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Papua's Whale Sharks & Birds of Paradise

Southeast Asia Cruise Information

Summary : This special itinerary honors Alfred Russel Wallace, the prominent scientist who was one of the first who dared to raise concerns over the environmental impact of human activity some 150 years ago. In collaboration with Dr. Tony Whitten and Fauna & Flora International, revisit some of the areas that Wallace found so fascinating, and hopefully experience the magic of seeing the bird of paradise in its full glory within its natural habitat. You may also get lucky and get to snorkel with whale sharks in Triton Bay. Wallace’s observations of the marked zoological differences across a narrow strait in the archipelago led to his proposing the faunal boundary line, now known as the Wallace Line, which separates the eco zones of Asia and Australia. West of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species, while to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin is present. While he was exploring the archipelago, Wallace refined his thoughts about evolution and had his famous insight on natural selection. In 1858 he sent an article outlining his theory to Darwin; it was published, along with a description of Darwin’s own theory, in the same year.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins


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Day 1

Your flight will arrive in the West Papuan port town of Sorong, the gateway to Raja Ampat. From the airport you will transfer you to the harbor where the Ombak Putih will be waiting at anchor. Once settled into your cabin, your cruise director will familiarize you with the vessel’s facilities and safety procedures. Ready to start your adventure, you will weigh anchor, leave the harbor behind, and enter the marine protected area of Raja Ampat, home to unique birdlife and the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world. From here you will cruise towards the island of Waigeo, stopping for a refreshing swim along the way before watching the sun set on your first day at sea.

Please Note: 11/12/2018 is a reverse departure from Kaimana to Sorong.

Day 2
Sapokren Village

While it is still dark, your tenders will ferry those of you who are feeling fit and adventurous to the village of Sapokren, where a local guide will take you on a challenging trek into the forest in the hope of seeing the Wilson’s bird of paradise. The male is red and black with a yellow mantle on his neck, light green mouth, rich blue feet and two violet tail feathers. The featherless crown is turquoise, ornamented with double black crosses. If you are lucky, you may be able to observe the male dancing from a distance of just 16 feet. Before the dance, he will clear the ground from any leaves or other obstacles that may disrupt his performance. On your way back to the boat, accompanied by the sounds of the jungle coming to life, you will be sure to spot a number of bird species along the way. Then spend the remainder of the day resting from the morning’s activities and enjoying the waters and reefs of Raja Ampat.

Day 3
Dampier Strait / Arborek Island

Today will present another opportunity for keen birdwatchers, as you rise early and walk into the forest on a pre-dawn quest to spot the remarkable red bird of paradise, one of the species that Wallace was most anxious to collect. With a little luck and the help of your knowledgeable guides, you might catch sight of this rare bird’s elaborate courtship display as dawn breaks over the forest canopy. After returning to the ship, you will turn your attention from the sky to the sea as the Ombak Putih makes her way through the Dampier strait, home of some of Raja Ampat’s premier reefs. If the currents are in our favor, you might see some of the area’s larger specimens of marine life, which are attracted to the strait’s nutrient-rich waters. You will end the day by mooring off Pulau Arborek in front Arborek Village. Here, you can easily circumnavigate the tiny island by foot and gain a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept alive by the villagers living in this isolated place.

Day 4
Tomolol Bay

A swim through Tomolol’s mysterious dome-topped cave is undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most memorable activities. After an early breakfast, your tenders will take you into the heart of the bay to see this partially submerged cave where it is possible to swim, snorkel or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites. The more adventurous can swim or paddle through the dark waters to the other mouth of the cave. After returning to the ship, you will use tenders to explore more of this impressive maze of karst islands, both above and below the surface, complete with mysterious skull cairns in sea-cave cemeteries, and prehistoric ‘petroglyph’ cave paintings, estimated to be anything from 3,000 to 5,000 years old and depicting various human figures and huge human palms, fish, flowers, and plants, tools and vessels. You will then spend a quiet night at anchor.

Day 5
Misool Archipelago

This morning you will wake to see the sun rise over the picturesque chain of islands that makes up the Misool archipelago. The topography is typical of 'karst dissolution', featuring a great number of tiny islets whose bases have been eroded over time by the relentless motion of the tides. Spend the day maximizing everything that this fascinating area has to offer by marveling at both the marine wonderland under the water and the magnificent landscape above the surface. You can test out your paddling skills in the sea kayaks, watch for birds perched on the rocks, or just sit back and take in the glorious scenery. After a full day of island hopping, the Ombak Putih will begin her overnight journey.

Day 6
Pisang Islands

This morning you will explore the Pisang Islands. These tiny gems isolated in the vast waters of the Ceram Sea offer you a chance to relax and enjoy the sparkling white-sand beaches, clear waters, and vibrant reefs before making our way to the shores of West Papua. Here you will follow the shoreline until you reach the village of Sipitnanam. After visiting the village and meeting the residents, who spend their days fishing the nearby waters and tending their nutmeg plantations, you will continue south along the coastline through the night.

Day 7
Cape Papisol

Today you will wake up to the beautiful sight of Kitikiti waterfall. Here, in the wilderness, a roaring river cascades down the jungle-clad mountains and crashes into the sea below. You can swim under the waterfall and explore the extraordinary reefs nearby before rounding Cape Papisol to the Karawawi region, where you will stop to refresh yourself before journeying on to Triton Bay.

Day 8
Triton Bay

Triton Bay is a place of unsurpassed natural splendor, where time and tides have sliced the limestone landscape into tall cliffs and numerous islands separated by lagoons and narrow channels. It is also home to fishermen who keep masses of baitfish in nets that attract a migratory group of whale sharks, which you may have the chance to swim and snorkel with. You will also spend your time swimming from secluded beaches, snorkeling the vibrant turquoise waters and kayaking among the rocky outcrops. You can also enjoy watching the bird life from the comfort of tenders as you explore this extraordinary maze of karst islands, before visiting the village of Lobo, which is a friendly place at the foot of a 3,280-foot high cliff.

Day 9
Triton Bay

Today you will make the most of your last morning in Triton Bay by cruising through the undisturbed coves, caves, and lagoons before heading north through the Namatote Passage. Namatote’s cliffs are also well known as a gallery of prehistoric art, boasting an impressive collection of cave paintings, glyphs, and pictorial signs left by ancient nomads high upon the rock walls. You will spend your final evening on the ship resting at anchor and enjoying a farewell dinner with your captain and crew.

Day 10

In the morning, you will find yourself at anchor in the harbor of Kaimana. After a final, hearty breakfast, you will say goodbye to the Ombak Putih and her crew. Your tenders will take you ashore for your transfer to the airport for your onward travel.


Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Mandatory Insurance:

Travelers are required to contract personal travel insurance in order to be covered in case of accident, sickness, flight cancellation, evacuation, etc. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.

Special Guest Departure:
Dr. Tony Whitten (10/31/2018)
Dr. Tony Whitten was trained as a wildlife biologist and since late 2010 he has been the Regional Director for Asia-Pacific at Fauna & Flora International, the world’s oldest international conservation organization. He joined the World Bank in 1995 and supported a broad range of activities and projects until he left in 2010: he advised on habitat and species protection issues as part of infrastructure projects, ran a programme which produced 111 volumes of local language field guides to all manner of plants and animals, and was responsible for a suite of conservation projects in Mongolia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and elsewhere in the region. He has an in-depth and broad knowledge of biodiversity and has published on a wide variety of topics.

Special Guest Departure:
Expert Alexander Reeuwijk (11/12/2018)
Alexander Reeuwijk is an expert in the field of the history of evolutionary theory, together with Redmon O’Hanlon’s he wrote the book “Darwin, Wallace and others’ in which the contributions of Darwin and Wallace on evolution are compared. Alexander has traveled extensively through the ‘interior’ of Indonesia, He visited Sumatra, Sulawesi the Moluccas and spend one month in Aru where he studied the Greater Bird of Paradise.


Transfers to and from the ship; shipboard accommodations; complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks, and mineral water; planned excursions as detailed in the itinerary; complimentary towels; multilingual guide; gear on loan (sea canoes, snorkeling equipment, and stand-up paddleboards); all meals onboard the ship. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

Airfare; travel insurance (mandatory); alcoholic beverages; any ground services before and/or after the cruise; passport and visa fees; personal expenses; tips; fuel surcharge may apply.

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