The term Asmat refers both to the Asmat people and the region they inhabit. The region is vast and covered in primary rainforest and swamp forest, and covers approximately 1.5 million hectares. The western half of Asmat is part of Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Asmat is notable both for the rich and vibrant traditional tribal culture and art as well as its globally significant biodiversity.
There are about 12 sub-areas of Asmat: Joerat, Emari Ducur, Unir Siran, Unir Epmak, Bras, Bismam, Simai, Kenakap, Aramatak, Yupmakcain, Becumbub, and Safan.
This is a very remote and physically challenging area of the world. It is a difficult and expensive area to reach, the climate is very hot, access to conventional tourist comforts is lacking, and there are physical dangers from accidents, crocodiles, and malaria. However, for hardy travelers the opportunity to witness traditional Asmat culture and the outstanding biodiversity is extremely rewarding.
The Asmat region is located in Papua province (western New Guinea) of Indonesia. The area is home to the Asmat people, are an ethnic group of New Guinea, who possess one of the most well-known and vibrant woodcarving traditions in the Pacific and whose art is sought by collectors worldwide. The Asmat region is located on the island's southwestern coast and totals approximately 19,000 square kilometres. Habitats include mangrove, tidal swamp, freshwater swamp, and lowland rainforest. The land of Asmat is located both within and adjacent to Lorentz National Park and World Heritage Site, the largest protected area in the Asia-Pacific region. The total Asmat population is estimated to be around 70,000. The term "Asmat" is used to refer both to the people and the region they inhabit.
Easiest transit in and out of the Asmat region is via Timika city to the west. There are semi-regular plane flights and ships making the run from Timika to Agats, the main town and entry point.
The Asmat area is dense tropical rainforest and swamp, so walking any distance is virtually impossible. All transportation between villages is by dugout canoe with an outboard motor. Due to rising fuel costs, this can be very expensive.
Woodcarving, village life, ceremonies, pristine nature.
The birdlife of Asmat is especially rich and birdwatching is certain to be challenging but very rewarding. Asmat forests contain dozens of species of Birds of paradise, parrots, lorikeets, and other birds.
The Asmat Museum of Culture and Progress in Agats is an excellent museum containing outstanding examples of traditional Asmat woodcarving and artifacts. The museum was developed in the 1980s and 1990s by the local Catholic diocese with the assistance of European art collector Ursula Konrad and American anthropologist Tobias Schneebaum.
Bottled water only. Alcohol is restricted and should not be brought in.
Avoid crocodiles and mosquitos.
Easiest transit in and out of the Asmat region is via Timika city to the west. There are semi-regular plane flights and ships making the run from Timika to Agats.