WHY VISIT THE HIGHLANDS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Arguably the true heart of PNG, the Highlands offer a huge variety of different and most renowned tribes. Huli wigmen and the Asaro Mudmen are to be found dwelling here.
About the highlands
PNG's largest populations of tribes people are found among the mountain valleys and rushing rivers of the Highlands. Surrounded by peaks, the pleasant town of Goroka has a “perpetual” spring like climate, with warm days and cool nights year-round. It’s also a great place for planning treks into the nearby jungles and caves, or arranging village stays. For an adventurous hike, take the four-day climb up Mt Wilhelm, the highest peak in PNG at just over 4,500m. On clear days, you can see both the north and south coasts from the summit.
The town of Tari in the Southern Highlands provides access to the spectacular Tari Valley, a renowned bird watching site. Tari is also one of the few towns where some people still wear traditional dress (though lots of people in rural areas still wear the garb of their ancestors). A visit to the Huli Wigmen, who spend 18 months growing their hair to make bushy wigs to sell, provides an entertaining introduction to a local talent for self-decoration that reaches its apogee in the “sing-sings” (festivals) in which clans gather for sell-out shows in towns such as Goroka and Mt Hagen.
The Goroka show is the country's most colourful festival features an unforgettable line-up of full tribal regalia, live bands and much merriment. Over 1,000 performers from 70 different tribes participate. Book travel plans well in advance. Slightly smaller than the sing-sing held in Goroka, the Mt Hagen Show is nevertheless one of PNG's most famous fests. Around 50 different tribes compete for top honours and prize money in magnificent costumes.
The best time to travel to the Highlands is between the dry seasons, during April to October.
- A walk in the Asaro Valley, renowned for its mudmen
- Journey through the traditions and customs of the Melpa people
- Fly between remote lodges in a light aircraft
- Witness a "sing-sing" and colourful traditional festivals