Wasur National Park


The 4130-sq-km Wasur National Park, stretching between Merauke and the PNG border, will fascinate anyone with an interest in birds and marsupials. But come in the later part of the dry season (mid-July to early November), otherwise most tracks will be impassable.

Bony Kondahon, an excellent Merauke-based guide, can help with arrangements and show you the park. He charges 700,000Rp per day for guiding and cooking and maintains a nice campsite (with one hut on stilts) in the park's northwest.

Part of the Trans-Fly biome straddling the Indonesia–PNG border, Wasur is a low-lying area of savannahs, swamps, forests and slow-moving rivers that inundate much of the land during the wet season. Wasur’s marsupials includes wallabies and small kangaroos, though illegal hunting means numbers have fallen. There are also nocturnal cuscuses and sugar gliders and towering termite mounds. Among the 350-plus birds are cassowaries, kookaburras, cockatoos, brolgas, magpie geese and three types of bird of paradise.

The southern part of the park is the best for wildlife-spotting as it has more open grasslands and coastal areas. At Rawa Biru, an indigenous village 45km east of Merauke (300,000Rp one way by ojek, or 2,500,000Rp to 4,000,000Rp round trip in a rented 4WD vehicle with driver), you can stay in local houses for 150,000Rp person (bring food and mosquito nets). From Rawa Biru it’s a two- to three-hour walk to Prem, with a small savannah surrounded by water, and a good chance of seeing wallabies and various waterbirds. Also within reach (20km) is Yakiu, where chances are high of seeing the greater, king and red birds of paradise in the early morning and late afternoon. In the south part of the park, you may also be asked for a 300,000Rp 'land owner fee' (this ostensibly incentivises locals to protect rather than hunt wildlife).