The Central Highlands

The Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea form a significant mountain range, which on the free PNG half of the island reach 4,509 metres at the peak of Mount Wilhelm; and 4,884m at the peak of Puncak Jaya on the Indonesian occupied half of the island.

The Central Highlands is the most populated part of the country, where fertile valleys and comfortable climate make for the best farming. There are 700 separate cultures here, including what is often voted the most colourful at festivals: the Huli Wigmen.

The Highlands also comprise a huge diversity of ecosystems, ranging from montane and upper montane tropical forest, to alpine meadows, shrublands and more. It is little surprise then that different Birds of Paradise are found in spread across these different ecological niches. One of these niches is the Doma Peaks near to Tari, where we find 13 species of Bird of Paradise amongst a total of 217 species of bird. The birdwatching is extremely rewarding here, amongst mid-montane forest which feels like an explosion of botanical specimens in every shade of green. Bromeliads including orchids hang in abundance within an interlocking canopy, bridging mountain streams and waterfalls.

Tari happens to be a cultural centre for the Huli tribe, so in addition to some fantastic natural history, we can take you to see some of the most interesting village cultures in Papua New Guinea in this area. Many Huli still adhere to traditional beliefs, where a man's wealth and importance is still measured by how much land and how many pigs and wives he has. Huli men certainly go out of their way to look attractive!

Higher altitude forest reveals yet more species of Birds of Paradise, such as Rondon Ridge which is a couple of hours drive above the capital of the Highlands, Mount Hagen. Here we can arrange for an expert guide to take you in search of 10 species of these birds, which include huge Black, Brown and Buff-tailed Sicklebills to the far smaller, but no less impressive King of Saxony Bird of Paradise. There is some excellent trekking in this area and when clouds permit, some terrific views to some of New Guinea's highest peaks.

  • Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, Central Highlands
  • The Central Highlands Region
  • Brown Sicklebill, Central Highlands

  • Male Blyths (Papuan) Hornbill
  • Brown Sicklebill, Central Highlands
  • Tribal Culture in Papua New Guinea


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