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Asmat villagers greet us in their dugout canoes. All photos: Brett Garner

Our operator in the region, Leks Santoso of Remote Destinations relayed the following message:

"Asmat are a proud people, excited to share their culture with the outside after the past three-year hiatus. This sharing of tradition, customs, and costumes helps the Asmat to preserve aspects of their culture, which others also value. They are happy and excited to invite others to learn about the Asmat, as they also learn from those who visit. It was truly heartwarming to see so many children dressed traditionally and happily dancing beside their parents, who were obviously excited and proud. Sharing is at the heart of tourism.”

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Guests had the honor of watching the villagers participate in a sacred spirit (or bis) pole raising ceremony. 

After each visit, Santoso checks in with the villagers to collect their feedback and ensure the village was happy with the visit. This time it was reported that many of the men had already gone into the jungle to cut down more trees needed to make new canoes for the December arrival of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests. For the Asmat to go straight out after our visit to start preparing for the next one is wonderful proof they enjoy sharing these moments as much as we all do.

"They struggled during Covid, wondering whether tourists would return," says Santoso. "Visitors are always happily welcomed into the villages, now more than ever."

After this milestone moment, guests toured the newly constructed Asmat Museum of Culture and Progress where hundreds of items of traditional Asmat art, shields, drums and ancestor poles are on display. It was a truly unforgettable return to this very special part of the planet.