The Autonomous Region of Bougainville, like many other places in Papua New Guinea have deep-seated cultural and religious traditions which visitors should be mindful and respectful of. Furthermore, the Bougainville Conflict remains a sensitive topic, hence political discussions are not encouraged, especially by outsiders. Always have your guide with you when travelling about Bougainville.
For your safety and security, here are a few things to remember when travelling in Bougainville:
Always Have a Guide or a Local With You
For historical and cultural reasons it is important to have a local guide with you in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Respect Their Hospitality
Bougainvilleans have a custom of making sure that their guest is safe. They will go out of their way to make sure that you are okay.
It is important that you also respect them by not putting them in an awkward position by being dishonest about your intentions in Bougainville and that you do not start heated arguments in public with other locals.
Respect Sacred Sites
The Bougainvilleans have many sacred sites. Pay attention to your guides if they point out sacred sites and ask them what the local customs are regarding these sacred sites.
Don't Discuss Politics
If you are not from Bougainville, it would do you well not to discuss local politics.
Respect the Morgan Junction and the No-Go Zone
This place was central to the Bougainville Crisis and the barriers are still up, although traffic flows easily through.
If you want to travel to Panguna, you have to go through the No-Go Zone barriers. Always plan in advance with your tour operator or local guide.
Before coming to Bougainville, make sure you are on anti-malarial medication and you have these on you at all times.
Bring anti-biotic and a first-aid kit when travelling to Bougainville. All cuts and abrasions should be treated and covered as soon as possible because tropical ulcers can start quickly here.
Be wary of saltwater crocodiles when wandering through or near rivers and lagoons in unpopulated areas.
If you are paddling at night, beware of dugongs. Although these creatures are harmless they can easily tip over a canoe and put you in water at night.
Mona festival canoe in Bougainville. Credit: David Kirkland
List of Accommodation in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville
List of Tour Operators in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville