Indonesian Explorer:

Raja Ampat to Papua New Guinea

Indonesian Explorer: Raja Ampat to Papua New Guinea

DAYS 14

PLACES VISITED Papua New Guinea

A true expedition voyage in every sense, our journey will explore Indonesia's rarely visited and little known biodiverse-rich jungle-capped volcanic islands scattered across pristine pellucid waters well beyond traditional tourist routes. Join us and discover a true paradise where untouched dense jungles home to some of the rarest flora and fauna on the planet meet crystalline tropical waters teeming 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.

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'.

 

A true expedition voyage in every sense, our journey will explore Indonesia's rarely visited and little known biodiverse-rich jungle-capped volcanic islands scattered across pristine pellucid waters well beyond traditional tourist routes. Join us and discover a true paradise where untouched dense jungles home to some of the rarest flora and fauna on the planet meet crystalline tropical waters teeming 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.

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'.

 

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Indonesian Explorer: Raja Ampat to Papua New Guinea
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Day 1: Sorong
One of the fastest growing locations in Indonesia, Sorong is the starting point of our expedition. Meet your fellow travellers at a central city hotel and transfer to the ship. Settle into your cabin and meet your expedition team and captain for a welcome on board.

Day 2: Misool Island
Part of the Sultanate of Tidore during the spice trade wars, Misool Island is the second largest island in the aquatic wonderland that is Raja Ampat (aka Four Kings Islands, named after its four main islands) and our introduction to this stunning marine environment. On land, discover caves hidden among verdant forests featuring rock art dating back more than 5,000 years, endless chains of rock islands stretching to the horizon like scattered pearls, and the serene beauty of heart-shaped Karawapop Lagoon from above. Under its protected waters Dugong, Bumphead Parrotfish, Clownfish, Manta Rays, Ghost Pipefish, Harlequin Shrimp, Pygmy Seahorse and more can be found among spectacular coral gardens and sea-cave cemeteries. Over the course of the day here we aim to explore the labyrinth of caves and passages including the famed water-filled dome-topped network of Tomolol Caves adorned with impressive stalactites and enjoy the extraordinary experience of swimming among thousands of stingless jellyfish.

Day 3: Kofiau Island
Kofiau (or ‘Wallo’ to the locals) Island is an ancient slice of isolated continental crust covered in lush rainforest, the least visited among the major islands in Raja Ampat and ours to explore. Comprised mostly of raised coral limestone, this remote island with its lush rainforest offers exceptional birding alongside breathcatching views. Activities on offer during the day include snorkelling among the coral gardens and exploring the island where we will be on the lookout for the endemic birds Kofiau Paradise-kingfisher and Kofiau Monarch, as well as the lime-green Kofiau Green-tree Python.

Days 4 to 5: Raja Ampat
Lapped by stunning turquoise waters, Raja Ampat’s collection of 1,500 tiny, jungle-cloaked islands are among Indonesia’s most beautiful. Forming part of the Coral Triangle, 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 beachcombing, visiting villages and engaging in cultural exchanges with locals and forest walks.

Day 6: 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 this pristine environment where very few have been before.

Day 7: 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 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, Vogelkop Bowerbird and Magnificent Bird-of-paradise among the region’s 320 bird species.

Day 8: Cenderawasih Marine Park
Enjoy an unforgettable day 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, 18 tropical islands, 209 species of fish and 4 species of turtle.

Day 9: Poronai River & Ahi Islands
Flanked by mangroves and tropical rainforest the biologically-rich Poronai River snakes through dense, unexplored and unspoiled terrain and sustains a plethora of wildlife including wallabies, tree shrews, 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 10: Biak & Rusbasbedas Islands
The seldom-visited Biak Island in the Schouten Islands archipelago of Cenderawasih Bay boasts the highest endemic diversity 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 11: Liki Island
Enjoy another 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 for wildlife, enjoy the white sand beach with new found friends or snorkel along the edge of the abundant coral reef on this charming and rarely visited island.

Day 12: 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 seldom 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.

Day 13: 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. Bring along plenty of the local currency (kina) to purchase unique carvings directly from the artists.

Day 14: Madang
The self appointed ‘Prettiest Town in the South Pacific’, Madang is bound by lush rainforest, calm blue waters studded with volcanic islands, 34-sunken ship dive sites, 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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I can’t find enough words of praise to express the high opinion I have for your staff and organization. READ MORE
JILL
We would like to thank you most sincerely for making our voyage so comfortable and enjoyable. Without your thoughtful attention and hardwork this journey would not have been so memorable. READ MORE
ALAN
I learned so much about the history, fauna and flora of the islands. READ MORE
MARGARET
What a fantastic trip! Not only did we get to five islands way off the beaten track, never before visited by a commercial expedition boat, but the friendliness and welcome, culture, activities, birds and freedom to roam made every stop unforgettable. And the hospitality on board was superb, meeting new friends - even getting to suggest special dishes. Looking forward to travelling with you again. READ MORE
SUE
What an amazing trip! We visited remote communities that had rarely and in some cases never had visitors before. The welcomes were amazing and it was a real privilege being able to be part of such an experience. This was our 2nd trip with Heritage and it exceeded expectations. They are a true expedition company with great leaders and guides - we have no hesitation in recommending them. READ MORE
JOHN & ANNE SWINDELL
An amazing journey through an ocean of islands, as diverse as any in the world READ MORE
SHIRLEY
28 Jan 2020
Pioneering small ship expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions is revealing some exciting announcements with the release of its 2020/21 bro...READ MORE
26 Dec 2019
Another year of exploration has come to an end – and what a year it's been!  Thank you for being a part of the Heritage Expeditions fam...READ MORE
22 Nov 2019
The recent 'Melanesia Discoverer' #1957 expedition aboard 'Spirit of Enderby' has concluded. The Species List for this voyage is now availabl...READ MORE
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