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The Highlands

Papua New Guinea
By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

Discover The Highlands

The Highlands, the country's most populated and fertile area, are divided into five provinces: Eastern Highlands (around Goroka), Simbu (around Kundiawa), Enga (around Wabag), Western Highlands (around Mount Hagen) and Southern Highlands (around Mendi). Most villages in the Highlands were only discovered from the 1930's onwards and the tribes have retained their traditions intact for the most part. The best time to go there is in August and September, so as to attend the great festivals of Mount Hagen and Goroka. The main road to visit the Highlands leaves from Lae and gets to Kainantu via Kassim Pass. It winds its way through the mountains to Goroka, follows the valley of the Wahgi and climbs up to Mount Hagen, and then all the way to Mendi, the valley of Poroma, Tari and Koroba. In Kainantu, visit East Highlands cultural centre, where you can buy quality handicraft. Close to Goroka, do not miss the village of Asaro and its famous "mud men", which have now turned into a tourist attraction. Kundiawa, in the Simbu province, is the starting point of rafting expeditions down the Wahgi river and to the mountains' natural caves. We would recommend in particular the Southern Highlands, around Mendi and Tari, where you can visit the villages of the Huli and Duna tribes, reputed for their body paintings and decorations, and the sumptuous landscapes around Lake Kutubu.