Lorentz National Park represents the most complete ecosystem for biodiversity in either Southeast Asia or the Pacific. It is also one of only three tropical areas in the world that has a glacier. Stretching from snow-covered peaks (5,030 m asl) down to coastal waters and mangrove forest and bordering upon the Arafura Sea, this astonishing ecological spectrum ranges from alpine to lowland and wetland vegetation areas.
As well as very high biological diversity, the Park also has other unique features such as the glaciers on Puncak Jaya and a river that disappears under the ground for several kilometres in the Baliem valley.
There are 34 vegetation types that make up the forest area of the Park, including swamp forest, riparian forest, sago forest, peat forest, coastal forest, coral reef, slope/flat land rain forest, hillside rain forest, montane forest, grassy plains, and moss-covered areas.
Among the species of plant that grow in this Park are nipah (Nypa fruticans), bakau (Rhizophora apiculata), Pandanus julianettii, Colocasia esculenta, Podocarpus pilgeri, and Nauclea coadunata.
There are about 630 species of bird (some 70% of the total number of bird species in Papua), 123 species of mammal, and various other animal species. Some of the more interesting species of bird are two species of cassowary, 31 dove and pigeon species, 31 species of cockatoo, 13 species of kingfisher, 29 species of sunbird and 20 endemic species that are found nowhere else in the world, including the snow quail (Anurophasis monorthonyx) and the long-tailed bird of paradise (Paradigalla caruneulata). The mammal species include the long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii bruijnii), short-beaked echidna(Tachyglossus aculeatus), and four species of cuscus as well as wallabies, forest cats and tree kangaroos.
Lorentz National Park has also been declared by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site, and by ASEAN countries as an ASEAN Natural Heritage Site.
The Park’s high biological diversity is matched by its marvellous cultural diversity. It is estimated that the some of these cultures have existed in this area for more than 30,000 years. This is the home of tribes such as the Nduga, Dani Barat, Amungme, Sempan, and Asmat. It is quite possible that there are still other communities living in very isolated areas who have never had contact with the modern world at all.
The Asmat are well-known for their skill at chiselling wood into fine statues. According to their belief, the tribe is identical to the forest or trees. The trunk of a tree symbolizes the body of human being; the branches are the arms, and the fruit symbolizes the human head. Their ancestors-spirits, they believe, dwell in the trees. As such, the Asmat accord great respect to trees. Rivers, mountains and other natural features are similarly honored.
Lorentz was only designated as a National Park in 1997. It currently has very limited facilities for visitors, and not all potential attractions have yet been identified or developed.
Best time of year to visit: August to December.
How to reach the Park: from Timika, head for the northern part of the Park by the local air service; and to the southern part by sea to the Sawa Erma Port, then follow the trails to various locations.
a total area of 2,450,000 hectares