Mount Hagen, the capital of the Western Highlands Province, celebrates the famous Mount Hagen Festival every August. The township is named after an extinct volcano in the northwest, which is said to take its name from a German Colonel Officer
Curt von Hagen.
The highlands was only recently developed in the 20th century with some conjecture about who was responsible for first opening up the area. While Australian Mick Leahy had previously been prospecting for gold in the region, in 1933 he and his brother trekked extensively throughout the Wahgi Valley in search for more gold. An Australian Patrol Officer by the name of James (Jim) Taylor embarked on the same patrol with the brothers. Some reports state that the Leahy brothers led the expedition, while others suggest Taylor led the patrols. In 1936, Mick’s claim was recognised by the Royal Geographic Society, and later again in 1971 by US Explorers Club.
Things to see and do
If you’re a hiking enthusiast, then Mount Hagen’s rugged hinterland presents the perfect challenge. There are trekking tours up to Mt Hagen, the third highest peak in Papua New Guinea standing at 3,790 metres above sea level. Hiking through lush rainforest to the summit takes approximately three hours for experienced trekkers and four hours for amateurs. Once you reach the summit you can enjoy vistas of the Enga Province to the north. You’ll also get to see a number of beautiful orchids and other exotic flora along the way.
In August every year, Mount Hagen boasts a feast of activities as it plays host to the ever-popular Mt Hagen Show. First launched in 1964, the festival showcases the rich heritage of the local culture featuring 75 tribes from throughout Papua New Guinea. If you’re interested in exploring the Indigenous culture, be sure to catch the Mt Hagen Show.
The Western Highlands is home to Baiyer River Sanctuary, which extends across a massive 740 hectares and includes 185 species of birdlife. This spectacular nature park and its wildlife are a must-do while you’re in the region.
Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the Hagen Market, one of Papua New Guinea’s foremost markets. Occurring every Saturday, you can shop for fresh regional produce such as fruit and vegetable. Look out for interesting local items such as the famed highland hat.
Other attractions worth checking out
- The Cultural Centre
- The Kuk Valley
Annual Festivals & Shows
- Mt Hagen Show, August