One of our intrepid Dive Damai guests added a bespoke tour to the Baliem Valley in Papua onto her charter in Cenderawasih Bay. It is a short flight from the provincial capital, Jayapura, to Waimena, the gateway to the valley. This area is not for the faint-hearted, where most visitors trek through the valley, spending the night in village huts and even the drive into town was described as ‘a one hour pothole’!
Damai organized this tour slightly differently so that our guest could stay in the jungle lodge near town and enjoy day trips out to see the nature, culture and tribal peoples of the valley without having to walk strenuously. Despite the lodge being in a beautiful location, it is rustic, rundown and 100% Papua New Guinea all the way!
The first stop was to visit a Dani Clan and 300 year old mummy. The tradition is keep to their mummies in their houses as part of the family so that their spirits can watch over them. I’m not sure how happy I wuld be to have one in my home! They are used in ceremonies for their spiritual power.
Next there was the short hike and NO it absolutely wasn’t suitable for children and old people as had been suggested. Our guest usually walks 3-10 miles a day but of course this was climbing up and down and the terrain was rough. Fortunately the guide was a great help and held her hand all the way down. The first 45 minutes was spent in mud up to her ankles and the rest of the way was covered by slick rocks and roots!
The destination was a salt water pool where the ladies harvest salt for medicinal purposes. She had fallen in the mud once but the river was nice so she took her pants and shirt off and washed them out. The Dani ladies thought that was hilarious but it was better than being covered in mud!
Fortunately, the following day was an easy day. She enjoyed a very nice Sunday drive through the mountain pass with nice views of the mountains and villages and then stopped near a nice cave. This was only a short 10 minute stroll accompanied by two older Dani men who were dressed in traditional attire including the Koteca, the long penis gourd.
The Obia village was a great treat with the tribal people being very welcoming and showing her around their traditional huts.
The village ladies personally presented their traditional, handmade handcrafts in the hope of selling. This was a great opportunity to look at authentic souvenirs.
In true Papuan style, the men sat around in their finery… but it made a great photo opportunity!
If you would like to experience the wildness of Papua and the ancient tribal cultures then please contact our reservations team who are ready to organize a tailor-made tour for you. Wherever you would like to go, whatever you would like to see and however you would like to travel, Damai Tours can provide you with an authentic experience to suit you, your friends and your family
Take home more than just underwater memories.