Dangers & Annoyances
Parts of the PNG Highlands are genuinely high in altitude. You should give yourself a few days’ acclimatisation at lower altitudes before taking on any serious mountain climbing or excessive physical activities if you are to avoid acute mountain sickness.
Bus travel through the Highlands is not necessarily dangerous, but there is an element of risk. Very occasionally there are hold-ups, buses are ambushed and the passengers are robbed. Ritual warfare has always been an integral part of Highlands life and to this day payback feuds and land disputes can erupt into major conflicts. During times of political tension and tribal war seek advice from the police and locals in each town before heading to the next town in a PMV (public motor vehicle). West of Mendi can be particularly volatile, so either avoid overland travel or seek local advice.
Parts of the Highlands are designated ‘dry regions’ and alcohol cannot be purchased outside licensed premises, such as hotels, clubs and resorts. However, there’s a booming blackmarket in beer and all of PNG has a problem with wickedly strong, home-brewed alcohol and violence.