Papua, one of the Indonesian island which forged by tribal wars for thousands of years yet still offers its beauty to the whole world. One thing that makes Papua is so famous is the Raja Ampat vacation spot. But, it is not just about that, Papua has another great vacation spot to enjoy, and that is Baliem Valley. The valley is located in the Jayawijaya mountains. The location height is above 1600 meters above the sea level, making this valley can be extremely cold especially when the sun setting down. But, do not let the chilling atmosphere letting us down too because Baliem valley will offer an unmatched experience of exploring Papua.
How To Get There?
Papua’s inland like Baliem valley is one of the places which is hard to reach even for domestic tourists. For foreign travelers, getting to the valley require some changing of transportation modes. First, ly to Soekarno-Hatta Internation Airport then book another flight from there to Sentani Airport which located in 40 km away from Jayapura, the capital city of Papua. Arriving at the Sentani Airport, we need to book another flight to Wamena Airport. And from Wamena, we must have the options between renting a car or travel by public bus to go to the interior of Baliem valley. It is highly recommended to have this trip organized by some travel agencies.
What To Expect In Baliem Valley
Unprecedented Nature’s Beauty
All the hassles during the trip to get to the destination will be paid off once we have arrived in the valley. A landscape of natural heaven and untouched by the modernity of the world. Let the chilling wind of the valley get inside the body to be refreshed from all the clouds on the mind. A vast land of greenery, traditional village, and beautifully sculpted hills will immerse the eyes.
The valley is cut by a Baliem river. It is the main river in the valley which provide a life to everyone on the land. The river ended to the Arafura Sea, south of the valley.
The Exceptional Dani Tribe
Official statistics from 2009 reported that there are 25.000 Dani people live around the valley. The Dani tribe was discovered around hundreds of years ago. It was Richard Archold and his team who discovered this tribe. The first contact which Richard did was around 1935. When he saw the tribe for the first time, he experienced that the Dani tribe still using primitive tools for daily lives such as a stone ax, wooden spear, bone-knife, and etc.
When the Dutch colonials built the Wamena city, the Catholic religion began to spread out among Dani people. Even though that religion already touched the people, but still, Dani tribe believed in which the ancestor spirits hold a power over them in their daily life.
This tribe is the one that still honors in a colloquy to get the best solution for any problems. The Dani people always living in togetherness. They help each other out whenever help is needed. Even though that this tribe seems to be peaceful and all, but they also involved in some tribal wars. The recent conflict between the Dani and Moni tribe has pushed them to go to war. They had a conflict due to turf war regarding the construction of Trans Nabire highway.
Unique Tribal Traditions
With the plethora of tribal diversity, Dani also features various unique traditions of their own. Every tradition they conduct has its own meaning and reflecting their way of lives.
Whenever one of the family members died, the Dani people really plunge into the sorrow. Even more extreme, to express their loss, they cut half of their own finger. This act represents the pain and sadness for the family who just left by their loved ones. The way they cut the finger is varied like cutting it with a sharp knife, bitting it until it went off, or bind it tightly to let that part rotten and then cut it.
This one maybe not so extreme than the previous. The mud bath is also a tradition which conducted when a family member died. They will bath in mud to symbolize that human was made from soil and in the end, we will return to the soil too.
This one tradition is not the one to expressing sadness, but instead, this one is where all the people helping each other to celebrate something. They will work together to make fire to burn stones with only friction from two pieces of wood. The Dani people never use matches or any other media to start the fire.
They are not just burning stones, but they will also cook some foods like pigs or any other livestocks. They prepare the foods to be eaten together in cheers. The Burning Stones tradition is not just about feasting together, but it is also done to make a peace treaty with other tribes. The cheers and the togetherness feeling in helping each other symbolize a peaceful community.
Enjoying White Sands Without The Beach
Do not be surprised when we see white sands on this high altitude destination but without any beaches nearby. The beach-less white sands are located in Aikima Village, 15 minutes motorcycle ride from Wamena, district in Baliem Valley. The white sands in the location are similar to the ones we commonly found on the beach. The texture and even the taste are similar with the beach sands. The logical reason for this uniqueness probably because a source of water which produces salt is located not far from the white sands location. The place would be a great spot for photography because of its contrast colors between the green from the hills and the white from the sands.
The Dani tribe is truly one of the unique tribe in Indonesia. One uniqueness but also scary at the same time about Dani is that they have a mummy. They preserve the dead body of Wim Motok Mabel, a great warlord in his time. The Dani has the belief that the mummy can bring prosperity for the next generations.
Baliem Valley Festival
Once in a year or in August to be exact, there will be a Baliem Valley Festival. The festival will show everyone about a war that happened between the Dani, Lani, and Yali tribe. The festival will take place for three consecutive days. The audiences will be shown a great war drama and it will deliver a strong meaning about how the world should avoid conflict as best as it can.
The festival is a yearly annual. It is usually held in around August, but the exact date will never be the same each time.
Indonesia is in the phase of developing its traveling destination. One of the destinations which still offer natural landscape and traditional life is Papua and Baliem Valley is one of the great lists of the famous trip to the island. Visit the valley if nature and traditions are the things that we are looking for.