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Buka Passage

Las Vegas, Nevada
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for Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg
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Buka Passage

After reading Hammond Innes' novel Solomon's Seal several times, I'm interested in visiting the Buka Passage off Bougainville, and nearby areas. Has anybody done this, and if so, what kind of facilities are there, and what were the most interesting things to see and do? Just an idea for a possible future trip.

Woodford, Australia
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1. Re: Buka Passage

Hi Marco Polko

Bougainville passage separates Bougainville, the main island of the Autonomous Republic of Bougainville (ABG) from Buka island. The main town is the current administrative capital, Buka, on the shores of the passsage. The ABG government intends or hope that the capital will be moved back to Arawa on Bougainville island some time. I have a mate who is based at Buka and I've passed your query on to him. If he replies - his email is often down - I'll post a first hand report.

meanwhile I can offer you some armchair tourism!

Bougainville's recent history revolves around the 'conflict', a guerilla war that lasted many years, but is no longer an issue. You can find some history of the conflict, in which 15,000 people died, in this article ... speedysnail.com/pacific/bougainville.html

You'll find some tourist information that might whet your interest some more in the PNG Tourism site ... papuanewguineatourism.com/png/… ... and ABG has now set up its own tourist website ... bougainville.silvertech.co.nz/default.htm ... which includes some detail about facilities at Buka. In a nutshell, there aren't many.

Air Nuigini ... http://www.airniugini.com.pg/ ... flies from Port Moresby, the International Gateway, to Buka, often via Rabaul. Rabaul is also worth a visit to check out the volcano and the town it largely wrecked, but which still has some accommodation. There is rather more at Kokopo the new administrative centre. You'll find a bit about the area here ... http://www.eastnewbritain.gov.pg/tourism.htm

There are several very remote island groups as well as Buka and Bougainville islands, you'll find an interesting news story on the Cartaret islands here ... abc.net.au/correspondents/…s1897245.htm ... with links to audio of the report.

Couple of warnings. First, the area around the Panguna mine is still officially a no go zone and you still need to get special permission to enter. Second, the only hotel type accommodation on the passage is the Kuri Village 'Resort', about which I have had a number of grim first hand accounts which involve bed bugs. However I've also heard accounts that it wasn't so bad, and the last I heard was that they were trying to get their act together some more. Nevertheless, when I go there I'm taking my handy little bottle of permethrin.

Hope this helps. Cheers skip

Las Vegas, Nevada
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for Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg
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53 reviews
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2. Re: Buka Passage

Thanks for your informative writing and links. I kind of know the local history from that book I mentioned, which interweaves the history of a fictional family there with events in the area. I don't think that my wife would be that keen on visiting, but I am. Hopefully, you're friend will reply to you. Anyway, thank you, you have made my day.

Woodford, Australia
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3. Re: Buka Passage

Hi again Marco Polko

I have some comments below direct from Buka on the Bougainville Passage. Cheers skip

Tourism infrastructure is minimal though there are a couple of places which will eventually provide accomodation at a standard that most tourists would recognise as acceptable. There is a place being built on Sohano Island and a resort being built on Madehas Island. Currently both are incomplete and not yet operating. There are hotels catering to tourists in Buka (Kuri Village Resort, Hani's Inn and various guest houses) and Arawa (Womens' Training Institute). The standard of accomodation is 'basic' ie clean and secure and with reasonable food available.

There are good 4wd vehicles and drivers available for hire. The standard of roads is reasonable - most are unsealed but in acceptable condition.

You can also hire boat and driver to explore the local islands (but note that you must obtain permission of traditional owners.)

There are no 'guided' tours and no facilities for scuba diving. There are no organised trekking arrangements (yet).

The main attractions would have to be the exquisite scenery and the authentic culture, as yet uncorrupted by mainstream tourism or development.

The other significant point is that in Buka and North and Central Bougainville it is quite safe.

Air Niugini operates an Fokker 100 jet service from Port Moresby to Buka and return same day via Rabaul and Lae 6 days a week.

I have seen some photos of spectacular waterfalls, volcano, rivers and the main mountain range running down the spine of Bougainville Island but I don't know of any website where these can be viewed.

Currently, tourism in Bougainville is really only suitable for the sort of person who can organise things for themselves and is willing to accept the limitations and uncertainties of a remote and undeveloped pacific island nation.

Note that malaria is endemic.

Cairns
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4. Re: Buka Passage

Hi Tupela (Hi to the both of you),

Just read your posts and wanted to add my two bob. Buka has some decent accomodation (ie Clean) just past the Kuri Village Resort. The place is called Charlies. I didn't stay there but had some friends stay there and they were quite pleased with the accomodation. As for places to Eat?!? My mum who now lives back in Buka has a little KaiBar (place where you can get food) positioned right behind City Pharmacy in Buka Town. You can see the passage and the main land Bougainville from her little deck style Kaibar. The food can't be beaten by anywhere else, plus its clean. I'm not being biased, it's just the fact my mum was married to a white man, and knows the standard of cleanliness and standard of food that should be served. Alot of her clients are Expats. The Kaibar is called Tulaban. As I said before food and service can not be beaten. There are heaps of things and sights to see in Buka but it's more of a "who you know, not what you know" problem. It's not hard to find someone who will be willing to take you around or tell you how to go around finding and seeing the things you want to see in Bougainville. Bougainville is safe, I frequently go back there for holidays and have never had a problem. But watch this space Bougainville will be teaming with Tourists in no time.

Cheers

Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg
Level Contributor
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53 reviews
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5. Re: Buka Passage

Thanks again to both your replies. Hopefully, in the not too distant future I'll be able to visit there. I'm sure now that it would be possible and enjoyable. But just thinking of doing so makes me happy!!!!!!

Sydney
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6. Re: Buka Passage

I went to Bougainville last year, it was the most amazing place that I have ever been. I spent time in a village on Buka, and some time on the smaller islands. Look up batvoyage for tours, a friend of mine is running it, and they will soon be doing scuba diving. Very safe, clean drinking water and good food. Highly recommend it. As someone else said, get there before the place is overrun with tourists.

7. Re: Buka Passage

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