Hiking tour in Arfak mountains of New Guinea
Arfak mountains - world class hiking destination
New Guinea is the largest tropical island in the world. Its northern coast is mountainous whereas its southern one is more swampy with flat lands. The bird's head region of the island where Arfak mountains are located is one of the best hiking destinations in the world. As a hiking tour operator, I have guided hundreds of tourists on tens of hiking trips along the low elevation and high elevation forest of the mountains. Hikers can start their journey from Prafi valley or from Mokwam region. This mountain range of Arfak is only a 2-hour car ride from Manokwari city - the capital of West Papua province which is the territory of the Republic of Indonesia.
How to get there?
To go hiking in the Arfak mountains, you need to fly from your country to Denpasar Bali or Jakarta. After that, you can take a domestic flight served by Batavia Air, Sriwijaya Air, Express Air or Lion Air to Manokwari city. When you have arrived in Manokwari, I will meet you at the Rendani airport or at the hotel where you stay. After discussing several hiking itineraries that may last from 3 days to 1 or 2 weeks with you, we can start the next morning by buying food at the local market before continuing our trip to the mountains. A Toyota Hilux G series, a 4 Wheel Drive car, will take us to Arfak mountains. Our destination will be the Kwau village. Its population is around 100 people. Ourcar cannot reach the village because there is no road heading to the small village. We have to stop at a certain point several kilometers away from the village to carry on our trip by walking for 1 hour to a house that has been built for tourists. Porters will help you carry your backpacks while you and I walk up and down the steep slopes of the mountains that are covered by dense tropical rainforest. Temperature is cool during the day at the elevation of 1,400 meters above sea level.
What you need to bring
Here are some of the things that you should bring while hiking in Arfak mountains:
- Food and some water (if you run out of them you can buy from the local villagers)
- Warm clothing
- Hiking boots that are durable and comfortable for long walks in humid climate. Water boots can also be used if you walk along the rivers.
- Sleeping bag - make sure the material is water resistant and light
- Swiss Knives set. This is needed when we cook food. The set has got can opener, bottle opener, various sizes of knives (to cut vegetables, meat or fish), I and my friends have got cooking gear which you can use while trekking and camping in the jungle.
- Hiking tent if you plan to make stay in the jungle for several nights. However, I can provide plastic tarpauline if you are interested in backpacking in my favorite wildlife tour destinations such as the Dopi river, Asai river.
- Matches. I can also show you how the indigenous Papuan people make their traditional matches just by using bamboo, palm fiber and stone or shards of a porcelain plate.
Having a set of GPS device in your pocket while you are hiking is not a must because you will be guided by local people. However, if you decide to go hiking through a dense rainforest whose terrains consist of a lot of hills, valleys and flat lands, you will definitely need the GPS device. I recommend that you buy one that is manufactured by Garmin because it can give you accurate coordinate of your position in the middle of nowhere.
Weather and temperature
Hiking is different from climbing. So, the routes that you will walk through are not located on the top of the mountains. The temperature in the villages around Mokwam is around 19 to 25 degree Celcius depending on the intensity of the sunlight. Anggi is cooler than Mokwam. If clouds block the sun, you will see fog coming down. The weather in Arfak mountains is frequently bad due to high rainfall. At night it is cool but not cold. It will be different if you climb the Arfak mountains to the top that is nearly 3,000 meters above sea level. The temperature at the top of the highest peak will be much colder at nights.
Watching the birds of paradise
We need to take a rest for 1 or 2 hours before taking a short hiking tour at 3 p.m. to watch the magnificent birds of paradise (Cincinnurus Magnificus). Bring a D-SLR camera that is equipped with telephoto lenses. There is a birdwatching hut that was constructed near the dancing ground of the bird. To produce sharp pictures, use a tripod. The paradise birds return to their nest at around 5 p.m. If you have a pair of binoculars, bring it. You can use it to watch birds or other animals while you walk through the jungle.
The next morning, we can visit several villages in the Mokwam region of the mountains. Bring some bottles of drinking water so that you will not get thirsty during the day. A cook at the tourist house will boil spring water for you. Don't forget to bring a pair of trekking shoes if you want to go hiking in West Papua. On the third day we will go hiking through the forest to watch western parotia and the bower bird - the king of seduction. Western parotia dances like Michael Jackson whereas the bowerbird has to built an arch and collect flowers and other colorful articles to attract the female birds.
Your hiking tour in Arfak mountains can extended for several more days if your are interested to walk to Anggi where Lake Anggi Giji and Lake Anggi Gida are located. However, you need to be physically fit to do the hiking trip from Kwau village to Anggi. The cost for a 5 day hiking tour in Arfak mountains is approximately 500 to 700 US dollars per person. For further information, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my blog Traveling in West Papua. by Charles Roring