The Baliem Valley: Papua

baliem-valley.jpg The Baliem Valley is, without a doubt, the most visited part of Papua, and in recent years tourists and travellers alike have increased in numbers. It is a rugged area inhabitated by Dani tribesmen and other sub tribes of Yali and Lani with their complex and primitive cultures.

Located in the central highlands in the Wamena regency it is a valley 72 km long and roughly 16 – 31 km wide. The temperatures in the highlands range from 26c at the day time and 12c at night, and, in the Southern region it is even cooler.

Until the last few decades, the Dani people were some of the most isolated populations in the world and hidden away by the protection of swamps and mountains. They grew root crops, raised pigs and used polished stone axes and adzes.

There may be 250,000 Dani living in the central mountains and many are scattered among the steep mountain slopes. The Valley has one of the highest densities of population in the Province.

The Dani Tribes build their huts in a compound nicely express both environmental adaptation and Dani’s character. The men’s and women’s huts have thick thatched roofs which keep rain, yet retain the heat from the earth, along with just enough smoke to discourage the ubiquitous mosquito.

There are numerous things to see and do besides trekking the wonderful terrain. There is the Dani market, Wauma villages, and the Sinatma hanging bridge which can easily be reached either on foot or by car from Wamena. Farther out are Aikima with its 250-year-old mummy, Suroba, Jiwika, and the neighbouring villages. With two-hour climbing, you can see the salt spring where the Dani women have been making salt in a primitive fashion for centuries.

When you explore further up in the Baliem George you will come across the villages of Wamena, Tangma, and Ibiroma. Here you will discover a perfect combination of Dani compounds inhabited by primitive tribesmen and the scenery is spectacular!.