Baliem Valley Festival in Papua

    I have been dreaming to go to Papua for long and finally it came true last year when I touched down at Dominique Edward Osok Airport, Sorong, for our oversea tour to Raja Ampat. And this year, I am glad that I have another chance to visit Papua again for their annual Baliem Valley Festival in Wamena. If Raja Ampat is more for its underwater discovery then Baliem Valley is for its hilly scenic view, cultures, and tribes.

    We were a group of eight, two ladies and six guys, departing to Wamena. The journey to get to Wamena was quite long but because our flight was at night, it helped us to endure that long hour spent in the sky easier. So, we took flight from Jakarta to Jayapura then continue by taking ATR aircraft to Wamena. In total, it was about 6 hours.

    The 27th Baliem Valley Festival was held from 7 to 9 August this year. We started seeing people coming to the venue at around 9 am and the festival usually ends at around 5 pm everyday. During that three days festival, we could see all about 40 plus tribes come to perform the local cultures such as traditional dances, musical equipment performances, pig races and also mock wars between districts.

    We learned how the tribes live before they were first being discovered in year 1938 and then gradually being civilized when the first missionary, Loyd van Stone, parachuted to the Baliem Valley in year 1954. That was when the process of the civilization of the Baliem Valley, and Dani and Lani tribes, began.

    I enjoyed seeing their costumes, how they paint their body and such. The worries that I heard from people about how disturbing it is to see people with so little or almost without clothing around, totally didn’t bother me much. This is their way of life before they were introduced to civilization.

    Attending the festivals was like an eye-opener for me, knowing how people used to live in the past when all the technologies have not come in and changed people’s life. They may be looked scary but they are actually friendly.
    If you are keen about going to Baliem Valley Festival, you may find out more here.

    Have you been to any cultural festival lately? Let me know by sharing on the comment box below.


    1. What an interesting experience. I love seeing cultural celebrations, especially involving traditional dress and dance. Pinned this!

    2. This is interesting! I was hoping to see a picture of the pig races! The body painting does make them look scary but I guess that’s the whole “worrior” look they are going for.

    3. I have seen indigenous people here in the Philippines wearing barely nothing. I respect their lifestyle but others mock that they do not wear proper clothes. However, it is their way of life. We just need to respect indigenous people. They are probably not bothered of what others think about them.
      Iza c/o Fill My Passport

    4. Just wanted to say, I HEART INDONESIA!! Seriously. I’ve been three times? I donno I stopped counting. I’ve always wanted to go to Papua though. Maybe when I’m there this fall!! Ohhhh you’ve got the gears turning for me now. It totally helps that I can (or at least used to) be able to speak conversationally. I look forward to paging through the rest of your blog!

      • Hi Meg! Glad you heart Indonesia like I do! I myself haven’t finished exploring around yet and I don’t think I will be able to finish it all. Papua has been one of my dream destination and yeah, finally I was there. 🙂

    5. What really strikes you about traditional festivals is the community feeling and the importance of song and dance. Those elements have sustained over the centuries, across the globe.

      • Agree with you! What makes one tribe different from another is their culture shown through their way of life, songs and dances. And I must say I enjoy seeing all these cultural stuffs. 🙂

    6. The festival looks like a lot of fun and a great way to see the area. It’s cool getting to see the customs and traditions of the villagers.I guess the way they dress could be a bit intimidating if you are not used to it.

    7. Such an interesting festival to experience in Papua. It’s so neat to learn the different ways of life and cultures and how they experienced life before being civilized. Nothing scary to it at all! I quite enjoy leaving technology behind and taking part in others customs and traditions.

    8. I have gone for a few Cultural festivals but to be really honest, the authenticity with which Baliem Valley Festival comes in is on another level. Nice post.

    9. The Baliem Valley is still on my bucket list! When I was in Raja Ampat it was too much of a hassle and mentioned not safe, but I would love to go. The festival seems like the best combination and a wonderful cultural experience.

      • Yes, to see the whole cultural things in Papua, the festival is just the right event to go for. That time we didn’t encounter any safety issues there. My friends been there few times and he’s also so far so good.


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