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“A homely visit in the Highlands”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Ambua Lodge

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Ambua Lodge
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Tari
Orpington, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
45 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“A homely visit in the Highlands”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 September 2013

On the short flight from Karawari Lodge in the lowlands to Ambua in the highlands you can see the change in the landscape, the different types and colour of the trees. Having worked in commodities it was a treat for me to see from the plane the vastness of the one of the biggest gold mines in the world. Landing at the lodge was probably one of the most interesting landings Ive done in a plane, it was up a hill and sitting in the front with the pilot was quite an experience.

Ambua Lodge is just a short drive away from the landing strip. The main reception, dining and lounge area wasnt quite what I had expected. Unlike Karawari lodge it was soulless and un-althentic. It reminded me of a portable cabin, very boxy and uninteresting The staff were very welcoming and friendly. The hot drinks with home made cookies or muffins were very well received from everyone. The main area was unheated and with the door always open the change in temperature was very apparent and a light fleece is necessary to keep the chill off. The lodge is set into a hill overlooking the valley and Tari town in the distance. Beautiful landscaped and well tended gardens surround the lodge and rooms. Meals were the same as Karawari lodge and very good. The only slight criticism was the food was repetitive.

As we were the only group at the lodge for the next couple of nights we were given the choice of rooms. Either in the original round huts or in a newly built block right next to the main area. The older huts are pretty to look at and have wonderful views but they smelt musky and were in need of redoing. They also had no outdoor space. The new block is very modern and yes you could be in any hotel in the world but they were beautifully finished and had floor to ceiling windows with a balcony overlooking the valley. The only downside is the walls were paper thin and you could hear your neighbours talking also the lodge is close to the main road and with the building of a new natural gas facility the constant hum of engine noise coming from the stream of large trucks going up and down the hill may be a problem for some light sleepers.

Seeing the Huli tribe was a highlight for us on the trip but we were a little disappointed with the rest of the organised tours. They seemed very drawn out and we found we went to the same place twice over different days to see something slightly different which we felt was a real waste of time within a country so vast and with so many things to see. We had been told by Audley travel who we booked it through we'd be trekking and seeing the wildlife in the Tari Gap area. Over the 3 days we were here the result of this was 1 hour walk to a waterfall and a 1.5 hour walk to see the lodges hydro power. Birding was being driven up the road before sunrise and stoping at a few places. The birds were a long way away and we didn't venture into the forest. I am unsure if this was for security reason or just wasn't on the agenda. As a result not one photo of a bird of paradise. The guides were very knowledgable on the people of the area and some of the birds. Although some stories didn't add up. However, they didn't seem to know anything about the plants and trees or geology of the area. Depending on when you got to Ambua you really only need to stay one or two nights.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank GlobeTrotter010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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41 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Kfar Saba, Israel
Level Contributor
85 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 September 2013

Excellent service, location and food. Tours very well organized and all guides are very experienced and know a lot about the places visited. Do not give up to the very early birding visit. Most of the mornings you could see the very interesting paradise birds

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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank RickSchleifer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LA
Level Contributor
161 reviews
53 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2013

Having been to PNG several times, including the big sing-sing in Mt Hagen in 1977 and 1987 (spanning their hiatus), I never considered the country as beautiful. Imagine my surprise at the view from Ambua lodge. Being with a group for the first time, even saw the wigmen perform - still 'authentic'. The lodge itself is fine, but don't leave food around open at night.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank LaPaj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
207 reviews
61 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 97 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2013

We spent 2 nights at Ambua Lodge and the accommodation has seen better days but it is warm and comfortable, the food is hearty, the bathrooms clean, the toilets flush and the service friendly. The locals live in grass huts with no gas, electricity or running water so in contrast Ambua lodge is luxurious. The price was inclusive of everything for us and the highlight was the access to the local villages and the school for the Huli Wigmen, bird watching where we spied a bird of paradise and bush walking in the jungle. It is one of the most beautiful and remote places on earth and yet we stayed in comfort. My son left his teddy bear which was located and posted home which has never happened at any resort in Australia. I would return in the blink of an eye. The only complaint is the noise of the trucks from the local gas mine which could be heard from our room whilst trying to fall asleep.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank KarinP63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
KT1PNG
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 February 2013 via mobile

Have stayed here several times whilst on business. No other real alternatives that offer easy access to the Hela basin. Most recently stayed in one of the new hotel-style rooms. Not as "authentic" as the round houses, but more comfortable. Unfortunately the local rat community has already taken up residence! Can't complain about the service. The manager is most accommodating. Food basic but nourishing. Check with your bank manager before buying alcohol - if any is available. Likewise accommodation charges. 3 star standard at 6 star prices.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank KT1Png
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
677 reviews
128 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1,858 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 September 2012

Ambua Lodge is the only Western-style accommodation anywhere near Tari. It is owned and operated by Trans Niugini Tours, but you can stay there even if you're traveling independently, as we were. The cost is a whopping 900 Kina ($450) per night, and this doesn't even include meals, nor excursions, nor heat in the room.

LOCATION - Ambua is located in the absolute middle of nowhere, on a hillside, about 10 minutes outside of Tari town. It is accessed by the Tari airport, which is subject to frequent delays and cancellations. It is located in Huli territory, which lends itself to nearby Huli Village visits and Huli Wigmen performances. Tari is a tiny town, with mostly nothing, so be sure to be prepared when you arrive.

AMBIENCE - Ambua is a collection of about 25 huts, built in the local bamboo style with grass roofs, perched on a hillside gaining a panoramic view of the valley below and the mountains beyond. It is a lodge, not a hotel, and built in a comfortable but rustic style. The lodge is really a 3-star type lodge, despite the exorbitant price. The surroundings are natural, and the lodge is run on hydro power from the river nearby. The local Huli villages supply the staff.

ROOMS - The rooms are round and very simple. Just a bed, small desk and a night table. Electricity is 24 hours thanks to the small hydro plant built on the river below. There is no balcony, nor any mosquito nets on the bed which would have been nice. The place isn't swarming with mosquitos but there were a few. The chairs supplied with the desk are an interesting choice - the chairs are big and low, they can't really be used to sit at the desk. However, the desk fills the only space where such chairs may have been used, so both the chairs and desk end up being mostly useless. The rooms are spread out so that if you have a higher number of room you have quite a walk to the lodge, so if you have mobility problems then you'll want to get a low number. An electric blanket on the bed keeps you warm despite the cold weather and no heat. No phones or tv in the rooms, and no flashlight or umbrellas provided, so some advance planning for moving between the lodge and room is required.

BUSINESS - Not a business hotel by any stretch of the imagination, there is no internet access available here. However, if you have bought a Digicel SIM you can get EDGE service on your modem or blackberry phone to slowly get by. There is really nowhere to sit in the room, so you'll mostly need to come to the lodge, but even there the only tables you can sit a computer on are usually set for a meal and you're in the way, and there are only 2 seats within reach of an outlet.

FOOD - The food was okay, but disappointing for the high price of the lodge. The same sauce used for most dishes, small portions, but tasted okay. Meals are not included in the base rate of the lodge and very expensive. There is a bar where you can get exorbitantly priced 15 Kina ($8) cans of beer or 150 K ($75) bottles of wine. The box lunches are pathetic, just a tiny bacon sandwich and a day old muffin, don't bother.

SERVICE - The staff was friendly and helpful, especially Alice and Amaka. However, speed was not a virtue, and you did have to follow up. Just make sure to ask and be proactive, not wait for something to happen. The manager is very nice too.

EXCURSIONS - The excursions may vary depending on if you're with Trans Niugini or otherwise, but typically include birdwatching for various bird of paradise species, visits to Huli villages, and performances by the Huli Wigmen. There is a hiking trail on the premises.

Ambua was a nice experience and we enjoyed our stay here. It would help to have usable chairs at the desk or internet access, and of course the food could be improved. The prices are unreasonably high, but I guess there are really no other options, so...

  • Stayed September 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Johann&Sandra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 August 2012 via mobile

The lodge is located at an excellent place where you have easy access to Makara waterfalls, cane bridges numerous kinds of orchids and places which our out of your imagination. The lodge is very authentic but at the same time the best of the specific area. All rooms have excellent view to Tari highlands and it is definately the best choice in the specific aerea. The food is also delicious made of healthy vegetables, fruit and excellent ingredients. A must go in Papua!

Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Bessy V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Ambua Lodge

Property: Ambua Lodge
Address: Tari | Tari Gap, Tari 255, Papua New Guinea
Region: Papua New Guinea > Highlands Region > Tari
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Tari
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Number of rooms: 42
Also Known As:
Ambua Hotel Tari
Ambua Lodge Papua New Guinea/Tari

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