Southern Highlands Province is made up of lush, high valleys between towering limestone peaks. Mt Giluwe (4367m), the second-highest mountain in PNG, sits on the province’s northeastern border. The limestone hills and high rainfall are ideal for the formation of caves. Some caves of enormous depth and length have already been explored and it is a distinct possibility that some of the deepest caves in the world are still awaiting discovery in this region.

The Mendi area is the most developed region of the Southern Highlands (but the Tari area has more attractions for travellers). Europeans did not explore it until 1935, and it was 1950 when the first airstrip was constructed and 1952 before tribal warfare was prohibited. The Mendi tribes then focused their attention on attacking government patrols and were still fighting them in the mid-1950s.