Ninia is a larger than average village and former missionary outpost in West Papua‘s Central Highlands between the Baliem Valley and the Yalimo. The scenery is spectacular, the people are extremely hospitable and unused to seeing tourists and the village provides a good place from trekkers to take a day’s rest halfway between Wamena in the Baliem Valley and Angguruk in the Yalimo.

Lush, green, mountainous scenery around Ninia, Central Highlands, West Papua

Scenery around Ninia

There are a couple of routes here from the Baliem Valley, including the one via Yogosem, Kiroma and Moning. Both take about the same time. Alternatively there is a small grass airstrip with occasional missionary flights to Dekai further south and Wamena in the Baliem Valley. You may or may not be able to get a place on these and are likely to have to wait a long time for a place if you can’t afford to charter your own plane.

From here the path leads on three hours to Sobaham then across 12 hours of uninhabited territory with a couple of shelters to overnight in before emerging into the Yalimo at Waniyok. From there one can trek on to Angguruk, Kosarek and even Mek country if one has enough time.

Despite Ninia’s remoteness, lack of tourists and very traditional way of life, no one here wears traditional (un)dress any more, unlike in the neighbouring Baliem Valley and Yalimo. Locals told me that the area’s particularly strict missionaries banned it, along with smoking and other “vices”. However, the daughter of the first missionaries to reach the Yalimo, who herself grew up there and whose father was murdered by some Yali men in 1968, recently got in touch with me through this site, saying that missionaries “never, ever banned the Yali from wearing their traditional garments. In fact the Yali themselves were the ones to ask for clothes to wear because they suffered so much from the cold weather in the highlands there. Would you like to live there with wearing nothing to keep you warm? I think not, so why expect the Yali people to? Smoking was never banned either. In fact I don’t even recall the Yali people smoking (that’s a new habit acquired only in recent times)”.

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