Baliem Valley, sometimes known as the Grand Valley, in Indonesia is the most accessible gateway to Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya) as one could get. Papua, also known as Western New Guinea (formerly Irian Jaya) is the easternmost part of Indonesia, where its other half of the island belongs to the independent country of Papua New Guinea.
Where is it
It is located at the heart of Papua, Indonesia.
Somewhat remote, as the only way in is to fly from Jayapura, the tribal people are still living very much like how they have always been. You will find cultures (mummy and tradings) and fashion (traditional penis gourd attire) unique to the Dani people, who are famous for their tough and warm spirit. . At the same time, you can marvel at the mountain views, rivers, and vast green fields.
When is the best time to go
It is good to travel to Baliem Valley or Papua as a whole for all year round as there are no rainy season and the climate is stable, with daytime averaging at 20-30 C and evening to night at 10-15C.
What to see
See the mummies at Jiwika and Aimika, about 20km out of town. You may take a minibus from Passar Jibama or you can even attempt to walk!
Watch the local cultures, architectures and people, at the market or just around town and be fascinated by their way of life. The traditional grass huts here are also unique while the daily activities are also fascinating. Also look out for the Baliem Valley Festival 2013.
What to do
Trekking tribal villages
From the Wamena, city of Baliem Valley, you can get tours and treks into the Lani, Dani and Yali tribal land and even go to Asmat lands. The Baliem Valley trekking range from half day walks to 30 days expedition deep into the tribal lands. You may do your own treks for nearby for few days but anything longer, you are advise to get guides.
Explore the back-country trails where you scaled steep places and walk game trails to neighboring valley, starting from Wamena at 5,200 ft and up to 10,000 ft passes.
What and where to eat
Most restaurants serve local Indonesian food, normally at local diners and street vendors. There are no alcohol available here in Baliem Valley.
Where to stay
There are few choices of resorts here to stay but only Baliem Valley resort takes online reservation.
How to get there
Fly into Wamena from Jayapura, the only way to get here. It is the capital of Baliem Valley, which also serves as a commercial hub for the locals. Perched among purple mountains with cooling air, the local markets are one to be marvel at. But bear in mind everything here is more costly by Indonesian standard due to having to send everything in by air from Jayapura.
How to get around
Mostly you can just walk around the town and cover everything. If further out to villages, it is popular to do hiking and trekking. At some cases, you can catch the minibus if you want to go not too far out of town and are not keen to walk.
Where to go nearby
You can also go to nearby UNESCO World Heritage site in Indonesia which is the Lorentz National Park, the largest protected area in Asia-Pacific region and contains Puncak Jaya, the highest island peak in the world at 4,884 metres which is surrounded by equatorial glaciers.
Make sure you water is boiled and filtered as the raw water here is not safe for consumption. If you are out trekking or backpacking, bring your iodine pills for an emergency.
Photo credits: Rachel for the map and 710928003 for the rest.
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