Experience

Tribal living in West Papua

Embark on a journey of discovery deep into the jungles of Papua New Guinea with our Epic Tomato team, the expedition-led adventure offering from Black Tomato. Face new challenges and test your limits on a pioneering bespoke adventure with our expert guides and expedition leaders.

Head into the wild, untouched valleys and highlands of West Papua in an expedition packed with stunning landscapes. You’ll be living amongst local communities and trekking between the traditional villages of the Dani tribe via swinging rope bridges. This is a unique insight into rituals and the ancient way of life that few others have the opportunity to experience.

Neolithic warriors turned subsistence farmers

Landing into Jayapura, West Papua, you’ll meet your guide. Fluent in local dialects and with years of experience in this terrain, they can provide an insight into the wildlife, tribes and environment, allowing you to be fully immersed.

After a brief pause on the stunning shores of Lake Sentani, home to many tribes in the area, your next stop is the highland capital of Wamena. Surrounded by jungle, this is the home of the enigmatic Dani Tribe. Once fierce Neolithic warriors, the tribe now lives as subsistence farmers. The people are easily recognisable by their penis gourds and animal bone piercings which are part of the tribe’s dress. You will be staying as a guest in one of the homes of the community and contributing to the day to day existence of the people. Join in with sago making and learn how to use a bow and arrow and of course sample traditional food in oval Dani huts. You will experience age old tribal customs that make this expedition utterly unique.

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trek through dense jungle

Over the next days, you’ll be walking and traveling through the magnificent scenery of the Baliem Gorge. Trek along open trails, tread softly along high rope bridges and criss-cross the river that snakes through the valley. All the while you’ll be living within the Dani community. The terrain in this end of the gorge is steep and challenging, so be prepared for some hard walking, but the rewards are some of the most inspiring views on the planet.

You’ll spend the evenings in the oval shaped huts. With open mud floors you’ll be huddled by the fire with your host and his family members sleeping alongside you for company. Tents are an option if you’d like a little extra privacy and do not wish to stay in the hut.

tribal rituals

On the final day of your trip, before you fly back to Jayapura, you will be fortunate enough to share in a unique experience in the village of Jiwika witnessing the Jiwika Mummy, a fascinating and age old aspect of Papua’s tribal and cultural history. You’ll also be privileged to share in a Pig Feast with the local villages. This ceremony marks the end of your tribal adventure, leaving you with a feeling of having been part of something extraordinary.

There is the opportunity to coincide the trip with the Baliem Valley Festival (8th – 11th August), a dramatic event that sees the Dani, Yani and Lani tribes converge on mass in a frenetic, colorful celebration of their arts, crafts and tribal diversity. A mock war performance is staged to commemorate those who died during inter-tribe fighting, and this visual spectacular concludes in a tribute to the peace that has reigned in this region for a number of years. This is the one and only time in the year when these tribal groups come together. Another great festival is on the 19th – 23rd June called the Sentani Lake festival – great for traditional arts and crafts – not to be missed.

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