ONCE WE WERE CANNIBALS

Papua, Indonesia’s last frontier, is one of the most remote, beautiful and culturally fascinating places I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. The landscapes throughout the valley are spectacular; huge cliffs, engulfing waterfalls and rivers are home to these strange and curious people.


The local tribes, Dani and Yali, will surprise and shock you with their traditions – including their clothing and their kindness. Yet, it may come as a surprise, that up until recently, and in some cases even today, these tribes still practice cannibalism.


Cannibalism has a long surviving history in many deep rural tribes of New Guinea and is home to the last surviving tribes in the World still engaging in the headhunting act. Ritual cannibalism manifests the tribe’s strong belief in animism.


The Dani Tribe of West Papua


The Dani Tribe of rural West Papua are headhunters who live in tiny mushroom shaped huts and are still yet to be discovered? The men spend most of their time making primitive weapons and hunting, while the women of the tribe care for the young and grow food.


Dani tribe lives in its own world full of odd rites and rituals including small-scale warfare and unusual ritualistic displays, often involving pig slaughtering and token killing.

Trekking the Baliem Valley


The Baliem Valley is lined with lush green hills and stunning rivers and is the ideal landscape for hiking and camping. Home to the iconic Dani and Yali tribes, the valley is relatively undisturbed and peaceful, only interrupted by the steady sound of the Baliem river rapids. Taking in the beauty of the Western New Guinea highlands is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hiking the Baliem Valley is a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding journey.
 
Day 1: Wamena – Kurima – Hitugi


Starting the trek early on the first day is a good way to start the journey. Take the bus from Wamena to the Police post of Kurima, where you will register before you begin the trek. It's a simple walk before you begin the climb to Hitugi. Hitugi is a simple village where you can buy some food and a place to sleep. This will be your first contact with the local people.
 
Day 2: Hitugi – Yuarima – Yogoshine


Today you will experience breathtaking landscapes and the constant presence of the Baliem river. Yuarima is a nice little town with an abundance of family life. You will then begin your climb to Yogoshine.
 
Day 3: Yogoshine – Wamena


Our night in Yogoshine was very memorable. We stayed for the night in the village where they invited us for a Christmas dinner, tribal ground oven cooked pig and captivating ceremonial dances, followed by a more modern Christian tradition ceremony.

 

Trekking in West New Guinea is an incredible insight into age-old traditions and timeless customs - a journey that will never be forgotten.