Wau Travel Guide

Discover the best places to visit, activities to do, and local culture of Wau, Papua New Guinea. Plan your trip with our comprehensive travel guide.

Introduction to Wau

Welcome to Wau, a small town located in the Madang-Morobe region of Papua New Guinea. This town is known for its rich history and natural beauty. Wau has a lot to offer to travelers, from thrilling outdoor adventures to culturally significant museums and historical places. In this travel guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to plan your trip to Wau.

List of Places to Visit in Wau

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Bulolo Heritage Museum: This museum showcases the region’s mining and cultural history. It displays artifacts, photographs, and documents detailing the story of Wau and the Bulolo Valley.
  • The Wau Ecology Institute: This institution is committed to researching and preserving the flora and fauna of the region. Visitors can learn more about the local ecosystem and the efforts to protect it.
  • Edie Creek War Cemetery: This cemetery holds the remains of soldiers who died during World War II. It overlooks picturesque views of the town and the surrounding mountains.

Natural Attractions of Wau: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Mount Wau: This mountain is popular among hikers and mountaineers. The summit offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the region.
  • Lake Bulolo: This lake is ideal for fishing, kayaking, and swimming. Visitors can enjoy the pristine nature and the tranquil atmosphere.
  • Black Cat Trail: This trail is an ancient track that served as a trade route between the highlands and the coast. It is a challenging but rewarding trek, with stunning views of the jungle and the mountains along the way.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Wau

Wau is a hiker’s and biker’s paradise. Here are some of the most popular routes:

  • Mount Missim Trail: This trail is a popular trek that leads to the summit of Mount Missim. It is a challenging but rewarding hike that takes about 6-8 hours to complete.
  • Wau-Bulolo Trail: This trail is relatively easy and leads through the pristine rainforest. It is also suitable for cyclists.
  • Black Cat Trail: As mentioned above, the Black Cat Trail is a challenging but rewarding hike that leads from Wau to Salamaua.

Best Things to Do in Wau: Activities and Tours

  • Visit the local markets: Wau has a vibrant marketplace where visitors can browse and purchase handmade crafts, homewares, and fresh produce.
  • Attend the Wau Ecology Institute’s events: The Wau Ecology Institute regularly hosts educational events and workshops that are open to the public.
  • Take a helicopter tour: For those seeking a unique perspective on the region, a helicopter tour over the mountains and valleys of Wau is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Week-Long Itinerary for Wau

Here is a suggested itinerary for a week-long trip to Wau:

Day 1: Visit the Bulolo Heritage Museum, stroll through the marketplace, and try local food.

Day 2: Hike the Mount Missim Trail or take a helicopter tour.

Day 3: Explore the Wau Ecology Institute and learn about the local ecosystem.

Day 4: Kayak or swim in Lake Bulolo.

Day 5: Visit Edie Creek War Cemetery and take in the scenic views.

Day 6: Cycle the Wau-Bulolo Trail or try white-water rafting.

Day 7: Rest and relax, or go on a Black Cat Trail hike.

Food and Drink Scene of Wau

Must-Try Dishes

  • Sago: A traditional dish made from palm starch and served with a variety of accompaniments.
  • Lu Lik: A fish dish that is grilled and served with a tangy sauce.
  • Roast pork: A dish that features roasted pork served with vegetables and rice.

Local Beverages

  • Papua New Guinea Coffee: Papua New Guinea is known for its high-quality coffee beans, which are grown in the highlands and exported around the world.
  • Coconut Water: Coconut water is a refreshing and healthy drink that can be found throughout the region.

Where to Stay in Wau: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Wau Guesthouse: This guesthouse offers comfortable and affordable rooms, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Pine Lodge: Pine Lodge is a popular hotel that offers luxurious accommodations and a range of amenities, including a swimming pool and an on-site restaurant.
  • Wau Ecology Institute Guesthouse: This eco-friendly guesthouse is owned by the Wau Ecology Institute and offers visitors a unique and sustainable lodging experience.

What to Buy in Wau: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Hand-carved wooden sculptures
  • Traditional woven baskets
  • Papua New Guinea Coffee

Local Culture and Customs of Wau

The people of Wau are friendly and welcoming, and visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in the local culture and customs. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Dress modestly: It is respectful to dress modestly in public spaces, covering your shoulders and knees.
  • Greet locals with a smile and a nod: Locals appreciate a friendly greeting.
  • Respect local traditions and customs: Be mindful of local customs and traditions, and seek the advice of locals if you are unsure about what is appropriate.

Best Time to Visit Wau

The best time to visit Wau is between May and October, during the dry season. The weather is cooler and drier during this time, making it perfect for outdoor adventures and sightseeing.

Do’s and Don’ts of Wau


  • Try local food and drinks.
  • Respect local customs and traditions.
  • Visit the museums and historical places to learn about the region’s rich history.


  • Wear revealing clothing in public areas.
  • Take photographs of someone without their consent.
  • Touch religious artifacts or disturb sacred sites.

Safety and Health

Safety in Wau

Wau is a safe town, but travelers should take precautions against petty crimes, such as theft or pickpocketing. Avoid carrying valuables in public areas and keep an eye on your belongings at all times.

Health in Wau

Visitors to Wau should be up to date on routine vaccinations, such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, as well as the hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines. It is also important to protect against insect bites and practice good hygiene to prevent food and waterborne illnesses.

Getting to Wau: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Wau

The closest airport to Wau is the Nadzab Airport, located 110 kilometers away. From there, visitors can take a bus or hire a taxi to reach Wau.

Bus Stations Near Wau

Wau has a small bus station that offers daily trips to nearby towns and cities. Buses are the most affordable and convenient way to travel around the region.

Other Options

Visitors can also hire private cars or join group tours to explore the region. Helicopter tours are also available for those seeking a unique and breathtaking experience.

How to Get Around in Wau

Walking is the best way to get around town, but taxis and public transportation are also available for trips outside of Wau.

Where to Go Next from Wau: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Mount Wilhelm: Located in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea, Mount Wilhelm is the highest peak in the country and a popular hiking destination.
  • Lae: Lae is the largest city in the Morobe Province and is known for its bustling markets and beautiful beaches.
  • Salamaua: Salamaua is a small town located on the coast, known for its beautiful beaches and ancient war relics.


Wau is a hidden gem in Papua New Guinea, brimming with natural beauty, fascinating history, and rich culture. This travel guide provides all the information you need to plan your trip to Wau. From museums and historical places to outdoor adventures and scenic views, Wau has something for everyone.