Traveling to Papua is rough, but highly rewarding. Still an off-the-beaten-path destination, Papua doesn’t see many visitors. Trekking the Baliem Valley is even more challenging, with barely 700 people hiking the mountains per year. If you are looking on how to Prepare your trek, see below our Guide to Baliem Valley Trekking.
Your Planning Guide to Baliem Valley Trekking
There are three options to trek the Baliem Valley – with a tour guide, or with only porters, or independently. In a few words:
- Yes, you can find food in the villages
- Yes, you can sleep there
- No, you don’t need a guide
- No, you don’t need a porter
- Your Papua adventure trek route goes from villages to villages, and not through the jungle at any point
- To tour Papua, you need to be in super good shape physically.
- Your bag is not too heavy, due to the constant up and down and unmaintained trails
- You speak Bahasa or are ready to spend a long time translating all communications via Google Translate!
- If you are planning on taking a path outside the villages, then you need a porter to at least show you the way, and help you cook the food, and create an emergency shelter if need be.
The most significant city in the Papuan Highlands, Wamena is the central hub for all activities and the departing point for all treks to the Papua trekking Baliem Valley. Given the remote location and the terrain around Wamena, there is no road access. Flying is your only option. More information about Wamena coming shortly.
Travel Permit “Surat Jalan”
You don’t need any travel permit to be in Wamena, or to visit the nearby villages like Soroba or Dugum about one hour away. But you do need one if you travel deeper into the Baliem Valley and Yalimo country.
You can easily get it from the police station not far from the Wamena airport. We read you can also get it directly from the airport, but we did not see anything about that.
Bring two photo IDs, and a rough itinerary of the villages you want to travel too as the police officer will list them on the permit. You can register as many as you want, which gives you the flexibility to adjust your final itinerary.
Once you have your permit and before you leave Wamena, make two copies to take with you. One copy will be for the army station on the road to Kurima, the other for the police station in Kurima.
Baliem Valley Trekking Preparations
I would not recommend this to be your first multi-day trek as it is somewhat challenging and rough. Provided you already are an experienced hiker, you know what types of gear you need for a trek. Think 3-season kind of clothes and equipment as the weather and temperatures can change during the day, including potential rain. Moreover, since you are in a notably remote region, you need to be self-sufficient with your most essential equipment.
In addition to the regular hiking items, I would highly recommend the following for any Papua trekking tours:
- Trekking poles: the trail is very up and down, and your knees will thank you
- Goretex Gaiters: Whichever route you choose will take you over high plateaux, mud, and wet trails.
- Water Filter: Because you don’t want to get sick in remote areas
- Large Tarp: for emergency rain protection or if you have to spend nights in the jungle. At least 4x6m (16″x24″)
- Water cover: for your bag but also potentially as a ground protection.
- Bug spray – make sure to take a product that protects against fleas, and with a strong DEET. If you prefer something without DEET, this Picaridin-based bug spray might be a better option.
- Sleeping bag Some of the camps are at over 3,000 m (10,000 ft) elevation and with high risk of rain, so you will want something to keep you warm at night
- Sleeping mat. We did not have our regular sleeping mat but regular construction insulation is a good and cheap alternative that you can find in material stores. Not the most comfortable or the most packable, but light and keeps you dry.
If you are planning to go through inhabited areas and spend a night in the jungle, make sure you or your porter have something to boil the water and cook, as well as a machete. Even if you brought your freeze-dried food, and hire porters, they will need to cook their food and boil water for coffee. Most porters usually have a pot and a kettle with them.
Food to buy in Wamena
You can find a lot of things around Wamena, even though it won’t be your regular trekking staple – no freeze-dried food here. Most of the items are available from the regular shops, but a few specific products were only in stock at the Ropan supermarket on the road to the airport.
- Regular stores: Instant noodles, coffee, and sugar, cigarettes, cookies
- Ropan supermarket: Instant oatmeal, instant soups, dried raisins
- Food Costs: Between these two stores, we spent about 300,000 IDR (about US$22)
Baliem Valley Trail Options
There are about 3 to 4 routes that will take you from Wamena to Angurruk. We used one of the southern ways going through Yogosem-Ballingama to avoid the shorter Elit ladders.
See below our Baliem Valley Trek GPS coordinates:
Map generated from the GPS data captured during the trek. The KMZ file can be downloaded here: KML file for Baliem Valley Trek
Our itinerary was set to be an 8-day trek Papua through Kurima, Hitugi, Yogosem, two nights in the Jungle, Balingama, Sobaham, two other nights in the jungle, and finally Angurruk.
That trail was challenging, tough and rough! We went through villages and jungle, met fantastic people and fantastic scenery along the way. We did not reach Angurruk due to the trail conditions, but we recommend the trek. For more details on the trek, our exact route, and trail information, read our post on Trekking the Baliem Valley and Yalimo Country.
How to Get to Baliem Valley
Wamena to Kurima
We used public transit, called Bemo, basically minibusses. Take them from the central market in Wamena. You need to change bemo once as the road has been washed out, and need to take a second bemo close to Kurima
- Main Bemo Wamena to Yahuhimo: About 45 minutes – 1 hour, and 20,000 IDR per person
- Small bemo to Kurima: About 15 minutes, and 10,000 IDR per person
Flight from the Baliem Valley to Wamena
About 4 or 5 small airlines -MAF, AMA, Susie Air, Demonin Air, and Trigana – fly between Wamena and the different villages. They usually don’t have a fixed schedule as they operate depending on the resupply needs. The good news is that there are enough of these bush airlines flying in/out nearby villages that you should be able to hitch a ride back to Wamena. The downside is that you don’t know in advance which community or which airline. The best way is to have someone in the village to radio the nearby airstrips and get an idea of the airplanes’ schedule for the next couple of days.
Many of these airlines are legacy or still sponsored by missionary organizations that deliver food and freight around Wamena. The prices tend to be more expensive leaving Wamena as the airplanes are generally full with goods. Returning to Wamena gives you a better chance to find space and at a lower price. All companies are charging about the same price. Note that there is potentially a weight surcharge for your pack and an airstrip fee. We paid around 600,000 IDR per person for our Sobaham to Wamena flight.
Papua Travel Advice: Safety in the Baliem Valley
As Westerners, we did not feel threatened by anyone during our 7-day trek through the Baliem Valley and Yalimo. Tensions do sometimes exist between villages and tribes, but people welcomed us wherever we went. However, people from Indonesia as in from Java, Sulawesi or Bali, might want to reconsider going there. Papuan feel strongly about getting their independence from Indonesia, and there is a definite hostility against Indonesian. As the situation might change quickly, check with your embassy and consulate for the latest Papua travel advisory.
On our end, we only encountered smiles and laughs, friendly people with a warm welcome. Though the language was a barrier, we had only the most amazing encounter with the local Papuan and loved every second of it.
What we found more challenging and potentially dangerous where the trail conditions. The further and deeper you go into the mountains, the more remote, and the less maintained. Having an accident there could be tricky as there would not be quick access to medical aid, and evacuation might require a helicopter pickup or going on the back of your porter.
Food in the Baliem Valley
The items below can be found on the trail, though they will be more expensive than in Wamena.
- Lunch pack made of rice and vegetable when we left Kurima: 10,000 IDR/pax
- Sweet potatoes 20,000 IDR x 2 (good for breakfast or snacks on the trail)
- Coffee: Hitugi 10,000 IDR (10 packs), Paligama 20,000 IDR, Yogosem 20,000 IDR (2 x 10,000 IDR)
- Sugar: Yogosem 60,000 IDR (1 kg), Paligama 80,000 IDR
- Rice: Hitugi 150,000 IDR (5 Kg @ 30,000 IDR/kilo), Yogosem 30,000 IDR (1 kg) 60,000 IDR (2 kg)
- Instant Noodles: Hitugi 30,000 IDR (3 packs), Yogosem 50,000 IDR (10 x 5,000 IDR each)
- Wood: 20,000 IDR / night – sometimes included in the lodging or the cooking costs
- Vegetables: when available at the villages, mostly cabbage, sweet potato leaves, or local greens.
- Note that the prices will increase the deeper you go into the mountains
- Average Dinner cost 30,000K for 2 (Hitugi)
- When you buy food in the villages, you usually end up sharing it with the local family that is hosting you. No meat is available unless you are willing to pay an extravagant price for a whole pig – between 40 to 70 million IDR depending on the pig’s size.
Coffee and sugar are the staples of choice, and you will never have enough. That, with cigarettes, is what people consume in a very high volume.
If you are getting porters, here is what we suggest taking per day per person:
- Morning: 2 packs of noodles
- Lunch: 1 pack (will be cooked along the way)
- Dinner: 1 pack noodle to flavor 1 kilo of rice (for 4 people) + vegetables from the local family
- Coffee: 100 g every 2 days for 4 people
- Sugar: 1 kg every 4 days
- Cigarettes: 1 pack / day
Baliem Valley Accommodation
If you stay in villages, most of them will have either a small guest room or share their men’s house with you. The accommodations are usually very simple, four walls and a wooden floor. The men’s houses are traditional houses, usually round and with hay as your mattress.
As a woman but a tourist, I was allowed to stay with my husband and the other men. Women would come to share dinner together though.
In any case, you will most likely sleep on the ground. There is usually no shower, no toilet available – Cost per night is roughly 250,000 INR for 2 people. Note that guides and porters sleep for free in the villages.
If you plan on trekking in areas without villages, make sure to carry a large sturdy tarp. A must-have given the cold and rainy conditions on the high plateaus.
Guide to Baliem Valley Trekking: Costs Breakdown
- Purchased in Wamena: 300,000 IDR
- On the trail: 630,000 IDR (for 4)
- Large solid tarp: 250,000 IDR (size at least 4×6, strong blue fabric)
- Cigarettes: Wamena 70,000 IDR, Yogosem 80,000 IDR, Sobaham 200,000 IDR
- Bemo Wamena to Kurima: 60,000 IDR (3 pax) + 30,000 IDR
- Flights: Sobaham to Wamena: 2,400,000 IDR (500,000 IDR /pax flight + 100,000 IDR/pax airstrip fees)
- Guide Martinus:
- Initial deposit 1M IDR before departure
- On the 1st day: 2M IDR
- Porter Seth
- 300,000 IDR / day as porter only, 350,000 IDR / day after Martinius abandoned us and Seth acted as a guiding porter (total 3,000,000 ID for 9 days)
- 1M IDR (paid in kind with their flights back to Wamena)
- Hitugi 250,000 IDR, Yogosem 250,000 IDR, Ballingama 500,000 IDR
TOTAL COSTS: 11 Million IDR for 7 days (~830USD as of mid-2017)
- Hitugi 250,000 IDR, Yogosem 250,000 IDR, Ballingama 500,000 IDR
When to Go for your Baliem Valley Trek
The hiking season is at its peak from June to August. However, the area can also be hiked in May and September, with some rainy days. August might get quite busy, especially around the Baliem Valley Festival in Wamena. Avoid December to April as it tends to rains heavily. October and November can be rainy, but that’s the time the porters work in their gardens, so you might not find porters or have to pay more to make it their time’s worth.
Our Baliem Valley Experience
We went for an 8-day Baliem Valley trek starting from Wamena and flew back from Sobaham. See our trek Papua report day-by-day itinerary for more details, including Baliem Valley map and our own Baliem Valley itinerary.
Further posts on lodging in Wamena, getting to Papua, and whether to travel with a guide or independently, are coming shortly. Click here for more posts on hiking and trekking or adventure travel in Indonesia,
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April 9, 2019 at 5:39 am
Thank you for your writing this guide and share your experience, it is super helpful. We are about to organize our trek for Nov. We plan it to be shorter and less challenging. I m trying to plan the route and decide how far, how deep we should go in to the wild.
Funny fact that the itineraries you can find online are offering shorter routes then your first day was, but that shorter distance is divided into 3 days.
I guess guides would prefer to walk less and make more money. I can actually understand that..
Where I m still a bit confused is: how to make sure that our guide will not leave us in the middle of nowhere. No matter if I book it in advance (for higher cost most probably) or just hire a random guy in Wamena. Can we get any guarantee that if I pay more they treat us better.. who knows.. maybe this uncertainty has to be part of the adventure. 🙂
April 17, 2019 at 12:07 am
Glad you find our post useful. The first day was quite tiring and I can see why some tour companies might want to make it shorter. However, it wasn’t any less tiring than the rest of the trip, on the contrary, so that would mean for the entire trip to be longer. It can be that the tour operator is picking up their porters from the nearby villages as these guys usually live there and not in Wamena. I am not sure, to be honest, on how to approach the payment issue. In retrospect, I would only pay a small deposit and then pay on the day by day basis. Or pay for the costs of things yourself, so that it limits how much the tour operator has to handle moneywise. One of the reasons we ended giving more just before departing was that our guide wanted to leave money to his family in Wamena before leaving. We bought the story, which did make sense, as we know these guides work on limited cash level. But it turned out to be a bad decision since he gave him no motivation to stay beyond these first days. Even if you pay more, you will still sleep in the same accommodation. You might get more diverse food if you buy ahead of time in Wamena, but that would mean more to carry (by yourself or a porter). Higher costs don’t necessarily mean better services. Maybe one option is to mention a better bonus at the end of the trip if all goes well and they deliver as discussed. If you get to meet our porter-turned guide Seth though, he is reliable and will get you there and back. We could not have made the trip without him. I am still trying to get a way to access him locally. Have fun! Would love to go back to the Baliem Valley, incredible experience! Feel free to reach out again if you have any other questions.
November 6, 2018 at 10:56 am
Thank you for the great diary and information of your trip! We used a lot of it to plan our trekking there.
Could you tell us where you bought the tarp? We cannot bring to heavy bags because of the weight control for the flight to Wamena.
Thank you so much!
November 7, 2018 at 11:04 pm
Hi Suzy, So happy to hear you found our Baliem Valley blog post useful! We bought the tarp in one of the small stores in Wamena. If you go to the nearby streets around the Ropan supermarket, you will find a lot of these small shops. Shop around as I recall we got different prices. Also, take a bigger-than-you-think size, ours ended being a shelter for 4 people sleeping and cooking under it. I think we got a 4×6 blue tarp, stronger than the brown tarp. When are you going to Wamena? Have a safe trek!
November 7, 2018 at 11:10 pm
Thank you for the quick answer!
We arrive at Wamena next week on Wednesday. It is going to be a very rainy weather ?
We are so excited about our trip, hope we can reach Angguruk!
November 23, 2018 at 10:18 pm
The rain is no joke there, be safe, and enjoy your trek! You are in for a treat! Would love to hear from your Baliem experience when you return. 🙂
November 29, 2018 at 4:28 am
Dear Patricia! We arrived back from our trip which was amazing, we have fantastic experiences! We wanted to reach Angguruk through the Elit Mountain, but we were told that the wooden steps there are partly damaged and it is very dangerous. The road through Sobaham would be too long and we did not have enough time for that, so we went between the two ways, via the Wonggul that ends up in Waniyok, and on the 6th day we reached Angguruk. AND we went with Seth from Yuarima, your previous guide! He is sending his greetings to you!
Once again, thank you for the great blog, it helped us a lot in planning and preparing!
April 17, 2019 at 12:16 am
Hi Suzy, Sorry for the late reply, we had some issues with our commenting app and some comments are just showing up. So glad to hear from you! I am not that surprised to hear the wooden steps via Elit were too damaged. Seems that they are deteriorating. Good to hear about that alternate option via Wonggul and Waniyok. That makes for a shorter alternative. Did you spend some time in the jungle or mostly in villages?
It’s so cool you met Seth! How did you get to meet him? Would you have his contact number by any chance? The Facebook account that Siam gave us did not work once we were in Wamena. Who did you hire for a guide? Would you recommend him?
April 18, 2019 at 7:40 am
We spent the first night in Yuarima, the second in Kiroma, we had three nights in the jungle and on the sixth day we slept in Angguruk.
We met Wendy at the airport, he is a Lani man who speaks quite good English, he guided us to Yuarima where Seth lives. Wendy walked back to Wamena the next day and we continued the trekking with Seth. Wendy was helpful in finding us Seth and telling us about the lifestyle and culture of the local people. But he did not really keep himself to our agreement. He told us that he will come with us in the first two days, but he abandoned us next morning (somehow like Martinus left you), AND he took the money for the second day as well. He was threatening us with telling Seth not to guide us unless we pay him two days fee for his one day work. So we paid him. Anyway, you can find him at Wamena airport, or they know him at the Hotel Baliem Pilamo and they will call him if you ask them.
Unfortunately we do not have any contact to Seth. But if I would go again to the Baliem valley, I would walk on my own to Yuarima and look for Seth or Siam and hire them there. Of course you have to speak a little Indonesian for this.
April 25, 2019 at 7:04 am
Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate! I am so sorry to hear you had a similar experience. We did not contact Wendy though he was on our list of potential guides. I really don’t understand how they can behave like this. And I agree with you, if one can, the best way would be to get to Yuarima directly. I will be asking whoever reads our post to try to get a contact out of Seth or Siam. Seth had a cell while we were there, hopefully, we can find a way to get hold of them. I was working on an update to this post, and I was hoping to add your recent experience with Wendy if that’s ok with you. What’s your next destination or trekking adventure?
April 25, 2019 at 7:32 am
Of course, you can update the blog with our experiences.
It might be problematic reaching Seth or Siam on the phone because there was zero service during our six day trek, absolutely nothing. But Seth’s relatives are living in Wamena and when he visits them you might be able to call him. He is a great guide I think, we highly recommend him!
Actually we are not planning our next destination because we are going to have a baby, but we will keep on following your posts and getting the ideas from you and within a couple of years we can go exploring again! ?
April 28, 2019 at 3:18 am
Congratulations! That will for sure be a change of scenery, at least for the first couple of years indeed! And thanks for allowing us to share and post your feedback on the blog post, I appreciate and I am sure future travelers will too. Wishing you all the best, and maybe to future common adventures down a trail somewhere in the world 🙂
July 18, 2018 at 7:53 pm
It’s a good and also handy bit of details Travel. I’m fulfilled that you discussed this convenient information and facts about. Remember to keep us up to date this way. Thanks for revealing.
July 18, 2018 at 9:00 pm
Glad you like it and find it useful for your next trip planning.
June 26, 2018 at 12:01 am
I am curious about how you managed the logistics of some of your arrangements. If you would email me, I would be most appreciative as I can then ask you a series of questions?
July 2, 2018 at 2:17 am
Sure, happy to help. Feel free to ask your questions here, or email us at info @ zewanderingfrogs.com. Looking forward to reading you!
February 15, 2018 at 9:09 pm
Thanks for your detailed guidelines. You really did break down each and every tits and bits. Would be a great help for sure. Baliem is a great place for trekking. Would love to go someday soon!
February 18, 2018 at 4:21 am
Finding information on trekking the Baliem Valley are hard to come by so we hope our experience can help other fellow travelers explore this beautiful region!
December 22, 2017 at 1:53 am
Merci Patricia! Due to limited time, we will only do 4 or 5 days maximum.
December 22, 2017 at 8:14 pm
De rien Lamiaa! You don’t have to go far and deep to experience the Baliem Valley, so 4-5 days will be plenty for a great trip. Would love to hear from you on your return. Have fun!
December 17, 2017 at 12:06 am
Thank you very much for this great intro Patricia.
We re planning to go to the Balien valley over Christmas. Your page is very helpful!
December 18, 2017 at 7:03 am
Glad to be of help! We have other blog posts coming soon on Baliem Valley but feel free to contact us if you want more details. Happy to help, you will love it! Check also our post on the 8-day itinerary for a day-to-day trek, might be useful as well.
November 2, 2017 at 12:56 pm
I read your interesting guide about hiking around the Baliem Valley. I did a similar hike in 1993 from Baliem to Angurruk. I agree it was quite rough but rewarding. I hiked with a guide and 2 porters. My group also avoided Mt. Elit because my guide thought it was too dangerous. We saw Angurruk in the valley but continued without entering the village and returned to Baliem by trekking. Your prices (converted into US $) are about the same as I spent 24 years ago. The exchange rate was quite different in 1993.
November 3, 2017 at 8:26 pm
Thanks, Mike for your comments! Must have been something, traveling in Papua at that time! I am guessing there were not that many travelers around. Would you have photos to share?
November 4, 2017 at 4:34 pm
Yes, I have photos of the 1993 trip (about 20 MB worth). They are jpeg’s converted from slides. I would be happy to share but I do not know how to upload to your site.
November 20, 2017 at 9:35 pm
That’s awesome! Would love to feature them on our blog! Will email you soon!
October 31, 2017 at 1:57 am
Encore une aventure extraordinaire que vous racontez tellement bien !
Gros bisous à vous deux et douces pensées de France. Y serez vous pour noël ?
October 31, 2017 at 2:47 am
Merci Sophie! Nous serons à priori en Chine pour la fin d’année, mais cela n’est pas encore finalisé. Bises à tout le monde.