- Trip Outline
- Trip Includes
- Trip Excludes
Raja Ampat, West Papua’s “Four Kings”, lies at the heart of the “Coral Triangle”, the world’s epicentre of marine biodiversity. An archipelago of approximately 1500 islands, Raja Ampat offers so much more than its fabled reefs: it is an assemblage of some of the most incredible biological and geological features, both above and under water.
Words can do no justice to what you’ll see and experience; it is a snapshot of the world in its most primaeval state.
On this adventure, we will follow in the footsteps of the great Alfred Russell Wallace, 159 years after his exploration of the Island of Waigeo.
This journey is designed this ship-based expedition to give participants a naturalist’s experience of Raja Ampat, the Bird’s Head (Vogelkop) Peninsula and Cendrawasih Bay. Led by a scientist who’s worked over a decade in conservation and research in West Papua, they will gain a better understanding of the processes
that influence the region’s ecosystems as well as the challenges of protecting this incredible corner of our Planet.
So, buckle up and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
Our route through Raja Ampat & the Vogelkop Peninsula
For this expedition, Kalawai Adventure is teaming up with the crew of the Putiraja, a 34-m traditional “Phinisi” schooner. This beautifully crafted wooden ship has five air-conditioned cabins with bathrooms, four of which are equipped with a double and a single bunk, while the fifth cabin, in the bow, has 2 single bunks.
We limit the number of passengers to 11, with a maximum of 3 per cabin. The Putiraja is manned by a crew of 8, including Ken & Josephine who co-own the ship and are among Indonesia’s finest Captains. The cook prepares delicious dishes from fresh seafood and produce she sources in the different locations the Putiraja visits. She will also prepare individual meals for those onspecial diets (vegetarian, gluten free, etc.)
We will sail from Sorong out to Raja Ampat’s largest Island, Waigeo. This is where Wallace set up camp in 1860. Some of the highlights include the landscape and reefs of Alyui Bay and the birds-of-paradise of Gam. Our next stop will be the tiny island of Piai, where a conservation program saved the island’s green turtle nesting population. Besides the turtles, Piai has an amazing fringing reef and teems with birds. From Piai, we will sail down to one of the gems of Raja Ampat: the Wayag Islands. After two days spent exploring Wayag’s maze of karst “mushroom islands” and scaling its limestone hills, we will leave Raja Ampat for the Vogelkop (aka “Bird’s Head”) Peninsula, the northernmost tip of the island of New Guinea. This is where the last significant population of Pacific leatherbacks come to nest. Two nights in this wild place will give us the opportunity to discover giant turtles and other stunning wildlife. Before leaving the Vogelkop we’ll make a last stop: magical Weyos Bay, here we will hike up a mountain stream to reach a secluded waterfall.
Cendrawasih Bay and the whale sharks
We will anchor at the southern end of Cendrawasih Bay, near the small village of Kwatisore, a stone’s throw away from the “bagan” fishing platforms. Bagans use lift-nets that target a range of pelagic fish. Bagan fishermen, who hail from South Sulawesi, have developed a friendship with whale sharks, feeding them dead bycatch consisting primarily of small fish. This mutualistic relationship was discovered by outsiders only recently. Nowadays, there is a small tourism industry that relies on the interaction between humans and these most amazing creatures. The additional income the fishermen receive from visitors is a powerful incentive to protect the bay’s whale sharks, which happen to be mostly juvenile males. We will snorkel and dive amidst these friendly giants (the world’s largest fish) and, at night, witness some clever Bagan fishing!
Not far from Kwatisore, at the end of a secluded mangrove-rimmed bay, is the trail to the display trees of the Lesser Birds-of-Paradise. On a dry morning, you’ll be able to see the high-octane dances of the male birds. An unforgettable experience!
Physical efforts and health considerations
West Papua is one of the last natural frontiers. As such, it is also one of the most challenging… and rewarding!
The trip will be entirely ship-based and very comfortable (see the description of our vessel, the Putiraja). However, we will go on land almost daily for exploratory trips into the rainforest, visit islands and villages.
Most walks won’t exceed two hours back and forth, on fairly flat terrain. Reasonably fit travellers of all ages will be able to take part in most, if not all, of these terrestrial activities. Our four guides will provide extra help and care. Each participant will be able to choose what they want to do according to their physical condition.
How safe is West Papua?
We often hear this question. The answer is that West Papua is one of the friendliest and safest travel destinations on Earth, providing basic precautions are taken.
First and foremost, each traveler should visit his/her doctor to make
sure all vaccines are up-to-date. Malaria is endemic to West Papua, so prophylactics are highly recommended. In terms of safety, the ongoing but low-intensity conflict between supporters of the “Free Papua Movement” and the Indonesian government is limited to a few urban focal points such as Timika (next to the Freeport gold mine) and Jayapura (West Papua’s capital). Our expedition is held in wild, natural areas, far from potential civil unrest.
Your Expedition Leader
DR. GEOFFREY GEARHEART is a marine biologist and oceanographer who was raised in Indonesia and has worked in research and conservation in West Papua for over a decade.
From 2005 to 2008, Geoff worked as a biologist for Conservation International, spearheading their Raja Ampat sea turtle conservation program.
Fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, he teamed up with a local Papuan non-profit group to protect the archipelago’s most important green turtle rookery at Piai Island. Geoff left for San Diego (USA) in 2008 to pursue his PhD at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he studied the leatherback sea turtles of Papua’s Bird’s Head (Vogelkop) Peninsula, and emperor penguins in Antarctica.
Geoff is now based in Australia with his family and continues his conservation work in the region. Over the years, he has developed a keen understanding of Papua’s ‘big picture’: the interactions between terrestrial and marine ecosystems and the challenges of preserving this unique corner of our planet.
Building on a desire to share his knowledge of New Guinea’s environment while supporting conservation through ecotourism, Geoff founded Kalawai Adventure, a name inspired by a Papuan fishing spear.
Itinerary for 13 May 2020
Day 1International travel. Arrival Jakarta*. Transfer to Santika Premiere hotel. Dinner at hotel or in the city (optional). Night at Hotel. Official start of the trip.
Day 2Meet fellow travellers. Travel to Papua.
Day 3Arrival in Papua. Board the Putiraja. Start of cruise. Sail to Waigeo Isl.
Day 4Birds-of-Paradise. Sail to Alyui Bay. Night snorkel.
Day 5Snorkel and visit of pearl farm. Sail to Piai. Presentation by Geoff. Turtle patrol.
Day 6Morning walk, birding, snorkelling. Sail to Wayag. Sightseeing at Wayag.
Day 7Wayag hill climb / snorkelling / exploration
Day 8Hill climb. Departure to Vogelkop Peninsula. Presentation
Day 9Arrival at Jamursba Medi. Leatherback patrol.
Day 10Jamursba Medi: Batu Rumah camp visit, forest walk. Leatherback patrol.
Day 11Sail to Weyos Bay. Exploration of Weyos. Sail to Manokwari.
Day 12Arrival at Manokwari. Island visit. Sail to Cendrawasih Bay.
Day 13Arrival Kwatisore. Whale sharks. Village visit. Bagan fishing action
Day 14Whale sharks/birds- of-paradise. Bambu gila ceremony. Bagan fishing action.
Day 15Birds-of-paradise/ whale sharks. Departure for Matas Isl. SCUBA/snorkelling.
Day 16Sail to Mangguar Peninsula. Village visit. Night jungle trek. Sail to Matas Isl.
Day 17SCUBA/snorkelling at Matas Isl. Sail back to Manokwari.
Day 18Airport transfer. Flight back to Jakarta. Arrival at Santika Hotel.
Day 19End of the expedition. *It is strongly recommended to have an extra 1-day ‘buffer’ at the beginning and (especially) at the end of the trip, due to possible delays (ship, domestic flights, etc.) For instance: arrival in Jakarta one day before Day 1 and departure on Day 19.
- Air, land & sea transportation from Jakarta to West-Papua and back to Jakarta
- Local permits & fees
- Guide wages
- All food & accommodation aboard the Putiraja
- All hotels (double occupancy rooms) are included, and all breakfasts during transits.
- Snorkelling equipment and select SCUBA dives will also be offered free of charge.
- International airfares
- Travel insurance, tips to guides, airport taxes, extra baggage fees, government permits
- Hotel lunches and dinners while in transit (Bali, Makassar and Manokwari, indicated as “optional”)
- Wayag hill climbs are organised separately by Sartika Cruises and charged AUD200 per person
- Soft drinks & alcoholic drinks aboard the Putiraja
- Individual ground transportation from Jakarta Airport to Jakarta Hotel and back will be reimbursed to a maximum of AUD15 per ride