Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trekking in Arfak mountains - a survey trip - part 1

I went to Warkapi village this morning. It is located at the foot of Arfak mountains, a popular trekking destination for travelers who want to see the nature and the wildlife of New Guinea island. Tropical rainforest in Arfak mountains in Manokwari regency has been a world-class trekking destination for those who have visited it. I left home at 7 a.m. to Wosi terminal. It is a bus station in Manokwari city where travelers can catch a bus to the village. I thought I was late for morning bus but as a matter of fact, I was the first passenger to arrive there. After finding a bus that was waiting for passengers who want to go to Warkapi, I got into the minibus (called taxi) and sat on the front seat next to the driver. Fifteen minutes later two women entered the taxi from the back door.
Another fifteen minutes had passed and the minibus was still empty. The women who were at the back bench now had left for another minibus that was going to Mupi village. Here I was alone waiting for some more passengers heading for Warkapi village.
I got bored waiting for thirty minutes in the Wosi terminal that was now becoming busier with people. I took my notebook out of my bag and began drawing things that I saw in a close distance around myself. The first object that I drew was a cart that belongs to an ice cream vendor. It was around five meters from me when I was drawing it. Later I could not continue drawing the details of the cart because the vendor pushed it away from me and put it in the middle of the rows of cars that were also waiting for passengers to several destinations outside Manokwari. I saw two children were buying some cones of ice cream from him. This is a traditional Indonesian ice cream. It is made of coconut milk called santan. The next object of my illustration was a Love doll.
It was a pink rabbit. Then I continued drawing another object which was a handle which passenger can hold when the bus goes on a bumpy road. It's shape like a "heart" or a love symbol.  I saw the handle in the car mirror that was located at bottom right corner of the window. the Finishing all these drawings, I found out that the car was still empty.
Suddenly the car driver of the empty bus told me that there was another car about to leave the terminal for Warkapi. He advised me to go with another minibus. It was a Mitsubishi L-300. I went into the car and sat on the back bench. We left for Warkapi at 8.51 a.m. It stopped for a while at a petrol station on Jalan Baru and then continued a one-hour trip to Warkapi. We arrived at 10.05 a.m. near a bridge. I got out of the car and met a man near the road side. I asked him whether he knew someone named Hans. Hans was in Warkapi to meet his uncle who was interested in developing his village as a starting point destination for foreign tourists who were interested in hiking or trekking in Arfak mountains. I had to walk for around 100 meters to find the house where Hans stayed. Finally I met him. Hans had a guesthouse in the territory of Kwau village far in the other part of Arfak mountains. He has received three groups of tourists coming from the Netherlands. His relatives in Warkapi want to make money from eco-tourism project that I am now promoting on the internet.
We talked for a while in his uncle's house and began surveying the nearby forest behind the village. We walked through the Warkapi river. Hans and his relative Hami said that we can see birds of paradise, tree kangaroo and other animals of Arfak mountains if we start trekking from this village. I conclude that the village can become the starting point for travelers who want to climb Arfak mountains but I need to make some discussions with his uncle first.
However, since there is no guesthouse in the village, tourists need to set up camps near the river if they want to start trekking in Arfak mountains. There are a lot of things that I need to do before the village can really become the recommended starting point for hiking and bird watching in Arfak mountains. The most important thing is how to inform or "educate" the local people about what the eco-tourism means, rainforest preservation and domestic wastes management. It is true that eco-tourism can provide alternative jobs to people living in and around the tropical rainforest of Arfak mountains but tourism and travel industry must not be considered as the only solution of the preservation of the forest and wildlife in Arfak mountains. Sustainable agriculture and fishing practices should be implemented in this village too.
There are some more stories that I still want to write about this small village and its people but I think I should save them for my later posts. Finally, I left the village at around 1.30 p.m. I now can  clearly  conclude that the blue Arfak mountains that I always see from far distance in Manokwari city are actually green in closer distance because they are richly covered with tropical trees where the mystery and beauty of Papua's wildlife are waiting to be discovered by us. If you are interested in trekking in Arfak mountains and need a guide to accompany you, please, contact me via my email: peace4wp@gmail.com. I will be happy to arrange the trip and become an interpreter for you while traveling in one of the most beautiful tropical mountains in the world. by Charles Roring
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