PORT MORESBY - If you’re thinking of an exotic holiday this year, the Alotau Kenu (canoe) & Kundu Festival from 1-3 November is a spectacular event showcasing the fascinating cultures of Milne Bay.
The stunning traditional war canoes are a significant part of the lives of the Milne Bay people. They are crafted from special woods in the same way as those made by the people’s ancestors.
The patterns and colours represent the tribe and the area the canoes come from.
This highlight of the festival occurs when dozens of canoes, some more than 40 warriors adorned in traditional dress, paddle to the beat of kundus leaving a powerful impression. Races are held amid much rivalry and celebrated with enthusiasm.
The dance performances are spectacular with brilliantly attired groups from all around Milne Bay. It is definitely a festival not to be missed.
People can complement their visit with other activities as Alotau is a destination for cruises, diving the waters of the Coral Triangle, exploring tropical fjords in outriggers and experiencing the passion and energy of PNG’s most exciting cultural festival.
Staying at Tufi, which is sited on tropical fjords lined with jungles and coral reefs, is to step back in time visiting villages whose customs and lifestyle have changed little in hundreds of years.
Arriving by air, you touch down at Alotau airport , the famous Gurney airstrip of World War II.
Aioni Tours, a local tourism business, provides pickup at the airport and takes you to experience traditional village life, basket weaving, fire making, coconut climbing and husking, traditional clay pot cooking and a chance to see the last feasting zone from the period of cannibalism in the province.
Aioni Tours also offers bush trekking amongst the waterfalls where you can learn about traditional hunting, jungle survival, bird watching and getting a feel for the virgin tropical rain forests.
Aioni has four package tours:
1 - Alotau highlights tour (4 hours, $80 per person) Gurney airstrip, now the domestic airport; John French 1942 World War II memorial, central memorial, museum, local market, craft market, community schools and the festival village.
2 - Village life experience tour (3 hours, $70 per person) basket weaving, fire making, coconut climbing and husking, cooking with clay pots, traditional building demonstration, the last cannibal feasting zone and interesting stories of village life.
3 - Trekking and waterfall tour (5 hours, $100 per person) During the trek you learn about traditional hunting methods, jungle survival, bird watching, get a feel for the tropical forest an its different plant species and enjoy swimming in a waterfall.
4). Canoeing and fishing tour (6 hours, $140 per person) Traditional fishing methods, life on a coastal island, canoe paddling snorkelling in the pristine waters and, of course, fishing.