Although it can be reached by a short flight from Mt. Hagen, Mendi, the provincial center for the Southern Highlands, isn't visited very often. That's a shame, because it has a hand-loom industry, very traditional culture, caves and stunning mountain scenery. Like Mt. Hagen, Mendi has a frontier feel. It's also a good jumping-off point for some fascinating excursions.

If you are traveling by road, Mendi is the last major stop along the Highlands Highway. From Mendi, you can continue by road through high-altitude hamlets, over the mountain pass, and into the Tari basin, locally known as the Tari Gap. Another road branches out from Mendi and encircles the base of majestic Mt. Gilawe, the second-highest peak in PNG at more than 14,000 ft/4,265 m. It is possible to trek to the summit of Mt. Gilawe, although there is no base camp, and the trek will require the assistance of a local guide. 300 mi/500 km northwest of Port Moresby.

Note: You should travel with local guides when visiting any of the villages in Southern Highlands Province. In the Highlands, tribal disputes are negotiated fervently, and these confrontations are best observed at a distance.

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