Summary : Create memories for a lifetime on early morning canoe trips through fjords and forests. Upon return, tell your tales of dragon dances and snorkeling with the whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay. Discover remote beaches and myriads of colorful reef fish. You may even spot the increasingly rare Dusky Cuckoo Dove. Live the stories you’d love to tell on this varied voyage.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Discoverer, be introduced to your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travelers and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
While Silver Discoverer sails across the Coral Sea, get acquainted with the amenities on your new home away from home. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and perhaps attend a workshop or lecture that will prepare you for the experiences of Papua New Guinea.
Alotau is the provincial capital of the Milne Bay Province and your port of entry into Papua New Guinea. The town and surrounding area has been an important staging ground during World War II and you will see remains and memorials dating back or referring to the war. On your tour of the town you will reach viewpoints of the bay and get to see the markets, which are frequented not only by locals, but also by islanders selling their products or looking for produce to take back into Milne Bay. Alotau is an important port facility for the islands and attracts many vendors of handicrafts from different islands.
Kafure, located on the south-eastern peninsula of Cape Nelson in Oro Province, is situated next to a tropical fjord (the work of ancient volcanic activities) and is fringed by uncharted coral reefs. Take Zodiacs ashore at a small village to be welcomed with songs and dances. Later, climb into a local canoe to explore the smooth waters of the Kwapurina Fjord. With villagers as your oarsmen, be guided under canopies of ancient mangrove forests acting as home to a wide range of colorful birds and butterflies. Continuing on your journey, return to the entrance of the fjord and the small settlement where villagers will demonstrate the making of tapa cloth.
Banana-shaped Tuam is an uplifted coral atoll covered in palm trees. The only village is located on the lower eastern side of the island. Highly exposed to the trade winds, the islanders have set up protective walls made out of palm-branches giving the village the look of a fortified castle from a distance. A trail marked by white sand leads from the landing site to the settlement area of neatly organized wooden huts and houses with pandanus-thatched roofs. In the village, several dance groups will wait for us at different locations and will perform their special songs and dances.
A walk in the forest permits you to see the different gardens set up in the “higher” regions of the island. The island has a spectacular reef and snorkeling next to the drop-off will reveal a myriad of reef fish.
During the afternoon, Silver Discoverer will approach the Sepik River for a visit to Kopar, a small village of not more than 200 people at the river’s mouth. Depending on the tide and currents, Silver Discoverer might enter the Sepik River to anchor in front of this little village. The people of the Sepik are known for their artifacts. For the keen birders, a Zodiac cruise along the shore of the Sepik or into the small canals just upstream from Kopar village can be rewarded with sights of flood plain birds and parrots and the odd kite. During our visit we will present school supplies to the local community. Your donations will be very welcome. Please see below under the section entitled, “360 DEGREES OF GIVING.”
Vanimo will be your clearance port out of Papua New Guinea. Since visitors are quite rare in this part of the country, you will likely be the main attraction in town. After being greeted ashore drive to a local venue for traditional dancing and to see the handicrafts produced in Sandaun Province. Afterwards, drive to a local beach for a refreshing swim, or perhaps a walk along the beach to the next little village. To reach the village a stream might have to be crossed and at high tide this involves balancing across a tree trunk bridge.
Everyone will return to the expedition ship around sunset. During the evening hours Silver Discoverer will be cleared out of the country to carry on along the north coast of New Guinea towards the Indonesian half of this large island.
At Jayapura – locally known as Port Numbay – receive your official clearance into Indonesia. A welcome at the ship will illustrate some of the traditional dances from West Papua. Inland from the town of Lake Sentani, famed for the distinctive art, traditional motifs, sago bowls and bark paintings of the people who live on and around the lake.
Take local buses to reach the shore of the lake and then continue on native longboats to reach one of the islands. See a local dance presentation, walk around the island, perhaps climb up to the church for nice views of the lake, and have the opportunity to see the famous lake artifacts including bark paintings and bride money.
Return to Silver Discoverer shortly after noon for lunch aboard and to get underway for your next stop.
During the morning, Silver Discoverer will continue sailing westward to reach a small group of islands east of Biak. Although Biak played an important part during World War II and still has a large military presence, Pudaidori and the other small islands east of Biak bring promise of a tranquil tropical setting and a snorkeler’s delight. You may want to take the afternoon to relax on the white sandy beaches, swimming and snorkeling, or looking for bird life ashore.
The Cenderawasih Marine Park features over 15,000km2 of relatively undisturbed marine and coastal habitat and the extensive coral reefs rank amongst the finest in the world. Cenderawasih is renowned for its diversity of coral reef fish species, including numerous species of butterfly fish, angelfish, damselfish, parrotfish, rabbitfish and anemone fish.
Cenderawasih (Bird-of-Paradise) Bay encompasses the Auri Islands offering some of the most beautiful clear-water snorkeling in the huge bay. The dozen or so islands have white sand beaches and excellent reefs. Auri’s spectacular karst islands also merit Zodiac cruises to explore the geological formations. One snorkel site has a trio of American WWII planes sunk in formation in only a few meters of water.
Cenderawasih Marine Park is known for congregating whale sharks. As the biggest fish in the sea, they feed exclusively on the smallest planktonic creatures, growing to more than 12 meters in length. While there are other places in the world where snorkelers can seek a close encounter with these gentle giants, in Cenderawasih Bay the whale sharks tend to linger close to the surface for extended periods. They have become accustomed to taking small fish that spill from the nets of local fishermen.
Pulau Roon is just south of the Auri Islands. Closer to the mainland, its twisted coastline has many secluded bays and sandy beaches with the potential for excellent snorkeling on shallow offshore reefs. Pulau Roon is also peppered with small villages that might warrant an impromptu visit by Zodiac to connect and interact with local people.
While Silver Discoverer rounds the northwest tip of New Guinea, known as the Bird’s Head, your lecturers will take some time today to prepare you for the Raja Ampat and coastal Papua. The choice of presentations on offer throughout the day will no doubt stimulate both thought and conversation aboard the ship.
The Raja Ampat region of West Papua, with its multiple islands and intricate system of reefs lies in the heart of the Coral Triangle. This region has been called the most biodiverse area of ocean on the planet. Silver Discoverer will anchor amongst small islands just off the coast of the larger Misool Island, and the Expedition Team will scout the best reef and beach combination for your visit.
Steep coral walls and drop-offs are festooned with table corals, staghorn corals, and orange and purple sea squirts. Look for giant clams nestled into the coral formations while fish in rainbow colors sprinkle the reef above. From confetti-size inhabitants amongst the branching staghorn corals, to enormous solitary bumphead parrotfish this will be another snorkeler’s delight. Beach activities and bird watching will be on offer too.
On the southern shore of the Fakfak Peninsula are several karst islands that brought international interest in the 1930s thanks to extensive fields of ancient rock art that were found here. Take Zodiacs to explore several of the islands and have a close look at the most accessible wall paintings that almost resemble Aboriginal motives from the Dreamtime. Depending on local permits visit one of the smaller villages and have a look at day-to-day modern life.
In 2008, the Kaimana Regency declared a 6000 km² Marine Protected Area around the waters of Triton Bay. The non-profit organization, Conservation International, maintains an office in Kaimana and a field station out in Triton Bay where visiting scientists can do their work. The marine biodiversity is second to none and the area offers everything from the tiniest pygmy seahorses to large and graceful whale sharks. The Expedition Team will select a prime spot for swimming and snorkeling within the bay. In addition, you might pay a visit to remote Auiduma Island.
Kai Islands will be your final opportunity to meet local people and to take to the water on this voyage. Depending on the conditions (and permits that are granted), choose to visit a village first, or to have a relaxing day in the water and on the beach to cap off this adventure in and around New Guinea.
As the miles peel away in the churning wake, you may wish to take advantage of one last fascinating lecture series, or perhaps you want to take time out to edit the many photos you have taken during the voyage. Regardless of how you spend the day, be sure to attend the screening of your Videographer’s final video recap of the voyage.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Suite accommodations; Wi-Fi aboard ship; onboard meals and entertainment; snorkeling gear; butler service onboard ship; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee). Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Expeditions (snorkel), © Bruno Cazarini (reef)