Overview of Puncak Jaya region
The vast Suridiman Ranges run East to West accross West Papua and the majority are unclimbed as they are particulary remote and very difficult to get to.
This map shows some of the immediate mountains and trails around Puncak Jaya
Mountains,trails and villages surrounding Puncak Jaya
There are numerous airlines that fly to various destinations which will serve as launching points for your Puncak Jaya or surrounding mountains expeditions
There are generally three different ways of getting to Puncak Jaya
1. Jakarta-Denpassar-Timika-Illaga, Beoga, Sugapa
2. Jakarta-Manado-Nabire-Enaratoli-Puncak Jaya (Enaratoli-Puncak Jaya helicopter route)
3. Jakarta-Denpassar-Timika-Jayapura-Wamena-Ilaga, Beoga, Sugapa (rarely used way these days as very long and circuitous route)
Trigana Air-Jayapura to Wamena return. Its best to catch the early flights both ways if possible as Wamena is in a valley and quite often fog will descend early in the afternoon and the flights will be stopped. Was around 600K Rupiah each way.
Merpati flies to many other regions from Timika and Jayapura.
Military Hercules C130 aircraft fly all over West Papua but you need to know someone to get onto these flights. The best way to get into Wamena is via Timika as they fly direct each week and bypass the need to go to Jayapura.
Charter with Aviastar
If you want to fly to Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) one helicopter charter company is
PT. Cheysea Aurelia
JL. Pemuda No. 14 Nabire Telephone/Fax 0984 26018-23618
Sugapa(Bilogai), Illaga, Beoga. Pogapa
Trigana air flies to Beoga each Monday morning at 6am and returns directly after a quick turnaround in Beoga.
Charter with Aviastar which is situated at Timika airport though the office is difficult to find unless you know Bahasa and can ask around. Remember when asking around at the airport that it is most manned by employees of Freeport.
Mission Aviation Fellowship flies to a multitude of remote villages but it is highly unlikely you will get a seat with them, even if you try to charter a flight. This is especially so out of Timika as they often fly charter for employees of Freeport and it seems they dont like to carry around pesky tourists. In Wamena MAF is more flexible and approachable though you need to catch up with the expat pilots and discuss options, no point trying to negotiate a flight with the MAF office staff. From Wamena you can fly to Illage, Beoga, Sugapa villagers or any other remote village near to the mountain ranges.
Travel Permit required (SKJ)
West Papua is unusual in that you must have a Surat Jalan (travel permit) to go to all places except for Sentani/Jayapura.
All other destinations in West Papua require a SKJ. Interestingly all tour operators will tell you just how hard it is to get a permit to travel in West Papua though it’s a load of nonsense aimed at dramatically inflating the prices of any expeditions or tours.
Having said that there are “special” places that do require much more effort to obtain a SKJ. The vast majority of people reading this submission will be those who are purely interested in travelling to Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) which is one of those special places. Permits have always been historically hard to get, purely as a result of the influence some tour operators have in Indonesia. They deal with “contacts” who provide the SKJ as required and “special” read bribes are paid to expedite these SKJ. However it is possible to get a SKJ to Puncak Jaya though the difficulty should not be underestimated. Please see my page on Puncak Jaya for more in-depth information on the SKJ process specific to Puncak Jaya.
How to get an SKJ for general travel.
You will need an Indonesia Tourist Visa granted for most on arrival. In addition you will need 2 passport photos on a red background. Armed with these you can proceed to the Police Station to receive your SKJ to most destinations in West Papua. Some expedition operators are able to bypass some stages of this process. In most cases an SKJ can be issued while you wait. The police generally will not issue an SKJ for Puncak Jaya for Solo travel. It seems that the Indonesian expedition operators have had a word in their ears and the police will say for Puncak Jaya you need a group of around 5. In turn you would call it an International Expedition. When you get your SKJ make sure you take quite a few copies depending upon how many villages you intend to travel via on your way to any mountains.
Your SKJ must list all the regions in West Papua you will be travelling through. This includes Puncak Jaya, Ngala Pulu and all the villages you will pass through. It is likely that at most villages a Military or Police person will want to see your SKJ. Especially at your starting points.
I have always listed multiple locations and regencies on my SKJ to ensure that I have no problems.
Now it is possible to just list specific regencies and make no mention of going to any mountain. For example you can have Nabire, Enaratoli, and then list the regencies, say Puncak Jaya regency, or if you are coming in via Timika list Timika then your next arrival village which for most will be either, Beoga, Illaga and the most usual Sugapa and then Puncak Jaya regency. You must be able to speak Bahasa or have someone with you who can to facilitate your passage through the arrival villages and beyond. You will be approached by Police or Military at Supaga or any of the other arrival villages. In addition you will need to be able to negotiate porters, guides, cooks and also passage through the village. The will be "fees" to be paid and these can vary dramatically. Fees like access and payments to the village chief etc. Military or Police may also wish to extract a "fee" to allow you to pass. Generally with the right attitude you will eventually overcome these hurdles and be on your way to trek to whichever mountain you wish to go to.
For all remote destinations in West Papua you will be required to show your SKJ, quite often upon arrival and in nearly all towns it is the Law that Hotels keep a record of your SKJ and must report your arrival to the Police within 24 hours. In remote villages when hiking you will pass via both Police and Military post. It is highly likely that at each of these you will be asked for your permit. In most cases a friendly outgoing nature will go a long way, though in some areas you may be required to pay a "fee" to proceed. This is commonplace and will generally only be a small amount. Remember these guys are paid next to nothing so this will supplement their income. Indonesia survives on bribes and this is commonplace. Once you know a region, say Wamena you soon learn where these posts are and how to avoid/circumnavigate them. I have travelled in all directions from Wamena and have only ever had to show my SKJ once. There are posts everywhere and sometimes your guide will feel obliged/scared/co-conspirator for you to stop and make a visit/payment
It is wise to only stop in Timika if that is your entry point for a very limited time to get food stocks etc. There is nothing else to do in Timika and climbers attract attention quickly. Word spreads quickly in these towns. You will have arranged your Aviastar charter flight in advance so it may be that you leave early the very next day. Most flights leave as early as 6am as clouds and poor weather can quickly close any flights to outlying villages.
A word of note, the Sheraton Timika is not really a Sheraton Hotel. It is staffed and run by Freeport.
Puncak Jaya expedition providers
All Western mountaineering sites offering Puncak Jaya will subcontract all preparations to local Indonesian expedition operators. There will be a huge mark up to facilitate this and sadly a lot of climbers fall for the ridiculous fees being charged for Puncak Jaya.
Quite often their choice will be based on reports that many Indonesian operators struggle in organising this expedition.
I have many years of experience in this region and have known all the major and minor expedition providers both good and bad.
The best local outfit is Franky Kowas of Adventure Indonesia
who I have known for a long time. His outfit is highly experienced and he has many years experience placing people on the top of Puncak Jaya.
Another local operator Carstensz Expedition
appears to be having good success
There is a one Western Outfit Dr Werner Weiglein
who has one of his bases at Wamena though he is primarily based in Germany. He achieves good success though often he is closely associated with Freeport Indonesia and I guess ethical climbers may choose to base their decision upon this fact.
At some stage in the not too distant future, trekkers will be able to readily access via the local village of Tsinga.
Freeport has spent a great deal of money building an airstrip there which is to be opened on 23 March 2010. Tsinga is within the vast Freeport Contract of Work. Tsinga is only a short flight from Timika and will be readily accessible by light plane.
This northerly route from Tsinga is only about 12 kilometres so trekkers will find this route much more affordable and far easier going. However this depends upon who of the above trekking companies exert pressure upon the local West Papuan people. My bet is Dr Werner Weiglein will be pushing very hard to take control over these people as he has too much time and money invested in PJ. time will tell. The route is already surveyed from Tsinga and follows old trails.
Treks around Puncak Jaya
When you have arrived in the Puncak Jaya region you have the option of setting up a base camp to explore Puncak Jaya, nearby Ngala Pulu and the other 4 glaciers surrounding Puncak Jaya.
If you have the luxury of time and able to move base camp then there is inumerable mountains over 4000 metres to scale. All will require a lot of logistical planning and forward planning as they are very remote areas to be climbing.
In order to get to mountains in a Westerly direction from Puncak Jaya you will need to trek down past the 4 lakes and down to Zebra Wall (around 1.5 hrs) the ascend the huge Freeport Bali waste dump. You can walk to the top of this safely but remember you are now on Freeport contract of work area and if spotted people will report you.
You will need to circumvent the mine area by walking around the waste dumps in an north westerly direction. It is imperative that you are no where near where the Haul trucks are moving or dumping over the edge of these waste dumps. They deliver over 300 tons of rubble and you will be killed. This is why no one should enter the mine area!
It is possible with more effort to climb the mountain ridges to the rear of the mine and circumvent the mine area totally.
Alternatively you can return to the lakes and ascend the New Zealand pass and then make your way around to the westerly mountain range.
The road through Freeport Mine (PTFI)
The easiest route to Puncak Jaya, Ngala Pulu and surrounding mountains is by far the PTFI, Freeport road.
This road runs from Amamapare at Mile 0 to Mile 74 which is the concentrate mill at the base of the mountains
Key points along the road are
M24 where there is a security entry point adjacent to Timika airport
M50-security post located at the base of the mountains
M66-security post at Hidden Valley where employees with families reside in houses and apartment
M73-Road junction to the HEAT (heavy equipment access trail) which runs up the side of the mountains and brings you out at the ridgeline bordering the giant Grassberg open cut pit.
M74-the mills and concentrators at the base of the ridgeline. At this point there is a cable car which climbs around a kilometre to the ridgeline above.
From Timika it is only around 2.5 hours by 4WD to get all the way to the cable car at M74
It is possible to utilise and walk this road but this takes determined effort and some serious planning. It cannot be attempted during the day as hikers would be spotted and immediately arrested by Freeport SRM (security and risk management) staff. You will then find yourself in the Timika police cells and eventually escorted onto a Garuda plane to Bali or Jakarta. Hikers who have previously been caught at any point on the mine property have spent up to a week in Timika under custody. There is a 1 kilometre tunnel at Mile 58 and this has a signal controller in a hut at each end. Traffic flows in one direction at a time and is controlled by these men and Stop/Go boards at the huts. Inside the tunnel there is no where to avoid any traffic.
Historically with the right contacts it has been possible to "bribe" the TNI (military) or Brimob (special police) to provide escorts up to the start of the puncak Jaya trek at the top of what is known as the Bali dump (where mining waste is now piled 750 metres deep at and way above the Zebra Wall. These guys are not required to submit to any form of security checks and just drive through the Freeport security checkpoints. They are a law unto themselves and not answerable to Freeport. Most recent bribes have been in the vicinity of several thousand $US up and back.