Mek country

The Dani people inhabit West Papua‘s Baliem Valley. To their east the Yali people inhabit the Yalimo. Yet further east are the Mek people, centred around Nipsan in the north of their territory, Nalca in the south-west and Eipomek in the south-east. To the east of the Mek live the Una people, centred around Langda and once famous for their stone axe making.

Men of the Mek tribe at Nipsan, Central Highlands, West Papua

Mek men at Nipsan

From Kosarek in the Yalimo a northern trail leads to Nipsan in Mek territory and a southern trail to Nalca and Eipomek also in Mek territory. From Eipomek the trail continues on to Langda in Una territory.

If you are in very good form you could make it from Wamena in the Baliem Valley to Kosarek in the Yalimo in one week, or 3 – 4 days if you are an olympic athlete or a West Papuan. But lets say one week for a very fit Westerner, as the terrain in the Yalimo is incredibly punishing, probably the hardest trekking I’ve ever done.

From Kosarek to Nalca is another 2 – 3 days, Nalca – Eipomek another 2 – 3 days and Eipomek – Langda another 2 – 3. Meaning that Langda, for a very healthy and very fast walker is 2 weeks from Wamena in the Baliem Valley. Realistically though you should allow 3 – 4 weeks as you’ll almost certainly want to rest, take in the beautiful scenery, meet the friendly people and generally enjoy the place rather than rush through.

Kosarek, Nipsan, Nalca, Eipomek and Langda all have grass airstrips that are serviced very irregularly by missionary flights from Wamena in the Baliem Valley. Locals are given priority on these but if you wait around for a long time you may be able to get a seat. Ask locals what the procedure is. If you’re willing to charter a plane things will be quicker and waiting time reduced (see main Baliem Valley page for details on this).

Although this area is very far from the Baliem Valley, people actually dress less traditionally than in the Yalimo. Their have long been missionary airstrips here flying in cheap Western clothes amongst other supplies. The people are, however, extremely unused to seeing tourists and are very hospitable.

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