- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The Asmat region, an area of lowland swamp and rainforest, has long sheltered the Asmat tribes from outsiders, and your visit is an expedition highlight. Be escorted to the village of Agats, the capital of the Asmat region, where an enthusiastic welcome awaits. Once ashore, walk along elevated wooden boardwalks to a men’s longhouse. You are invited to witness a local meeting and ceremony. From the men’s house walk to the Catholic Cathedral with its superb carvings. Opposite the cathedral is the Asmat Museum - the Asmat have one of the most renowned and vibrant woodcarving traditions in the Pacific. Elaborate displays of ancestor poles, drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls remind you that headhunting and cannibalism were practiced here until the early 1970’s.
You might also visit Ewer, its 1,000 hospitable residents inviting you ceremoniously to a colorful active market, and to view their homes and prolific gardens. During your visit Zodiacs take you through this remote riverine, cruising along narrow waterways lined with the entwined branches of thick mangrove forests, home to dozens of species of parrots, lorikeets and other birds including the spectacular bird of paradise. As you make your way upstream, Asmat villagers—whooping and chanting in elaborate warrior gear and war paint—paddle vigorously toward you in dozens of intricately carved canoes.
Asmat culture has remarkable ritual objects based on an intriguing interpretation of life and death. Asmat woodcarvings are known for their powerful lines and coarse, expressive motifs, and are widely considered to be among the world’s finest. You have the opportunity to purchase carvings directly from village artisans or at one of the galleries in Agats.