Explore the last frontier of Indonesia’s remote Papua Island, embark on a spectacular cultural journey and attend the Baliem Valley cultural Festival scheduled to take place from August 08th -10th 2019-this year.
This is the one occasion when all the diverse tribes from the highlands of Wamena and the Baliem Valley such as the Dani, Lani, and the Yali congregate to celebrate their annual festival. This year the festival will be centered in the district of Jayawijaya. Located high in the Jayawijaya mountains on the Indonesian side of the island of New Guinea, Baliem is a stunningly beautiful green valley long hidden beyond soaring hills.
Highlight of the Festival is the mock tribal warfare held to maintain the agility and preparedness of the tribes to defend their villages.
To prepare for these mock battles, organizers have prepared an arena of 400m by 250m that will be filled with 500 to 1000 of warriors and dancers.
The tribal war simulation is scheduled to be held during two days featuring about 26 groups of 30-50 warriors. These mock battles are accompanied by the Papuan traditional music of Pikon. Pikon is a musical instrument made out of wood skin which produces sounds when one blows it. The sounds created produce soothing music. Not many people can play the instrument as it requires special skills.
Organized by the district government of Jayawijaya, the festival is aimed to introduce and preserve the values and culture of Baliem Valley’s traditional tribes. The Baliem Valley festival will be enhanced by various fascinating art and cultural performances, including traditional Papuan dances, pig racing, Puradan Rattan Spear Throwing, Sikoko Spear games, Papuan traditional musical performance, and many more.
There will also be a special competition of Sege throwing and archery competition for foreign visitors as a sign of appreciation for their attendance. Visitor can also experience the true meaning of being a Papuan by wearing the traditional costumes of Koteka and have their skins blackened so they can also be part of the festivities.
Join the crowd and learn what makes them smile, laugh, and cheer. The Baliem Valley Festival 2019 awaits, offering abundant memories of the magical land of Papua.
To reach Baliem Valley fly to the town of Wamena via Jayapura. There are regular flights available to Jayapura from Jakarta and Makassar. To attend the Festival it is best to contact an experienced travel agent.
For complete information on the Baliem Valley, including flights, operators, how to get there, where to stay, and what to do, you can visit our: Baliem Valley : Home of the Dani
Foreigners must obtain a travel permit, known as Surat Keterangan Jalan to get access into the interior of Papua. You can obtain the Surat Keterangan Jalan at major police stations, such as at Jayapura, Merauka, Timika, Biak, Nabire, Monokwari and other majorpermit will depend on your request, lasting from 1 week to 1 month or longer. Prepare copies of your passport, recent photograph and list of places you wish to visit. It is easy to obtain the Surat Keterangan Jalan, because the officers are friendly and helpful. A Guide is needed to explore the valley. The best time to visit is between March and August If you travel during the rainy season, prepare yourself with cold weather gear Ask your guide about Do’s and Don’t in the Baliem Valley. High up in the mountains of central Papua at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, hemmed in by steep green mountain walls, lies the stunningly beautiful Baliem valley, home of the Dani tribe.
Baliem valley is 72 km. long, and 15 km to 31 km wide in places. It is cut by the Baliem river, which has its source in the northern Trikora mountain, cascading into the Grand Valley, to meander down and further rushing south dropping 1,500 meters to become a large muddy river that slowly empties into the Arafura Sea.
The first outsider to discover the valley was American Richard Archbold, who, on 23 June 1938 from his seaplane, suddenly sighted this awesome valley dotted with neat terraced green fields of sweet potatoes, set among craggy mountain peaks. This is Indonesia’s own Shangri-La.
Only recently emerged from the Stone Age, the Dani are known as the “gentle warriors”. With their simple tools of stone and bone, they nonetheless, managed to sculpt green fields that hug the hills, where they grow root crops, and raise pigs. They have also built outposts and lookout towers to defend their valley from hostile tribes.
Because of the fertile soil and their agricultural skills, the Dani together with the sub-tribes of the Yali and the Lani, are, therefore, the most populous in Papua, living scattered in small communities near their gardens among the steep mountain slopes. Today, they also cultivate bananas, taro and yams, ginger, tobacco and cucumbers.
The men’s and women’s huts (locally called the honai) have thick thatched roofs, which keep the huts cool during the day and warm during the cold nights.
By trekking, you can witness traditional ceremonies, traditional markets and the way of life of the Dani. There are a very limited number of restaurants inside the Baliem Valley. Your tour guide can bargain with the Dani people to provide you with simple meals. It’s strongly advised that visitors bring their own meals and snacks during trekking through and around Baliem Valley. Meals and snacks can be bought at grocery stores in Wamena.
To make your trip easier and to get the most value, it is advisable to find a packaged tour offered by several operators. Click on Find Travel Agent
At the end of the mock battles, food festivities are held at the venue or nearby. When you book a tour package, the organizers usually provide places to eat. Dance performances and music shows are staged and visitors are welcome to join.
During the festival, have your camera ready. Very often you will come across unique moments that you never want to miss. A number among the more than a thousand war participants, do want to keep abreast with the outside world, so they adorn themselves with local regalia, while sporting flashy sunglasses: a personal ad of a trendy look meeting age-old tradition. Ask them politely to pose for you. It’s an unusual anachronism not to be missed.
All you need to do during the festival is just observe and enjoy the mock war. The longer it gets, the nearer the spears and arrows get to hit the opponents. The closer the miss, the louder the roar from the hundreds of spectators. They have participated in these battles every year so that participants do get better each year.
After the Festival, visitors can go sightseeing to the Dani Market in Wamena, and visit the traditional Wauma Village that can be reached by car from Wamena. In Aikima see a 250 year-old mummified village chief, or, after a 2-hour climb, see the salt springs, where Dani women have, for centuries, made salt in a simple manner.
Baliem Valley Festival 08-10- 2019