Famous among birdwatchers for its birds of paradise, Varirata National Park is a fantastic place for bushwalking. A great variety of vegetation from woodland to rainforest, beautiful butterflies, huge ferns, wild orchids, fresh air and lookouts with its spectacular views of Bootless Bay.
Bushwalking around Port Moresby
Early Sunday morning we are driving up to the Sogeri plateau. Today we are going for a loop walk in Varirata National Park located less than one hour drive out of the hustle and bustle of dusty Port Moresby.
The walk starts with crossing of a small stream on a wooden bridge followed by a small river crossing.
The path goes up and down through a variety of vegetation, including grassland, savannah woodland and tropical rainforest. We are lucky, the walking trail isn’t muddy as it didn’t rain for a while.
Walking through tall trees providing a pleasant shade, we come across huge ferns and beautiful small orchids living on the trees.
We keep going until we reach the highest lookout with its spectacular views of Bootless Bay. It’s a clear day today, and the views are fantastic – the hills surrounding Port Moresby, very dry this time, and the blue colour of ocean.
It’s much cooler here compared to the hot Port Moresby, and we stay at the lookout point for a while enjoying the beautiful scenery and fresh air before returning to the start of our walk.
Varirata National Park is famous among birdwatchers and wild animal lovers for its birds of paradise, wallabies, spotted cuscus, deer, bandicoots etc. But our walking group isn’t the quietest, and although we don’t have a chance to spot them, we could occasionally hear the birds of paradise singing from afar.
Varirata isn’t only famous for its birds of paradise but also for a variety of insects and butterflies that we encounter on the way. But we also find a couple of cheeky leeches trying to find their way to our hiking shoes.
Varirata, the country’s first national park, is a fantastic place for bushwalking and birdwatching. There is a variety of well-marked hiking trails of various length and difficulty, and several picnic areas and BBQs shelters. It would be good to come here again with a group of friends for BBQ lunch in a fresh and beautiful setting.
How to organise the walk: Varirata National Park is located about 1h drive of Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, en route to Sogeri.
Port Moresby Bushwalkers Group, run by volunteers, organises different walks around Port Moresby every second Sunday. The meeting is at 7.20am (sharp) at the Yacht Club visitors’ car park. There is no membership fee but the PGK20 fee per walk is required to cover the cost of security escort and compensation for landowners.
Timing: The walk is about 9km, about 3h.
Difficulty: Although rated as “medium”, the walk is very easy in dry conditions. However, it can quickly become difficult after the rain, when the walking paths are wet and muddy.
IMPORTANT: Even if you are an experienced hiker, given the scorching sun and extreme heat conditions in Port Moresby, some acclimatisation prior to undertaking the walk is definitely a good idea. Bring sunscreen, snacks and a minimum of 2-3L of water (heavy to carry but you will be glad you did).
In addition to PGK20 per person for a walk, there is PGK5 Varirata National Park entrance fee.