Sunday, February 21, 2016

Papua New Guinea: One of the last frontiers

Some lands have always had an element of magic to them, far off places that seemed almost otherworldly. In the 1800's this was common to the peoples of Europe. Most of the world was only lightly explored, and those parts that were often had little actually reported. The American West was a huge blank spot on the map even though Spaniards and mountain men had been moving through it for years. The Amazon is even now a thick tangle of mystery. Africa holds onto its magical feeling even with the encroachment of modern ideas and technology.

Times change however, and the inexorable tread of civilization continues cutting away at the fortresses of the unexplored lands. The blank spots on maps are drying up like shallow puddles on a hot day. With the introduction of tight customs and travel arrangements the days of picking up a Paradox shotgun and chartering a voyage to some distant land who's name most couldn't pronounce are long gone. To the modern explorer there isn't much left besides being a tourist. I've heard it often said that Alaska is the last great frontier. I am glad to say however that it isn't. There are still a few pockets of wilderness left out there that few men have seen.

Today one of the last fortresses of unexplored territory lies north of Australia in the form of Papua New Guinea. Most people have never heard of it and can't point to it on a map. It is in fact a massive island roughly the size of Madagascar and is one of the thickest chunks of rain forest I've ever heard of. In fact, although there are airports, electricity and trading places, PNG is still one of the most poorly explored and primitive places in the world. There are tribes dwelling deep in the green haunts that have never set eyes upon white men, or who have only heard of them in passing. Most have had some dealings with them, but are in essence living the way they have for thousands of years.

In fact, so impenetrable is the rain forest on this island that there are tribes who have lived only a few miles from one another and never met! To the modern explorer, this is a place where real danger and adventures can be had. It is one of the few places that still has a wealth of wildlife that has the potential to be new to science, and not just small insects and lizards either. Very odd animals are reputed to still lurk in those jungles fit for pulp stories.

I've known about this land for some time and find myself once more bitten with utter fascination of this place. I've been scrambling to find literature on early explorers and adventurers who have traveled there and I'm glad to say that I am reaping a mighty harvest indeed! To you men and women who still have wild spirits I highly recommend doing research on this fascinating place.
A few older books can be found here at the treasure trove of free literature Project Gutenburg.

Happy hunting!

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