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The Dani & Lani

Wamena  Baliem Valley (Neoloithic Farmers & Stone Age Culture )

The Baliem valley was once dubbed Shangri-La and it is easy to see why. The valley is incredibly lush and is surrounded on all side by towering peaks of 2.500 to 3.000 metres. The fertility is such that the valley has been farmed for 9.000 years but it was only discovered by westerners in 1938. There are  three remain tribes inhabitinb the Baliem Valley, The Dani in thye base, the Lani to the west and the Yali in the south-east. Each tribe hasa distinct culture. One sure and interesting way to distiguish between the tribes ins from the Koteka, or penis guard, sported by the male members. The men of each tribe tent to the growing of the guard with the three tribes each cultivating a different style. The Dani use a long think Koteka. The Lani sport a medium sized, wide cannon-llike guard and thre Yali wear the longest of all.

The Dani. Entering Dani teritory involves a journey ionto a deeper reality. The inevitable pig-feast on arrival is your rite of passage in their unique culture for an engrossing a four or five hour intense ewxperience. You will find yourself in a simple, traditional compound surrounded by fully reased and painted Dani tribes- people wearing their ceremonial best. The whole elaborate affair is deeply spritual, far more than a photo-session can ever capture. Here you will be warmly greeted by the amazing Chief Yali, Kelly’s adoptive father who is lagendary amongest the Dani for his kindness, generosity and skill in the art ofco-peration and avoiding conflict. With this unique and privileged connection you will receive the full weigh of Dani hospitality.

The Lani. Like the Dani, the Lani are expert farmers utilisinmg a highluy effective and efecient irrigation system to produce abvundant crops of sweet potatoes (ubi), Tobacco, Beans, Taro, Spinach, Sugar Cane and Bananas. Much of the Lani lands lie in a beautiful oasis interspersed with chekerboad  patterned sweet potatoes gardens. The Lani are more stockily built than the medium-bodied Dani and theid land are more densely populated. They tend to congregate in largish village rather than the smal;l compounds which dominate Dani territory.


The weather in the valley is predominantlty sunny and trekking along the river amidst the terrace and wondrous forest is a trekker’s paradise. Trail;s are usually clear and maintained as local people travel them and this make the trekking pretty comfortable.