by Rob D'Eon
July 2018
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Trekking in the Baliem Valley: Water

There is no bottled/treated water along the trails or in villages (recall the “no stores” thing). Like it or not, unless you are going to carry 6 days worth of water in your pack, you are going to drink the water in the creeks. Fortunately, for the most part, the water in the creeks (i.e., the small streams that fall almost vertically down the mountain slopes; some might call them springs) is clean and drinkable. We are from the mountains of Canada, so drinking water from creeks comes natural to us, and just made sense. No problem.

Now, that said, you definitely want to have a water strategy.  I would never advise “just drink the water as-is”, because someone out there is going to get sick and I’ll get hate mail. So, the following options apply (pick one):

·       Bring water purification tablets – usually 1 tablet = 1 litre of water. A very easy, light-weight, effective system. The truth is, we brought 50 tablets, and only used 2 of them. i.e., we just drank the water (and obviously survived fine).

·       Bring one of those fancy water filter things (a bit heavy and gear-intensive, but effective)

·       Bring one of those even fancier UV wands (I would be tempted to get one of these)

·       Drink only water that has been boiled (which in theory you could do, but is obviously painfully impractical)

Hot tips:

Look for this kind of set-up
·       Every village we went to, has a source of “drinking water”, i.e., the place where people in the village fill up their water jugs. Ask where that is, and then obviously fill up there. Some of the villages have relatively sophisticated drinking water systems where the water was coming from a natural spring high up on the mountain (see photo). These are primo obviously.

·       Bring two 1-litre water bottles. Fill them up in the morning, and carry them through the day. We found that lots to get us through the day (but opportunities to fill up through the day are almost always available). 

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