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We travel to Papua with a Spanish TV in search of tribes

Papua is a remote territory of Indonesia where 250 tribes live. “From Spain to Indonesia, with four stopovers and more than 15,000 kilometers away. Two days flying until we meet what will be our guide Norberto, a Canary who has been in the country for more than six years … “ Thus begins the documentary journey of Lucas Goikoetxea and Elena Fernandez, reporters for a Spanish television show Callejeros Viajeros (Street Travelers), from Channel Four, which was recorded in 2009.


Tribes of Papua: Expedition with Callejeros Viajeros


Indonesia has the same extent as the European continent. It is the largest archipelago in the world,made up of more than 17,000 islands. Papua is the second largest island after Greenland.

Papua, remote and unknown territory of Indonesia with about 150 tribes. From the high mountains to one of the few intact tropical forests on the planet.

In Bailem Valley there are three types of tribes: the Danis, the Lanis and the Yanis. More than 260,000 members of these tribes live in this valley.

This is an adventure to the heart of the tribes of ‘the Dani’ and the ‘Korowai’. The ultimate goal of this journey will be to reach them, meet them and live with the last cannibals on the planet.

Tribes of Papua: Baliem Valley Papua

*See this example of a trip to visit the tribes of Papua: Trekking in Baliem Valley – In Search of the Dani Tribe

Tribes of Papua: Adventure to the heart of the Dani tribe

The first ones we will visit will be the Dani, a tribe that lives in an area at an altitude of five thousand meters. In fact, this tribe was discovered by an American aircraft in 1938.

Video 01: Dani & Korowai Tribes (source: Street Travelers, Spanish TV show)

Tribes of Papua: The Dani

The Danis are characterized by going completely naked, even when they move to the city, “but the most characteristic thing is that they have their private part covered with a gourd called koteka.” As much or more unique in this corner of Indonesia, it is the figure of the pig, a cult animal “symbol of fortune and main currency of exchange. We bought a small one to offer to the head of the tribe in a sign of thanks to his hospitality.”

“The most characteristic thing is that they have their private part covered with a gourd called koteka”

Video 02: Dani & Korowai Tribes (source: Street Travelers, Spanish TV show)

Tribes of Papua: Some curious facts about the Dani tribe

  • In the Dani tribe, both children and adults go barefoot,the older men of the tribe go naked covering their private part with a gourd, the famous koteka.
  • With dark skin and curly hair,the Danis are the most popular tribe on the island, although their way of life dates back to the stone age, many know the money and use their mobile.
  • The suckling pig is a cult animal,symbol of good fortune and exchange currency.
  • An American aircraft discovered the Dani tribe in the Baliem Valley in 1938.
  • The first stop before meeting the Dani tribe is Wamena. The 1,500 cars that run through this town arrived by plane. But the only road had been shattered by the rains.
  • To get to them, it was necessary to walk, always accompanied by a local guide, a cook and seven porters. The hamlet of Kilise is located at an altitude of 2,500 metres.
  • At dusk, the temperature drops from thirty to ten degrees. Up to twenty men sleep in male dormitories. They are the cabins called honais,where it is common to find fleas and rats.
Video 03: Dani & Korowai Tribes (source: Street Travelers, Spanish TV show)

Tribes of Papua: The tribe of the Korowai, the last cannibals in the world

Then we move to such a distant and unknown place, which is not yet reflected in many maps of the area. The adventure continues in the heart of the rainforest of Papua, where we discovered one of the tribes that has remained hidden from the outside world until very recently, The Korowai.

The Korowais, living in the middle of the rainforest, are nomadic and form groups of no more than twelve people. They build their houses in the treetops more than 20 meters high.

tribes of Papua

*See this example of a trip to visit the tribes of Papua: Baliem Valley and Dani Tribe

The Korowai: A Canibal Tribe

It’s not a myth, they’re cannibals, “men accused of witchcraft were sacrificed and then eaten by the rest of the tribe’s members.” However, they now claim that they no longer practice these rituals and that they only remember it when they meet with the elders of the tribe.

“Men accused of witchcraft were sacrificed and then eaten by the rest of the tribe’s members”

Video 04: Dani & Korowai Tribes (source: Street Travelers, Spanish TV show)

Tribes of Papua: Some curious facts about the tribe of Korowai

  • They are nomadic and live in groups of ten says people, they build their houses on the top the trees more than 20 meters high.
  • They feed on a kind of flour they extract from the sagu palm tree. Wild boar worms, snakes, fishing and frogs complement your fishing. Everything they eat gets it from nature.
  • They’re the last cannibals discovered. According to their tradition, men accused of witchcraft had to be sacrificed and subsequently eaten.
Video 05: Dani & Korowai Tribes (source: Street Travelers, Spanish TV show)

Are you interested in meeting first-hand any of the tribes of Indonesia?

In come2indonesia we are passionate about native tribes. We are specialists, organizing expeditions to the most remote places in the country where the tribes live.

Write to info@come2indonesia.com and we will inform you of all the tribes and how to get to them.

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Article author

He moved to Indonesia in 2006. He arrived with the intention of pursuing his marine adventure and had the opportunity to work as a cruise director on a diving cruise where he began a new episode in his life. Having traveled to most of eastern Indonesia by sea, he could not fail to praise the beauty not only of the underwater world but also of the variety of Indonesian cultures that have rarely been visited by civilization and mass tourism.

NORBERTO RODRIGUEZ
Co-founder - Tourism Advisor
Norberto Rodríguez Sánchez

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