By Ingrid Kuman

The sounds of birds singing their morning majestic calls rang across the misty camping and picnic site of Iarokrai rapids in the Sogeri plateau. I’ve been an avid visitor to Sogeri as a Moresby resident since childhood, it is the usual weekend gateway, with a variety of activities and sites to visit, fresh produce to indulge in and friendly locals, makes it hard not to stay away for too long. After hearing stories of an ancient “tumbuna” stone markings site on the stone like half-cave, I decided it was time to pack a change for the night, trekking shoes and head up to Iarokrai for a camping and trekking trip over the weekend with friends.

I had only recently discovered the beauty of Iarokrai Rapids, discreetly nestled in a disguise of red clay ground, it is situated a few kilometers down the road past the overly popular Crystal Rapids picnic area, just a stone throws away from Sirinumu dam. The custodian of this beauty of a gem is a young, energetic man, filled with passion to empower his youth in the community by providing income earning opportunities through Tourism and Agriculture. Billy Marks has been welcoming visitors to his picnic spot since 2017 and has gradually seen a steady increase of visitors over the past years, many of whom, are Port Moresby residents.

Billy had told me about these stone marking on a previous trip to Iarokrai Rapids, this was enough to intrigue the senses and I knew I just had to go back, this time with trekking shoes in tow. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, just after 7 pm at Iarokrai and were met with an eight-men tent setup and a huge fire lit and roaring away with the cool misty lawns in the backdrop. Dinner and stories around the camp fire followed suit until it was time to head to bed for an early start the next morning. Billy has already organized guides who were the local custodians of the stone writing site, four lean middle-aged men, were bright and early at the camping site by 6 am ready to go, when we were. After coffee and some biscuits, shoes were on and off we went. A water crossing and the first steep climb of the trek had me questioning my intentions of the day instantly, but power on we did and boy, was it worth it. The trek to the stone writing site took approximately two (2) hours, weaving through lush forests, dodging fallen branches and incredible rock formations, the makeshift tree bridge crossing brought an adrenaline rush at first sight, that quickly subsided as I negotiated my steps across with a witty sense of accomplishment once I had reached the other side.

Two hours later we reached the stone writing site and it absolutely blew our minds. Stone markings that were possibly hundreds of years old, untold stories that held the secrets of customs and traditions of the years gone. My heart sunk when we heard of the oral history being lost and the people, to whom this history belongs, could not tell us the stories behind these markings, only mere assumptions of what the drawings could perhaps mean. I left that day with a sense of appreciation of how incredibly important oral history is in a society such as ours, entwined in such rarity, bestowed with a culture so ancient and customs, traditions so sacred it could humble the proudest. Staring at those markings made me so eager to know what story it told, but I guess, some things are better left unsaid.

The trek back to the Iarokrai rapids was a good one and a half hours, shorter and less intense than the trek to the stone writing site with a quick stop enroute on the top of the range, the view was absolutely breathtaking to say the least. When we returned to our camping site at Iarokrai rapids, a good feed and a dip in the cool rapids was on the top of the to-do list. Once all post-trekking satisfactions were met, we sat back on our camping chairs and marveled at an incredible experience the short-trek was, a breath of fresh air to invigorate the soul, renewal of the sense, it was truly therapy in a trek.

If you live in Port Moresby or are visiting, make the trip up to Sogeri, channel your inner adventure spirit and experience something new.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend escape for a day or a camping site to take in the beauty of Sogeri, the lush green lawns make it the perfect ad hoc rugby field or running track for kids, the BBQ facilities are just perfect to get a hearty meal on the table after a cool dip in the fast-flowing green-clear rapids. If your kids are energetic and love to explore, the traditional Koiari tree house, kayaks and swings in the area are ideal to keep them busy.

The beauty of Iarokrai Rapids is effortless, but the passion and vision Billy and his family have to make this site an attraction that stands out, is what makes a trip to Iarokrai special.

After all, this is the land of a million different journeys.

  • Contact for camping bookings or stone site short-trek: Billy Marks (675) 71832335 or find them on Facebook: Iarokrai Rapids. Open Monday-Friday and Sunday

Sogeri’s Best Kept Secret Iarokrai Rapids 3

Our trekking guides for the day

Sogeri’s Best Kept Secret Iarokrai Rapids 4

Stone writing site