As the easternmost province in Indonesia, West Papua has immense natural resources. Covered with 90 percent of the forest, West Papua becomes the nature lover’s paradise. Tourism in West Papua offers the primary natural attractions where the tourists go island hopping, hiking, scuba diving, even engrossing with the diverse tribal cultures.
Sorong and Manokwari become the urban bases to start the explorations. Other regions in West Papua offer fun to challenging exploration. With all popular destinations offered, take a look closer at West Papua tourism development.
1. Bird Watching Adventure at Arfak Mountains on the Bird’s Head Peninsula
The primary natural tourism object in West Papua tourists won’t miss is having the birds watching adventure. The forests become the home of more than 700 bird species and some noble birds. Say, crowned pigeons, parrots, cassowaries, megapodes, New Guinea eagles, kingfisher, kookaburra, and jewel-babblers. Those places are sure a paradise of birdlife.
One of the most popular birdlife spots is at Arfak Mountains on the Bird’s Head Peninsula. These mountains support Vogelkop endemics (bird species from family Acanthizidae). Arfak Mountains also provide the shortcut to reach the hills and forests with varieties of avifauna. The tourists should hike the steepest and most treacherous trails to get to the top spot. In this case, local guides from birding tours and porters will assist and guide them to reach the destination.
2. Scuba Diving in Raja Ampat
One of the mindblowing popular tourist destinations in West Papua is Raja Ampat. Raja Ampat is one of the regencies in West Papua Province, that features the diversity of great hard and soft coral reefs, medium to big size fish, along with mangrove sites.
Located in a remote area, visiting Raja Ampat is not an easy thing to do. The visit will be paid off once the tourists set foot on this island. The exotic landscapes with excellent diving destinations will make the visitors mind-blowing.
The tourists will enjoy the scenery of the forests and birdlife on the land and underwater life when diving. No wonder many divers consider that Raja Ampat one of the best diving spots with big animals and the unspoiled coral reefs in the world.
With the highest numbers of fish species and most beautiful coral reefs in the world, the divers will find varieties of animals during diving. Say, reef sharks, wobbegong sharks, Napoleon wrasse, barracuda, jacks, bumphead parrotfish, wrasse, blue-ringed octopus, jawfish, gobies, and trevally. Somehow the divers may encounter those animals.
3. Immersing Diverse Cultures in The Baliem Valley Festival
Another tourism object to experience is visiting The Baliem Valley Festival. Experiencing the cultural diversities in Baliem Valley Festival is such a rare chance. As this is an annual festival and is held in August, the tourists will have an opportunity to watch the cultural performances of three main tribes in West Papua: Dani, Lani, and Yali live.
The purposes of the three-day event are to promote the local cultures and preserve indigenous values and traditions. The cultural performances symbolize the power and high spirit.
Besides watching the cultural performances, the tourists will meet the local communities and experience staying in the homestay in smaller islands, like Yenbuba, Arborek, or Sawingray. No need to hike or trek deep to reach the destinations.
4. Exploring Teluk Cenderawasih National Park
Exploring Teluk Cenderawasih National Park, the largest marine national park in Indonesia, is challenging yet fun. Surrounded by the islands of Yoop, Rumberpon, Roon, Nusrowi, and Mioswaar, this national park becomes the home of more than 36 species of birds, 196 species of mollusks, and 209 species of fish.
Teluk Cenderawasih National Park also protects the marine ecosystems, where it becomes the habitat for more than 150 coral species. This park also becomes a research center for whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in the world. No wonder it is declared as the potential world heritage site in 1999.
5. Hiking The Lorentz National Park
Another challenging tourist destination to explore is hiking to The Lorentz National Park. This national park is a UNESCO world heritage site and becomes the largest national park in Southeast Asia.
To reach the tallest island summit in the world, the Carstensz Pyramid, the tourists should be the experienced climbers and hikers. Besides that, they need to join a guided expedition and have some serious training before hiking.
The tourists also need some companies from experienced local guides to lead the challenging trekking routes. Once they reach the peak, they will encounter such beautiful scenery of unspoiled tropical marine ecosystems, large lowland wetlands, to snow-capped uplands.
The tourism development in West Papua is increasing significantly. Some tourist destinations are getting recognition from international tourists. Even some places like The Lorentz National Park and Teluk Cenderawasih National Park become UNESCO world heritage sites. With the international claim, tourist destinations in West Papua will make fast progress to be recognized by the world.