Wamena is located in the central highlands of Papua in the Grand Baliem Valley. It is a small city with some shops, hotels, markets and a few restaurants. This is where the Wamena Airport is located and is the main central city where you will fly into when you want to attend the Baliem Valley Festival or a jumping off point for most highland trekking.
The Baliem Valley is 60 km long and only 16 km wide and is the epicenter for the DANI tribal people. Here they grow many varieties of vegetables in their gardens and have designed extensive irrigation systems. The Baliem River flows through the center of the valley and is the life blood of this region.
Wamena and the Grand Baliem Valley are not connected to the coast by roads so all supplies must be flown into the highlands by transport or commercial airline flights. In the last 30 years, as more and more foreigners visit Wamena, the city is rapidly changing and adapting to new
ideas and commercial items.
Every August, usually in the second week, there is a wonderful festival called the Baliem Valley Festival. Hundreds of tribespeople, mostly Dani’s, come to a scenic site just out of town, to join together and show off their skills as warriors and hunters. The festival takes place over several days and includes mock wars, spear throwing contests, pig races, pig roasts, and much dancing and singing of traditional songs.
We have attended this festival many times in the past and can easily arrange for you to attend too. If you are a photographer, you will have many splendid opportunities to take photos of the warriors and tribal people. We often combine a day or two of festival attendance with a short trek into the southern part of the Baliem valley. For people with a short amount of time who want to maximize their experience of Papua in a week or so, this is ideal. If you have more time, you can combine the festival events with a longer trip to either the Yali tribe (highlands) or the Korowai and Kombai tribes (lowlands). And yes, you can even do them all. Just contact us to find out how!