Baliem Valley is a beautiful valley hidden in the middle of the mountains in the Province of Papua, Indonesia. The valley is surrounded with thick trees and beautiful natural panorama. It would be such an amazing experience to explore the valley by doing some trekking around. But as you do this, you will also find other amazing thing; the local tribe of Dani. Dani Tribe has been living on the valley since ancient times. Up until today, they still preserve their culture and traditions that you can enjoy seeing.

Baliem Valley of Papua (Source: Flickr. Credit: Dave Lowe)
Baliem Valley of Papua
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Dave Lowe)

 

How to Get There

The only access to Baliem Valley is through Wamena town. Though this town is accessible from several places, it would be easiest to get there from Jayapura, the capital city of Papua Province. Jayapura, of course, can be easily accessed from several major cities in Indonesia.

At Sentani Airport of Jayapura, you can get flights from and to Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, Bali Island, Sorong, Yogyakarta, Manokwari, and many cities in Papua Islands. Large ship by Pelni Liners Office is also provided with the route of Jakarta-Jayapura and vice versa. The ship can occupy up to 2,400 passengers and is available with five different classes. From Jayapura to Wamena, you can get a flight using small planes. There are several airlines that serve this kind of flights daily such as Trigana Air Service, Wings Air, Susi Air, and Express Air.

Last, from Wamena to Baliem Valley, you can choose several choices of transportation. First, you can rent a car and drive there yourself, or you can rent a car and a driver along. Second, you can get there using public bus. Third option, the easiest one, is by joining an organized tour through a travel agency as there are several agencies that offer a package to visit Baliem Valley and Dani Tribe.

 

Where to Stay

There are several hotels in Wamena and Jayapura that you can choose. But if you want the closest accommodation to the valley, you can book your reservation at:

  • Baliem Valley Resort
    • Location : Sekan Village, Baliem Valley, Jayawijaya, Papua – Indonesia

(It is located around 20 kilometers from Wamena Airport)

  • Hotel Nayak
    • Location : Jalan Gatot Subroto 63, Wamena, Papua
    • Phone : +62 969 31067
  • Hotel Baliem Pilamo
    • Location : Jalan Trikora No 114 Jayawijaya, Wamena, Indonesia
    • Phone : +62 969 31043
    • Email : [email protected]
Baliem Valley Resort (Source: Flickr. Credit: yaniruma)
Baliem Valley Resort
(Source: Flickr. Credit: yaniruma)

 

The Valley

Baliem Valley has a pristine nature and is protected by the law. To enter this location, you need to gain a legal permit first called Surat Keterangan Jalan. This kind of permit can be obtained from police station in every town in Papua such as Jayapura and Wamena. To gain this permit, you need to explain to the police about your tour plan such as where are you visiting to and how long do you plan to stay there. You also need to hand on several documents such as a photocopy of your passport and your latest photograph. If you are using the service of travel agent, you can ask them to deal with this permit for you.

To reach the valley, you need to trek through the mountains. It is quite fun, actually, since the environment is still natural with lots of trees and birds around. The temperature is rather cold so you will not get dehydrated quickly. The valley is situated at the height of 1,600 meters above the sea level. It is about 72 kilometers long. The width is ranging between 15 to 31 kilometers. A high steep cliff is framing this valley, enhancing the beauty of this vast valley.

A River in the Middle of the Valley (Source: Flickr. Credit: aklam penyun)
A River in the Middle of the Valley
(Source: Flickr. Credit: aklam penyun)

In the middle of the valley, there is a river called Baliem River which is dividing the valley into two areas. The river flows from Trikora Mountain down to the Grand Valley. It continues cascading south on a meander route to the lowest muddy river that ends up in the Arafura Sea.

 

Dani Tribes

While trekking, you have a great chance to encounter with the local Dani Tribe who lives on the valley with traditional lifestyle. They live on a traditional hut called Honai. Most of Dani people are farmers. They take advantage of the fertile soil of Baliem Valley to plant several edible plants and harvest those to eat later. In fact, Dani Tribe is quite famous for their amazing agricultural skills. Around the Baliem Valley, you might see several terraced green fields where they plant potatoes, bananas, cucumber, ginger, yam, and much more.

The Farms of Dani Tribe on Baliem Valley (Source: Flickr. Credit: Tropenyogi)
The Farms of Dani Tribe on Baliem Valley
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Tropenyogi)

They also still wear their traditional clothes on their daily lives. The men are wearing “koteka”, a gourd to cover penis. The gourd is decorated with feathers of cassowary or paradise birds. Meanwhile, the women are wearing “saly” a traditional skirt made of grass or fern fibers. They sometimes also carry a “Noken” on their head. Noken is a sling bag made with pleated wood skin or orchid barks.

 

Warfare Festival

The most interesting thing about Dani Tribe is their traditional festival of Baliem. This festival showcases a mock warfare that they would do to protect their land from enemy who tries to take over. Although the main theme is about war, the festival does not look like warfare at all. Instead, it looks like an art performance.

Every sub-tribes of Dani will come and join the festival. Each sub tribe would wear their special costumes that represent their own identity. At a glance, all the sub-tribes’ costumes will look very similar. But if you pay closer attention, there are several features and linings that show the difference between one subtribe to others.

The Mock Warfare during Baliem Valley Festival (Source: Flickr. Credit: Bertrand Linet)
The Mock Warfare during Baliem Valley Festival
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Bertrand Linet)

The Baliem Valley Festival is held annually on August, around 10th to 17th. During the mock war, each tribe will send their best men in group to have a battle with other tribe. But this battle will not cause real bloodshed or hatred. It is just a cultural ritual that looks very artistic. Beside the mock war, the festival also features Pig Race, Arts and Crafts Exhibition, Music and Dance Performance, Feast, and more cultural activities.

 

Tips

  • Wear appropriate clothes and footwear as you need to walk through a wild forest and mountain to reach the valley.
  • Bring enough supply of foods and beverages as it would be difficult to find vendors inside the area of the valley.
  • If you plan to visit the valley during the festival, make sure to book your reservations few weeks before as the hotels might be fully booked pretty fast.
  • A tour guide might be very useful for exploring the Dani Tribe as they can inform you about what to do or don’t while visiting the tribe.
  • You can try the traditional cuisine of Dani Tribe during the Feast on the festival. Your tour guide can also ask them to cook some for you when it is not the festival time.

Baliem Valley is such a nice place to visit. It might need a little effort to reach the site. But it is totally worth it. It is such a perfect destination to enjoy the nature as and exploring a unique culture all at the same time and place.

 

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Wasur National Park of Papua Part II