Baliem Valley, Papua (Irian Jaya)


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.

Papua, Indonesia Map

Papua, Indonesia Map

Why go

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.

Man with Gourd Attire @ Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia

Man with Gourd Attire @ Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia

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.

Dani People @ Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia

Dani People

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

Korowai Treehouse @ Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia

Korowai Treehouse

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.

Wamena Airport @ Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia

Wamena Airport

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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    1. Hi Brian,

      I manage to get input from Mitchell Zuckoff who wrote the book on it and here are the information:

      If you can obtain a Surat Jalan travel pass to the interior (from a police station near the Jayapura Airport), you could fly to Wamena. From there, you would have to connect to someone from that part of the valley who knows where to climb. I would recommend Tomas Wandik, who would do so for a fair price. Folks at the Baliem Valley Hotel should know how to get in touch with Tomas, I think (though I can’t guarantee it).

      Good luck if you are looking to visit!

  1. I am fall in love with Indonesia and really sad, couldn’t see Indonesian Papua and Sulawesi yet. I spent 2 months Bali, Lombok, Jawa and Sumatra. I should mak a new plan.

  2. Hi,

    Visiting Bali in November with my family. Please advise best places to visit in 2 nights and 3 days & good family resort with scenic beauty.


  3. Thank you very much for this great overview. If you have the time, I’d love to know: Do you have a sense of about how much a guide would cost? And what do you think about bringing/ not bringing mosquito netting? Thank you again, finding info about the area is not easy.

  4. You mention that it is possible to do some independant trekking in the area. Is camping or paying to camp on a locals property an option anywhere in the Baliem Valley? I would love to spend some time there and do some trekking maybe even some deeper guided trekking to see more remote communities, but these appear to be quite expensive. Thanks!

  5. Hi! Great info, thanks for sharing!! :)

    We wanted to attend the Baliem Valley Festival and do some trekking around the area next august 2014. We were looking for guides on the internet but they offer expensive tour-packages (including hotel-transport-trekking-guide-full board, around 1500 $). Our idea is to do everything on our own (transport, accommodation, meals etc.), with a low-cost budget, and get a local guide to take as to the Baliem Valley Festival and explain a little bit about it & the cultures, and also for a couple days trekking… do you know any local guides or a way to contact them?


  6. Me and my wife love visiting Indonesia.We are planning to attend 2015 Barliem valley Festival after which we would like to visit the various tribes village.can you tell me the dates of the festivals?

  7. Hi Rachel, I am planning a July/August visit
    A) in Baliem valley (4-6 days),watch the festival and continue
    B) from Jayapura by car/bus to Wutang/Vanimo.
    C) visit Madang-Wewak-Sepik river -Goroka (10 days) and finalize
    D) National Mask Festival Rabaul.(4 days)
    1.Can you recommend a guide or agency for A, C and D
    2.Can you recommend a guide and/or information for B
    3.What do you feel abour visiting Korovai tripes
    Looking forward hearing from you sincerely Urs

  8. I visited the Dani Tribe around 1976 and was very fortunate to travel safely to the village of Akima and meet the chief as well as the former mummified chief Wiro. My guide from Wamena was John Wolf (Indonesian/Dutch) who took me on his motorcycle and by boat along the winding river. Although we observed sentinels when we approached the village, we merely paused so they could verify our innocence. The Dani Tribe are amazing because they have established a Tribal Hierarchy and live in a pollution free and bountiful jungle environment. I was treated with the utmost respect and likewise showed my admiration for their hospitality. It’s great to find a society that is free of politics and corruption and is not dependant upon western society, especially the Cell Phone which started the Arab Spring in 2011 in Tunis. The Dani are animistic and value mother nature, especially the Bird of Paradise which is a magnificient species. I hope the the Indonesian Govt will respect their culture and not try to westernize them Actually, if I had the resources, I would gladly return with my children to show them how magnificient the Dani Tribe are in Indonesia

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