IRIAN JAYA (PAPUA NEW GUINEA)
The Balzem Valle
The valley was discovered by a wealthy American explorer during his botanical and zoological expeditions in 1938 who first reported that this 1,600 m-high valley appeared to be inhabited by a lost civilization.
When the cloud cleared, the expeditions members beheld a vast beautifully tended garden of checker-board squares with neat stone fences, clean-cut networks of canals and meticulously terraced mountain slopes (read of this discovery in the march 1941 issue of national geography).
The grand valley of the baliem received worldwide publicity in 1945 when a sightseeing plane out of wartime Hollandia crashed and its survivors had to be rescued in a daring glider operation. An American nurse in this group called the valley a Shangri-la. The first outsiders to settle here were missionaries landing by a float plane on the Baliem river in 1954. The Dutch established a settlement at Wamena in 1956 , bringing in school teachers , new breeds of livestock , modern clothing and metal tools. Wamena continued under their control until Indonesia wrested West New Guinea from Holland in 1962. The grand valley 1s 72 km long by 16-32 km wide. It has magnificent scenery and unlimited tourist potential. It is inhabited by tribes of Neolithic ex-warrior farmers, the Dani’s.
The Baliem river runs like a snake through a valley of stony riverbeds, jungle ravines, kampung of Honnai ( the round houses ), plots of green cultivated fields and stone walls. The Dani are today some of the most skilled and meticulous gardeners in the world.The temperature is mild and the rainfall moderate ( though highly variable ). If it is raining in the southern part of the valley, it might be sunny in the north or vice versa. September through october is the season of high winds, usually raining in the afternoon. It is frequently cloudy except in the early morning when all surrounding mountains are in clear view.