Korowai intensive: crossing the Korowai sector & Baliem Valley
17 days/ 16 nights from/to Denpasar, Bali
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.
This is a classic expedition to meet the Korowai tree house nomads. Still, to this this day, the Korowai live far away from civilization, deep in the forest of the Papua lowlands. During our tour we will cross the Korowai sector, from Mabul in the West to Yanirumah in the East. We will have many days in the forest based in and around the Avium river. The deeper we walk into the sector, the more removed from civilization the people who we encounter will be. We plan to visit several Korowai settlements and will spend more time inside the sector than most visitors typically do. As we plan a daily trekking of a minimum of 4 hours, a certain level of fitness is necessary to participate in this tour. We will leave the sector from Yanirumah with a missionary charter flight to Wamena. Here, in Wamena, we will spend several days in the area of the fascinating Dani tribe, in the highlands of Papua, where we will also attend a traditional pig festival. Rounding off our trip is a visit to a bird park on the north coast, with guided tours to the birds of paradise.
Unbeatable value for money.
Minimum 4 persons (maximum 10 persons). Level of difficulty: 4****
Arrival in Denpasar, Bali (international flights can be booked on request). Our local agent will pick you up at airport and bring you to our partner hotel Ida in Kuta. This is a classical Balinese hotel only 5 minutes from Kuta Beach. Breakfast is included.
Full day in Bali. Around midnight, we pick you up in the hotel and transfer you to the airport for the Garuda Indonesia flight to Jayapura, Papua. Departure time is around 01:50am.
Flight Denpasar – Jayapura – Dekai (Start Korowai)
In the morning, you arrive in Jayapura. Our local agent will welcome you and assist with the check-in for the flight to Dekai, located at the upper reaches of Brazza River (about 35 flight minutes). After arrival, you meet with your guide, visit the local market, and do any last shopping for the tour. After lunch at a local restaurant, we drive to the harbour (about 28km/ ca. 1 hour). At the harbour our motor longboat and crew awaits us. Then, we plan to go downstream for 2 hours until we reach the village of Patipi Dibawa. Here we raise our first tent camp right down by the river. This short stage gives us an impression of what awaits us over the next few days: the purest jungle landscapes! (Any luggage which is not needed during the Korowai part, e.g. warm clothes for the highlands, can be packed separately and sent via airmail to Wamena – our local agent in Jayapura can take care of that).
In the morning we have an early breakfast before we continue to go downstream in our longboat. Down the Brazza River, we pass amazing, untouched forest landscapes. Hornbills, flying foxes and other birds often startle when our boat appears. Around noon we will reach the mouth of the mighty Siret River. Then the journey upstream begins, which leads us in the afternoon through wildly romantic open river landscapes. The Siret is getting wilder and wilder, with pebble banks and rapids. Trees lie scattered in the water and in some places large driftwood dams block almost the entire course of the river. To get through here without any problems you need enough daylight and an experienced boatman. Around 18 o’clock local time, with break of the short twilight, we must have arrived at our goal in MABUL. Many young Kuruwai families live here, who hope that the river will improve their supply with the most necessary goods and food. Some families already have small motor canoes, with which they sometimes get downstream to the shops. We spend the night in an empty stilt house. Here we can use the cooking place and put up our tents sheltered. In the evening our guide negotiates with the locals and the porters for the next days are arranged.
After breakfast we meet our escort. All luggage and food for the next days will be divided among the porters. Then we leave Mabul, and after only about 50 meters we are already standing in the dense forest, which we will not leave for the next days. Today we need about 5 hours to reach our destination: a grandiose jungle settlement with various tree houses, MANOPTEROPO. The traditionally dressed Kuruwai are excited about our visit and do not leave our side anymore. Tent camp at the tree houses. If you like, you can set up your tent in one of the tree houses.
Today, we will follow several Korowai families into the sago forest. Here, we will experience a spectacle from another world. The forest nomads chop a huge sago palm with their stone axes, open the trunk, and start smashing the sago pulp. The sago pulp is further processed by women who wash it in primitive washing installments – built only from leaves, branches and Rotan. The pure sago is the staple food for all jungle dwellers. Photography enthusiasts will never forget this day! In the afternoon, we are back at the tree houses, where our cook starts preparing our next real jungle dinner: maybe we will have papaya vegetables, sago larvas, and plantains! The kitchen will surprise us every day with new exotic cuisine.
Day 7 to Day 10
We leave our first settlement and start our trekking expedition to the Avium river. The deeper you get into the Korowai sector, the more traditional it becomes. The next days we plan to do a day-long trekking expedition with a duration in the 4-6 hour range. After two days we should reach the Avium river. Here in the river region, many Korowai settlements can be found. Our tent camps will always be built in one of such small settlements. With some luck, the Korowai will show us elements of their daily lives – how to repair a tree house, or how to make and use bows and arrows. Or we join 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, larvas, locusts, and other exotic animals. They even shoot flying fox from the trees. After five days in the forest, we will reach Yanirumah.
In the afternoon, we plan to arrive in Yanirumah. This former missionary outpost was the first modern settlement in the Korowai area. Today it is a sleepy village with a small airstrip. We will set up our tents near the river and take a well-deserved bath.
Charter flight Yanirumah – Wamena (Baliem Valley)
In the morning, we go to the airfield and wait for our charter plane. Here, we say goodbye to our porters who will walk back to Mabul today. If the weather is good, our plane should arrive around 10am. Type of aircraft is usually Pilatus Porter (8 seats). The light time to Wamena is around 45 minutes. After arrival in Wamena, there is a short stop at the local market and later on, a transfer to The Baliem Valley Resort. During the rest of the day there is no program, and there is dinner at the Resort.
Day tour: Traditional pig festival
Traditional one-day pig festival in a traditional Dani village, either nearby the resort grounds or in the Jiwika region. Many adorned people from the Dani tribe in traditional clothing will take part in the festival. Such food celebrations with hot stones and earth pits are probably the most interesting part of a trip to New Guinea. If you like taking photos and videos you will certainly get your money’s worth today! It is difficult to describe what’s so unique about these food celebrations; you will have to see and experience it for yourself. Lunch will be a picnic in the village. If you like you can taste the food from the traditional earth pit afterwards. The freshly cooked pork and sweet potatoes are delicious! We return back to the resort in the late afternoon.
Day tour: Salt spring, Kurulu mummy, traditional Dani hamlet.
In the morning, one-hour trip to Jiwikia, in the middle of the Baliem Valley. Start of a one-hour uphill hike (approx. 1,000 feet altitude difference) through stunning mountain rainforest to the traditional salt spring of the Dani tribe. Local women dressed in traditional tribal clothes will accompany us and show us their ancestral salt production techniques. After the walk down we will take a picnic lunch at the foot of the mountain. We will then walk to the nearby Kurulu village where you can admire the ancient mummy of the famous Dugum clan. Afterwards, the women show us how they process the brine they extracted from the spring. We will see more quaint and picturesque Dani homesteads. Wherever we go, friendly Papuans offers their arts and craft, weapons, and all kinds of curiosities for sale. Return to the resort in the afternoon.
Flight Wamena – Jayapura
In the morning, transfer to airport and take a flight to Jayapura. After arrival in Jayapura, with a direct tour to Lake Sentani, with a visit to the artist islands of Asei and Ayapo, lunch on the way right next to the lake. In the afternoon, check in at Horex in Sentani. Dinner.
Flight Jayapura – Denpasar, Bali
In the morning, transfer to Jayapura airport and flight back to Denpasar, Bali with Garuda Indonesia. Arrive in Bali in the early afternoon. Transfer to our hotel Ida. The rest of day has no program.
End of tour. We provide transfer to airport.
Price in EUR per person sharing a double room/tent
Price per Person1/2 double room/tent
3.990 Single supplement +€ 350