probably would have taken the short boat ride out to Krangket island, checked out the Madang museum or driven north up to the Kau Forest Conservation area. They’ll have to wait for next time …
We splashed out a little on Madang Lodge (K506/nt for a twin room) and we weren’t disappointed. It is deservedly rated by Lonely Planet as “our pick” – beautiful grounds, lovely rooms, helpful staff and very relaxing vibe. I highly recommend it.
Ohu Butterfly Habitat
Ohu Butterfly Habitat is a community conservation and research area that was established about 15 years ago. The owner, Hais Wassel, is a landowner of the area and got it started by negotiating with fellow landowners to preserve a section of land from gardens, plantations and the like and instead build it up into a habitat that is designed to attract a wide range of the area’s large birdwing butterflies. Hais knows his stuff and has hosted a number of researchers and PhD students over the years. As a result, he provided us with a very informative tour (our conversation strayed well beyond butterflies to the land arrangements in the area, logging issues in and around Madang and the economics of buai plantations).
Apparently you can get most of the way by PMV (albeit with a 5km walk thereafter) but I reckon that a hire car is the way to go. The route is only about 17km from Madang but most of this is on an unsealed road so it is probably a 45-60 minute drive each way. It is probably simplest to arrange a guide to take you there but otherwise, here are some directions:
About 5km out of Madang heading south along the Ramu highway, there is a right-hand turn (dirt road) with a sign-post to Omoru. Follow this road for another 7km (I think) before taking a right-hand turn that heads up the hill and continues for another 5km. You will know when you are in the right vicinity when you see the sign for Ohu primary school. The Butterfly Habitat is just a short distance further on.
The entrance fee is K10 per person.
Balek wildlife sanctuary
Balek is a small road-side village that sits opposite the imposing Balek range – a small but sheer and imposing ridgeline that is completely covered in forest. The villagers have turned the Balek range, its forests and a sulphur-infused creek into a small but attractive wildlife sanctuary that achieved some fame by appearing the the 1996 film Robinson Crusoe, starring Pierce Brosnan (I haven’t seen the film so that didn’t mean much to me).
Thanks to the sulphur, the creek is appropriately known as smelwara (ie, smelly river) and it attracts eels and turtles. The creek is actually the combination of a fresh water stream and from a water source flowing out of a small cave wedged in the base of the range. Apparently there is a second, narrower cave inside the first – we didn’t see that whilst we were there but you can read the kastom story associated with it in this article reproduced from Air Niugini’s in-flight magazine.
The entrance fee is K5 per person.
Tags: PNG travel