Taste The True Tranquility - Visit Lake Kutubu in PNG and be rewarded with Adventure

By Albertis _ Photography 

Lake Kutubu is located in Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. It lies to the east of the Kikori River, into which it eventually drains. It is about 50 km southwest of Mendi (provincial capital.)

It is one of the few lakes in the country that occurs in a depression in the rugged interior mountains. And is the second-Largest lake in Papua New Guinea, after Lake Murray, and, at 800 m above sea level, the largest upland lake. 

Lake Kutubu is as wide and impressive as the smiles in Papua New Guinea and is surrounded by stories and legends like most places in this beautifully wild land. 

Legend has it that a woman cut down a Fig tree while looking for water, the tree then turned everything it touched to liquid, and so, the lake was formed.

Rugged tree and wildlife dense mountains dissolve into this 800m above sea level basin that has small islands rising from its centre, the largest being Wasemi at the northern end of the lake. Feeding Kutubu are many streams and underground sources. 

The water is still, clear and filled with endemic species of fish that are rarely seen in tropical lakes.  The lake is so important to maintaining the natural diversity of the Earth that it was declared a Wetland of International Importance in 1998.

Small villages are nestled around the lake and you can still see a traditional way of life being upheld in this area.  Not far from Lake Kutubu it is possible to witness ancient burial rites at the Skull Caves of Bebere and Kosame. 

It is customary for the dead bodies of relatives to be laid in the hull of a canoe that is moored in a cave until all of the flesh has fallen away from the bones. The skeletons are then taken to be cleaned and displayed on the cave walls.

Bird watching, swimming in the lake, cultural excursions and treks can be organised through the Tubo lodge which has far reaching views of the lush mountains and the Lake itself. 

It is a rustic and simple lodging which sits high on one of the peninsulas and does not impose on the surrounding natural beauty that enchants everyone who visits this little nest in paradise. 

One of the favourite treks organised by the family run business is the trek to Wasi falls. This magnificent group of falls includes The Bisi waterfall, the largest in PNG, which cascade over 100 metres into a limestone basin. 

Staff from the lodge can meet you at the Moro Airport and accompany you to the peninsula which includes a gentle canoe ride from Tugiri followed by a steep climb up to the lodge. Be sure to pack lightly!

If you would like a taste of true tranquillity, visit Lake Kutubu and be rewarded with relaxation, adventure and immersion into an awe-inspiring culture.

The area of the lake is 49.24 km², while the total catchment area is 250 km². Lake Kutubu and Lake Sentani form an ecoregion on the WWF's Global 200.

The lake has a few islands, the largest of which is Wasemi Island in its northern part. The water of Lake Kutubu is clear, and the lake reaches a depth of 70 m (230 feet). It is fed by several streams, most of its contents come from underground sources.

The catchment is inhabited by two main ethnic groups, the Foe to the south and the Fasu to the north. Thirty-three villages lie in the catchment area, with a total estimated population of 10,885.

The lake gave its name to the nearby Kutubu Oil Project, Papua New Guinea's first commercial oilfield development, operated by Oil Search Limited, and which began production in 1992.

The development has supported the local economy, and caused a general in-migration to the area, and ecological problems resulting from rapid population growth, including pollution, forest destruction and overfishing. 

A proposed gas pipeline and road are expected to exacerbate these problems unless they are well-managed.




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