We planned Jayapura merely as a transit place on our way to Baliem Valley festival in Wamena. That's why we stayed here only one day and one night, hoping we will survive the dullness and boredom of the place. We were so wrong and unfair about Jayapura, and yet the city repaid us with nothing but beautiful sceneries, exciting places and one of the most wonderful days of our lives.
There are only a few places in the world we visited and want to visit again. Jayapura is one of them. Our bad opinion about the city came from the fact that we didn't get any interesting pictures or blog tales from Jayapura before our trip. We hope you will read this article before your journey and that it will convince you to spend in Jayapura more time than the usual "couple of hours to get the permits for Wamena".
We landed in Jayapura in the morning. The next day we had a very early flight, so we decided to stay somewhere close to the airport. We haven't managed to find a proper hotel in advance, so we started to walk around with luggage trying to get something on the spot. Well, indeed, we saw many "hotels" adjacent to the airport but nothing that would get a sanitation certificate.
Having no other choice, we took a taxi to Star Waena hotel, that we knew would be clean and with AC. The reception people were really friendly - they allowed us to check in early and helped us to find a car with a driver.
First, we went to Jayapura Police Station to get the permits for Wamena. It was an adventure for the whole new article (our tip: make the copies of your passports in advance and bring them with you to Papua). After about two hours we had the permits that no one ever checked (even during our trekking in Baliem Valley). We were free to explore the city.
We started with Jayapura City Hill, with the Hollywood-styled "Jayapura City" neon letters on the top. You can walk to the hilltop (free) or get there by car (you'll have to pay some small parking fee). On the very top, there's a little cafe with a panoramic view. The whole place is a bit shabby, but the view rewards everything - truly spectacular.
From Jayapura City Hill there's a panoramic view over Lake Sentani and fishing villages with houses on stilts dotting its shore. Intrigued, we drove near one of them and strolled on unique (albei holey) wooden pedestrian walkways.
W H A T T O S E E N E X T
Next was Khalkhote, a place where each year the Lake Sentani Festival takes place. During the festival, you can witness a wide range of cultural attractions presented by different tribes living around Lake Sentani, performed both on land and the lake (on boats). Unfortunately, it happens at another time than the Baliem Festival, so we didn't see it. What we did instead, was renting a boat which took us to one of the villages on stilts, to see how life in the middle of a lake can be like. The trip was fascinating; we enjoyed both - the ride with a beautiful lake view and a visit to the village.
From Khalkhote we went to Doyo Lama Hill - a perfect spot for watching the sunset over Lake Sentani. It is not our private opinion; everyone thinks so. And everyone was present on top of the hill. Yes, Doyo Lama is not an oasis of peace and quiet, but it doesn't change the fact that the view is spectacular.
Plus, Doyo Lama has another secret besides the panoramic vista: Megalithic Tutari Site, located maybe 1,5 km away.
It is also a hill, but instead of a lake view, it offers the company of ancient megaliths and petroglyphs. The entrance to this historic site is near the tarmac (after descending Doyo Lama, go to the left). A massive gate with the name of the place won't let you miss it.
Visiting Tutari will require some climbing, but the hill is not very steep and mostly paved. The path will lead you first near the bizarrely shaped megaliths and clusters of rock carvings.
On the very top, you will find the ancient field of menhirs of different sizes, forming the stone circles.
During the whole walk to the top, we were accompanied by the group of kids laughing like Tutari was an amusement park, not just the hill full of ancient rocks. But maybe it was us - the funniest exhibits in this open-air museum.
To see the details about how we organized the trip to West Papua, go to our article West Papua Itinerary.