Trans Papua Expedition

Trans Papua Expedition


At Papua Adventures we have built our reputation of excellence by guiding world class eco-friendly and culturally sensitive expeditions into the most remote areas of Papua, leading and assisting journalists and photographers in the production of television entertainment, news media and magazine publications such as the BBC, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Discovery Channel, The New Yorker and DestinAsia among others.

With the success of finding new tribes by opening up new areas in Papua, our “Exploratory Expedition Summary” expedition has piqued interest around the world and led up to the preparation for one of the most daring and most difficult expeditions to date:
the Trans-Papua Expedition.

Borneo has been traversed numerous times. And a group crossed Papua from Asmat to Jayapura back in 1959, but since the first explorers set foot in this land, no one yet has taken on an expedition from end to end, the full length of Papua. Papua is sometimes referred to as the Cenderawasih Bird of Paradise because of its great beauty and because the geographic shape of the island is somewhat similar to that of a bird of paradise. The Northwest part by Sorong resembles the bird’s head and the Southeastern corner of Merauke, the tail.

And that is what the Trans-Papua Expedition intends to cover.

We will begin our voyage at Merauke the bird’s tail, and use 3 modes of transportation to cross the island. Boats and 4 wheel drive vehicles will break up the trip into manageable intervals but sizable portions of the journey will be covered on foot. As the Cenderawasih bird flies, the distance from Merauke to Sorong is around 1500km. As our route is not in a straight line we will snake our way across the island and travel over 2000km along the way.

This will be a first!
And as the first to ever attempt this adventure we can expect
to receive media coverage and there will be those who will want to document the event through the participation of journalists from various media.

We will pass through a total of 37 different tribal groups with unique languages.
Starting in Merauke we will travel north into the territories of the Kombai and Korowai tribes, who still practice ritual cannibalism.

We will travel by motorized canoes through the Central Asmat people.
Once the most feared headhunters in Papua and are now appreciated as some of the best woodcarvers in Papua. Trekking up through the Yali tribal region we will see some of the most unique koteka (penis gourds) worn by any of the tribes in Papua.

We will also go through the famous Baliem Valley which was first discovered in 1938, pass through the Dani and into the Western Lani tribe, who make up the largest tribe in Papua. We will use motorized canoes to travel along the mysterious Mamberamo River, which still attracts the best crocodile hunters in Papua. And along the way pass through 11 more different tribes. We will finish our trek in one of the last spots where tribes without contact with the outside world still exist, the Waropen district. Then finally by boat we’ll travel around the Cenderawasih Bay, passing Manokwari and end our trip in Sorong.

This is not an easy expedition. The logistics are great, but we’ve been preparing for this trip for 2 years now and have made the connections and worked out the details so that an expedition of this magnitude is possible. Our long time friendly relations with the police, governmental authorities, villagers and tribal chiefs is essential and we enjoy their full support.

Because of the huge distances covered it is not possible to say exactly how many days will be required to complete the crossing. But our estimates put it at around 70 days.
The expedition will begin in July 2011.

It’s an incredibly exciting adventure to look forward to, we’ve done our homework and we’re anxious to hit the trail… So get ready, get excited and come join us to be part of this historical event and have the trip of a lifetime!

As we have been trekking and exploring the furthest reaches of Papua for the past 20 years,
it has been a source of great pride for me to be able to share my passion for this remarkable territory with fellow enthusiasts from all walks of life. As we have pushed for more and more challenging expeditions into unexplored territories we have long entertained an idea in the back of my mind that has had me wondering if it was indeed possible to connect all the dots and actually make happen. After calculations, months of planning, and serious consideration we can now say with confidence that it definitely is. What we are referring to here is the
“Trans Papua Expedition”. We will cross from tail to tip the length of Papua, from Merauke to Sorong, a journey of more than 2000 kilometers.

Many of the places we will visit we’ve already trekked to and my local guides know the terrain well, but we have never done it all in one big push. It is important for anyone interested in going on this expedition to understand that the route we are taking has never been done before.

An expedition like this requires extensive research and coordination, especially among government agencies, police, tribal leaders and local guides.

All of this must be done well in advance. This is not something that can be done casually
just by showing up one day and start trekking. Far from it. Since we will be trekking for 8 weeks or more, careful coordination of boats and porters is essential. For an undertaking of this magnitude it is vital to have the best porters we can get and to have experienced boat men to take us up and down the rivers we’ll be traveling on. To help fill in the gaps where we have not been before we will rely on our contacts among the local Gaharu Wood collectors who have the most extensive knowledge of jungle routes which are used exclusively by them. They will guide us from the Mamberamo River through the Waropen area. This will be all new territory for westerners in Papua.

In order to make an undertaking like this a success, as we have said, advanced planning and coordination is essential. Also you need to accept the fact that Papua is not a cheap place to travel, and cutting corners in an attempt to save money could in fact jeopardize the entire expedition. Unlike Bali or Java where food, transportation, petrol etc. is cheap. Basic staples such as rice, vegetables, cooking oil are at least 4 times more expensive in Papua. Thus, making the costs of many items comparable to many western countries. Travel using boats for example are extremely expensive. One liter of petrol on the Mamberamo river where we will be traveling is $5 per liter($20 per gallon). The places we are going to are remote and petrol is scarce. Also, we’ll have to buy and have petrol waiting for us when we arrive. It will have to be brought in by plane and across very rugged terrain by truck.

Before the expedition starts we will visit smaller villages in the Wamena area to recruit strong, young, hard working Papuan men instead of the usual porters from Wamena. Times have changed and the usual porters who don’t get much work anymore and have grown a bit lazy.

We’ll be sending these strong porters ahead to Yokhimo (Dekai). They will wait there for us to arrive and carry our gear from there up to Wamena. As well as carrying gear down to the Mamberamo River. And through the Waropen area to Nabire.

Having these special porters is crucial to our success. Porters for an expedition like this will get 3 times their usual pay because of the degree of difficulty and we will have to pay for their food and accommodation while they wait in Dekai before we arrive and again from Nabire back to Jayapaura and then onto Wamena. After we are finished with them when we arrive in Nabire, we’ll send them back to Wamena via Jayapura. The costs will be considerable for their transportation, food and lodging. But it is necessary for the success of the expedition.

We will have to use local boats at least 3 times on this expedition with the pick ups
timed with our arrivals. This is also crucial to the timing and flow of the expedition. It is not possible to just show up at a village and expect to get boats. They will need to be reserved, prepared and waiting for us along with the necessary amount of fuel. All of this will be in place before the expedition starts. This gets especially tricky when we get to the mysterious Mamberamo River, one of the most isolated places in Papua. Petrol and supplies will be flown in or sent by trucks on terrible roads. taking days to arrive. Boats in the Mamberamo area will cost thousands of dollars depending on how many will be needed and as we follow a river that snakes around for several days.

Special visa will be prepared for everyone. It will be a social visa that is good for 6 months but will have to be renewed after 60 days. All passports will go to immigration office in Denpasar, Bali where they will be extended while we are trekking. When we’re all done, we’ll pick them up.

A preliminary trek will be made by my guide and I to many places along the route in advance of the actual expedition to make sure that everything is in place and minimize unexpected situations. We will do our best but as anyone who has traveled in this part of the world can tell you, it is an adventure, expect the unexpected. This advance logistical run in itself is extensive requiring numerous flights and considerable expenses.

Remember, it’s the behind the scene support crew which enables all expeditions to be carried out successfully. Much in the way that climbs on Everest and K2 are dependent on the locals for ferrying supplies to higher camps, laying fixed ropes, etc. We to will have such a support team. The cost for this expedition isn’t cheap.

The expedition cost is $US 40,000 per person and there would have to be
a minimum of 4 persons. Remember that this expedition will take around 2 months.
And we have a targeted starting date in early 2013.

You may want to see if you can raise sponsorship for yourself as well to help cut the costs.

Since the Trans Papua expedition has been up on our website, I’ve already had a great number of people contact me about the expedition. Many of the people interested have already been to Papua several times and have done some really nice and difficult treks. They realize that this is a chance of a lifetime for them to trek across the island and visit at least 37 different tribes along the way. But, others who have never been to Papua, but have done extensive trekking in other parts of the world have also shown a keen interest.

As you can see we are being very thorough in our preparation for this historic endeavor and we appreciate any input you may have to offer. Also, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them. We hope you will be joining us!


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