The 2.35 million hectare Lorentz National Park is the largest protected area in SE Asia and the only one in the world to incorporate a continuous tract of unspoilt ecosystems from snow-capped, glaciated uplands to tropical marine environment, including a vast swathe of lowland wetlands. Little wonder the park is regarded as having the highest level of biodiversity in the region; a fact that has earned Lorentz UNESCO World Heritage listing. 630 species of bird and 123 mammalian species have been recorded in the park but given that much of Lorentz remains unmapped and unexplored, there may be more yet to be found.
Located in the south central region of Papua province from the southern slopes of the Pegunungan Mandala range all the way to the Arafura Sea, the park incorporates Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) which at 4884m is the highest peak in Australasia, and a chunk of the western Baliem Valley.
Human habitation in the park is believed to go back 25,000 years. These days, seven different indigenous groups inhabit the park and maintain their traditional lifestyles to varying degrees. They included the highland tribes of the Amungme (Damal), Dani Barat, Dani Lembah Baliem, Moni and Nduga and the lowlands tribes of the Asmat, Kamoro and Sempan.
Despite its large size, it is surprisingly difficult to access Lorentz National Park. The easiest option is via Wamena then travelling out to Lake Habbema or Mount Trikora and trekking into the northeast region of the park from there. Although this won’t get you into the guts of the park, there are several indigenous villages in this region and the scenery is spectacular.
Alternatively, catch a scheduled flight to Timika then take a perintis flight to one of the remote villages deep inside the park boundaries. Susi Air runs semi-regular perintis flights to Alama and Jita lowland villages and the highland villages of Paro and Mapnduma. Trekkers are rare in these parts so in addition to engaging a villager to guide you around the area once you arrive, you should definitely consider taking a guide from Timika with you to help you navigate the language and cultural barriers.
As well as your Surat Keterangan Jalan(travel permit) you will need to obtain an additional permit to enter the park. You can get these through the Forestry Conservation Offices in both Wamena and Timika. Above all, remember that Lorentz is extremely remote so trekkers should be well prepared and totally self-sufficient.