by Rob D'Eon
July 2018
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Trekking in the Baliem Valley: Guides and Porters

As mentioned repeatedly, our hatred for guided tours meant we did not have a guide, or porters. That said, almost all adult men you meet will offer to guide you (for a fee obviously). Truth be told, we used one guy for about an hour once, to take us to the next village when the trail we were on disappeared because of a series of huge landslides. We gave him a few rupiah and a snickers bar, which he seemed quite happy with.

So, if you do find yourself stuck, or lost, or confused, or unsure, fear not. It is quite feasible and easy, to find a random person (typically adult men, but also kids could do it; women are too busy working J) who will show you the way, or simply guide you for as long as you require the services. I am quite sure, that would be far cheaper, and much more efficient, than arranging a guide in Wamena for the entire trip (which is also easy to do, if you really really want/need a guide).

As well, while we did not hire any porters, I am also quite sure it would be very easy to hire random people to carry your pack(s), again for a fee obviously. We were regularly asked if we needed guiding/porter services. It would not be a problem to arrange any/all of this on the fly out in the villages.

In terms of guide/porter costs, I have no first-hand knowledge. But, a Dutch couple we spoke to in Wamena, paid 400,000 Rp. (28 USD) per day for a guide, that was pre-arranged in Wamena. However, they also had to pay for groceries (to feed themselves and him), and cigarettes for him (really, that was part of the deal). They said the trip turned out OK, but the food was a disaster (they ran out), and the guy smoked all the cigarettes in the first two days. Again, just sayin’ J

Hot tips:

·       If you really feel you need a guide/porter(s), you can arrange it in Wamena, no problem. Rut, at Hogorasuak Guesthouse (see “Wamena” section) can arrange it for you, for example.

·       A do-it-yourself option if you are unsure, is to arrange guides on the fly. As you will find out, most of the trails to most of the villages in the main valleys are obvious and easy navigated. If you get into a situation that makes you nervous, find a random guy, and almost for sure this person will be happy to show you the way to your destination village for a few rupiah.

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