Indonesian Explorer: Raja Ampat to Papua New Guinea

West Papua, Indonesia

A true expedition voyage in every sense, our journey will explore Indonesia's rarely visited and little known biodiverse-rich jungle-capped islands scattered across pristine pellucid waters well beyond traditional tourist routes. Join award-winning wildlife filmmakers Neil Nightingale and Karen Bass as we discover a true paradise where untouched dense jungles home to some of the rarest flora and fauna on the planet meet crystalline tropical waters teaming with exotic marine life and some of the world's best coral reefs all wrapped in a land steeped in history and rich in culture and tradition

  • Hidden gems of Indonesia and New Guinea.
  • Encounter people living in remote locations and still living a traditional lifestyle.
  • Remnants of World War II activities
  • Rare bird species.
  • Incredible marine diversity with opportunity to snorkel and kayaking
  • Join acclaimed author, scientist and explorer Professor Tim Flannery.

Comprised of some 18,000 islands, this South East Asian archipelago's fascinating human history dates back almost 2 million years to the fossilised remains of Homo erectus/‘Java Man' discovered in the early 1890s, while ancient rock art waits in hidden caves on renowned Misool Island. European arrival saw Portuguese spice traders chasing the fragrant bounty of nutmeg and cloves in the 16th Century, this was followed by Dutch colonisation then Japanese occupation during World War II before Indonesia regained its independence in 1949 (excluding the Dutch territory of West New Guinea).

While still a heavy hitter on the spice trading scene, Indonesia is now attracting attention for having one of the richest concentrations of flora and fauna on the planet. One of the world's 17 mega diverse countries, Indonesia is home to 2 of the planet's 25 biodiversity hotspots, 18 of the World Wildlife Fund's Global 200 ecoregions and 24 of BirdLife International's Endemic Bird Areas. Its dense forests, jungles, oceans and waterways we will be exploring boast more than 25,000 species of flowering plants (40 per cent of which are endemic), 1,592 bird species (430 of which are endemic and 114 considered extremely threatened), 1,051 reptile and amphibian species, 515 species of mammal and half of the world's fish species. For botanists, birders and nature lovers alike, this expedition offers numerous opportunities to spot once-in-a-lifetime species and experience rare wildlife encounters on remote and unknown islands.

Indonesia's extraordinary diversity also extends to its population where more than 300 ethnic groups, many with their own set of customs, cultures and languages, live scattered throughout the archipelago. Our expedition embraces some of these cultures with visits planned to some of these villages. Sublime wildlife, incredible underwater encounters, exceptional birding and thrilling cultural exchanges await on ‘Indonesian Explorer'.

Stewart's Take

Discover paradise on an authentic expedition through Indonesia's remote and unknown tropical islands.

Overview

A true expedition voyage in every sense, our journey will explore Indonesia's rarely visited and little known biodiverse-rich jungle-capped islands scattered across pristine pellucid waters well beyond traditional tourist routes. Join award-winning wildlife filmmakers Neil Nightingale and Karen Bass as we discover a true paradise where untouched dense jungles home to some of the rarest flora and fauna on the planet meet crystalline tropical waters teaming with exotic marine life and some of the world's best coral reefs all wrapped in a land steeped in history and rich in culture and tradition.
Day 1: Davao, Philippines Arrive in the port city of Davao and transfer to your hotel for the first night. Meet your fellow voyagers and expedition staff for an informal get together over dinner at the hotel. Day 2: Davao Davao is the starting point of our expedition, home to impressive dormant stratovolcano Mount Apo and the gateway to Mindanao, one of the Philippines’ largest islands. Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before we head out to explore some of the local sights. Boarding the ship in time for lunch, settle into your cabin and join the captain and your expedition team in the bridge as we set sail. Day 3: Karakelong Island, Indonesia Sailing into Indonesian waters we will clear customs before enjoying an expedition day exploring little-known Karakelong Island, the largest of the Talaud Islands. With abundant and exotic wildlife and flora on land (new species are still being discovered), and a white sand beach fringed by a wide reef on its southern shore we will be looking for opportunities to explore the forests in search of endemic species and enjoy our first snorkel. Day 4: Morotai Island The northernmost tip of the North Maluku Province, Morotai and its surrounding tropical islands are framed by clear blue waters and boast white sandy beaches, tangled jungles and exceptional snorkelling due their colourful marine life, reefs with impressive coral gardens and cliffs, and wreckages of an extensive World War II legacy. Our morning exploring these remote paradise outposts might include exploring Morotai’s largest town Daruba’s famed Blue Beach where Allied Forces wrestled control of the island from the Japanese in September 1944 and celebrated at the Morotai “Museum” at nearby Kao Bay where the half submerged WWII Japanese Cargo Shipwreck Tosimaru can be seen from shore, or Dodola Island, actually two islands Large Dodola and Small Dodola connected by a white sand bridge revealed at low tide, famed for its myriad opportunities to swim, snorkel and explore. Day 5: Weda Surrounded by 24 islands, we have an early start on Weda where we will make our way to the ‘lekking trees’ of the Wallace Standardwing Bird-of-paradise where we hope to see their elaborate dancing displays and take the opportunity to look for other species known to the area including Red-cheeked Parrots, Dusky Megapode, Goliath Coucals, Sombre Kingfishers, Halmahera Cuckoo Shrikes, Blue-capped Fruit Doves, Halmahera Flycatchers, Rufous-bellied Trillers, Ivory-breasted Pitta and Invisible Rail. Afterwards we plan to explore Weda Bay’s fascinating underwater world recently highlighted by the discovery of the rare Walking Shark. This aquatic wonderland and snorkelling hotspot in the heart of the Coral Triangle is known for sightings of pygmy seahorses, reef sharks and more among its diverse marine life. Days 6 - 7: Raja Ampat Lapped by stunning turquoise waters, Raja Ampat’s collection of 1,500 tiny, jungle-cloaked islands are among Indonesia’s most beautiful. We plan to spend 2 days exploring the bounty of rainbow corals, shoals of multi-coloured fish, intriguing ocean-carved limestone formations and jungles of this tropical paradise of forgotten islands. Believed to contain the most biodiverse marine habitat on the planet, the waters surrounding Raja Ampat are home to 600 species of hard coral and 1,200 types of reef fish and make for exceptional snorkelling and Zodiac cruising. On land, spotting the brilliant Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise and Red Bird-of-paradise will be high on our agenda here, with early morning visits planned ensuring the very best opportunity for all to see these remarkable birds in their natural habitat and, hopefully, witness their rarely-seen mating dance around their ‘lekking’ trees. Other activities could include hiking up to viewing platforms to enjoy the spectacular vistas of scattered rock islands and heart-shaped lagoon of Karawapop. Day 8: Amsterdam Island Part of the Su Islands (Mios Su) or the Soe Island Group, a cluster of small islands off the northern coast of Western New Guinea, our visit to little-known and explored Amsterdam Island channels the true expedition nature of our voyage providing an opportunity to explore where very few have been before. Day 9: Manokwari and Arfak Mountains Located at the top of the Bird’s Head Peninsula and surrounded by lush rolling hills and impressive spine of the Arfak Mountains, Manokwari is the capital of West Papua. Here we plan to travel high into the Arfak Mountains to the Pegunungan Arfak Nature Reserve and enjoy the rare opportunity of exploring the higher elevations and misty tropical montane rainforests with their exceptional suite of endemic plants, animals and birds. During our journey we will be on the lookout for the Western Parotia and Vogelkop Bowerbird, and visit the viewing hides for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observer the Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, among the region’s 320 bird species. Day 10: Cenderawasih Marine Park Enjoy the unforgettable experience of swimming with the iconic Whale Sharks of Kwatisore Bay in Cenderawasih Marine Park. One of the best places in the world to snorkel with these gentle giants, we aim to visit the local fishermen’s Bagans (handmade floating platforms) where these mega-fish (known to grow more than 12-metres in length), hopeful of catching some of the smaller fish escaping fishermen’s nets, are known to congregate. This spectacular 15,000-square-kilometre marine park is also home to some of the finest coral reef examples in the world and 18 tropical islands, which we will explore, where 209 species of fish and 4 species of turtle can be seen. We also plan to visit a village where the locals live by a unique mix of traditional, Dutch and modern influences. Day 11: Poronai River & Ahi Islands Flanked by mangroves and tropical rainforest the remote Poronai River snakes through dense, unexplored and unspoiled terrain and sustains a plethora of wildlife including crocodiles, frogs, butterflies, endemic birds and hundreds of species of plants, as well as a number of traditional tribes who are largely cut off from the outside world. We plan to Zodiac cruise the river searching for wildlife and meet with villagers at Totoburi Village before snorkelling the coral gardens and Japanese war plane wrecks off Ahi Islands. Day 12: Biak & Rusbasbedas Islands The seldom-visited Biak Island in the Schouten Islands archipelago of Cenderawasih Bay boasts the highest endemic biodiversity in Papua including 17 endemic birds. Among the species we may encounter are the Long-tailed Honey-buzzard, Red-capped Flowerpecker, Yellow-bibbed Fruit-dove, Geelvink Imperial-pigeon, Biak Black Flycatcher and Numfor Paradise-kingfisher and Leaf Warbler. In the afternoon we plan to sail to the pristine and isolated Rusbasbedas Island with its white sand beaches, shear drop-offs and enormous corals teeming with brightly coloured fish make it paradise for snorkellers and beachcombers. Day 13: Liki Island Enjoy a warm and unique welcome at Liki Island, part of the Koemamba Islands in formerly Dutch New Guinea, where villagers share local customs and traditions along with some of the island’s culinary delights. Explore the forest looking for wildlife on a nature walk, or snorkel along the edge of the abundant coral reef on this charming and rarely visited island. Day 14: Jayapura The peaceful paradise of Lake Sentani, the glittering freshwater lake reflecting the steep, verdant mountains in the Cyclops Strict Nature Reserve of Papua’s capital Jayapura, is renowned for its famous artifacts, traditional motifs, pottery, woodworking and bark paintings, and is our destination following an early morning arrival. Taking local buses, we will journey to the lake’s edge before enlisting traditional longboats, passing stilt houses, as we navigate its many islands. Experience local culture in the form of dance and artists at work making bark paintings and bride money before returning to the ship for lunch and sailing towards Vanimo and Papua New Guinea for our International arrival into Papua New Guinea. Day 15: Sepik River, Papua New Guinea We have allowed plenty of time to fully appreciate this remarkable river, its birds, animals and the people that call it home. The Sepik River, the longest in Papua New Guinea, flows from the highlands to the Bismarck Sea. It is a rich arterial river that has fostered great traditional artists. We plan to explore the river by Zodiac, following tributaries and channels in search of local wildlife. Enjoy a warm welcome at Kopar Village where we will experience village life and a traditional Dragon Dance unique to this region. The world-renowned artists of the Sepik region travel long distances to meet the ship and there is the opportunity to purchase unique carvings and more directly from them. Day 16: Madang The self appointed ‘Prettiest Town in the South Pacific’, Madang is bound by lush rainforest, calm blue waters studded with volcanic islands, Tupira’s supreme surf break, flourishing coral gardens and rich history. For those disembarking, a transfer to a central hotel, or the airport, will conclude your voyage, OR continue the adventure with us on ‘Melanesian Discoverer’. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and/or opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

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Expedition Vessel: M/V Spirit of Enderby

Spirit of Enderby expedition ship

The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition cruising. She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2012 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins, approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top New Zealand and Australian chefs. The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.

For full information about this vessel click here:

Included
  • All meals and 24 hour tea and coffee station aboard the ship.
  • Use of snorkel equipment where available.
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac excluding optional specialised birding and kayaking programmes.
  • Programme of lectures by noted naturalists.
  • All onshore tips, service taxes and port charges.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  • Airport transfers at the beginning and end of your voyage.
Excluded
  • Extensions,
  • passport, visa, immigration fees,
  • baggage/accident/travel protection plan,
  • items of a personal nature such as bar, email, and laundry.
  • Gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion.
  • Airfares are an additional cost.
Additional charges:
  • Discovery Fund $600 USD pp
Deposits - Reservations require a deposit of 25% at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 90 days of departure require full payment. Final Payments - Balances are due 90 days prior to departure. Cancellations - All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 180 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less a $US750.00 per person administration fee. For cancellations received within 179 and 91 days of the embarkation date the full deposit will be forfeited. If cancellation occurs within 90 days prior to the departure date the total price is forfeited. If cancellation occurs within 90 days and full payment has not yet been received, the total price will still apply and any unpaid monies are due immediately. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance. Booking Terms - Please read carefully the General Booking Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by Heritage Expeditions and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
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