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Highlands Region Attractions

The Highlands – is the most heavily populated and agriculturally productive region of PNG. It’s remarkable and beautiful, with fertile valleys, turbulesnt rivers and seemingly endless, saw-toothed mountains –It is difficult to visualize that only quiet recently did the outside world come to really discover the diverse and attractively inventive tribes that live here.

A series of fertile valleys and rugged mountains, this region takes in the Eastern, Southern and Western Highlands, and the Simbu, Enga, and newly created provinces Jiwaka and the Hela. The country’s most densely populated region is known for its coffee plantations, cultural diversity and beautiful orchids, and is home to many rare animals, insects and bird species, including the brilliantly plumed birds of paradise. The people of the highlands are renowned for their colourful headdresses and traditional arts and crafts. More than 700 cultures, each with their own different traditions, have been identified in this diverse region.

Eastern Highlands Province
Goroka is the provincial capital, with its history of gold mining and coffee plantations. The province is known for its annual Goroka Show, held on Independence Day in mid-September. Thousands of painted tribes people bedecked in feathers, grass skirts and other traditional costumes, come together for a huge ‘sing sing’. The province also contains several of the country’s major river systems – the Ramu River, and the Waghi and Aure river systems.

Things to see

  • Goroka: Lying at 1600m, this attractive town built around the airport has pleasant temperatures for walking. On Saturdays, the market, across the park on the side of the Highlands Highway, is very colourful and busy as people trade, fruit, vegetables, pigs, feathers, small animals and ferns.
  • Raun Raun Theatre: Home to a Goroka-based theatre company, this circular building located in the park opposite the market is the place to see live performances.
  • JK McCarthy Museum: Excellent displays of artefacts, pottery, weapons, war memorabilia and a collection of photos taken when Mick Leahy first came to the area in 1939 make this small museum a must see. It’s located across the airstrip on Morchhauser Street.
  • Arts & Crafts: Baskets, highland hats, bilums, spears, bows and arrows and necklaces are available from the museum, from the footpath outside, and inside the lobby of Bird of Paradise Hotel. Other places to look are the Christian Bookshop, the Prision Rehab Shop behind the Police Station and the art department of University of Goroka.
  • Goroka Show: Each year on Independence Day in mid-September thousands of painted tribes- people gather to display their traditional cultures at a huge ‘sing sing’. There are ground-shaking dances, bands and other cultural attractions - a sight not to be missed.
  • Coffee Plantations: Tours of plantations and processing plants are a good way to see some of the outlying villages.
  • Asaro Mudmen: Villagers once used weird mud masks to scare their enemies and will show these off for visitors.
  • Fimito: This lush valley 10km south of Goroka has a 9-hole golf course, pretty villages, coffee plantations and a go-cart track.
  • Lufa: A cave near here have interesting cave paintings and the village makes a good base for climbing Mount Michael (3380m).
  • Kainantu: Strung along the highway this small town is a key service centre for the local coffee and cattle producers. Located on the Lae side of town, the Eastern Highlands Cultural Centre sells crafts and has a small museum and coffee shop.
  • Ukurampa: The Summer Institute of Linguistics is based here in the is based here in the Aiyura Valley, a 30-minute drive from Kainantu. It’s a pleasant place for day walks and the Institute has a guesthouse.
  • Okapa: Traditional culture can be seen in the nearby Yagusa Valley. In town, Highlands Handicrafts sells bark paintings and crafts typical of the area. The Eastern Highlands Mission has a guesthouse for those wanting to do walks, birdwatching, see wildlife or visit villages.

Things to do

Birdwatching/adventure: For a remote experience, visit Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area to the South of Goroka. The people of Herowana and Hubaigubi villages can act as guides. You can fly to Herowana or reach Ubaigubi by road. Trekking between villages is only for the experienced.

Enga Province
Beyond Mt Hagen is Enga Province with its steep mountains, high valleys and fast flowing rivers. Enga has one of the world’s largest open-cut mines - Pogera Mine. Wabag is the provincial capital and hosts the region’s annual Enga Festival in August. Coffee is an important crop.

Things to see

  • Wabag: Tribal fighting is still common in Enga, a rugged mountainous province that has little development apart from coffee and the huge Porgera Mine in the west. The road from Mt Hagen to Wabag traverses some spectacular country and crosses Kaugel Pass at almost 3000m.
  • Wabag Cultural Centre: Wabag has a large cultural centre, art gallery and workshop where you can watch artists making sand paintings, an art form unique to Enga Province. Using ground stone as a medium, the sand painters create landscapes and legendary figures on a base of wood or plasterboard. Wigs, masks and war shields from many parts of the country can be seen in the museum. The centre is open 9am-4pm weekdays.
  • Enga Festival: Held in August, this is a scaled-down version of the Goroka and Mt Hagen Shows.
  • Porgera: Porgera is PNG’s biggest mine and it produces both gold and silver in open-cut and underground operations. There is a range of accommodation at town.
  • Laiagam: A research station and botanic gardens with a huge orchid collection are the attraction here. The village is located a short way off the road to Porgera.
  • Kumul Lodge: Kumul Lodge is situated near the foot of Mountain Hagen which is a haven for bird of paradise. It is a wildlife and bird-watching spot.

Things to do
Walking/trekking: Lake Rau, a beautiful crater lake at nearly 3000m, is reached from Pumas village above Laiagam.

Simbu Province
Bordered by Madang to the north and the Gulf to the south, Simbu is the heart of the Highlands and home to the country’s highest mountain, Mount Wilhelm (4509m). The climb to the summit is a highlight, affording panoramic views over the highlands. Kundiawa, the provincial capital sits beside an airstrip built on a sloping ridge beneath the towering mountains. The terrain is extremely rugged, with many of the valleys inaccessible.

Things to see

  • Kundiawa: There are basic facilities in town, which was the first government station in the Highlands. The market is located on a side road between the Shell Service Station and the Police Station.
  • Kegsugl: The road to Kegsugl at the base of Mt Wilhelm snakes through rugged country patched work with gardens on impossibly steep slopes. Several very pleasant guesthouses cater for trekkers and make a good base for exploring other villages. One of them, Betty’s Lodge, has its own trout and rabbit farm.
  • Caves: Close to Kundiawa there are several caves used as burial sites. Nambaiyufa in the Chuave district of Simbu Province has The Nambaiyufa amphitheatre, which has rock paintings, and the Keu area caves near the main road, are close to Chuave Station. Other large caves in the area are more suited to experienced cavers.
  • Mt Wilhelm: Things to do
    Walking/trekking: Mount Wilhelm (4509m) is a fantastic climb in a sub-alpine environment, made harder by the altitude. In clear weather the Madang coast can be seen from summit. It can be climbed from Kegsulg or traversed from remote Ambulla Village. Take guides and warm clothes. The three to four-day hike from Kegsulg to Bundi and Brahmin Mission in Madang Province is mainly on 4WD road with great views and plenty of forest. Bundi has accommodation and an airstrip.

Southern Highlands Province
Named ‘The Papuan Wonderland’ by explorers who discovered these hidden mountain valleys in 1935, the Southern Highlands contains lush, high valleys sandwiched between towering limestone peaks. The region’s most remote area, traditional cultures thrive here, particularly in the Tari Basin, where Huli and Duna Wigmen are famous for their elaborately decorated wigs and body art. The province contains the country’s second highest mountain, Mount Giluwe (4368m). Mendi is the capital.

Things to see

  • Mendi: Built around the airport in a lush high valley between tall peaks, this small town has essential services. Huli, Duna and other tribes’ people from this area are famous for their red and yellow face decorations and decorated wigs.
  • Mendi Market: Fridays and Saturdays locals come to town. The market is located by the main highway north of town across the bridge.
  • Artefacts: A shop near Mendi Bakery sells weapons, baskets and hand-loomed products.
  • Lake Kutubu: Butterflies and birds of paradise are plentiful around this beautiful, peaceful place and the friendly people live traditional lives. You can swim, visit villages or just enjoy the scenery. The closest airstrip at Moro is serviced by Airlines PNG from Port Moresby and Mount Hagen.
  • Tari: Saturday is when most Huli people come to market. The people are interesting and there are places to stay. Starting from lodges to village stays.
  • Wasi Falls Wildlife Management Area: Virgin rainforest here is rich in birds and wildlife. There are several waterfalls including the 100m Wasi Falls, and many caves.
    Things to do
    • Walking/trekking: Many people go walking from nearby Lake Kutubu and fly out from Pimaga. Alternatively you can walk about 20km from Pimaga to Gesege Village and go by canoe to the lodge at Tage Point. Walkers can also tackle Mount Giluwe (4368m), an old shield volcano and the country’s second highest mountain. Ialibu has a cultural centre and museum, and accommodation built by the local people, the Imbongu. Basket-making is a village industry here.
    • Birdwatching: There is birdwatching at Lake Kutubu and Wasi Falls. Ambua Lodge, surrounded by dense tropical rainforest, and Lakwandu Lodge, near Tari, also have good bird-watching.
    • Sightseeing Tours: Wigmen’s Lodge organise a range of guided tours. Walk along rainforest tracks to go bird-watching, take a trip down to the river to see the waterfalls or go by 4WD to visit a village and watch traditional singsing and other cultural activities

Western Highlands Proivince
West of Simbu, the Western Highland drop into the broad Wahgi Valley, the mist-shrouded peaks descending to lowland rainforest and alpine grasslands. The provincial capital, Mount Hagen hosts the annual Mount Hagen Show in August - one of the country’s most spectacular cultural displays of dancing and singing.

Things to see

  • Mount Hagen: Set in the large Waghi Valley, with its near villages, gardens, coffee plantations and groves of casuarinas, this busy town has a wild-west feel about it. All main banks and airlines have offices here. The market, located at the corner of Waghi Parade and Kum Road, is the place to see colourfully attired locals, particularly on Saturdays, as well as fresh produce, pigs, feathers, and the women wear an array of brilliant scarves and carry brightly coloured string bags, or billums. These are used to carry everything from babies to firewood.
  • Mount Hagen Show: Held in the third weekend of August, this amazing show is the place to see the fantastic traditional costumes and headdresses decorated with bird of paradise plumes and the cuscus fur that Waghi people wear.
  • Archeological Sites: The Kuk Valley is a site where land was first cultivated for gardening. Check with the Cultural Centre or hotels for permission to visit.

Things to do
Walking/trekking: Walks of various lengths can be arranged Travel Agent.

2012 Traditional Sing-sings and Festivities:

 2012 Mt Hagen Show Pkgs

 2012 Goroka Show Pkgs

 2012 Morobe Show Pkgs

 2012 PNG Mask Festival

 2012 Waghi Show Pkgs


Be ware! Good accommodations for the Mt Hagen Show and Goroka Shows are usually sold out months and years in advance before the actual dates of the shows. Its advisable to book early and secure your rooms. To secure your space for any of the packages on offer send us an email or call us on +675 5423552.


You can request a tailore-made itinerary through our Tailored Tours Form. Our tailor-made programs can suit any budget, duration and places of interest. Call us on +675 5423552 or send us an email at sales@letpng.com.


Remote places like the Lake Kutubu pictured here offers an experience of pure escapism and relaxation.



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