Getting there & around
See the relevant towns for flight details in and out of the Highlands.
The most important road in PNG starts in Lae and runs up into the central Highlands. Where the highway ends depends on your definition. As a decent road, it now continues to Tari, in a rougher condition to Koroba and in still rougher condition to Lake Kopiago. The highway is sealed as far as Mt Hagen and, in parts, between Mt Hagen, Mendi and Wabag.
The road up from Madang runs through the flat lands of Morobe before it joins the Highlands Hwy just east of Watarais. Past Goroka the road continues through the valley to Asaro, then climbs steeply to the Daulo Pass (2450m), and continues twisting and turning all the way to Mt Hagen, Kundiawa and the Wahgi Valley.
Between Mt Hagen and Mendi the road is spectacular; you skirt Mt Giluwe, PNG’s second-highest mountain (4368m), and go through some beautiful valleys. After Mendi you pass ceremonial grounds, a suspension bridge over the Lai River, the stunning Poroma Valley and ultimately climb the 2900m pass overlooking the wide and fertile Tari Basin. The road deteriorates after Tari.
A fork in the road after Mt Hagen goes to Wabag, and this stretch has some incredibly jagged mountains and fierce rivers. A reasonable road runs north from Mt Hagen through the spectacular Baiyer Gorge to Baiyer River and a good road branches off the Mendi road and continues on to Wabag and Porgera.
In 2008 the long anticipated Southern Highlands Gulf Highway will connect Kikori in the Gulf Province to the Highland Highway near Mendi. Undoubtedly PMVs will soon travel these previously inaccessible lands.
PMV travel from the coast to Goroka and Mt Hagen is safe, easy and cheap. It’s also incredible country to drive through. PMVs don’t go anywhere unless they’re packed to the brim, so expect a squeeze. They usually leave from the main market area in town, and drop you at the market area of the next town, although the driver will often take you to where you’re staying if you ask politely.