Indonesia Photos of West Papua (Irian Jaya)


April 18 - April 27, 2006


Sumatra      Kalimantan      Sulawesi      West Papua      Bali


Jayapura     Wamena       Baliem Valley       Ugem


The Baliem Valley, Western part of New Guinea Island is mostly inhabited by the Dani tribe was only recently discovered in 

1938 by accident as it was considered uninhabited. The first missionary parachuted into the region in 1954. There 

are no roads built as of now. Although supplies are flown into the region the Baliem Valley is still dominated by the 

straw roofs of  the Dani and Lani tribes. The Dani were the most dreaded head-hunting tribes on the island even though 

they did not eat their enemies as did some of their enemies from other tribes. Sweet potatoes, yams and taro are their main 

food source. At this altitude bananas take a long time to ripen but sugar cane is a popular sweet. 


Click on the Photo to See it at Full Size


Street scene in Wamena. I could feel the difference in people 

and culture from the rest of Indonesia immediately. 

I had been prepared to go into the dense, hot and humid jungle. I 

was not prepared to trek through the mountains so I had to buy 

warm clothes and a blanket for the upcoming cold nights... 

And they were!

Jayapura is Indonesia's Eastern most city Baliem Valley, Papua Barat

 local Market in Wamena. 

The people had a different look and demeanor and people were no

 longer asking me to take photos.Now, I had to pay for them.

The children learn how to buy and sell all goods very early.

Local meat stalls.

These men are selling their pigs.

These kids live in the homes behind them.

Hanging bridge to the village of Wesaput and on the other 

side is the village of Pugima.

This was my crew of a guide (Jaya), cook (Kenyos) and 

2 porters (Alimyus and Martinez). The kids followed us and kept me company for quite a while. I had fun playing tag with them.

My first river crossing. The kids just stared at my every move

and would laugh no matter what I did. I was such a novelty for them.

But they loved when I zipped my pant legs off to make shorts.

Crossing is a part of their daily live to go from village to village.

An interesting bug I had not seen before.

I was chasing these kids up the mountains and we laughed so much.

They would beg me to take photos and then the faces

would get so serious when actually taking the picture.

Taking a break to write in my journal. It gathered quite a crowd. Then they got right on top of me to see what was on the paper. 

They were Emi, Amite, Sura, Mata, Gubu, Amino, Osum, belaria, Casi, Hake, Callin, Batu, Teno, Guys, Manis and Berumpu. I stopped to teach them duck, duck, goose. It was hysterical.

This was my first overnight hut. It certainly was not what was 

expected. The leeches on my bags and shoes inside the hut freaked

me out quite a bit. This was not the intended first stop.

After a tough first night, I wasn't sure what the heck I was doing.

This was a much better choice for my second night.

I even had facilities that were very clean.

Matriarch of the village. 

I was not allowed to ask her name as it is rude.

She was sure to show me her hands with missing fingers.

When you lose a child, spouse or family member the women

cut off a finger  with homemade scissors to show their mourning.

The enemy was spotted (well me). He yelled at me and I yelled

Wa, Wa, Wa, Wa. He signaled for me to enter the village.

These guys were scary to watch fight and I'd hate to be around 

if it were a real war.

As long as I yelled Wa, Wa, Wa, I would be ok.

The village chief welcomed me.

Dani men wear the Koteka or penis gourd straight up or slanted

to one side. The Koteka is a distinguishable characteristic among


The Dani are farmers and live in round or oval huts surrounded 

by gates. 

The villagers were very friendly.

The pig feast I waited so anxiously for. It is held while the village chief

shoots an arrow through it. It is then dropped onto the floor

while it dances around to its death.

The women look on while the men see to the proper death

of the pig. The squealing was deafening. 

The Dani do not track birth dates, ages or anniversaries. 

The young warrior brings the pig to a circle of leaves.

Here it is cut and the organs are removed to prepare the pig for a feast.

Even the youngest of the tribe help cut up the pig.

They are very curious and learn their skills early on.

The ladies hang out together while the men prepare the pig and 

then the women go to work. 

The hole was being prepared for the hot rocks to cook the pig.

The ladies prepare the fire and hot stones. The pig will actually be cooked inside of the leaves and stones once it is fully covered up.

Dani women wear short skirts woven from orchid 

fibers, decorated with straw, and wear bilum bags 

or “noken” across their backs.

Dancing and singing is part of the custom before a feast.

This was the patriarch of the village.

This was the neighbor of the next village I visited. I bought his weapon 

from him and it now hangs on my wall.

This village chief was so kind and gave me a bag of presents. 

I opened it later to find 7 used Kotekas. They are very authentic

and still have the smell of burning wood from sitting in huts with fires.

Crossings at times were difficult and you were left to use

your balance. Mine was not great but luckily, I never fell in.

The hut on the left was my next home.

This was a magnificent view.

Cleaning clothes and bathing all happen in the rivers.

The Baliem river raged below the bridges we were crossing.

The Baliem valley is plush and surrounded by peaks up to 10,000 ft.


These guys were so helpful. I could never have made it without them.

They watched out for me more than the guide.

Thank you Martinez, Alimyus and Kenyos.

That bridge looked so small and fragile from a distance.

The water below felt nice and cool and I learned to not mind the 

wobble so much. Each bridge was amazing to cross.

Some villages have their huts very close together.

This chief really liked the dogtag necklace I gave him.

Another dinner preparation. Different green leaves are used from

a variety of plants for different meals. Cooking with a variety

of plants, foods and flavors is not common.

Buah Merah or Latin Pandanus - Long fruit that is steamed and squeezed out to make a strong red paste to flavor foods. It is only 

grown on this island. It is the oil that is extracted for medicinal use.

Buah Merah is the most proven herbal medicine against Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension, Stroke, Osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS & more. 

It consists of Antioxidants, Beta-carotene, Omega 3 and Omega 9, 

and many other substances to increase body resistance.

Some of the bridges are quite ingenious.

These kids loved the pencils I passed out.

I love this homemade guitar and the songs they all sang for me as 

he played. It was quite entertaining.

This was a very pretty village we passed while trekking.

As you hike the mountains, you pass a variety of 

villagers coming out of nowhere. Most are carrying 

machetes and other various weapons

(including the very young children). 

Some just hang on the side of the trails selling pigs, 

fruits, nuts and misc items.

If you smile and say wa, wa, wa they almost always smile 

back with a warm wa, wa, wa. They will then shake your arm 

at your elbow with their hand. It is a very warm custom

This man had spears. I’m not sure you ever get 

used to passing these serious looking villagers.

Here Martinez carries my bag in the rain.

My last bridge towards "civilization".

You can see the mountains I had crossed. Actually it dosn't begin to show you where I had started. I could not believe how far we went in 

6 days. It seemed an amazing accomplishment.

They loved the bandanas I gave them. It was sweet.

The souvenir crocodile I shipped home for myself.

It is sitting on a shelf with a frog from Indonesia and a Pirarucu 

and Piranha from South America.

Cruising Lake Sentani

Aiyapo and Assey Islands

A graveyard behind these lake homes.

As I stepped out of the boat, I fell right onto my right 

elbow. The same one I previously fractured and injured 

in the motorcycle accident. It gathered quite a crowd and I 

just kept saying I'm fine but it hurt so very much.


Loved the kids playing in the canoes by the pigs.

A homemade sheet metal canoe.

Viewing the lake by motorized canoe.

Jayapura City View

Jayapura City Mosque

Jayapura Momument Overlooking Sentani Lake

I got a kick out of the name Shalom Computer.

Aerial view leaving West Papua and continuing to Bali.

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