Jayapura : Gate to Interior Papua and the Sentani Lake Festival

Jayapura is today the capital city of Papua and  home to more than 100,000 people. The residents of this city come from many parts of Indonesia.

Jayapura is located in East Papua and the starting point for many travelers wanting to make the adventurous journey into the interior of Papua. Travelers come here for all kinds of adventures. This is where you can begin your trek into the remote Baliem Valley, or conduct sustainable crocodile conservation study for your thesis, or prepare to capture the magic of Lake Sentani  and its culture on camera.

On a lush hill stands a red-and-white communication tower which is the best place to to view the town. While this may not be the most exciting activity to do in Papua, it’s a good way to get your bearings and discover just how large is this region. Jayapura is after all, only a gateway to your extraordinary journey into one of the largest islands on the planet.

Acting as the hub for travelers seeking to explore Papua and a hub to other parts of Indonesia, Jayapura is used to travelers and is always ready to welcome visitors. This is the place to come and begin your exotic Papuan adventure, taking in the culture and the landscape of an untouched world.

For those who want to experience the pristine ocean and diverse marine life of this region, Tanah Merah Bay, located 60 kilometers from Jayapura is ideal for snorkeling. This is also a great location for scuba diving with World War II shipwrecks to explore at reachable depths. You’ll have to bring your own gear with you.

Diving is also possible at Pasir Enam Bay, a few minutes from Jayapura by boat or an hour stroll along walkway from Angkasa II, an expatriate neighborhood.

The Museum Negeri and University of Cendrawasih Museum display a collection of unique Papuan artifacts and cultural items. These museums exhibit artifacts from all over Papua as well as historical items from the Dutch colonial period. Souvenir stands here sell recent carvings and craft items. These museums are open from 8 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday.

Danau Sentani or  Sentani Lake is a magnificent lake, covering over 96 square kilometers. This massive lake has 19 islands scattered within it as well as numerous fishing villages built on its edges. The lake is especially beautiful at dawn and dusk so if you do visit here, don’t forget your camera.

Climb to the top of Mount Ifar and experience some breathtaking views of Danau Senantani. Here you can also visit the General McArthur Monument. It is out of Sentani, a nicely paved road twists upward for around 6 kilometers. From this height, Lake Sentani is an astonishing view. Legend has it that this was the spot where General Macarthur sat to contemplate his WW2 strategies. This was where the General came up with his island-hopping tactic as he gazed over the 22 islands below.

Take a relaxing paddle and canoe over Lake Sentani. The water here is very calm and dotted by no less than 24 island villages, rich with Sentani style crafts.

Crocodile farming is not an unusual occupation in Jayapura. Between Jayapura and Sentani, crocodile farms are home to crocs of all sizes used for conservation and breeding. If you’re willing to indulge in an exotic taste, you can even try crocodile meat while you’re in Jayapura.

The Lake Sentani Cultural Festival is a major attraction in the region. The upcoming festival is from June 19-23, 2010 in Kalkote, Sentani. During the festival, a staged war dance on boats provides a spectacular attraction for visitors. Several lake villages from all over Papua and Indonesia send representatives to  participate in the show to display their skills and cultural similarities. Please visit www.sentanilakefestival.com for details. which is essential if you wish to travel into the interior of Papua. The police station is located next to the Matoa Hotel. Bring your passport, its copies, and four photos.


As a capital city of a vast province, Jayapura is well connected to many large cities in Indonesia by air and by sea. If you are flying it is advisable to always double-check your flight details with your airline since there is a distressing tendency to overbook seats. All flights land and take off at Sentani Airport, located around 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Jayapura.

Outside the airport, minibuses wait for passengers going to Jayapura. Prices vary widely so make sure you agree to a price before you get in.

Garuda flies to Biak, Makassar, Surabaya, and Jakarta daily. It also flies on selected days to Sorong, Menado, Denpasar-Bali, and Ambon. More information is available at the Garuda office on Jalan Percetakan no. 2. Phone +62 967 21220

Merpati Airlines Office is located on Jalan Ahmad Yani no. 15. Call its representative at +62 967 21111. It is located next to the Hotel Matoa. Merpati flies daily to Wamena at 7 am. It also flies to several cities in Papua and other cities in Indonesia on selected days.

MAF (The Missionary Aviation Fellowship – Protestant) Office is located next to the Sentani air terminal. Its schedule is set based on the church’s requirements. This airline provides services primarily for missionaries whose needs take priority. If you fly MAF, the airline will take into account your body weight, including your luggage. MAF does run chartered flights into the interior of the island. To organize a chartered flight contact MAF two months before your date of departure, and then double check a couple of weeks before your arrival. The office is at harbor road, past the Bank of Indonesia. Call its representative at +62 967 21264.

AMA (The American Missionary Alliance) is the Roman Catholic version of MAF. Please call the officer at +62 967 21925. The office is located at Jalan Sam Ratulangi no. 3, P.O. Box 523, Jayapura.

Pelni Liners Office is located on Jalan Halmahera no. 1. Their telephone number is +62 967 21270. It has the Umsini, a 2,400-passenger German-built ship going to Jakarta and points between every 15 days. Five different classes are available in the ship. Please check the officer for current price list.

The town is small in size, so you can visit many places easily on foot. However, if you intend to visit Sentani and the beaches on the outskirts of town, it might be best to try public transport. The public transport terminal is there just across the post office. Angkot (public minibus) is convenient and quite economical. Chartered minibus (the taxi) is another option but requires bargaining skills. Again, be sure that to agree to a price before you depart.


Many visitors come to Jayapura to get their travel permit from the police station, the Surat Jalan, half-hour for the officers to finish the permit, during which time you can wait or go for a short stroll in the area.

Money can be changed in Expor-Impor Bank on Jalan Ahmad Yani. The bank will exchange your U.S. dollars, Australian dollars, Yen, Deutsche Marks, Pound Sterling, and Swiss Francs. TC is also accepted.  If you are planning on traveling further inland, remember to stock up on rupiah as the banks in other places of the region may offer expensive exchange rates.

In case of medical emergency, go to Puskesmas (community health clinic) on Jalan Ahmad Yani.

Eat only well-cooked food in the highlands when you are on overnight treks.

Newspapers like Newsweek, Time, and other English language newspapers are only available at Ayumas Irian Jaya Shop, across the street from the movie house on Jalan Irian.

Source: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Republic Indonesia

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