Papua is Indonesia’s largest and most remote province. It shares a border with the independent country of Papua New Guinea and is generally visited by those with a sense for adventure and hardy hikers.
Papua covers most of Western Papua (the Indonesian part of the island), with West Papua the second and smaller province occupying the Bird’s Head peninsula. Much of the province of Papua is extremely remote, consisting of immense mountain chains and dense jungle. There are some stunning national parks here, including the world famous Lorentz National Park.
Jayapura is the provincial capital of Papua and its largest city. It is the gateway town with a busy little airport and comes with a tourist infrastructure and a few worthy sights. The town sits over a bay and is mainly used for getting in and out and as a base for exploring the Papua interior. Jayapura attractions include the Cenderawasih University Museum and Tanjung Ria Beach.
Those heading inland from here have plenty to see, with the ‘Amazon of Papua’ Mamberamo River taking on large lakes in the beautiful Lakes Plains region. The nearby Baliem Valley is a stunning lofty tableland which is home to the Dani people and incredible scenery. It lies within the massive central mountain range that forms a barrier the entire length of the island.
The highest point of the mountain range is Puncak Jaya. At 4,884m it is a formidable climb in this environment and is the main Papua attraction for hikers. Also known by its former Dutch name Carstensz Pyramid, hikers need a government permit to climb it. The north face is the only route up and is largely inaccessible, requiring a 100km hike (10-day roundtrip) from Timika.
South of Puncak Jaya is Lorentz National Park, lying amid a vast area of lowland forests, grasslands and mangrove forests. It is the largest protected area in Southeast Asia, incorporating tropical seas up to snowcapped peaks. The nearest town is Keawkwa in the south of Papua.
Throughout Papua are thriving traditional cultures and an incredible biodiversity which begins at the fantastic reefs in the north and south where some of the most impressive diving can be had. The best way to get about Papua is by flying.
The only viable way to get to Papua is by plane and the main airport is in Jayapura (Sentani Airport) in the northeast. You can get in direct from Jakarta with Garuda - a 4-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.