PAPUA, MYSTERIOUS & INTRIGUING
Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea, is Indonesia’s biggest province measuring about 410,000 sq kms area and representing 21% of the country’s total land area. More than 75 percent of the land is covered by dense tropical forests, populated by only about 1.5 million people, with an average population density of 2.8 persons per square kilometre, the lowest in Indonesia.
Lowlands dominate the southern and northern parts, stretching for hundreds of kilometres, and include rainforests, extensive wetlands, savannah grasslands, and some of the largest expanses of mangrove forest in the world. In the southern lowlands is Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The province’s largest river is the Mamberamo, sometimes called the "Amazon of Papua", which winds through the northern part of the province. The result is a large area of lakes and rivers known as the Lakes Plains region. The famous Baliem Valley, home of the Dani people, is a tableland 1,600m above sea level in the midst of the central mountain range. The highest point of the mountain range is Puncak Jaya 5,050m above sea level. Also known by its former Dutch name Carstensz Pyramid, it is a mist covered limestone mountain peak 4,884 m above sea level.
Although most of Papua is covered by impenetrable jungle most inhabitants live in and around coastal towns. The peoples and their thriving traditional cultures plus an incredible biodiversity with fantastic reefs in the north and south with some of the best diving sites in the region are main tourist draws. Almost all visitors go to the Baliem Valley, home to some of the most remarkable traditional cultures on earth, while others are drawn to the art of the Asmat region, or the bird life and coral reefs of the northern coast and islands.
Jayapura is the provincial capital of Papua and its largest city. It is the gateway town with a small busy airport and comes with a tourist infrastructure and a few tourist sights such as the Cenderawasih University Museum and Tanjung Ria Beach.
In 1999, by order of the Indonesian government, Papua was divided into three separate provinces: West Papua (Irian Jaya Barat), Central Papua (Irian Jaya Tengah) and East Papua (Irian Jaya Timur).
Papua have a hot humid climate throughout the year, with some seasonal variation associated with the northeast monsoon season. Warm to hot and humid throughout the year. There is a rainy season, which varies from province to province. The driest season is from May to December.
Getting There :
The only viable way to get to Papua is by plane and the main airport, Sentani Airport, is in Jayapura in the northeast. You can get in direct from Jakarta with Garuda International – a four-hour flight. Planes also fly from Manokwari, Fakfak, and Sorong in West Papua. You can also arrive by boat by way of West Papua if you have the time. No buses come in from Papua New Guinea.