Wamena, in the Baliem Valley is one of the only places in the world where people can genuinely claim religion came from the sky, which gives it a fair share of strange peactices like cargo cults. Much like is still occurring in some parts of Brazil and Peru, first contact with the modern world was made by plane and with it came Christianity.

Every October the Bishop of Jayapura arrives at the Wamena Airport with a Bible in his hand to celebrate this event. This is the highlight of the cultural year and like Ascot the locals get dressed up for the event. Wearing everything from James Bond style hand painted sunglasses to little or no clothing. The Bishop, not to be outdone, plucks some tail feathers from a bird to put in his hair to go with the bible.

The only way you are going to get to to experience this is by flying into Wamena by plane. Which means that even to this day religion in Wamena still comes from the sky. As the airlines running the Jayapura to Wamena route are notoriously unreliable and have a poor safety record it’s probably good to have a Bible close to hand.

After the end of the festival people get back into normal clothes,which could mean stripping back to a peanus Gourd. People will be overjoyed if you decide to do the same. However if this doesn’t sound like your thing you can always go and watch one of the best teams in the Indonesian premiership, Wamena Persipura, play at their home stadium.

Apart from the football and the naked religion there are plenty of other things to entertain you in Wamena, like some awesome trekking. Since you’re in Papua you might also consider diving in Raja Ampat, a world away from Wamena and the Baliem Valley, but an amazing experience nevertheless.

Published by Nico

Originally from England, I'm slowly traveling the world on a whim. I love traveling, have an avid fear of heights and can normally be found googling location of the best coffee shop wherever I happen to be.

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  1. To my West Papuan brothers and sisrtes make no mistake the genocide that white Christians have delivered to Aboriginal will be repeated in your own lands unless you stand up and demand justice. Speak with one voice and say no to foreign interferance in your lives.

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