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Korowai expedition

Island: Papua

Duration: 11 days

Day 1 : Denpasar – Sentani – Wamena
Breakfast. Free time and dinner at own leisure. We leave the hotel in the late evening to take the night flight with the national carrier Garuda to the capital city of Papua, Jayapura. Upon arrival in the morning we stay in transit at the airport of Sentani until we can board our second flight with Trigana over the Rouffaeren-Mambramo jungle to Wamena, situated in the Baliemvalley, at 1600 meter above sea level. As soon as we leave the plane we walk into another world, a world most of us thought of as vanished...We walk through the small town Wamena to visit the local market where the Papua try to sell their vegetables and fruit, a place so colorful we need more than our own eyes. Lunch in a local restaurant in Wamena. After lunch we take our 4*4 wheel transport and go visit a small village hidden away between the trees and the fields, Suroba. The local people welcome us in their traditional way and invite us to spend some time with them. This first impression leaves us speechless as we go to our hotel, The Baliem Valley Resort, on the flanks of the valley at 2000 meter. Here we take our dinner and stay overnight.

Day 2 : Wamena – Dekai – Patipi Dibawa
After early breakfast we drive to the airport of Wamena and start preparing to take the regular flight to Yahokimo (Dekai) located at the upper reaches of the Brazza river in the remote lowland area of South east Papua. The 1 hour flight out of the Baliem Valley and into another world gives us a chance to admire the dense and almost uninhabited jungle. Upon arrival we visit the local market to take in our last provisions. Lunch in a local restaurant. We drive to the harbor where we take our long boat where we start our expedition into the jungle and mangrove into the land of the korowai and kombai tribes. We reach the small village of Patipi Dibawa where we raise our first tent camp on the shores of the river. These forest people are the most remote tribes to have been discovered in Papua so far and live high up in the treetops. Their small houses are perched up to 40 meters above the ground both to protect them from insects and enemy tribes. Living in small communities deep in the humid rainforest they occupy small patches of land in the middle of the swamps. Still living in a very traditional way, foraging the forest for food, hunting and fishing they hold on to their own beliefs. Being cannibals till the late 70’s they now are being converted to Christianity by missionaries. Overnight in tents.

Day 3 : Yakohimo – Mabul
Early Breakfast. Today we are in for a whole day on the river by longboat going all the way down the Brazza river and up to the mouth of the mighty Siret river. On the way we take lunch at a simple settlement. After we go further upstream deeper into the jungle and we see the Siret river change into a much wilder one with rapids and pebble banks. Mighty trees are spread all over and at some spots dams of driftwood block nearly the whole course of the river. To get through here smoothly requires enough daylight and a well experienced coxswain. Around dusk we reach Mabul, where several Korowai family's are living. We put up camp at an empty dwelling where we can use the fireplace to prepare our dinner.

Day 4 : Korowai
After breakfast, we break up camp, leave Mabul and start trekking to find another settlement of the Korowai. The Korowai is a semi-nomadic group of people, being horticulturalists practicing shifting cultivation, therefore we will have to search for them in this humid and muddy environment. Immediatly we are inside the jungle which we will not leave for the following days. On occasion we need to cross single log bridges called "monkey bridges", hack our way through dense vegetation and take precautions against insects. Lunch will be served on the way. It will take bout 5 hours to reach today's destination; a beautifull clearing in the rainforest where we will find 6 tree houses from the korowai. These family's will be very excited about our visit and will keep us company the whole time during our stay here. We put up camp beside the tree houses but if you like, we can also raise your tent inside one of the tree houses, from 6 till 25 meters above the ground! Overnight in tents (approx 5 or 6 hours trek ).

Day 5 : Korowai
Breakfast. Today we accompany the Korowai family's into the nearby Sago woods and experience a spectacle from another world. With stone axes these forest nomads take down a huge sago palm tree and smash the inside to gain the pure sago, their main source of food. The women wash the pulp to extract the flour. Nobody will ever forget this experience! In the afternoon we head back to the tree houses and in the evening our cook makes us a real jungle dinner; papaya veggies, fried farn spears with sago pancakes! Every day the kitchen surprises us with different exotic treats! Overnight.

Day 6 : Korowai
We stay at this settlement for another day and enjoy the daily life. Maybe they show us how to repair one of their tree houses or how to make and use bow and arrow to go hunting. Or we can accompanion them at foraging for food in the rainforest and experience first hand how they live up to their name of being hunters-gatherers.

Day 7 : Mabul
After breakfast we break up camp and start our trekking back to Mabul. We leave behind a people and land never to forget. In Mabul we have time to look at the primitive art made here and gives us a chance to take home a souvenir of this memerable trip. Here we say goodbye to our team of porters. We put up camp again for the night.

Day 8 : Mabul - Patipi Dibawa
After breakfast we take the longboat back to Patipi Dibawa downstream. First we go as swift as an arrow on the strong currents of the Siret river untill we reach the Brazza river again. Late in the afternoon we set up camp in the familiar settlement at the upper reaches of the Brazza river. Overnight.

Day 9 : Patipi Dibawa - Dekai - Wamena
This morning we start very early and follow the Brazza river further downstream till we reach the harbor of Dekai again. Here we say goodbye to our boatcrew. We immediatly go to the airfield to take our flight back to Wamena round noon time. Transfer to the Baliem Valley Resort for a nice hot shower and relax, enjoying the view and our lifetime experiences with the Korowai.

Day 10 : Wamena - Sentani
After an early breakfast we take the flight with Trigana back to Jayapura. Upon arrival we go have lunch in a local restaurant along the border of the Sentani lake, the biggest lake in West Papua. A trip on the lake brings us to the small island of Assei where we visit the local people and admire their traditional paintings on treebark. Sentani lake counts21 small islands which we pass when we sail back to the harbor. Check-in hotel. Dinner in local restaurant. Overnight.

Day 11 : Sentani/Jayapura – Bali
Breakfast.We fly with the national carrier Garuda to Bali. A stop-over will be in Timika where the biggest coppers mine in the world is situated, Freeport. Lunch on board. After we arrive at the airport Ngurah Rai in Bali we go to our hotel in Sanur where we spend the night. Dinner at own leisure. Overnight.