The Last Frontier


From Jayapura to the interior of Papua: the last frontier

You have left Bali in the wee hours of the morning and will reach Jayapura around 08.00 am. After a short transit in Jayapura, it is off with a turbo prop to the central highlands by a spectacular flight flying over the magnificent lake of Sentani and towering mountain range isolating the interior from the coastal area forever. Arriving in Wamena is like entering another Universe... After check-in in your hotel, you'll be met by your guide for the coming days. Some facts and figures will be shared with you. A list of what you can and cannot do in this tribal land, will be discussed. Then it is off for a first walk through the lanes of Wamena, a regional center, where the Indonesian government has set up its administration and Papuans from all over the valley trade their produce for live necessities. Continue to Napua Hill, which offers a wide, panoramic view of the Baliem Valley. A military checkpoint guards the road to Lake Habbema, at the fringes of the northern Baliem, in the shadow of the towering Mount Trikora. Back to your hotel.

Meet the Tribes People

In Wesaput, on the other side of the runway of Wamena airport, you can cross a traditional suspension bridge. The slow-moving water of the Sungai Baliem, does not reveal the thundering river further up north. Walk about 45 minutes to nearby Pugima, an excellent way to get a first glimpse of the agrarian lifestyle local tribes. Even in the immediate presence of Wamena, honai are much preferred above present day houses. The you continue by vehicle to Jiwika. In one of the traditional honai a century old mummy is kept in amazingly well preserved condition. The sight of the blackened mummified corpse, with its knees hunched up to its chest, will haunt you ! Walk to the market of Jiwika from where a path heads up to Illuemainma, a remarkable brine spring at 1.800 meters above sea level. Salt is harvested by soaking banana stens in the water. These are carried back to the village, often hours walking away. After burning those stems, results in salt ash, used to spice food. Another point of interest in the same area, are the Kontitlola Caves near the village Wosilimo. Stalactites and stalagmites adorn the caves and they even have an underground river run through them. Return to Wamena, with ample stops at local villages, spread all over. The typical honai reveal the omnipresence of the Dani people, one of the original tribes of the Baliem Valley.

Explore the Southern Baliem

Today you will explore the southern part of the Baliem valley, where the Baliem River reveals its true nature, tearing into a steep gorge, with abundant waterfalls, villages perched on cliffs along the riverside. This is the heartland of the Dani and the perfect area for a somewhat more strenuous hike of a few hours. You will be rewarded with dramatic sights of a wild river running through steep valleys and neatly fenced sweet potato gardens bordered by remote villages. This is far as one can get from modern civilization.

From Wamena to Jayapura: back to the Western World

In the morning, you 'll enjoy your last sights of this unique environment. You'll leave the Valley the same way as you came to it. Your flight back will be equally spectacular ! Outside the airport terminal, taxi and bus drivers beckon their customers for the one and a half hour ride into town, passing lush hills and a stunning lake. On the way, you'll visit the Mac Arthur War Memorial , some 325m up Mount Ifar. According to the plaque on the monument, this spot was the exact location of the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur during his Pacific campaign in the Second World War. Lunch will be served at a lakeside restaurant. You'll appreciate the views on Sentani, a large, 15 sq kilometer lake, which forms a beautiful, natural border between the Cyclop Mountains and the ocean. The islands on the lake are inhabited by a distinct tribe. Before heading into Jayapura town, you may drop in into the Museum Negeri, showcasing the arts and crafts of Papua province. Hamadi Beach was the place where MacArthur drove the Japanese into defeat. Nowadays it is a thriving town, with an abundance of shops with artifacts and art objects from Asmat region, another well-known region in the south of Papua.

Catch your flight back to Bali

In the early morning, you be transferred by car, back to the airport of Sentani. Catch your flight back to Bali.