Miklouho-Maclay Expedition July-August 2023 to Lake Kutubu,
Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea

Expedition tasks and goals

  • To conduct research in the Southern Highlands Province (Lake Kutubu) to study the changes in indigenous culture since the XIX century
  • To study the impact of globalization on the society
  • Coordination of scientific and educational projects with leading scientific and educational institutions.

This new for Russian research region has a unique biodiversity: there are 12 species of endemic fish, birds-of-paradise, a centuries-old forest with trees over 50 meters high, which is inhabited by cassowaries, wild boars, tree-kangaroos, pythons, rare species of snakes and frogs.

«In addition, you can find there mushrooms and strawberries growing in the rainforest near the lake. The climate is different from the hot one in Madang, and the villagers have a place for a bonfire in their dwellings. Wedding traditions are also different there, for example, it is not forbidden to have more than one wife, unlike in the Madang region. Although the tradition is fading away, some men still practice it, having several wives and children from different villages, which allows them to maintain friendly communications between clans and have a special personal influence.

Traditional burials of skulls and bones are no longer practiced, but they were preserved there in two places, reminding with their appearance and rock drawings made with the blood of enemies about the former traditions of the warlike peoples who lived there. The history of the lake keeps many amazing legends, which we managed to record during fieldwork, and soon they will be published in my articles and on the Miklouho-Maclay Foundation YouTube Channel», – Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay shared his impressions.

Modern Miklouho-Maclay, Head of the South Pacific Center of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Miklouho-Maclay Foundation, managed to collect a series of rare household items, which will be added to his private collection and will be presented in the Miklouho-Maclay Online-Museum. 

As a public figure, Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay managed to coordinate the annual Miklouho-Maclay Festival. The festival “Open Hearts” will be held in friendly Papua New Guinea in the Madang region with the support of the Governor, who on behalf of the people of the Province sent an official letter of acceptance of the descendant of the great humanist as an honorary member of the Madang region as an «Honorable Citizen».

Before leaving for St. Petersburg, the PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay met at a Parliamentary Breakfast where, in presence of the Governors of all Provinces, the Head of the State in a personal conversation proposed to develop economic cooperation between Papua New Guinea and Russia. The support of the Prime Minister, as well as extensive contacts and influence of Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay, open doors for business in PNG, with which China, India, France, Australia and the United States are actively cooperating. The Leaders of these countries have personally visited Papua New Guinea this year, realizing its importance on a geopolitical level.

«Who are you, Nickolay? A diplomat or a scientist?» – James Marape asked. Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay replied that the mission of the Miklouho-Maclay Foundation is to foster respect for the cultures and traditions of the peoples, and knowledge of culture is the key to all-round cooperation for the benefit of science, humanity and the humanistic ideals that his ancestor preached.

Since this year, the Miklouho-Maclay Foundation also provides visa assistance for Russians wishing to visit Papua New Guinea.


“Miklouho-Maclay XXI Century. Maclay Coast 2023”. Research in Papua New Guinea continues with Miklouho-Maclay Jr.

During April-May 2023, the scientist, descendant and full namesake of the outstanding explorer of the South Pacific, Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay will be in an expedition in Papua New Guinea. 

Expedition goals

Study of the impact of globalization and modern socio-cultural and political processes on modern Papua New Guinean society.

Identification of the main areas for cooperation and prospects for the development of international relations between the Russian Federation and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Coordination of scientific, educational projects with the leading scientific educational institutions.

Expedition plans and tasks

Organizing and conducting fieldwork in the Madang region, the Maclay Coast, and investigating the changes that have occurred in the indigenous cultures of northeast New Guinea since the Russian expeditions in the XIX century, as well as in the villages of the Port Moresby capital region.

The expedition starts on 29 April 2023. The first point of the itinerary is Madang, then the traveler is going to travel to the Maclay Coast and visit the villages of Gorendu, Bongu, Gumbu, Male and Bil Bil Island.

Meetings with students and the academic community are planned at the universities in Madang and Port Moresby, as well as a screening of the new documentary “The Maclay Coast”.

A series of meetings with the scientific, business and political elite of the country is planned in the capital of Port Moresby: at the University of Papua New Guinea, the University Archives and the Russian Corner.

The expedition team is going to return to Russia on May 27.


Russia has a long-standing tradition of exploring the South Pacific and Papua New Guinea (PNG), starting with the first expedition of the Russian traveler N. N. Miklouho-Maclay in the XIX century, who, through his scientific and social activities for the rights and independence of the dark-skinned peoples of Oceania, became one of the most revered men in PNG.

In the XX century, the Soviet expeditions in 1971 and 1977 resulted in the release of a series of books and articles introducing the unique region, less affected by globalization.

In the history of Russia today, the tradition of studying and developing relations with PNG has continued thanks to the Miklouho-Maclay Foundation, which organized expeditions in 2017 and 2019 led by Miklouho-Maclay Jr.

The development of relations between the Russian Federation and Papua New Guinea in scientific, cultural, humanitarian spheres was based on materials and connections laid down in the course of modern scientific research and personal contacts of Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay Jr., who is honored there as well as his great ancestor.

During the period of COVID-19 restrictions, many projects and established relations were frozen because it seemed difficult to develop them remotely.

In the past few years, changes in the socio-cultural, economic and foreign policy processes in the region have been occurring quite rapidly, which requires the collection of factual material during field research and business meetings for analysis and presentation of factual information, in continuation of the historical scientific traditions.

The new expedition will contribute to the continuation of the traditions established by Russian scientists, to the development of friendly relations between the peoples of our countries, and to the analysis of the development at the present stage of the largest country of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

The expedition is organized by the Miklouho-Maclay Foundation with the support of the Association of the South Pacific Researchers.

More about the Foundation’s expeditions: https://mikluho-maclay.org/expeditions/



In April 2019, another research expedition to the Maclay Coast (Rai Coast), North-East of the New Guinea Island, took place. The expedition members made a deeper study of the various aspects of culture of the local residents – Papuans. What prompted the head of the Foundation, the great-grandnephew, to go again in this not a simple expedition with a team of scientists and documentary filmmakers? We asked Nickolay Nikolaevich about it.

“First of all, the locals themselves. Their first reception will always be in my heart. Our trip was not easy and it took six days to arrive instead of two. It is told about in the book “Journey to the Maclay Coast” and in the film “The Man from the Moon”. The trip was not easy, it is no accident that no one over the past 40 years has not organized a comprehensive scientific expedition. The latter one was organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1977 in the period of USSR.

The locals learned that Maclay’s descendant from far Russia was going to arrive and they gathered to meet me on the coast, where the scientist’s hut once located. More than 3,000 local residents gathered on the coast, filling all the surroundings. We were lucky to arrive on September 16, the day of Papua New Guinea’s Independence celebration. The participants sang their National Anthem and erected the Russian flag together with the flag of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG), so that the Russians learned how they kept the memory of the Russian pioneer. This was symbolic, because it was there 146 years ago when the great traveler erected the Russian flag, going to people who did not know by that time what iron was. We did not take the flag, all that was the merit of local residents who remembered Russia and passed the legends from mouth to mouth about Miklouho-Maclay. Our expedition encouraged them to create a society named after N.N. Miklouho-Maclay, and Maclay Jr. – to do everything possible to let Russians know how they keep the memory of the Russian pioneer. Who knows, maybe this sincere and respectful attitude towards Russia, which Miklouho-Maclay instilled, will become the basis for good relations at all levels between our countries in the business, scientific, humanitarian and cultural spheres.

Again, the expedition team accommodated in Gorendu village among the numerous descendants of Tui (the best friend of N.N. Miklouho-Maclay). During the field works the expedition members visited a number of other Papuan villages with a lot of amazing surprises. Besides the ethnologist, there was a linguist, because it was necessary to continue the tradition started by Miklouho-Maclay of learning the Bongu language by Russian scientists. Closer and more thorough acquaintance with the customs and traditions of Bonguans will make a significant contribution to the World Ethnography of Oceania. April is the hottest and wettest month on the Maclay Coast. It made the researchers’ work laborious, but at the same time, incredibly exciting and interesting”.



The first in the contemporary history of Russia research expedition on the trail of the Great traveler and humanist, scientist Nikolay Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay, was held in 2017. Today, it is already a history, and a year and a half ago, no one could think that it would have given not only an opportunity to conduct scientific research, but also served as an impetus for the establishment of cultural, scientific and humanitarian relations with the Island state, interested both for business and scientific communities around the world. The objectives of the expedition were the establishment of cultural ties and interaction with leading Universities in Papua New Guinea and Australia, scientific research, and the study of the cultural dynamics of the peoples of the Maclay Coast over the past 40 years since the last Russian expedition. The results of scientific research are being processed and will soon be presented to the scientific world and the public. During the expedition, unique photos and videos were made, which later became the basis for a documentary film.

Exibitions based on the materials from the expedition are regularly held in Russia and Papua New Guinea, which showcase the unique culture of the Island state, the history of ties between the two countries, traditions and discoveries of Russian researchers. Scientific papers based on the materials are being published. The expedition of scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences from Moscow and St. Petersburg under the leadership of Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay Jr. has actually revived continuity in Russia’s exploration of Papua New Guinea and established multilateral contacts which successfully develop in the scientific, educational, humanitarian and business spheres.