The Asmat region is located southwest of the Papua province located on the western island of New Guinea. Getting its name from the region it covers but also the Asmat tribe who inhabit it. The land is covered by flat plains and overgrown mangrove forests and shows off the largest alluvial swamp in the world with a low lying territory of bog forest and meandering rivers which flow into the Arafura Sea. The swampy land conditions here are a suitable habitat for crocodiles with huge lizards living along the banks. Waterways of the area are home to freshwater dolphins, shrimp, crabs and sea snakes and even grey nurse sharks have been recorded circling the area.
Lorentz National Park is the largest protected park in South East Asia and one of the most important biodiverse reserves in the world. The world heritage site is the only protected area in the world to incorporate a continuous, intact transect from snowcap mountains to tropical marine environment, lowland wetlands, mangrove and montane rainforest. At 4884 metres the Puncak Jaya is the tallest mountain between the Himalayas and Andes and makes for stunning landscape exploration and photography. The park is so vast many areas are undiscovered and unmapped containing many species of plants and animals yet unknown to western science. Amongst the flora and fauna live hundreds of bird species and mammals including the long beaked echidna, short-beaked echidna, and four species of cuscus as well as wallabies, quolls and tree-kangaroos.
A once in a lifetime experience is a trip to the tidal swamplands of West Papua’s south coast to visit and experience the local Asmat tribe an ethnic group of New Guinea. Previously known as notorious head-hunters and cannibals they were also made famous for their intrinsic designs and wood carvings, held by art experts and enthusiasts in the highest order for their works. Visiting the tribe to experience such spiritual practices and learning the creative process behind each piece which is imbued with history and spirit energy from their ancestors. Trips to the village can be arranged with experienced guides to introduce you to an otherwise difficult to reach corners. For hardy travellers, this remarkable tribes way of life and survival and outstanding biodiversity is an extremely rewarding opportunity.
The landscape can be treacherous with dense tropical rainforest. Meaning to walk any length is almost an impossible task. Transportation between villages is by dugout canoe with an outboard motor which only adds to the experience of the adventure. Bird enthusiasts will be in awe of some species which station themselves here. Although birdwatching can be difficult it is possible and very rewarding, welcoming dozens of species of Birds of Paradise, parrots, lorikeets and other birds to the region.