Formerly known as Irian Jaya, Papua Province is the western half of the New Guinea Island. With a combined area of over 420 thousand kilometers, Papua consists of thick impenetrable jungle where many traditional tribes that survive harsh conditions and ‘protect’ itself from modern influences.
Despite having some of the most beautiful and extreme natural attractions in Indonesia, if not Southeast Asia, Papua is also one of the least visited destinations in Indonesia due to the limited direct flights, and also cost.
As pointed out before, the province is vast and can hardly fit into one recommendation article, but we’d like to highlight some of the points of interests to ignite your curiosity to the incredible enigma that is Papua.
Important: surat jalan or travel permits are required for all travelers visiting Papua beyond the main coastal towns. This permit can be easily obtained in Jayapura or Biak.
The Baliem Valley
The most popular destination in Irian Jaya and also the most accessible place in the inner valley, with its own Baliem Festival held from 9 to 14 of August each year. The highlight if the festival is the mock ‘tribal fighting’, where men from villagers dress up in full traditional regalia. The festival also features plenty of traditional dancing by both men and women of the Dani tribes, as well as music. Although the festival is tourist oriented and there’s no shortage of foreigners watching the events, the festival is a magical (and very photogenic) occasion.
The Raja Ampat Islands are a series of four islands adjacent to and located in the western part of the Bird’s Head (Vogelkoop) of the island of Papua. Administratively, this cluster is under Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua Province. The islands are now the destination of divers who are interested in the beauty of the underwater scenery. The four islands are Waigeo Island, Misool Island, Salawati Island and Batanta Island. The waters of the Raja Ampat Islands according to various sources, are one of the 10 best waters for diving sites throughout the world. In fact, it might also be recognized as number one for a complete underwater flora and fauna at this time. Unique species can be found when diving here. Some of them are dwarf seahorses, wobbegongs, and Manta Stingrays. There are also endemic fish of Raja Ampat, namely Eviota Raja, a type of gobbie fish. On Manta point, located in the Dampier Strait Arborek, you can dive with a number of tame Manta Stingrays.
Misool island is directly adjacent to the Seram Sea. This area is located at the head of West Papua and close to the city of Sorong. Misool is divided into two parts, southeast Misool and West Misool. This area is also famous for its cultural diversity, customs, sea, and land. Misool Island, including the world’s coral triangle area and dozens of ornamental fish found in the sea, around 75% of the world’s ornamental fish and coral triangles are also found. This area also has a vast sea that becomes a crossing path for large animals such as whales and octopuses. Misool Island also has a potential of coal mining of around 7.222 million tons.
Among the wonderful Raja Ampat Islands, Waigeo is the largest of the archipelago’s four main islands. Waigeo is home to a wide range of attractions. It is also the easiest island to reach by public transport, though exploring its full diversity still remains a challenge. Waigeo Island offers diving, rock islands, scenic bays walled in by towering cliffs, a jungle interior offering good birdwatching, and the cheapest accommodation options in all of Raja Ampat. All in all, it’s the perfect place to start your exploration of the Raja Ampat cluster. Waigeo has a wild and jungly interior, much of which is still largely unexplored and inaccessible.
Wayag Island is one of the islands within the Raja Ampat district in the province of West Papua. The island is known for its beautiful atolls and amazing underwater life covering a total area of 155,000 hectares, about 383,013.3 acres. Here, you find pristine beaches with unique Karst islands that look like mushrooms sprouting out from the sea. Along these beaches, tourists can see fairy tale panorama, more captivating than Leonardo DiCaprio’s getaway in “The Beach”. The crystal clear waters around Wayag Island appear like unreal windows to various types of flora and fauna that live underwater.
Lorentz National Park
The Lorentz National Park is located in Indonesia’s Papua Province, along the ‘Pegunungan Mandala’ range which has the only permanent snowfields and glaciers in the region and whose Carstensz Pyramid (4884 m asl) is one of the world’s seven ultimate summits. The park itself is named after Hendrikus Albertus Lorentz, a Dutch explorer who passed through the area on his 1909–10 expedition, covers an area of 2.35 million hectares, making it the largest protected area in South-East Asia. It is the only protected area in the world to incorporate a continuous, intact transect from snowcap to tropical marine environment, including extensive lowland wetlands.
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