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Baliem Valley Tour & Trekking - Highland Papua

Baliem Valley and the Dani tribe waited a long time to be discovered. Papuan highland belongs to one the most recently explored New Guinea areas. The tall mountains in west Papua (Irian Jaya) were generally considered as uninhabited. No sooner than 1398 did the pilot Richard Archold notice that there was something special about the deep, and large valley situated among the four-thousand meter tall mountains. In the valley there were clearly recognizable fields, similar to those he knew from Europe. The Baliem valley and Dani tribe were discovered by pure luck.

Baliem Valley, inhabited by the Dani tribe, is the most fertile part of the highland covering the west of the New Guinea Island – Papua (Irian Jaya). Baliem Valley lies about 1600 m above the sea level, and it is surrounded by a crest of

 mountains some of which reach up to 4500 m. There are even some fish in the Baliem River which flows through the valley. The area covered by the Baliem valley is not large, roughly 60×30 km.

You have probably seen the famous photos of Dani tribe members with boar tusks in their noses, and headdresses made of Paradise birds feathers. Dani men only wear long and thin kotekas. The women Danis wear short skirts woven from orchid fibers, decorated with straw, and with indispensable woven bags called “noken” across their backs. Similar to the women of the Yali tribe, the Dani women wear short skirts below their butts.

Despite the fact that Danis were discovered quite late – in 1938, they became one of the best known tribes in New Guinea. Dani occupied one of the most fertile parts of Papua. As a result they often had to fight for their territory. There were also frequent wars among the Danis themselves. They were the most dreaded head-hunting tribe on the island, which is even more remarkable if we consider that they did not eat their enemies, like the majority of other Papuan tribes did.

With us you can be in a face to face contact with Dani people. Dani build round or oval huts, and their villages are enclosed by fences. They are farmers, and their small fields are distinctly bordered. This is what helped Richard Archbold spot them from the plane. The Dani tribe’s customs and culture are very rich and interesting. Several pages could be written on these topics

The main reason that the Dani tribe is so well known, is that the Baliem valley where they live, is relatively easy to reach these days. Wamena was a point of departure for many expeditions. The Dani villages are visited by virtually every tourist who sets out in west Papua. Some villages even show their original customs and hold mock wars.

Another thing which brought fame to the Dani tribe are the several hundred years old ”smoked” mummies of famous tribesmen. Three of them can be seen in the Baliem valley – in Akima, Pumo and Jiwika villages.

 

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