Baliem Valley Festival, Korowai & Asmat

Three Highlights In One Tour

17 days/16 nights ● from/to Jayapura, Papua ● 10 nights in tent ● min 6 pax/max 12 pax ● Level of difficulty: 3***

On this 17 days/ 16 nights group tour from/to Jayapura, we experience 3 highlights in one tour. First, we go on an intensive journey to the Korowai, who still live very traditionally in tree houses up to 40 meters high. The Korowai are one of the most original tribes in Papua and visiting them is a very special experience. Since they live deep in the forest, daily trekking is necessary. From the Korowai, we go by boat to the area of the former headhunters of Asmat. They are world famous for their craftsmanship and culture. We attend a large ceremony involving hundreds of decorated Asmat – a spectacle that visitors rarely get to see! From the Asmat, we fly by charter plane directly to the Baliem Valley. Here we visit the colorful Baliem Valley Festival, in which numerous Dani tribes participate. The spectacular war and dance performances are overwhelming. As it can be very crowded, we also organize a private festival in a traditional village near our Resort on the second day of the public festival. On this day, our guests can choose to attend the public festival, or our exclusive festival.

Price per person
from/to Jayapura, Papua

USD 5.390 Approx. EUR 4.990
  • 27.07.-12.08.2023

Day 1: Arrival Jayapura
Arrival in Papua and last preparations

Upon arrival in Jayapura, you will be greeted by our staff member Siprianus and transferred to the Hotel Horex. Here you will be welcomed by Marc and later have lunch together. Rest of the day at leisure. Later dinner together.

Airport transfer: 10 minutes. Guide included. Accommodation: Hotel Horex. Meals: full board.  

Day 2: Jayapura – Dekai
Start of the journey to the Korowai sector

We are transferred to Jayapura airport for our flight to Dekai. We visit the local market and do the last shopping for the tour. After lunch in a local restaurant, we drive to the port of Dekai where our motor longboat and crew are waiting for us. We drive downstream until we reach the village of Patipi Dibawa. Here we set up our first camp on the riverbank. This short stage gives us an idea of what to expect in the next days: Pure jungle landscapes!

Transportation: Flight from Jayapura to Dekai: 45 minutes. 1 hour of drive, 2 hours by boat. Guide and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

A Korowai man standing in front of tree house
Korowai tree houses are up to 40 metres high

Day 3: Dekai – Mabul
Arrival in Mabul and preparation of the trekking

After breakfast, we continue downriver in our longboat. We pass lush forests and every now and then hornbills, flying foxes and other birds appear at the sound of the passing boat. Around noon, we reach the mouth of the mighty Siret River. After the lunch break, we go up the Siret River until we reach the Korowai settlement of Mabul. Under the best conditions, we reach Mabul in the early afternoon. Mabul is a small settlement established by the Indonesian government for the Korowai in the hope that they leave the forest and give up their nomadic life. We use this settlement as a starting point for our trekking expedition into the Korowai corridor. With a bit of luck, we can pitch our tents and kitchen in an empty stilt house. Later, we start recruiting our porters for the next days.

Transportation: 6-8 hours by boat. Guide and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

Day 4: Mabul – Korowai settlement
Start of the trek, visit of the first Korowai settlement

After breakfast, we meet our team of porters who accompany us for the next days. We leave Mabul heading East. Within only 50 meters, we are standing in a dense forest which we will not leave for the next days. Today we need about 4 hours to reach our first destination: a fantastic jungle settlement with several tree houses. The Korowai are very loving people and they welcome us immediately. We set up our camp amidst the tree houses – or maybe even inside a tree house.

4-5 hours of trekking. Guide, porters and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

people in boat on river with forest background
On the Siret river
River crossing during trekking

Day 5: Korowai settlement
Full day with the Korowai tribe and demonstration of sago processing

Today we follow the Korowai into the sago forest. Here we experience a spectacle from another world. The forest nomads cut down a huge sago palm with their stone axes, open the trunk and start to smash the sago. The sago pulp is processed by women who wash it in primitive “washing machines” – built only from leaves, twigs and rotan. Photo lovers will never forget this day! In the afternoon, we are back to the tree houses where our cook starts preparing our next real jungle dinner. Besides the fresh sago we probably enjoy papaya, vegetables, sago larvae and plantains!

1-2 hours of easy hiking. Guide, porters and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

Day 6: Korowai settlements
Trekking to another Korowai settlement

We leave our first Korowai camp and go back into the forest. Today we want to hike to another Korowai village and spend the night there. The trekking through the untouched tropical forest is unique and sometimes challenging. It may be necessary to cross small rivers or swamps. We expect to arrive at the Korowai village in the early afternoon. After setting up our tents and kitchen, we spend the rest of the day with the local Korowai. They often repair their tree houses at extreme heights. They still make and use bows and arrows – the most important weapons here. Or maybe we accompany the Korowai on a journey into the forest to seek food. They are true hunters and gatherers: in a few hours their nets are filled with spiders, larvae, grasshoppers and other exotic animals. They even shoot flying foxes from the trees.

4-5 hours of trekking. Guide, porters and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

Day 7: Korowai settlement – Mabul
Another day in another world

This is our last day with the Korowai and in this wonderful forest. We thank our hosts and hike back to Mabul. Today’s forest walk takes about 4 hours. Arriving in Mabul, we have time for an extensive bath in the river. We set up our camp for the night again or – depending on the weather – we get back into the boat and cover the first part of the next boat journey. In both cases, we have another night in tents and dinner from the campfire.

4-5 hours of trekking. Guide, porters and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

two wood carving poles standing up
Ancestor poles

Day 8: Mabul – Wowi village
On the way to the famous Asmat

In the morning we leave Mabul and follow the river downstream. After 2 hours we pass again the mouth of the Brazza River, but this time we continue along the Siret River towards Asmat. Downstream the strong current makes our journey much faster. Shortly after passing Brazza we reach Binam, the largest settlement in the area. Here we have to fill up our fuel canisters and it is also time for lunch in a small warung. After lunch we continue to Wowi, a typical settlement of the Citak tribe and also the hometown of our boatman. We pitch our tents next to his house, which enjoys a beautiful view of the river, and we can use the kitchen and the washroom. The river is full of fish here and maybe the locals bring us some nice ones for dinner.

Full day by boat. Guide and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

Day 9: Wowi village – Yaosokor, Asmat
Entering the Asmat area

Today we spend half a day in our boat until we reach Kaimo, the first typical Asmat settlement. Here we have lunch in the traditional men’s house. Afterwards we spend another 1 hour in the boat until we reach the Asmat village of Yaosokor. The men’s house of Yaosokor is probably the biggest house of its kind in the whole Asmat. We pitch our tents and our kitchen at one of the fireplaces inside the house. The night in this impressive house is a unique experience in itself.

Transportation: 4-5 hours by boat. Guide and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

Day 10: Yaosokor – Biwar Laut, Asmat
Visit of Biwar Laut village, ceremony

Today we keep on following the Siret River until we finally reach the sea. After a short ride on the sea, we turn into a narrow river channel and pass through a beautiful mangrove forest. At noon, we arrive in Biwar Laut. After our arrival, the inhabitants quickly bring all their art treasures to the men’s house and a lively bazaar is created. On such occasions, we often find unusual and inexpensive art objects like carved wooden statues, traditional drums, shields, weapons, jewelry or bags. Later in the afternoon, we want to see a big ceremony. Depending on the local conditions, we plan an ancestor pole ceremony or a boat ceremony today. An Asmat ceremony often attracts hundreds of Asmat, who gather in the men’s house decorated, drumming and dancing to ecstasy. We will spend the night directly in the men’s house or in an empty house.

Transportation: 4-5 hours by boat. Guide and cook included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

A man from the Asmat tribe playing the traditional drum.
A dance mask of the Asmat tribe in Papua

Day 11: Biwar Laut – Uwus, Asmat
Visit of Uwus village, ceremony

Depending on the weather and the tides, we leave Biwar Laut and travel across the rivers and the sea to Uwus. Like most Asmat villages, Uwus is located in a mangrove channel, not far from the sea. Depending on the time of arrival, we plan another Asmat ceremony here. Possibly a boat ceremony will take place here, or we can experience a mask dance. We will spend the night directly in the men’s house or in an empty house.

Transportation: 3-4 hours by boat. Guide included. Accommodation: tent. Meals: full board.

Day 12: Uwus – Agats
Arrival in Agats, the capital of the Asmat regency

After breakfast we leave Uwus. Depending on the tide level, we either cross the sea or follow a beautiful mangrove channel. Around 10 am we reach Agats, the capital of the Asmat regency. The whole city is built on meter high wooden stilts, as well as our clean and quiet hotel in the center of the city. In the afternoon, we visit the very interesting Asmat Museum, which collects a large amount of unique Asmat artifacts. The collection gives a very good overview of the different Asmat cultures and handicraft styles. We go for a walk through the city where there is not a single car until today! Dinner in a local warung.

Transportation: 3-4 hours by boat. Guide included. Accommodation: Hotel Asmat Permai. Meals: full board.

Day 13: Agats – Baliem Valley
Last day in Asmat and charter flight to the Baliem Valley

In the morning, we have a short boat transfer to the airfield of Agats for our charter flight to Wamena. The flight from the coast to the highlands in a small propeller plane is a short but intense highlight! At Wamena airport we meet our driver and on the way to The Baliem Valley Resort, we visit the market of Wamena. Here local Danis offer their agricultural products. Besides the very popular sweet potato, many other vegetables and fruits are offered. It is also the biggest trading place for the very sought-after wild boars. Once at The Baliem Valley Resort, we settle into our bungalows and, depending on the time of day, enjoy lunch or coffee on the panoramic terrace overlooking the Baliem Valley.

Transportation: 30 minutes by boat. 45 minutes charter flight. 45 minutes of drive. Guide included. Accommodation: The Baliem Valley Resort. Meals: full board.

Local crowd attending the festival
The Baliem Valley Resort

Day 14: Baliem Valley
Attending the public Baliem Valley Festival

After breakfast we drive to the Baliem Valley Festival taking place near Wamena. From the tribune, we have a good view of the performance area. Many villages from the Baliem Valley participate in the festival to present themselves with dance and fighting performances. Originally, the festival served to pacify the Baliem Valley. Once a year, the clans were to get together to interact in a peaceful, joyful atmosphere. This was to prevent possible tensions that could lead to warlike conflicts. Even today, the festival is mainly for the locals. However, the decorated warriors and the informal atmosphere attract more and more foreign visitors. After a certain time, you can freely walk the grounds and interact directly with the performers. In the afternoon, we drive back to the Resort.

Transportation: 2 hours of drive. Guide included. Accommodation: The Baliem Valley Resort. Meals: full board.

Day 15: Baliem Valley
Attend the second day of the public Baliem Valley Festival or join our private traditional festival

Today you have the choice: either you go with your guide once again to the big public Baliem Valley Festival in Wamena. Or you can opt for another very special experience in a small group! In this case, after breakfast we get ready to participate in a pig festival that takes place in a traditional Dani village near the Resort. Many decorated people from the Dani tribe participate in the feast. We are among ourselves and can experience and enjoy the spectacle in privacy. Such pig festivals with hot stones and earth pits are probably the most interesting part of a trip to New Guinea. It is difficult to describe what is so unique about these festivals because too much happens at once. You have to see and experience it for yourself.  For lunch there is a picnic, but if you want you can also try the food from the traditional earth pit. The freshly cooked pork and sweet potatoes are delicious! In the late afternoon we return to the Resort.

Transportation: either 2 hours of drive or 1 hour walking. Guide included. Accommodation: The Baliem Valley Resort. Meals: full board.

Dani performers at the highland festival
During a pig festival

Day 16: Baliem Valley – Jayapura
Last day in the Baliem Valley and transfer to Jayapura

After breakfast, we are transferred to Wamena airport for our flight back to Jayapura. Once at Jayapura airport, Siprianus is here again to accompany us. We first check-in at the hotel and then drive to the nearby Sentani Lake. After lunch in a restaurant on the lake shore, we start our boat tour to visit the famous artist villages of Asei and Ayapo. They are known for their traditional paintings called Maro – simple animal depictions on pressed tree bark in red, white and black. Originally worn as skirts, today they are mostly used as wall decoration. Later return to the hotel and dinner.

Transportation: Flight time to Jayapura: 30 minutes. 2 hours of drive. 2 hours by boat. Guide included. Accommodation: Horex Hotel. Meals: full board.

Day 17: Jayapura – Jayapura airport
Last day in Papua

You enjoy your breakfast at the hotel before your transfer to Jayapura airport. Siprianus accompanies you to ensure a smooth check-in and a pleasant onward journey. 

Transportation: 20 minutes of drive. English speaking guide included. Meals: breakfast.

PRICE & CONDITIONS

Baliem Valley Festival, Korowai & Asmat ● 17 days/16 nights ● Group Tour
Price per person from/to Jayapura, Papua
USD 5.390 Approx. EUR 4.990
  • 27.07.-12.08.2023
INCLUDES
DOES NOT INCLUDE

Travelling to remote areas of Papua is difficult, the conditions are harsh, there is no comfort at all. If you can handle such conditions, you will enjoy this trip. If you have any doubts, ask us before you book it. We are happy to help!

For payment we accept USD, EUR, and IDR. Please let us know your preferred currency. We ask for a deposit of 15% of the tour price at the time of booking. The balance is due no later than 4 weeks before the start of the tour. Prices are subject to change. The final price will be quoted upon confirmation of the tour. Foreigners need a travel permit for Papua (“surat jalan”). We will take care of this permit before your arrival. For the permit we need a copy of your passports and passport photos. A list of equipment will be sent with the booking confirmation.

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