Located in the wide expanse of the Wahgi Valley, Mt. Hagen is the provincial capital for the Western Highlands. Convenient air service from all corners of Papua New Guinea make it the gateway to the Highlands. Mt.
Located in the wide expanse of the Wahgi Valley, Mt. Hagen is the provincial capital for the Western Highlands. Convenient air service from all corners of Papua New Guinea make it the gateway to the Highlands. Mt. Hagen was the first Highlands settlement to have contact with Westerners in the 1930s and has since grown into an important coffee and tea producing area.
The Mt. Hagen produce market is one of the biggest in Papua New Guinea. It is a crowded, colorful meeting place which attracts people from all over the province. It is not unusual to see locals in traditional dress. Excursions to the traditional Chimbu Players and the Asaro Mudmen villages during your tour of Papua New Guinea can be arranged from Mt. Hagen. These wildly exotic tribes are but two of hundreds of distinct tribes that inhabit PNG, each with their own distinct language, unintelligible to tribes that may lie a mere valley away. This is what makes Papua New Guinea so unusual in the world: nowhere else is ther such a density of unique, small tribal bands living so closely to each other.
You may choose to visit Mt. Hagen during the annual August Highlands Cultural Show, also known as the Mt. Hagen Sing-Sing. Sing-sings are where different and often antagonistic tribes come together to sing and dance in their distinct, elaborate traditional costumes, and compete for prestige against other tribes. Participants take exceptional pride in representing their tribe's unique garb and rituals. A sing-sing is an unparalled pageant, a psychedelic smorgasbord of ritualized ancient theater paraded to vocal accompaniment. The chanting of each tribe is alternately haunting, happy or warlike, and ranges from dizzying whoops to subtle, wind-like murmurs. Far from being a staged event for tourists, sing-sing competitions have a long tradition, and jealous losers have in the past been known to wage actual war on the winning tribe. Accommodations fill up quickly, so if you wish to attend the show, please book your Papua New Guinea travel about one year in advance.