Fakfak’s Hidden Potentials
Upon hearing West Papua province mentioned in relevance to tourism, the first thing coming to most people’s mind is Raja Ampat. The regency that’s known for its underwater heaven and is the dream destination of tourists from all over the world. But West Papua province has many other charms beside Raja Ampat, one of them being Fakfak Regency.
Fakfak itself is a small town on the south coast of West Papua province. The topography which consists of hills, a cape and the sea results in an impressive landscape. Ascending and descending through the steep heels, we’ll be treated with a hill top view of the town. Then cliffs and lushes trees on the leftside of the road, while the view of the cape and sea is served on the right side. These variety of gorgeous scenery made us reluctant to spend the trip in the car by sleeping, eventhough it was hard to keep the eyelids open with the wind blowing softly trying to put us to sleep. A shame to miss such fabulous panorama.
Not far from town, about 30 minutes by car, lies the Madedred Waterfall. This waterfall can be reached by 2 hours trekking from Sakartemin River upstream. Unfortunately we didn’t had the chance to do the trekking due to time limitations. So we just enjoyed the upstream scenery of the river and talked with the local villagers about “kole-kole”, a local term of their traditional wooden boat.
Heading a bit towards south, we’ll find Pasir Putih Beach (White Sand Beach). This beach is a tourist beach usually packed by visitors on weekends. Eventhough there’s no retribution fee for entering, the locals diligently cleanup the beach before the weekends. On an usual day, we can find the local kids playing cheerfully after school hours. Riding their bikes, turning upside down on sand, rowing a small kole-kole, or swimming in the sea.
A little further down, around 2 hours from Fakfak, we’ll arrive in Kokas District. Going to this area, we’ll pass the small Kayuni Waterfall which we can snap our camera at from the road bridge. Kayuni River is utilized by the local community to meet their drinking water needs.
Once you arrive in Kokas town, we’ll pass by a cave on the left side of the road and a cannonball monument near the dock. Both are remnants of Japanese soldiers from World War II when Kokas was one of their headquarters around the year 1942-1945. The cave is a split tunnel and at the time it was used as shelter. Now that cave, aside from a tourism object, is also often used by cows as shelter to cool off from the sun and hot air outside, hahaha.
Getting on the longboat from Kokas dock, we’ll arrive at Patimburak Village in 20 minutes. In this village lies the Masjid Wertuar (Wertuar Mosque) standing since 1870, said to be the oldest mosque in Papua. The architecture of the structure, which is a blend of mosque and church, seems as though symbolizing the philosophy of religious harmony in that village. Masjid Wertuar is still used as a place of prayer up to this moment. Entering the mosque, a cool air can be felt eventhough the sun is scorching outside.
About 30 minutes more with the longboat, we’ll pass by clusters of rock islands covered by light-green trees. The greenish blue water below us looks crystal, the blue sky above us decorated by chunks of white clouds. One of the popular sites in this area is the finding of hand prints and motifs such as the sun, fish, and other symbols. The hand prints and motifs were red as blood and were located on the cliffs of the rock islands, which are suspected to come from prehistoric ages. Similar hand prints were also found on the rocky cliffs of Raja Ampat and Kaimana in West Papua.
In addition to above destinations, Fakfak has numerous beaches and islands intriguing to be explored further. There are a number of waterfalls, including one that falls down to the sea. Alas to this day that waterfall can only be accessed by air or by a boat from a distance. Fakfak’s underwater is also exciting to explore. On Conservation International’s expedition on April to May 2006, they found more than 50 new species around Cenderawasih, Kaimana, and Fakfak Bay. It just might be that Fakfak’s underwater life and charm is just as magical as Raja Ampat.
Fak-Fak, 13 October 2010.
[Translated from my post in Bahasa Indonesia, Sejuta Potensi Fakfak]