Friday, January 20, 2012

Hiking Tour in the higland forest of Arfak mountains

The mountain range of Arfak has been a hiking and bird watching tour destination for tens of years. Ornitologists go there to see various species of the birds of paradise that live in the tropical rainforest of the mountains. Arfak is also the natural habitats of birdwing butterfly - one of the largest butterflies in the world.
How to get there?
To go to Arfak mountains, you need to fly from your country to Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) or Bali (a tourist hub in Asia). After that you can take a domestic flight served by Express Air, Sriwijaya Air, or Batavia Air to Manokwari city - the capital of West Papua province. From this city, you need to rent a car to bring you to Arfak.
There are some hotels in the city. But I recommend that you stay in Swiss-Belhotel or Mansinam Beach Hotel. If you travel on a limited budget, you can stay at Losmen Kagum.
Preparation Prior to Your Hiking Trip
Before you go hiking in Arfak mountains, you need to make some preparations such as getting the "surat jalan" (walking permit) from the police station, buying foods at the supermarket and traditional market of Sanggeng or Wosi and contact local guide, if you do not have hiking gear (such as backpack, boots - I recommend vasque breeze or vasque vista ultra dry, sleeping bags, head lamps and mosquito net). You can buy them in the city. I, as a hiking tour guide, know several places that sell such equipment in affordable prices.
Going to Arfak mountains by a 4WD pick up truck
When you are ready with your hiking gear, you can now begin your trip to the mountains. If you travel with me, I will contact my coleague who has a 4WD pick up truck. It is a Toyota Hilux G series. The truck is powerful in climbing the steep slopes of the Arfak mountains.
With that car, we will stop for a while at the supermarket of Orchid or Hadi to buy some noodles, rice, coffee and milk and other food stuff. If you need fresh vegetables, fish or meat, we can go to the traditional market of Sanggeng or Wosi to buy them. I know how to preserve the fresh fish when hiking in the mountains. I learned it from the indigenous Papuan people who live in Kwau village. To preserve the fish, I need to boil it in a cooking pan and after that put it into a string bag. Then, the bag will be hanged above the fire to preserve it for a few days or even a few weeks.
Hiking Tour Destination
There are three destinations for hiking tours in Arfak mountains that I promote,i.e. Kwau, Syioubri and Anggi. The most popular one is Kwau. Before leaving the city of Manokwari, I usually call my friend in Kwau village to prepare some porters who will carry our food and backpacks to a guesthouse located in the middle of the forest. Car cannot reach the tourist house because there is no road leading to it. So, we will stop at certain place in the jungle before continuing our trip by walking through the jungle. It takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour walking from the main road to the guesthouse. It is a basic accommodation facility for hikers. There are plates, cooking and eating utensils and water. Three rooms can be used by hikers.
Watching the Birds of Paradise
When we have arrived, we need to take a rest for a while, drinking some tea and eating some bread. At 2 p.m. we can begin our hiking tour around the tropical rainforest to watch the magnificent birds of paradise (cincinnurus magnificus). If we are lucky, we will be able to see male magnificent birds of paradise display his beautiful plume to several female ones as his way of attracting them. The terrains in the highland of Arfak are quite steep. You need to wear a pair of hiking footwear that are light but durable enough for walking along the steep and muddy path. We will walk back to the guesthouse again at around 5.30.
The next morning, we have to wake up early at around 4.30 to have some breakfast and make preparation before continuing or hiking trip to watch western parotia. Before dawn we will leave our guesthouse. This is a unique bird that perform his courtship dance like Michael Jackson. You need to be patient if you don't want to miss the natural dance performance. Most often hikers have to sit inside a blind (birdwatching hut) for several hours to wait for the birds to come. You can listen to music (use headphones) or read e-books (from the screen of your cellphone). Don't forget to turn off the flash feature of your camera and if possible carry a tripod with you to make high quality photographs and videos. some extra batteries are also needed if you want to spend several nights in the mountains. Another hiking tour attraction in Arfak mountains is a village tour where we can see the indigenous Papuan people in their daily activities.
The mountain range of Arfak is not crowded with tourists so, don't expect to see hundreds of travelers when you visit it. You may see some European hikers there particularly during holiday seasons.
Going back to Manokwari
When the whole hiking trips have been completed (usually in 3 days/ 2 nights), we will go back to Manokwari by the same pick up truck. You may feel exhausted after walking for several days in the mountains and I recommend that you stay in the city to relax or one or two days. I can arrange a massage service for you so that you have the tensions and stress in your muscles released. Your vacation in Manokwari can be extended to another hiking tour in the lowland rainforest or a snorkeling trip in one of the islands near Manokwari. I can arrange it for you. Some travelers ask me to bring them to Ransiki, and Oransbari. If you are interested in hiking in Arfak mountains, contact me via email: I will be happy to arrange your trip in Manokwari. by Charles Roring
Related article: Hiking tours in the rainforest of Arfak mountains