Every major island and province in Indonesia has distinctive natural spots, and West Papua is not an exception. Lake Sentani is an iconic natural destination in Papua Province and has attracted travelers, scientists, and photographers. The lake has a beautiful view, rich biodiversity, and interesting characteristics.
The lake is just about 12 miles (12 kilometers) away from Jayapura, the capital city of Papua Province. You can clearly see the lake and all its islands when your plane to Jayapura is descending. If you plan to visit Papua, here are several reasons why Lake Sentani must be on your itinerary.
Beautiful View and Fresh Air
Lake Sentani is famous for its beauty, even though locals depend on this lake for their livelihood. The lake is wide and surrounded by green grasses and shrubs, creating an unobstructed view of the scenery. The lake temperature is also perfect for swimming, and there are several wooden docks at different spots for visitors to jump from.
You can explore the areas surrounding the lake by following trekking trails. If you want to see the islands, rent one of the boats available for tourists. You can see the scenery and even a small church located in one of the islands.
Vibrant Local Activities
Many locals depend on Lake Sentani as a source for their livelihood. If you enjoy photographing activities and interacting with locals, you can find traditional markets, boaters offering their services, souvenir, snack sellers, and many more. These activities make Lake Sentani look alive and vibrant.
Many locals also catch fish as the main livelihood, and you may see them throwing net or using the fishing pole. You can even use the boat to visit one of the villages and spend time eating, shopping, taking pictures, and interacting with the locals.
Easy Starting Point before Exploring Papua
If you come from outside West Papua, you are likely to use a plane that lands at Sentani Airport. Since the lake is just a short driving distance away from the airport, you can go to Lake Sentani as the first starting point, before going anywhere else. If you feel like resting after a long trip, visit Restaurant Yugwa near the lake, which serves quite good food and a great view of the lake.
By starting from Lake Sentani, you can have a more efficient itinerary. First-time visitors can get the first taste of life and nature in Papua, before continuing the trip to Jayapura. This will save your time, especially if you have a short time to enjoy Papua.
Great View of Scenic Driving
If you don’t have much time, you can use a taxi, bus, or rental car to do the scenic driving. Lake Sentani extends for 17 miles (28 kilometers) from east to west, and 12 miles (19 kilometers) from north to south. The sheer size makes this lake easily visible during a scenic driving. Enjoying sunset view is recommended before continuing the journey. Driving from the airport to the lake only takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Venue for Colorful Annual Festival
Lake Sentani has been a venue for Lake Sentani Festival (Festival Danau Sentani, or FDS) since the year 2007. This festival is one of the highlights of Papua’s event calendar. Lake Sentani Festival is held every mid-June and visited by both domestic and foreign tourists. The participants come from different tribes and cultural groups in West Papua, and many people see it as a symbol of unity.
The festival is very vibrant and consists of boat carnival, traditional dances and music, exhibitions, and tours for guests. You can watch decorated colorful boats, which become “stages” for various dance performances. There are also various arts and crafts made by local artists to buy with good prices.
Tips to Visit Lake Sentani
Here are some tips to make your trip to Sentani more convenient:
- Prepare for the heat
Areas around Lake Sentani do not have many trees that can provide shade. Make sure to bring sunscreen, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, especially if you come in the middle of dry season.
- Prepare small cash
Always carry Rupiah cash with you, especially if you want to take pictures of (or with) locals. They are quite friendly and welcoming, but they may also ask for money if you want to take pictures.
- Prepare your bargain skill
You may buy authentic handicrafts from locals in Lake Sentani, but some of them often raise the prices significantly for tourists. A common trick for shoppers is to start haggling from half the price mentioned.
- Prepare for drink and snacks
There is only one decent restaurant in the area, although you may be able to buy some snacks. If you plan to stay a little longer in Lake Sentani, make sure to buy your own beverages and snacks. However, having a cup of tea or coffee while waiting for sunset is fine.
Lake Sentani is one of the natural wonders of West Papua. Make sure to put this lake in your itinerary when you visit eastern Indonesia.