Lorentz National Park
Lorentz National Park is an outstanding example of the biodiversity of New Guinea, and one of the most ecologically diverse national parks in the world.
This very large park is located where the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates collide. It contains a full altitudinal array of ecosystems spanning marine areas, mangrove, tidal and freshwater swamp forests, lowland and montane rainforests, alpine areas, and equatorial glaciers. Puncak Jaya (4884m) is the tallest mountain between the Himalayas and the Andes. The endangered Dingiso tree kangaroo is found here, as well as short-beaked echidna, long-beaked echidna and two threatened species of crocodiles.
Community Perspective: Zoë tried to get grips on the park using Wamena as a base. Lake Habbema (a birders' favourite) is the only part that is accessible by road, according to the IUCN evaluation. It is also possible to fly with Asian One Air from Timika to Akimuga, which lies in the core zone but provides no infrastructure to explore the natural surroundings.
Map of Lorentz National ParkLoad map
Took me years to accomplish visiting and even then it wasn't easygoing though it should have been rather simple. First off while you see the park on Google Map that isn't really where the park starts and ends. The inscription file has a map and it's different again so eventually I gave up trying to figure out where the park is really. One forum online quoted "the park only exists on paper" and it's really just nature that keeps going and going. If you look at Google you will find no real towns in the park either. Trying to enter from Timika was an idea but again there is nothing touristy from there. Then I stumbled across Wamena in the highlands. It's beyond the mountains and outside the world heritage site but it's in my opinion the only way to reach the park.
Flying into Wamena is quite easy as there are daily flights from Jayapura and that is connected well with Sorong and beyond. I took an overnight flight from Bali via Makassar and another town before connecting with the flight to Wamena. You don't really want to stay in Jayapura if you can avoid it.
Wamena is quite small but has hotels and restaurants to make you feel comfortable enough. Most people that come here are trekkers. Don't expect a fancy trip. You don't need to arrange a permit to visit the area even though it says with many online sources but the hotel assured me that I won't be stopped to fly into Wamena and if for any reason someone would demand on as I'm trekking we can organize it at the local police station post-hike so don't worry about getting on. It also avoids having to stop in Jayapura to get one as I originally planned so just transit to Wamena quickly.
There are many options for trekking and most people go do that at the Baliem Valley nearby. It's not in the core zone and neither is Kilise, Kurulu or anything near the town. You can try to organize longer treks into the park but it would mean multiday camping and even then I can't guarantee it will be in the core zone. The guides don't seem to know that either. What's quite sure is that Lake Hamena is in the Lorentz NP as it would before require a park pemit (not anymore). Either way, if I actually touched the core zone in the end or not I'll have to live with that I tried, possibly my best I can in my lifetime.
2 days later and trekking still on the agenda suddenly all hell broke lose in Wamena, apparently causes by some child kidnapping rumors and people got provoked and started rioting, setting houses on fire. I can't speak for Papua being safe but the hotel owner says this not common. 8 houses burnt down, 10 people got killed, the army came in and locked down the town. One couldn't leave town for 2 days so trekking was out of the question. Luckily the airport is within town and the flights didn't get canceled. I changed my flight to the next day and left for Sorong a few days earlier to guarantee I won't miss my Raja Ampat liveaboard. Just to update they had two days of peace in the town after it happened and the hotel owner claims it looks good to get back to normal.
I can't say I saw much of the national park at all. It ranges from the high altitude mountains (16°C at night) to the coast and is one continuous nature paradise. I can't say I'm not in love with it just for that. Please leave nature alone, the whole planet needs "lungs" like this park and any attempts of building up tourism will also introduce encroachment, logging, poaching, the usual BS human interaction we saw in the rest of the world.
Consider Wamena as a trekking trip with a glimpse of world heritage rather a full visit because having only visited 0.00001% of it doesn't really give an insight.
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