Carstensz Update 2 of 3: Travelling to Tamika

In 4a. Carstensz Pyramid, Australasia, Project 7in4by Steve

Travel Warning – “Reconsider Your Need to Travel to Papua and West Papua”

Before boarding our plane for Tamika (located in Papua province, Indonesia) I jumped on the Australian Government Smart Traveler Website to see what they had to say. This is the advice they had for travelers:

Reconsider your need to travel to Papua and West Papua provinces where there are regular violent clashes between the police and military and armed groups. Many clashes have resulted in the deaths of members of the security forces, members of armed groups and, occasionally, civilians. 

A number of violent attacks have occurred in and around Jayapura, with people killed and injured, including a foreign national. There is a risk of more attacks.

Violent attacks have taken place in recent years around the Freeport Mine, Papua Province, resulting in deaths, including of an Australian. There have been attacks on vehicles using the road between Grasberg and Timika.

Ongoing violence in Puncak Jaya District, Papua Province, has led to deaths. 

More attacks are possible in Papua and West Papua provinces, including against infrastructure and national institutions.

Well, that was reassuring! After quickly “reconsidering my need to travel”, I jumped on the plane.

Jetlag upon Jetlag

Our Garuda Indonesia flight from Bali to Tamika departed at 01:30 this morning and landed around 06:00. With only one day in Bali, I had barely recovered from the jetlag from our Kilimanjaro – Bali leg when I had to take this red eye special. I hate red eye flights at the best of time but this one was particularly rough.

Arriving in Tamika this morning we checked straight into our hotel and went to sleep for a few hours. And when I say “hotel”, it is actually more of a workers camp. It is quite basic, the meals I guess are edible but not at all appetising and the air conditioner in my room is broken, but it is clean and had a bed so I was happy.

Obtaining our Climbing Permit

Mid-morning our local guide picked us up from the hotel and drove us to some government building where we had to get out climbing permit. I am glad we had a local guide to escort us through the process as I had no idea what was happening. A few signatures, a photo and an exchange of money and apparently we were good to go.

Driving around town everything looked quiet and peaceful enough although there were armed military in the streets ready to respond to any situations. I don’t know the full political situation here but apparently they had just announce candidates for an upcoming election and were on high alert. Although to look at the military on the street, they were far from on high alert, most were sitting down drinking coffee trying to pass the hours.

Nevertheless, our guide advised us not to walk around town by ourselves so we just spent the rest of today at the hotel, which suited me fine as I had more sleep to catch up on.

Fingers Crossed for Tomorrow Morning

Tomorrow morning we will hopefully get a helicopter to Carstensz Base Camp. With all the delays and grounded flights of late, we are really hoping we get clear weather to fly in.

The other option if you don’t get a helicopter to base camp is to trek in, a week long trek through the jungle. I was actually keen to do the trek but with current security concerns the local company we are going with has stopped all trekking options so we have no choice but to take the helicopter.

Fingers crossed we don’t get delayed for a week like the group ahead of us.

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“Go with the decision that will make for a great story”.

Steve Plain

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