Summary : Discover natural wonders and cultures of the Coral Triangle with a 17-day expedition voyage on board L’Austral. Melanesia, is a region of mystery and intrigue. Volcanic islands rise from azure blue oceans creating a picture postcard landscape of white sand beaches and rainforest clad mountains. Entwined within the landscape are a myriad of ancient cultures continuing the traditions and rituals of their ancestors.The islands in the heart of the Coral Triangle comprise the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world and are home to an astonishing diversity of cultures, landscapes, and flora and fauna. Swim and snorkel in Raja Ampat at the heart of the Coral Triangle. Witness traditional Sepik river culture and artifacts, and view the remarkable skill of the Solomon Island carvers on this trip of a lifetime!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
Inquire about special savings for honeymooners, wedding anniversaries, and groups of 6 or more.
$7,130 to $16,730
Darwin is located in Australia’s Northern Territory which is also known as the “Top End”. It is the capital city and the most populated town of the Northern Territory. Embark the vessel in the afternoon.
From age-old traditional cultures and ancient vestiges to coral reefs and lush green jungle, the attractions of the remote Banda archipelago seem endless. Better known as the legendary Spice Islands of the Ancient World, these small volcanic landmasses were the fabled prize of colonial powers for more than four centuries. Every colonial power of significance fought for control of these ten small islands that today have become largely forgotten. Walking the streets of Banda Neira is a surreal experience as your eyes are drawn to the eclectic mix of Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture, the remnants of a rich and tumultuous history. It is without a doubt the most historically significant and interesting of all the Spice Islands.
If you are traveling the world in search for the most beautiful snorkeling spots, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Indonesian Raja Ampat islands. Off Sorong. Ideally located in the heart of the illustrious Coral Triangle, the 1,500 or so islets that make up the archipelago are the ideal place for admiring some outstandingly diverse coral reefs. At the junction of the Pacific and Indian oceans, the Raja Ampat islands, covered with lush jungle, are also extraordinary lands for hiking. Between multi-colored lagoons, immaculate beaches and green landscapes, the Raja Ampat islands offer you a breathtaking palette of colors.
Pulau Lamsutu is a small uninhabited Island in the Sarmi district off the north coast of Papua Province in Indonesia. Known for its beautiful white sand beaches and intact coral reefs the islands await your arrival. There is a small population of 270 local people living on nearby Pulau Liki who still practice a traditional lifestyle.
Jayapura City is the provincial capital of Papua province, Indonesia. It is a modern industrial city contrasting markedly with the surrounding hinterland where Papuan tribes live a subsistence lifestyle. The vast majority of Jayapurans are transmigrants from western Indonesia who control most of the industry and economics of the region. Guests have the opportunity to visit the Loka Budaya Museum with its vast collection of Papuan artifacts before leaving the city behind, and traveling to the traditional village of Asai on Lake Sentani. Here you can enjoy a cultural performance and witness life in a traditional Papuan village. Asai is famous for its production of Tapa cloth.
The people of the Sepik region speak more than 250 languages and are knitted together in systems of trade and cultural interaction. Kopar village’s location at the mouth of the Sepik river makes it an important trading point for surrounding villages. Here the crocodile is worshiped as the water spirit. As is custom in all Sepik societies, the men's house is the place where important decisions regarding the village are made, where boys are initiated and become men and ceremonies to please the spirits are performed. Guests will be welcomed ashore with a ceremony and cultural performance, including the famous “dragon dance.” There will be an opportunity to walk around the village of Kopar to experience traditional life in the lower Sepik.
Madang Township was once known as the "prettiest town in the South Pacific". Its peninsula setting is a show-place of parks, waterways, luxuriant shade trees and sparkling tropical islands. The diverse geographical nature of Madang province is reflected in the 170 different languages that are spoken. This diversity is showcased in the Madang festival with its colorful displays of “sing sings” performed by numerous cultural groups from across the Madang Province. Join your expedition team for a tour to the local village of BilBil, famous for the production of clay pots. You will also be treated to a number of cultural performances showcasing the local customs, costume and dance of the coastal, midland and highland communities.
The Tami Islands (Kalal, Wanam & Idjan) are a small group of uplifted coral atolls, with two main villages on the two larger islands and many smaller reefs and cays. In the center is a beautiful, crystal clear blue lagoon with abundant marine life and stunning coral formations. The islands, located in Morobe Province not far from the town of Finschaffen are seldom-visited. Tami Islanders are renowned artisans and are most famous for their intricately decorated bowls.
The Trobriand Islands remain one of the most culturally intact places in the Pacific. Their unique social system is dominated by hereditary chiefs who wield tremendous power, although inheritances and lines of power are matrilineal. The Trobriands are often referred to as the ‘islands of love’. Dance and celebration continue to play an important role in society with the rhythm of the dances retaining their sensuality, despite the best efforts of missionaries.
The Samarai islands are located in the China Strait off the southeastern tip of New Guinea. In its colonial heyday it was said to be one of the most beautiful places in the Pacific. The island was declared a National Historical Heritage Island by the government of Papua New Guinea in 2006. Just west of Samarai, Kwato Island was once an educational center and home to a thriving boat building industry. Following the old tree-lined road to the top of the island reveals a stonewalled church that was built in 1937 and remains a testimony to the missionaries of a bygone era. Join your expedition team for a guided walk on Samarai and Kwato Islands, and enjoy swimming and snorkeling on nearby Deka Deka island.
Gizo is situated on Ghizo Island and is the second largest town in the Solomon Islands, after the capital, Honiara. The people of the Western Province are regarded as among the most skilled carvers in the world. They produce carvings from various woods including ebony and rosewood. These amazingly intricate carvings can take months to make and accordingly command a high price. Guests will have the opportunity to visit the traditional markets of Gizo.
There are plenty of opportunities for world class snorkeling, and underwater photography throughout the Solomon Islands with sites in the Western and Central Provinces considered among the most popular. The underwater realm is home to more than 1,000 species of reef fish, along with dolphins, rays, sharks, and six of the world's seven species of marine turtles. Almost 500 species of corals have been identified in the Solomon Islands. Njari Island is an uninhabited picture postcard island located not far from the town of Gizo. Enjoy swimming and snorkeling from its idyllic shores.
Roderick Bay is surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches and fringing coral reefs. These clear warm tropical waters give rise to a myriad of colorful corals. Venture ashore for a welcome ceremony, take a walk through the village or snorkel to witness the diverse marine environment.
Honiara is the capital city of The Solomon Islands. Disembark the vessel after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight to Brisbane.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.
Special Guest: Jared Diamond
Join Professor, author, and documentarian Jared Diamond as you explore these unique destinations with your expedition team. Professor Diamond says of this expedition: I’ve been visiting New Guinea and the Solomon Islands for 52 years. I keep going back—29 times so far—because, in my unbiased opinion, they are the most fascinating area of the world! Nothing can match them for human diversity, beauty, and biological richness and interest on land and in the water. I’m looking forward to sharing with you my pleasure in New Guinea and Solomon Island people, languages, birds, coral reefs, fish, and World War Two history.
One-way flight in economy class Honiara/Brisbane; transfer from ship to Honiara airport; meals on board the ship; snorkeling gear (except wetsuits); Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner; coffee, juice, soft drinks and open bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands); port taxes; gratuities; luggage transfer from pier to the ship and vice versa; 24-hour room service (special selection); butler service is included for guests staying on Deck 6. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare other than mentioned above; ground services before and/or after the cruise except as mentioned above; passport and visa fees; travel and medical insurances; personal expenses such as onboard medical consultations and drug prescriptions, spa, internet, laundry and hair salon; other drinks not included in open bar; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: Zodiac and ship © Eva Robert, beach © Nathalie Michel, fish © Lorraine Turci, © Ponant