Wamena is the capital town of Jayawijaya Regency, the largest town in the highlands of Papua. And the Dani are the indigenous people of the Baliem Valley in Irian Jaya, along with the Yali and Moni, they are the main tribes in and around the valley.
The Dani, sometimes insultingly portrayed as “stone-age” people, are in some ways stuck between the ancient and modern worlds.
When they were first discovered, the way they lived was how we imagine pre-historic man had once lived, sparking huge interest around the world.
Prior to contact with people other than their own, the Dani ware a basic agricultural, hunting, and gathering society, which used tools made of wood, stone, and bone. They traded shells and plumes and their view of the world was limited.
Each village lead by the relatives of chief Yali.
Each village compound/complex consist of the main house (man Only called Pilamo. It’s also a meeting house for the men.
Their traditional houses call Honai, a roundhouse with grass as roofs and have one fireplace in the center to warm the house in the night. Men and boys started to gather outside one of the homes, and women around another, maybe 40 yards away and one terrace down.
The local men were wearing traditional penis gourds, called koteka in Indonesian.
The Dani village are in the highland that makes the temperature can be as low as 15 degrees Celcius at night, the Dani tribe makes a fireplace every night while they sleep.
The thatched-roof homes of Wesagalep lay at cloud level, high above the Baliem Valley in Papua, the Indonesian side of the island of New Guinea. They are built on about six terraced levels of the mountain, with startling views of the valley and down to the rushing river below.
The Dani is a farming tribe, that plans and harvests their daily food in the vast land that they call the Garden.
Like other Papuan Tribes, the Dani tribe values their pet pig. Villagers began to bring pigs over and, each time, a member of the group would run back and forth with a spear, repeating a word.
The views, and the opportunity to spend a night with the Dani people who live there, are reason enough to endure the rugged four-hour hike from the village of Tangma, the closest you can get by the vehicle.
From Tangma, the map showed descending to the river, crossing and heading up to Wesagalep. The hike down started out quite pleasantly — mostly a decline on wide paths, past a mix of thatched and tin-roofed houses and neatly tended sweet potato patches.
The valley settlements, wedged as they are between massive mountains, were not even noticed by colonial authorities until the American zoologist Richard Archbold flew over them in 1938.
The Dani are very accustomed to visitors and willing to speak openly and at length about their lives, down to some fascinating details. For example, men and women sleep in different huts even after marriage (yet share those huts with pigs), and until recently, women had the tip of a finger amputated every time a relative died.
For travelers willing to hike several grueling hours and sleep on a hard floor, visiting the Dani can be a welcoming experience.