Tour module round trip Adventurous Papua - the Korowai
You sleep in small tents and sometimes in local primitive accommodations. Besides a guide you will also be accompanied by porters and a cook during your trip.
You need to be in good physical condition and have a great deal of adaptability as you will get into not everyday situations.
The round trip starts and ends in Jayapura. If you wish you can add the Baliem valley tour module to (before or after) your Korowai round trip.
€ 3,250 p.p. based on 4 or more participants
•Overnight stays with breakfast, lunch and dinner
• English speaking guide
. Local airport tax
. Optional excursions
•Tips and personal expenses
•Travel and cancellation insurance
•Booking fee and contribution Calamiteitenfonds €30 per booking
Day 1 Arrival Jayapura
Day 2 Departure to Dekai
Day 3 A day on the Brazza river
Day 4 Trekking to the Korowai
Day 5 Living with the Korowai
Day 6 Living with the Korowai
Day 7 Back to Mabul
Day 8 Brazza river to Dekai
Day 9 Back to Wamena
Day 10 From Kilise to Wuserum
Day 11 Pig festival in Jiwika
Day 12 Back to Jayapura
Day 13 Departure from Jayapura
KorowaiThe Korowai, also called Kolufo, are the people who live in southeast Papua, the southeastern part of West New Guinea. They number about 3000. It is possible that the Korowai were unaware of the existence of any people besides themselves, before outsiders made contact with them in 1970.
Some sources say this group belongs to one of the few peoples that until today have practised cannibalism. Other sources contradict this and say cannibalism hasn’t been practised anymore for 20 years now.
The term Korowai is a Malaysian derivation of the name Kolufo, refers more to commonality in language, than to tribe unity. The patriarch is for the Korowai themselves the relevant unity if it’s about self-identification. These Papua people, from subdistrict Kouh in the southern district Merauke of the Indonesian province Papua, live between the islands and the upperstream of the Beckingrivier.
Living on the rhythm of the Sago palmWithout the sago palm the Korowai would be lost. This palm tree is not only used for the construction of their houses, it’s also their main food. Sago is a sort of flour made from the pulp of the sago palm. It’s a very laborious process. One family uses one tree per week! So, when there are no sago palms left the tribe has to move. The sago palm that provided food and construction material is finally used as fuel. The Korowai hunt (e.g. wild pig and Kasuaris) and fish, with arrows they make themselves.
The treehouses can reach heights up from 12 to 50 meters. The bark of the sago palm is used for the wooden floor and walls, and its leaves for the roof. The frame of the house is made of branches which are tied together with straw. To climb to the house they suspend a ladder made of a dry trunk in which notches are cut. This ladder trembles by each step and warns the occupants that a visitor is coming. Because of their small and muscular body the Korowai easily climb trees.
A marriage is often an occasion to build a new house. Even the families from neighbouring tribes come over to help.
Hostility towards strangers
Some Korowai-tribes refuse receiving white people and are hostile towards strangers. Arrows sometimes fly over the heads. Other tribes, living closer to the city, gave up their traditional equipment and receive tourists. But it is almost impossible to go there unannounced.
Entirely in accordance with their tradition the Korowai wear strange jewels. Their nose is pierced with the bone of a kasuaris-wing. Some also have special marks on their face and braids from sago palm fibres.
WamenaWamena is the capital of the Baliem Valley. It’s a pleasant little town with nice shops.
The Baliem valley lies at an altitude of 1600-1700 metres in the mountains and has therefore a temperature of 15 – 20 degrees. In the valley live some 100.000 people, of whom most are original Papuas and the rest transmigrants from especially Sulawesi and Java.
Baliem valley - TribesThe original population are the Dani people, a well-known tribe in Papua. The Dani are known for their war-minded attitude. When the valley was discovered, people noticed that everywhere high, slim towers had been built. These were lookouts to warn the villagers that hostile clans were approaching. These lookouts were little by little put down when the area got under Dutch administration and war-making was forbidden. The Dani of the Baliem valley are related to the tribes from the mountains west of the valley, that are called western Dani or Lani. Their area is more densely populated than the area of the Dani. A third tribe are the Yali, who live in sparsely populated areas high on the mountain flanks of the Jayawijayain mountain chain.
Under Indonesian administration in the 70’s the situation became tense with the Dani, who were considered as underdeveloped people. In the early seventies the Indonesian government tried with 'Operation Koteka' to motivate the Dani to change their Koteka for clothes and to house them in modern square houses. Many Indonesian soldiers, who had to carry out the policy, regarded the Dani as 'savages' (little more than animals, an attitude that’s still alive among many Indonesians) and treated them very badly. Opposing Dani were sometimes even killed. In 1977 the Dani rebelled led by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka, the Dani fought with bow and arrow against Indonesian soldiers with rockets, attack planes and helicopters with which they bombed the Dani villages. It is estimated that 500 Dani died during the fighting, that was concentrated around the villages Pyramid and Bokondini in the north of the valley. 'Operation Koteka' was a complete failure.
In the nineties a new fight broke out for independence, which also was put down violently by the Indonesian government, that in 1997 even tried to put up the tribes against each other and thus stay out of range itself. Until the middle of the 20th century the valley was closed territory. A lot of Indonesian government officials still consider the valley as ‘the end of the world’.