A Look Inside the Papua New Guinea Eco-Resort Where Mick Jagger Stays

With the prevalence of dancing and singing festivals, it's no surprise this area of Papua New Guinea is rockstar approved

November 22, 2022 9:34 am
Patio at Rondon Ridge overlooking Wahgi Valley, Papua New Guinea
Patio at Rondon Ridge overlooking Wahgi Valley, Papua New Guinea
Rondon Ridge

Mick Jagger may be the frontman of the iconic band the Rolling Stones, but he is also a Chief of The Korowai Tribe in Papua New Guinea. The rockstar has been visiting the Pacific island nation since the 1970s and forged a close bond with the Korowai tribespeople. But Jagger does not spend all his time in Papua New Guinea with the Korowai people. 

He also vacations in the Western Highlands Province of Mount Hagen and supports the local sustainable resort Rondon Ridge, which is hailed as one of the top luxury stays in the country. Situated on a hillside near the peak of Kum Mountain, the resort features a massive apartment-style guest house (complete with a kitchen, lounge area and spacious bedrooms) where Jagger stays. The guest house is perched 1700 feet above sea level, perfectly positioned to watch the mist make way for the sunrise each morning over the rolling mountains of the Wahgi Valley.

Rondon Ridge’s sustainability efforts

Beyond being aesthetically beautiful, the property is also energy efficient. A zero-emission hydroelectric system produces power for the property by utilizing natural streams on the mountain. Any remaining clean energy is shared with the surrounding hillside communities. Rondon Ridge further supports its neighbors by sourcing produce for the resort’s restaurant from nearby hill tribe farmers. The majority of the staff are from surrounding hill tribes, as well.

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Guests are also encouraged to make sustainable choices while staying at Rondon Ridge. Each guest is gifted a reusable branded water bottle upon arrival, and there are water stations throughout the resort where the bottles can be refilled with potable water. 

During the pandemic, Rondon Ridge launched a collaboration with Highlands Honey, a local bee cooperative and honey cultivation project. The bees live in Rondon Ridge’s lush gardens full of local flora and pollinate gardens in the surrounding villages. Guests can try the local honey while dining at Rondon Ridge’s restaurant.

Immersive experiences in Mount Hagen

The management of Rondon Ridge respectfully will not reveal much about Jagger’s stay beyond that he walked to a local church and sang with the congregation. While singing hymns with a Rolling Stone sounds extraordinary there are plenty of activities around the mountainous oasis for travelers without a rock star pedigree. 

Rondon Ridge is part of Trans Niugini Tours which works with local guides to offer culturally immersive experiences. The guides share their unique insight and lived experiences. Travelers can visit a farm to learn about local agriculture and see the way food is grown, or head out at dawn on trails around the property with a guide who is knowledgeable about where to find some of Papua New Guinea’s most incredible birds including birds-of-paradise.

Western Highlands men in bilas (traditional reglia) at Rondon Ridge, Papua New Guinea
Western Highlands men in bilas (traditional reglia) at Rondon Ridge, Papua New Guinea
Rondon Ridge

Book your trip around a sing-sing

For cultural heritage, plan your trip around a sing-sing. These cultural festivals are where some of Papua New Guinea’s 800 distinct tribes gather to showcase their unique customs. During the event, legends and history are recounted through ritualistic dance and song with kundu drums. Performers are adorned in their technicolored feather headdresses, intricate face paint,and bilas (traditional tribal dresses) made from tree fibers, grass and shells. Sing-sings began as a way to cultivate understanding and peace between tribes. Today, these festivals are largely attended by locals, but foreigners are welcome. 

In May, the Tumbuna Sing-Sing (also known as Tok Pisin) is held on the grounds at Rondon Ridge. The small festival is usually attended by around 300 tribespeople from over a dozen highland and coastal communities. It is one of the most unique sing-sing’s in the country as some groups invite foreigners to join the festivities and partake in the event by learning the dances. The spectacular performances are enhanced by the backdrop of the vast mountains that frame the fairgrounds.

In July of 2023, a second traditional sing-sing on the grounds at Rondon Ridge will make its debut. The new show is called the Melpa Sing-Sing after the predominant language group in Mount Hagen. Like the Tumbuna Show, it will also be an intimate gathering of tribespeople that foreigners are invited to attend. The biggest sing-sing in Papua New Guinea is the Mount Hagen Cultural Show in August. 

If you can not plan your visit around the sing-sings, you can still have the chance to meet with tribespeople in a culturally appropriate manner as Rondon Ridge works closely with villagers who opt into the tourism program and are paid fair wages to showcase their traditional dress, music and way of life. You can visit the Paiya Kona village or see a Mud Men performance. Of course, Rondon Ridge prioritizes sustainability at every turn as guests reach the tribal villages via transport in electric vehicles. Of course, you can always move like Jagger and walk to nearby cultural highlights.


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