The Kalam Festival is an annual festival held in Papua New Guineas’ Simbai valley. The festival serves a unique opportunity for travellers to participate in the traditional tribal ceremonies of this remote highlands’ tribe. The rolling green mountains dispersed with small traditional homes and villages, combined with its remote location, make the Simbai valley is an exceptionally beautiful and unique area in the PNG highlands. Although Simbai is only a 20-minute charter flight from Mount Hagen, the valley is almost completely isolated from the outside world, only accessible by air or a 3 day walk from Mount Hagen.
The Kalam festival was developed by the Simbai people to celebrate their ancient tribal traditions and to gather their community together for important annual celebrations, including the bridal exchange ceremony and coming-of-age ceremony for the young men of the community. The bilas (traditional dress) of the Simbai people is easily identifiable by the distinct and complex headdress worn for celebration. The festival itself lasts for three days, during which the celebrations gradually build, culminating in a large gathering of local Simbai sing sing groups and their families celebrating together through song, dance and feast. As the festival itself remains rustic and fairly undisturbed by the outside world the celebrations tend to
organically unfold throughout the course of the three days and include a ceremonial pig killing and traditionally prepared mumu, a presentation of the young initiates, bride price exchange and sing sing celebrations. The celebrations take on an almost magical sense as the singing and dancing continue throughout the festival nights and rhythmic sound of the voices carry across the valley under the light of the moon. Guests are welcome to attend this unique nighttime gathering. The festival, though attended by hundreds of local people, will only be witnessed by a handful of lucky and adventurous travellers.
“The authenticity and uniqueness of this experience is hard for one to convey in writing. But the combination of the pristine valley, the friendly and unique people and the festival itself make for a once in a lifetime experience”.
Tuesday, September 21 – Enjoy a short flight across the majestic PNG highlands to reach the remote Simbai valley. Upon arrival you will be met by your gracious hosts and will make the short trek to the guesthouse. Enjoy the afternoon exploring the local villages and taking in the clean mountain air and tranquil setting. The festivities will begin to take shape throughout the day, in preparation for the main festival days to come.
Wednesday, September 22 & Thursday, September 23
Enjoy two fascinating days of traditional gatherings and celebrations. Over the course of the festival guests will have the unique opportunity to witness a number of traditional celebrations including traditional bride price exchange, coming-of-age celebrations, mumu preparations and feast, and the unique sing sing of the Simbai tribe. Guests will be escorted throughout their time here by a knowledgeable local guide.
Friday, September 24
Rise early to enjoy your last breakfast and say your farewells to the warm Simbai people and stunning valley that has served as your recent home. This morning you will meet your charter flight to your next destination.
During your three nights at the you will be accommodated at the Skom Guesthouse, which is perched on the top of the ridge overlooking the beautiful vista of the Simbai valley below. The accommodation is very basic. The rooms are constructed with primarily local materials and have single or double beds. Only pit toilets are available, though they are clean and well kept. The host at the guest house are happy to heat water for a warm “bucket shower”. The fare that is provided is fairly basic and made with mostly local ingredients.