Papua New Guinea Mount Hagen Festival & Bougainville Tour
Have you ever wanted to come face to face with fierce tribal warriors, head-hunters or a witch doctor? If so, or if you simply want to explore and experience one of the most remote parts of earth, come and experience the truly remarkable Mt Hagen Festival in Papua New Guinea!
On this tour, now a yearly classic, YPT will be taking full advantage of the festival celebrations allowing you to see the traditional New Guinean life in all its feathered glory. The Mt. Hagen Show, which goes on for three days, consists of hundreds of tribes from all over the island showcasing their tribe’s traditional dress and dancing.
During the tour, we will stop by the capital, Port Moresby where you will meet your guide and fellow travellers over drinks at the yacht club, before heading deep into the interior to one of the most isolated parts of the world.
Lots of tourists fly into Mount Hagen, see the show and leave, we want to give you a better taste of the PNG. We will head deeper into the highlands, visiting the cities of Goroka and Lae. We’ll break bread with the locals over a pig mumu feast and participate in smaller scale festivals. Break away from the resorts and experience real Papua New Guinea!
In Group B, we will be exploring one of YPT’s favourite secret, the island of Bougainville. Bougainville is extremely distinct from mainland Papua, with its own cultures and languages. It is also a land of adventure with not even a proper city around. There, we’ll go thick in the jungle hunting not only abandoned tanks and cannons but also the pride of WWII relics hunter: the planewreck of Admiral Yamamoto. Bougainville is a pristine part of the world with peaceful lodges and incredible snorkelling, which we will partake in fully!
Don’t miss out on this incredible chance to see one of the least explored parts of the world!
Flights in this part of the world are often prompt to cancellations but can also sell out quite quickly. We recommend booking the tour early so that we can secure your included flights but waiting until two months before the tour before booking your flights to and out of Port Moresby. In the event of included flights selling out or rising two months before the tour, YPT reserves the right to review the tour price for late bookings.
Single Supplement (USD)
Group A: Mont Hagen only
Group B: Mont Hagen and Bougainville
*Twin room have not yet made it to Bougainville and as such, accommodation there will be single or double rooms (for couples)
Meet your YPT guide in the hotel in Port Moresby at 4pm.
Head out for a group dinner and some drinks at the new waterfront boardwalk. We will discuss the trip in more detail and it will also give you a chance to get to know your YPT guide and fellow travellers.
Overnight in Port Moresby
Wednesday 12th August – Mount Hagen
Early morning transfer to the airport to catch our flight to Mt. Hagen with PNG Airlines departing at 8:30 am and arriving in Mt. Hagen at 9:30am.
Upon arrival, we will meet our local guides and transfer to our hotel for check in
After check-in, you will go on a guided city tour to Mt Hagen main market and visit the fresh produce market where you can see all kinds of tribal artefacts unique to the interior of the New Guinea highlands
Afterwards we head out into the surrounding mountains for more sightseeing and we will see different kinds of wildlife, much of it unique to PNG, like birds of paradise, highland echidnas and cassowaries if we are lucky.
Head back to Mt Hagen for dinner and overnight
Thursday 13th August – Mount Hagen
We go deep into the highlands jungle to join villagers as they will prepare a celebration for our arrival.
The villagers will prepare pig mumu for us. Pig mumu involves the slaughtering of a pig, which is then prepared and cooked in a hole under hot rocks along with yam and corn. While we wait for it to cook, the villagers will introduce us to different customs and traditional skills such as fire making and archery.
After a massive feast, we will go for a trek to the nearby waterfall where we can swim and enjoy ice cold water.
Head back to Mt. Hagen for dinner at a Kaibar, local hole in the wall kind of restaurant and overnight.
Friday 14th August – Mount Hagen
After breakfast at 9am, we will drive out to the Luglamp community.
Today we will get the chance to mingle with villagers of this community at their school’s cultural day. It is like a mini-Mount Hagen festival organized by students, teachers and administrators of the community. Contrary to Mount Hagen Festival, you can expect us to be the only foreigners in sight!
Drive back to Mt. Hagen (1 hour)
Lunch in a local restaurant in Mount Hagen
Visit of a local coffee plantation and factory. Mount Hagen is renowned around PNG but also the world for the quality of the beans they produce here.
We head back to the city for dinner at the Highlander Hotel
Overnight back at our hotel.
Saturday 15th August – Mount Hagen
Today is the big day! We head to the local football ground which will turn into the site hosting the Mount Hagen festival. We get there early to make sure we can witness the members of different tribes dressing up and preparing their costumes.
Participate for a full day with a street food lunch outside the hotel. We can partake in traditional games and get to wear traditional makeup (extra charge)
This will be your chance to get up and close with the Huli Wigmen a tribe that wears extremely elaborate headdresses made from their own hair and other materials.
After the show in the afternoon we will head back to the hotel for dinner.
Overnight in Mt Hagen
Sunday 16th August – Mount Hagen
Another day at the show, this time with a chance to see the Waipa dance also known as the “big jump” dance which is a mass dance only found in PNG, quite an awesome sight and definitely a highlight.
Lunch at Banz Cafe, just beside the show.
Night out in Mt Hagen to celebrate the end of the festival and tour, we will go for dinner and drinks partying PNG style!
Overnight in Mt Hagen
Monday 17th August – Goroka
Today, we leave Mount Hagen for good as we will take our hired bus to see more of the highlands regions, stopping on the way for multiple photo opportunities.
We will stop for lunch in the city of Goroka. Goroka is the site of the other big festival in PNG and its oldest one.
We stop by the J.K McCarthy Museum in the city which is made up of several rooms showcasing everything from WWII relics and traditional PNG objects. A highlight of the exhibition is a collection of photos showing PNG as it was when it had its first contact with Australians in 1930s.
Overnight in Goroka
Tuesday 18th August – Lae
After resting well in Goroka, we take our bus and head to the beautiful coastal town of Lae , the capital of in Morobe Province.
This road trip will take us through incredible sceneries through the thick of the jungle and up the mountains.
Once through the mountains, we’ll be driving down Shaggy Ridge and through Ramu Valley. Some of the fiercest combat between the Australian and Japanese forces happened here, during World War II.
We will get off our bus to stretch our leg and have a picnic in the wilderness of the Ramu Valley.
We arrive in Lae early afternoon.
We go on a city tour of Lae including a visit of the WWII cemetary there but also stop by the coast where we will see the shipwreck of the Myoko Maru, as well as a Japanese War Memorial.
Lae is one of the busiest cities of Papua New Guinea and an important trade centre, as the capital is not connected to the Highland Provinces, most freight comes by boat from the capital to Lae.
Dinner at our hotel in Lae and overnight
Wednesday 19th August – Port Moresby/Buka
We take an early flight at from Lae back to Port Moresby.
End of tour for Group A. Many international connections are available from Port Moresby such as flights to Australia, Singapore, the Philippines and Hong Kong. YPT can assist you in further adventures to the rest of the Pacific!
For those who continue onwards to Bougainville, we meet our new group members at the airport and catch our next flight to Buka.
Arrival at Buka airport where we will be met and greeted by our local Bougainville team and escorted to our accommodation at Masalang Village
After resting and settling down for a while, we will tour around the village and visit a traditional clay pot making place.
Lunch at a local restaurant
In the afternoon, we will take a bus ride to Kubu where we will see the parliament house and access a gorgeous viewpoint allowing us to observe the whole of Buka passage, a strait filled with shipwrecks of WWII.
On our way back we will stop to visit ruins of Japanese WWII bunkers in Hahela.
Dinner and overnight in Masalang village
Thursday 20th August – Buka/Arawa
After breakfast, we will ride our bus to a historical site located next to the police station in Buka Town. This site is known as the Mass graveyard for the Bougainville Revolutionary Army during the Bougainville civil war. Our local guide will take this time to explain to us what has happened during those troubled times.
We hop on an iconic banana boat and cross the Buka passage.
On the other side, called Kokopau, we will take a 4 hour 4WD ride to Arawa with stops along the highway for photo opportunities and visit a roadside market
Just before we arrive in Arawa we will go through the decommissioned Panguna Mine. It used to be the biggest open cut mine in the world with a width of 2 kilometres and a depth of 430 metres. In fact, it was the farmers protests for its closure in 1989 which sparked the secessionist movement in Bougainville and the Civil War. Locals still come here to pan, hoping to find gold. We will visit the abandoned installations of this monstrous monument to careless exploitation.
Then, we continue driving to the Siwai region until we reach Panakei Lodge, where we have dinner.
Overnight in Panakei Lodge
Friday 21st August – Siwai Region
We wake up in Panakei for breakfast and head out for a village tour.
In the morning, we’ll go WWII relic hunting! Bougainville was a the centre of the Pacific Campaign and here the Australian and American forces were locked in a brutal fight. During our relic hunt, we’ll see an Australian tank, cannons, artillery and a small museum, where a local exposes the artefacts he finds regularly.
Then, we head to one of the nearby villages where the locals have organised a singsing for us. If you’ve been to Papua New Guinea, you’ll find that the style here is very different and quite lively!
We visit another village for another great performance, this time of a bigger size. The locals here get very few tourists so they are very eager to perform, which is very different from the jaded cultural performances you’ll find elsewhere in the world.
The village has arranged for us a feast of local food. Bougainvillian eat mostly yam, other root vegetables and chicken. We might have the opportunity to try other very special delicacies.
TRIP HIGHLIGHT – Having arranged our visas well in advance, we visit the micronation of the Twin Kingdom of Me’ekamui and Papaala. During the Civil War, after the takeover of the Panguna man, leader of the rebellion Francis Ona owned half of the island and proclaimed himself king of Me’ekamui. Another man, now known as King David Peii II, proclaimed the kingdom of Papaala, upon’s Francis Ona’s passing, David Peii II combined Me’ekamui and Papaala into one Twin Kingdom. Now, the Kingdom rules over a village. The kingdom has its own currency and defense force and the king wears an actual crown of gold. We will be the first tourist group to ever set foot there!
Head to the Hurai Guesthouse for dinner. Located right under a Digicel satelite tower, this guesthouse probably has the best network signal on the island.
Overnight at Hurai Guesthouse.
Saturday 22nd of August – Buin Region
After breakfast this morning, we will drive down south to the region of Buin.
We drive as far as we can go before we get off and start our trek to nothing less than the plane wreck of Admiral Yamamoto. Admiral Yamamoto was the leader of the Japanese Army who design the attack against Pearl Harbor, effectively declaring war against the USA during WWII. One day, as he was on a tour to review the troop, his itinerary got intercepted and an ambush was design to attack him. Admiral Yamamoto’s plane crashed in the jungle here and we’ll get to see it. The trek takes about 2 hours each way but is on easy flat terrain. Bugs are not an issue either. Things will get very muddy though! We’ll see multiple kinds of scenery and are sure to meet some very curious locals.
Successful in our outing to Yamamoto’s wreck, we drive south to the coastal area.
Here, we will see some more japanese war relics, such as a bunker and cannons. From the beach, it is possible to see the first islands of the Solomon Islands. Locals take boat and cross into the nearby islands of the Solomon, which share a lot of their culture with Bougainville. Some would say that Bougainvillians feel more like Solomon Islands than Papua New Guineans.
We drive back towards Arawa, which used to be the capital and take a boat to cross to Pokpok Island, stopping on the road to buy some drinks!
Check in at Uruna Resort to drop our baggages before we head out for an afternoon of Island Hopping.
After a day of trekking, there is literally nothing more heavenly than Uruna Resort. The nicest accommodation on our tour, we’ll be on a pristine island between us and not a single other tourist around. Water are crystal clear and everything is so peaceful. Anywhere else in the world, this place would be a tourist hotspot!
Dinner of fresh fish prepared just for us.
Our own little island party!
Overnight at Uruna Beach Resort
Sunday 23rd of August – Pokpok Island/Arawa
After breakfast, we’ll go Island Hopping, we can swim, snorkel and fish in untouched waters where snorkelling is so good it feels like scuba diving! We are in one of the least visited part of the world!
Afterwards we‟ll get on a banana boat and travel to a cliff over the sea, called “Eberia”. “Eberia” literally translates as ‘’this way‟ in the local language and according to local folklore is rumoured to be the gateway to the Underworld. It is a truly unique and spooky sight. Then, we’ll stop and check the abandoned Arovo Island Resort. Its services were disrupted by the Civil War.
We go by boat by Pidia village, if you are familiar with the movie ”Mr. Pip”, staring Hugh Laurie, which tells the story of a girl in Pidia village going through the events of the Bougainville Civil War. It happened here!
On our way back on the mainland, we’ll stop by a WWII memorial by the town of Kieta where a zero plane and a Japanese tank are exposed.
We stop by Arawa market to meet the locals and shop for some souvenirs. Arawa was the capital of Bougainville before the Civil War but most of it was destroyed during the war.
We head to Topiniang village where we will finish our trip with a bang. Here villagers will welcome us to stay with them. Amongst other things, they will show us their flowers gardens as well as a live bridge made up of vines from a Ficus Tree. The most intrepid of us will get to cross this bridge which goes over a mountain stream and takes us to pools and caves waiting only for us to explore them.
Back in the village of Topinang, we will see women weaving a traditional fan called Biruko and relax in the afternoon by the beach.
The villagers will send us off with our own personal singsing and a night of storytelling
We have dinner and sleep in a homestay in the village.
Monday 24th of August – Kieta
After an early breakfast, we transfer to Kieta Airport to catch our morning flight back to Port Moresby.
End of tour, numerous international connections are available to Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and others.
– Visa (we can provide support if needed)
– International flights to and from Papua New Guinea
– Meals and drinks in Port Moresby and the Highlands
– Personal expenses
– Tips for the local guide
– Single supplement (€600)
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.