Destination: Baliem Valley
Essence of the trip:
Travelling into the wild, untouched valleys and highlands of West Papua, this expedition is one full of stunning landscapes. Trek between the traditional villages of the Dani tribe via swinging rope bridges and live amongst the local communities. This is a unique insight in to rituals and ancient way of life that few have the opportunity to experience.
This trip will give you:
A unique opportunity to explore one of the most intriguing and unexplored regions in the world, West Papua.
The chance to witness incredible ceremonial dress and ancient tribal rituals, such as penis gourds and extreme body adornment.
An awe-inspiring trek through the Baliem Valley – pristine jungle, filled with exotic animals, undisturbed and endless views of the rolling mountains.
Total immersion into the secretive tribal lives of the Dani people, and for a short period of time become part of a community untouched by westernised culture which only a handful of ‘outsiders’ will be able hold claim to meeting.
Having arrived into Jayapura, West Papua, and after a brief stop on the shores of Lake Sentani, home to many of the tribes in the area, your next stop is the highland capital of Wamena.
Surrounded in jungle, this is home to the enigmatic Dani tribe, The Dani Tribe, once fierce Neolithic warriors turned subsistence farmers, retain their traditional way of life which will leave you with the feeling that you’re stepping back in time; penis gourds, animal bone piercings are an instantly recognisable feature of the tribes dress. You will be staying as a guest in the homes of the Dani, living in the community and contributing to the day to day existence of the people. Friendships forged during your stay will be a precious memento from the trip.
Join the grand pig feast, sago making, learning how to use a bow and arrow and of course sample traditional food in oval Dani huts – you will experience age old tribal customs that make this expedition utterly unique.
During the trip you will be guided by our expert jungle explorers, and staff fluent in the local dialects, who have years of experience in this terrain. It is this insight about the wildlife, tribes and the environment from highly knowledge guides, which allow you to immerse yourself fully in this fascinating adventure.
Over the next 5 days in this truly spectacular southern part of the Baliem Gorge, carved out by the raging Baliem River, you will be walking and travelling through magnificent scenery that has barely changed in thousands of years. Trek long open trails, tread softly along high rope bridges and criss-crossing the river that snakes through the Baliem Valley, staying with the Dani in their traditional huts from village to village. The terrain in this end of the gorge is steep and challenging so be prepared for some hard walking, but the rewards are some of the most inspiring views on the planet.
Along the way you will inevitably meet many of the fiercely independent local Dani and Lani tribesmen and women as they go about their daily lives. Expect a warm greeting with many handshakes. Privileged access to these remote and primitive tribes is one of the unique features of this trip.
Each night you’ll be staying in the heart of the community, one of the village’s traditional Dani huts. This will allow you to really understand the villagers’ way of life in a very intimate and unique way. These oval spaced huts are authentic and basic, with open mud floors (on a karimat or a thermarest) – you will be huddled by the open fire with your host and his family members sleeping alongside you for company. Tents are an option if you do not wish to stay in the hut.
On the final day of your trip before you fly back to Jayapura, you will be fortunate enough to share in a unique experience in the village of Jiwika witnessing the Jiwika Mummy, a fascinating and age old aspect of Papua’s tribal and cultural history. Only the most revered tribal leaders or war commanders are preserved after their death. In addition you will also be privileged to share in a traditional Pig Feast with the local villagers. This ceremony marks the end of your tribal adventure, leaving you with a feeling of having being truly part of something extraordinary.
There is the opportunity to coincide the trip with the Baliem Valley Festival (8th – 11th August), a dramatic event that sees the Dani, Yani and Lani tribes converge on mass in a frenetic, colourful celebration of their arts, crafts and tribal diversity. A mock war performance is staged to commemorate those who died during inter-tribe fighting, and this visual spectacular concludes in a tribute to the peace that has reigned in this region for a number of years. This is the one and only time in the year when these tribal groups come together. Another great festival is on the 19th – 23rd June called the Sentani Lake festival – great for traditional arts and crafts – not to be missed.
If you are interested in taking this trip and would like to discuss it in more detail with our team of experts get in touch here or call us on 0207 426 9899 (UK) or 1-888 341 9663 (US) to start planning your trip.