Over the eastern walls of the Baliem Valley, amid scenery that is often just as stunning, lies the home of the Yali people. Only contacted in the 1960s and rumoured to have cannibalised a missionary or two, the Yali are one of the more traditional highland peoples. Although many villagers have in the last 15 years taken to shorts and T-shirts, the older men may still be seen in ‘skirts’ of rattan hoops, with penis gourds protruding from underneath. Missionaries provide much of the infrastructure here, such as schools and transport.
Yali country is a great destination for more adventurous trekkers with time to explore. From here, you can trek southeastwards into the territory of the Mek people, who are similarly small in stature to the Yali (their main village is Nalca), and even cross Papua’s north–south watershed to Langda, the main village of the Una people (considered pygmies).