West Papua / Irian Jaya

Sunset over Papua

West Papua is a province of Indonesia on the western end of Papua island. It covers the Bird’s Head (or Doberai) Peninsula and surrounding islands. The province has a population of approximately 800,000, making it one of the least populous of all Indonesian provinces. The capital of West Papua is in Manokwari.

The larger part of West Guinea is the province of Papua, a land of contrasts, with some of the most impenetrable jungles in the world and snowcapped mountain peaks towering over glacial lakes. Papua is Indonesia’s largest and eastern most province and covers the western half of the world’s second largest island. It is a land of exceptional natural grandeur; with beautiful scenic beaches, immense stretches of marshlands, cool grassy meadows and powerful rivers carving gorges through dense primeval forests. The most heavily populated and cultivated parts of the island are the Paniai Lakes district and the Baliem Valley to the east.

The people of the island can be divided into more than 250 sub-groups, including the Marindanim, Yah’ray, Asmat, Mandobo, Dani and Afyat. Those in the central highlands still maintain their customs and traditions, virtually untouched by outside influences.

According to the scientists who is found 52 new species in Indonesia recently, that the Bird's Head peninsula at the western end of New Guinea Island is the epicentre of marine biodiversity. There are 1,223 species of fish and 600 types of corals. Covering about 18,000 sq km (6,950 miles), it has a greater concentration of species than Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Images courtesy of Indonesian Culture and Tourism

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Baliem Valley
Amazing underwater landscapes
Traditional Papuan souvenirs

Underwater Recommendations

Raja Ampat is the most bio-diverse location in the world more than 3000 species of fishes and over 300 species of corals have been identified here, in a single one and half hour dive you can identified more than 282 fish species and more than 400 species. Till this very day the area is virtually unexplored and unknown due to its size. This area as there are still many remnants of WW II.

Possible rough seas and decreased visibility in the Raja Ampat area are from mid-June until the end of August. During the rest of the year, the sea is mostly very smooth whith good visibility.

Getting There

It is easiest to fly through to Sorong via Jakarta or via Singapore. Merpati, Pelita and Lion/Wings Airlines operate daily flights from Jakarta to Sorong (with stopovers in Ujung Pandang/Makassar and/or Manado), whereas Silk Air operates regularly from Singapore to Manado. Daily flights to and from Sorong by Airlines Merpati, Lion/Wings or Pelita.

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