Butterfly farm at La Selva Lodge in Amazon basin, Equador. The butterflies are grown through all stages, from caterpillar, to pupae and then butterflies.
Parrots of rainforest congregate to lick clay on banks of the river. They fly long distances to the river banks to replenish minerals in their body.
Piranhas can live in any lake in Amazon rainforest. We stayed at La Selva lodge and fished piranhas in the lake....also swam in the same lake. It is apparently safe if there are no bleeding wounds.
Fishing piranha while staying at the LaSelva lodge in Amazon basin. They are small fish with real teeth. They do not swallow bait whole, but take bites and do not swallow the hook.
Pigmy (finger) monkey is one of the smallest monkey species in the world. We saw it while staying at the La Selva lodge in Amazon rainforest.
Amazon guide shows how to use a blowgun. It was the main weapon of the Amazon tribes. The footage was taken in Amazon rainforest near La Selva lodge.
Papuan tribes of Baliem Valley
Dani warrior makes fire using a stone age method: by wood friction. The tribe lives in the Baliem Valley, in the middle of central highlands of West Papua. The tribes have been exposed to the outer world only within the last 50 years. Most of the old traditions persist. Last documented cases of cannibalism occurred in the early 70's.
Reportedly over 200 years old mummy of the Dani tribe, Baliem Valley, West Papua. The Dani tribes preserved some of the ancestors. The mummy is "smoked" by the fire in the huts which is used for food and heating (smokes escapes through the door).
Formerly cannibals, Dani tribe lives in Baliem Valley, Papua, Indonesia. They discovered a mineral spring and used it for medicinal and food preparation purposes. After a climb to a mineral water spring (salt lake) Dani woman pickles a banana stem in mineral water. The man does not carry anything heavy (traditionally Dani men were fighters not farmers) .
A warrior of Dani tribe puts the "jewelry" on: pulls pig fangs through a pierced hole in the nose. It may look strange and painful at the beginning but apparently is a matter of getting used to.
Female dance of Dani tribe of West Papua. Traditionally females were topless.Filmed in a village near Baliem Valley Resort.
A pig cooking ceremony by the Dani tribe of Baliem Valley, West Papua, Indonesia. A former cannibal culture of stone age was brought to face the civilization within the last 50 years.
The movie contains a warrior dance, women's dance, making fire by wood friction, pig slaughter and preparation using only bamboo splinters as knives, then cooking it with vegetables by a traditional method. The ceremony was facilitated by the Baliem Valley Resort.
Koteka, penile cover is pretty much the only piece of the traditional male clothing of the Papuan tribes of Baliem Valley. It is made out of a pumpkin like vegetable which is hollowed and dried. One string goes around scrotum and the other is tied to the tip of koteka and then around waist.
Signs of an older tradition in Papuan Dani tribe to amputate a phalanx with death of a close family member. The tribes have been exposed to the outer world in the last 50 years. Most of the old traditions persist.
A family from Lani tribe sings a traditional song. The tribe lives in Baliem Valley, West Papua. Note that koteka (penile cover made of dried pumpkin) of Lani tribe is much larger than of the Dani tribe. Lani tribe use it as a pouch to store cigarettes, money etc.
The performance was organized by the Baliem Valley Resort, the best option to explore the valley.
A man from Dani tribe of Baliem Valley (West Papua, Indonesia) uses a bamboo splinter as a knife. The tribe never discovered metals before the Europeans came to Papua.
A walk through the market of the largest town in the valley.
Baliem Valley Resort and a tribal village on the land owned by the resort. The resort is pretty much the only place to stay in the valley to explore the tribal culture. There are Dani and Lani people living in the highland valley.
Warrior dance of Dani tribe organized by Baliem Valley Resort.
Visiting Dani and Lani tribes of Baliem Valley is as close as it gets to stone age of present days.
Where in the world:
Baliem Valley is located high up in the mountains of central Papua at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level. The first outsider to discover the valley was Richard Archbold. He spotted the valley in 1938 from his seaplane. Due to its remoteness and difficult access it only recently emerged from the Stone Age.
Where to stay:
The place is remote, resources are limited and we thought it was a miracle that there was a decent place to stay. We wanted to the see the tribes, but living in a tent is not our cup of tea. Researching online we found Baliem Valley Resort, which looked like an option. They booked flights Jayapura-Waimena for us and offered a package to see the Dani and Lani culture.The central town of the Valley is Waimena. There were 3 daily direct flights to Jayapura.
We combined this trip with liveaboard diving in Raja Ampat and diving with the whale shark in Cenderawasih Bay. Those segments of our trip are described separately. As you can imagine we had a number of additional flights. The other flights were booked directly online with local airlines (Garuda, ExpressAir, Lion Air). Some accept credit cards, some use booking agents like ticketindonesia.info for that. The flight to Waimena in Baliem Valley were operated only by Trigana Air and the resort booked flights for this segment forus.
On our first day at the Baliem Valley Resort we visited local villages, which are on the resort land or immediately adjacent. The style and general way of life is pretty much as it has been for centuries. The only difference is that people have (some) clothing and limited metal tools. Some shovels and knives are worn to the handle. So, the place is as authentic as it gets within a driving distance from an airport. The hotel manager recommended buying cigarettes and candies on the way from the airport and the items proved to be hot commodities. You hand cigarettes one by one, and this is like saying "Hi".
On our second day we went for a mineral spring (salt lake). It is a hike uphill, and the elevation is about 2km (6K feet), therefore it was not a quick run. The local women pickle stems and leaves of a banana type plant in mineral water. During the trek we enjoyed the scenery and the company of a Dani couple in there original clothing (or lack of). Then we went to the market and visited another village where they had well preserved mummy of their ancestor. Be careful with taking photographs without pre-arranged payment for it. Also take cigarettes, there will be about 20-30 people and all expect something from you.
On our last day the resort organized a pig cooking ceremony, which was a long and interesting event with dancing, making fire, complex cooking of a pig and vegetables. The method of cooking is to heat up stones in fire and then collect them in a pit. All food is put in banana leaves, tightly wrapped with grass, and left on the stones for slow cooking.
We could compare Dani and Lani culture. While the Dani tribe is of warriors, the Lani are more of peasants. Dani men can have several wives, while Lani live as couples. Dani men have skinny kotekas useful only to cover penis, while Lani's kotekas are typically large and are used as a containers or bags to keep all what you would keep in pockets: cigarettes, money, lighter etc.
The room was comfortable and clean. Hot water, shower, breathtaking view from the deck. There is limited alcohol at the resort. It is very strictly controlled due to the local laws. It is OK for foreigners and if you want a drink on the deck, bringing something from duty free is a better option. Evenings can get chilly, take light jackets. Leaving from Wamena was a bit stressful because we were booked on the last flight, which apparently is frequently delayed. Ask booking agent to book latest second flight (or check in earlier for the second flight). Believe me, you do not want to get stuck in Wamena waiting room. Also if you land late in Jayapura you will miss opportunity to visit a local village/island. So, ask for 1st or 2nd flight.
If you are more adventurous you can hike through the jungle (several days in mud and jungle) to visit the Korowai people. Those places are even more authentic. In fact, as close to the times of cannibalism as it can get in the 21st century.
Hurry to visit before the valley becomes distorted by civilization.