The Papua Blog

When to go to Papua

What's the best time to visit Papua? Our experiences and regional differences.

Words and photos by Marc Weiglein

Papua is the largest and easternmost province of Indonesia. Since the climate in Indonesia varies from island to island, and regional differences can sometimes occur within an island, every visitor to Indonesia wants to know when is the best time to travel in Indonesia? This is especially true for the province of Papua, considering its size and geographical characteristics. New Guinea is located directly on the equator and the climate is mostly of tropical character: temperatures are high, there is plenty of sunshine and frequent periods of heavy rain and wetness. But Papua also has mountains which are up to 4,884 meters high (16,024 ft) and covered by ice all year round.

SO, WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO PAPUA?
We are regularly asked whether this or that month is a good time to travel to Papua. In the end the answer is simple: every month is equally good to visit Papua, there is no such thing as the best travel time for Papua! The climatic differences during the year are minimal, there is no distinct dry or rainy season. This applies to all regions of Papua.

In the end the answer is simple: every month is equally good to visit Papua, there is no such thing as the best travel time for Papua!
However, the weather in Papua, rain and temperatures, can vary greatly depending on the region. Therefore, in the following we explain the climatic conditions in the relevant regions of Papua. All the mentioned regions are covered by us and we have visited each region at any time of the year.
sunrise boat water asmat
Sunrise in the Asmat village of Omandesep

Climate conditions in Papua by region

JAYAPURA
What is the annual climate in Jayapura?
Jayapura is located at sea level and has a tropical climate. There is a lot of rainfall in Jayapura, even in the driest month. The annual average temperature in Jayapura is 26.9 °C. About 2425mm of rainfall per year.
The months from November to April are a bit rainier, the months from December to March a bit less rainy.

BALIEM VALLEY
What is the annual climate in the Baliem Valley?
The Baliem Valley is located in the highlands of Papua. The capital, Wamena, lies at an altitude of about 1,600 metres above sea level and has a tropical rainforest climate, although a much cooler version due to its altitude.
Temperatures are around 20°-30°C (68°-86°F) during the day and drop to 10°-15°C (50°-59°F) at night. The annual rainfall in Wamena is 1,900mm.

What is the best time to visit the Baliem Valley?
The months of January to April are a little rainier, the months of June to September a little less rainy.  Usually the sun shines during the day and it is hot. Towards the afternoon clouds move from the surrounding mountains into the valley, it cools down noticeably and it rains frequently. In short: during the day it is hot and there is usually no rain, in the evening/night it is cool and there is almost always rain.

For the guests staying at our resort The Baliem Valley Resort who choose to explore the valley in day tours, rain is usually not relevant as you are back at the resort in the afternoon.
If you are trekking for several days, you should make sure that you reach the night camp by the afternoon and take rainproof clothing (e.g. a raincoat) with you to be on the safe side.

ASMAT AND KOROWAI
What is the annual climate in the Asmat and Korowai region?
The peoples of the Asmat and Korowai live in the middle of one of the largest rainforests in the world. It is hot and humid all year round.
The Asmat and Korowai areas have a tropical climate with a slightly pronounced dry and rainy season. The average annual rainfall is 3,000 to 5,000mm with about 200 rainy days per year. The average air temperature is 26°-29°C (78°-84°F) during the day and 17°-20°C (63°-68°F) at night – although it can often feel hotter than that due to the region’s average relative humidity of 81%!

What is the best time to visit Asmat and Korowai?
The months of January to May are a little rainier, the months of June to December a little less. However, it is important to note that the differences over the year are not particularly pronounced. In addition, climate change is also causing changes in Papua, where historical weather data are becoming less and less accurate in predicting the future.

It is usually tropically hot and heavy rain showers can occur at any time of day. These rains are often short-lived and locally limited. These conditions apply all year round and should be considered before travelling. A trekking of several hours in the forest of the Korowai can be quite exhausting when it’ s really hot and humid. In the region of the Asmat, boat trips lasting several hours in blazing sun or crackling rain can also be quite strenuous. But that is the way it should be!

CARSTENSZ PYRAMID AND MOUNT TRIKORA
Glaciers and snow, even on such a high mountain, are a strange sight near the equator. While there are no glaciers at the top of the Carstensz Pyramid, there are several on the slopes, including the Carstensz Glacier and the Meren Glacier.
Reaching the foot of the mountain is in itself a great challenge, as the group has to make its way through the tropical jungle of Papua at the first stage. The climate during the tour is therefore very different. During the trek to Carstensz Pyramid the temperature can vary between 12°C (54°F) and 37°C (98°F) during the day. At night the temperature in the base camp can drop down to -8°C (18°F), at the top of the Carstensz Pyramid the temperature can even drop below -10°C (14°F).

What is the best time to climb the Carstensz Pyramid?
The best time to climb Carstensz Pyramid is often given as April to November. We have carried out successful expeditions to the mountain outside these months as well, without significant differences in weather. The weather on the mountain is mostly uncomfortable. It rains frequently and a lot, the temperatures are cool and become even more uncomfortable due to frequent wind. Rainproof clothing and shoes (rubber boots!) are a must for this tour, no matter what time of the year. The conditions for Mount Trikora are very similar, although less harsh.

Due to its remoteness combined with the difficult bureaucracy, frequent tribal unrest and political instability in the region, the Carstensz Pyramid is one of the less frequented Seven Summits. Nevertheless, even here a trip in the supposed off-season can have advantages, as there are fewer people on the mountain.

WEST PAPUA – RAJA AMPAT
How is the weather during the year in Raja Ampat?
The climate statistics of Raja Ampat are based on long-term observations made in Sorong on the West Papuan mainland. Sorong averages do not necessarily apply to all islands as many have a microclimate that is very different from Sorong.
Air temperatures in Raja Ampat are constant with an average daily maximum of 31°C (89°F) and a nightly minimum of 25°C (78°F).
As this is a tropical area, there are no days of the year when you can be sure that it will not rain. But between October and April, the probability of rainy days is less. Although it rains the least during this time of year, the heaviest rainfalls in Raja Ampat usually occur in December and January.
Between May and September, the rainfalls are less heavy but occur more often. Thus, June and July are historically the wettest months. However, even in the rainy season it does not rain all day, and rainfall is often short-lived and locally limited.

What is the best time to visit Raja Ampat?
As for the weather, any time of the year is a good time to visit Raja Ampat. Climate in Raja Ampat and underwater conditions are good all year round – there is not really an “off season”. However, travelling in smaller boats can be problematic in June, July and August due to rough seas.