West Papua

Hiking in Westpapua is not like hiking in the Alps or Andes Mountains. You will look out for a sign telling you the right way without success. Maps don’t exist, and a rain transforms the narrow and steep path into a muddy and slippery thing where you will prefer to take off your shoes for any grip at all. When other people come across you will greet and shake hands with everybody. You may also see some nearly naked men wearing nothing then a Kotekta* and maybe a hat, and carrying bow and arrow. Welcome to the fascinating end of the world!

The photos show life in the middle of the mountains of west-papua. Both, nature and people are amazing. The further you get away from infrastructure, streets and shops the more difficult it gets for western visitors, but the more you dig into their traditional life as well. Houses are built of natural materials like wood and straw. People sit and eat on the floor around the fire. Most also sleep there, it might get cold at night indeed. People appear resilient and tough, but their look, speach and handshake show a soft and warm core.

Problems in Westpapua are numerous: You will find a two-class-society wherever you look. Papuans hardly speak English at all. Lessons are expensive, don’t exist or are only for Indonesians. Westpapua is part of Indonesia since the 1960ies, the Papuans still fight for independence. Chances are close to zero. But hope dies last…