In addition to Raja Ampat, which is known for its wonderful marine tourism, Papua has another tourist attraction. If you have much with natural tourist destinations, why don’t you try a cultural, tribal one? Living in urban areas, you may not be familiar with the tribal life. You can enjoy it in Baliem Valley. Are you strange with the name? Perhaps; but, you will not be strange to the name “Wamena, Papua, Indonesia”, where Baliem Valley is situated.
Trekking tribal villages is the main tourist activity in Baliem Valley. It is home to Dani people that are known for tough and warm spirit. There, you can still be able to meet local men with their penis gourd attire, living in stone-age villages. Uniqueness of the area is not limited to the people and the culture. You can also find unusual traditional architectures, namely, grass huts. Enjoy the fascinating views of forests, green fields, and rivers, with mountain as the background.
You can also go to the settlement areas of Lani tribe, Yali Tribes, and even to Asmat lands. You can begin the exploration from Wamena and follow the game trails to the neighboring valleys or to the mountains, which are accessible by walking, to get some fresh air. The trekking package takes about 30 days even though you can find much shorter expedition to the nearby villages.
Roaming through the markets in Wamena is another fascinating thing to do in Baliem Valley. If you do not have enough energy to hike 100 feet to Yali settlements, you may choose to take bicycle or rickshaw to explore the traditional markets. There, you can find fresh local fruits, local clothing and crafts, and some modern-style products like electronics and even car parts. You can take photographs of local children with their smiling face and show the photos to them (in fact, local children like to be photographed, particularly by the strangers).
You can find a number of hotels and accommodations in Wamena. However, if you come from a different province or from a different country and need to make online reservation, you only have a single choice, namely, the Baliem Valley Resort, a 3-star resort that is situated about 1.100 hectares away from the tribal villages. It is worthy knowing that few hotels provide internet connection, but if you need it, you can go to one of the internet cafes in Wamena.
To go to Wamena, you can fly from Jayapura; it takes about 40 minutes of air travel. Wamena has an airport terminal, in addition to an airstrip. If you are lucky, you can fly with military Hercules from Timika to Wamena or from Sorong to Wamena. The flight costs cheaper with Hercules, but you may not find a certain flight schedule.
The following tips may help you during a visit in Baliem Valley :
- If you want to explore the tribal areas in and around Baliem Valley, you had better join a tourist agent or get a guide. Few local people can speak other languages, English even less.
- Make sure you ask permission before taking photographs of anything in the market, particularly those from remote villages.
- Make sure you prepare snacks and other stuffs you may need before night. Few areas have street lamp, and few stores open at night.
- You had better allocate some extra budget when visiting Baliem Valley. Ever stuffs are flown there, and it is evident from the prices.
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