Photos of travel in West-Papua

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Travelling in West-Papua

Roads are very few and far between in West Papua and transport across the region is therefore by plane and coastal shipping. Flying between the capital, Jayapura, and the Baliem Valley in the interior illustrates the sheer inaccessibility of the country, with mountains, impenetrable jungle and wide rivers lazily meandering through the landscape. The Taritatu (Idenburg) River, flowing west, is one of the longest.

Rivers in Papua
Taritatu River
Over Baliem Valley
The Baliem Valley
The Baliem river
View to Pyramid
Valley, towards Mulia
Heading to Mulia
Arriving in Mulia
Flying over Mulia
Children of Mulia
Boys with fruit
Mulia airstrip
Mulia to Enaro
Puncak Jaya
Valley near Paniai
Swamp area, Paniai
View to Lake Paniai
Over Lake Paniai
To Lake Tage
Over Obano village
View to Lake Tigi
Men of Temeppa
Plane in Temeppa
Men with pigs
View of Temeppa
Pulau Numfor
On inter-island ship
Wreck at Kaironi
Kepala Burung peninsula

The Baliem river gives life to the Baliem Valley, home of the Dani people. Flying west from Wamena, following the Baliem, the next stop is the airstrip of Mulia, a settlement in the area west of Gunung Trikora (formerly Wilhelmina Top), a mountain of 4,750 metres, that can be reached from Wamena; further west is Papua's highest mountain, snow-clad Puncak Jaya (5,050 metres), formerly known as the Carstenz Toppen.Enarotali on the lakes, formerly known as the Wisselmeren, with its largest, Danau Paniai, is next, a beautiful and fertile region, the home of the Ekari (also known as Mee or Kapauku) people. Flying north to the coastal town of Nabire, another highland stop is Temeppa, also an Ekari settlement.

Nabire is on Teluk Cendrawasih, a large bay (Geelvink Baai in Dutch days) and due north are the islands of Yapen and Biak. Flying from Biak, west to Manokwari, one passes over Numfor, the scene of heavy fighting in the Second World War: the Japanese had built three airfields on the island; what has become known as the "Battle of Nomfoer" took place between 2 July and 31 August 1944 and resulted in capture by the Allies, with heavy losses. Now it is an unspoilt island, a great place for snorkelling over the reefs, swimming and bird watching.

From Manokwari a ship sails to Sorong, along the top of Doberai or Bird's Head peninsula, Kepala Burung (Vogelkop), named for its shape on the map. There are coastal villages, like Kaironi, that get their supplies from those ships. This is an ecoregion, with unique bird species, the Arfak mountain range, almost 3,000 metres high, and forests; however, road construction, illegal logging and commercial agriculture threaten this unique region.