An archipelago of tropical Islands nestled on the equator, active volcanoes, sun drenched beaches and who could forget the spicy food that will start a fire in your mouth, the problem is where does snow fit into all of this?
Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you Gunung Jaya standing at 5.039 meters high with the Meren glacier, one of only three in the world sitting on the equator. All of this resides safely in the Lorentz National Park. For those looking to scale this icy peak the easiest place to set up basecamp is from Tembagapura Freeport. Yet this does not prove to be the most common route as it is notoriously difficult to gain the permit. The second best option seems to be over the foothills and starting in Nabire to Ilaya. No matter which way you choose you will face a technically easy climb yet it is the dramatic changes in temperature and humidity that challenges the most experienced of climbers.
Within the 21,500 square km of parklands there lives some 11,000 native inhabitants. These peoples are divided into the low landers (the Asmat, the Sempan and the Nakai) and the highlanders (the Amungme, the Nduga and the Dani). The cultural differences between these groups is vast and captivating, from custom to culture, from beliefs to diet. Tourists are welcomed and accepted readily into communities and homes but please remember there must be the offer first without which means you are not a welcomed guest.
Most tourist find their way to this area as part of a package tour which has originated from within Papua at the Baliem Valley. From the Baliem Valley, they make their way across plains and foothills to Lake Habbema, which sits at 3,225 meters above sea level in perfect majestic tranquility. This area has little in the way of conveniences modern or medieval and that is what makes it a stunning and memorable trip.
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