The Asmat region is a massive, remote, low-lying area of muddy, snaking rivers, mangrove forests and tidal swamps, where many villages, including their streets, are built entirely on stilts. The Asmat people, formerly feared for their headhunting and cannibalism, are now most celebrated for their woodcarvings – the most spectacular of Papuan art. It’s a fascinating area to explore but it requires time, money and patience.
Most visitors who do make it here spend time boating along the jungle-lined rivers to different villages, seeing and buying Asmat artefacts, and maybe seeing a traditional dance or ceremony.
Villages to visit for their carving include Atsy, Ambisu and Jow, all south of Agats. Fos and Awok, east of Agats up Kali Sirets (Sirets River), and Ocenep, south of Agats, are places where traditional Asmat celebrations can be laid on for a significant sum of cash.