The Papua New Guinea Highlands region will bring you in contact with the local tribesmen who still live mostly as subsistence farmers as they have for hundreds of generations. The region as its name suggests, is located among the ranges of the Owen Stanly mountains and central Papua New Guinea. This region consists of a number of long fertile valleys where high ridges of mountains separate one from another. These valleys are the most populated regions and the main towns are Mount Hagen and Goroka. The mountain people here are ethnically different from the Papua New Guineans who live in the coastal regions and this is the region where some of the most primitive cultures left on the planet still exist. The area can be accessed by air from Port Moresby or the north coast or by road from Madang or Lae. A four wheel drive vehicle is essential as roads in the region have very poor maintenance and accidents are common. The Climate in the highlands is much more temperate than along the coast and a wide range of produce is grown here.
The scenery in the highlands region is spectacular with towering mountain peaks of which Mt Willhelm is the highest at 14880 feet. Valleys carry the rushing headwaters of a number of the major river systems and rainfall in the area is high. White water rafting tours on the Wahgi River and the Mendi River are available but only for the very experienced. The Western Highlands have modern hotel accommodation surrounded by a panorama of coffee and tea plantations and a wildlife sanctuary at the Baiyer River houses the largest collection of birds of paradise in captivity. All tourists should try to visit Mt Hagen during the annual show, when thousands of local tribesmen gather here in native dress which includes spectacular costumes made from Bird of Paradise feathers and furs from local animals. The festival includes displays of local dances and the warriors carry stone axes, spears and timber shields complete with designs that reflect their ancient cultures.
The village of Kokoda marks the beginning of the Kokoda Track which is the historic trail along which allied forces fought and defeated the Japanese invaders during world war two. Many Australians join organized tours that fly people into Kokoda each year and make the arduous trek along the track and back to Port Moresby.
The Papua New Guinea Highlands are one of the essential places that you must visit during a holiday to Papua New Guinea.