Papua New Guinea
Mendi (Capital of the Southern Highlands)
Mendi is the capital of the Southern Highlands Province and is wedged between impressive limestone peaks. The headwaters of the Kikori, Erave and Strickland Rivers cross the Province, beneath towering Mt Giluwe, the second highest mountain in Papua New Guinea.

The Southern Highlands is a land of lush, high valleys wedged between impressive limestone peaks. The headwaters of the Kikori, Erave and Strickland rivers cross the province, beneath towering Mt Giluwe, the second highest mountain in Papua New Guinea. International caving expeditions have discovered caves of enormous depth and length and anticipate further significant finds in areas yet to be explored.

This cool alpine setting is the home of the Huli and Duna Wigmen. Famous for their elaborate and colourful dress, these proud warriors have great reverence for birds, imitating them in ceremonial dances and decorating their wigs with feathers, flowers and cuscus fur. The wigs, are woven from human hair, donated by wives and children. Everlasting daisies are especially cultivated for use in the wigs, while their faces are painted with yellow and ochre. The women, by contrast wear black for their wedding and coat themselves with blue-grey clay when mourning.

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Clans in the Southern Highlands have a strong and intricate social system little affected by change. It is one of the few places where the traditional way of life can be seen in everyday living. Ceremonial rituals are strongly observed. Men and women can still be seen wearing traditional dress, tending their gardens and pigs and building their bush material huts. Visitors to the tribal wonderland of the Southern Highlands can stay in a variety of accommodation from basic guest houses to luxurious mountain lodges.

Accommodation at the Ambua Lodge in the Tari Basin is in luxury bush material huts, set on a hillside of flowering gardens with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest. The crisp mountain air is perfect for taking advantage of the many guided tours organised by the lodge. Walk along rainforest tracks to go bird watching, take a trip in a dug-out canoe down the river to see the waterfalls or go by four wheel drive to visit a village and watch a traditional singsing.

South of Mendi, the capital of the Province, is Lake Kutubu. The beauty of this tranquil setting can be enjoyed from the Lake Kutubu Lodge, situated on a ridge overlooking the lake. The Lodge built by the local people to allow visitors to observe traditional life in comfortable surroundings is constructed of bush materials. Butterflies and Bird of Paradise are common in this area. The Lodge will arrange tours to some of the beautiful rivers and waterfalls nearby.

Warm cloths and wet weather gear are recommended for visitors to the Highlands and, particularly for women, conservative dress would be considered more appropriate, ie. long skirts rather than shorts and a sarong over swimsuit when swimming.

SUMMARY
Population: 316 987 citizens and 450 expatriates.
Land area: 23 800 square km.
Members in Parliament: 9.
Headquarters: Mendi.

Districts; citizens; major languages:

  • Ialibu; 30 093; Kewa, Imbong'gu, Wiru.
  • Kagua; 45 496; Kewa, Sau, Wiru, Podopa.
  • Koroba; 40 108; Duna, Huli, Hewa.
  • Mendi; 57 102; Angal (Mendi).
  • Nipa; 65 453; Angal, Foi, Fasu.
  • Pangia; 24 459; Wiru.
  • Tari; 54 276; Huli, Kaluli.