Summary : A National Geographic award-winning 'Tour of a Lifetime' offered in collaboration with Dr. Tony Whitten and Fauna & Flora International, this exclusive itinerary honors Alfred Russel Wallace and the time he spent in what is now Indonesia, independently working on the theory of evolution. For this cruise, you will 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. There are new adventures every day as you explore the tiny islands that make up this region. You will trek through jungle terrain witnessing the wildlife as well as experiencing some remote local villages. This area of Indonesia, referred to as The Coral Triangle, is home to arguably the most diverse marine life in the world. Explore on land and underwater exactly what captivated Wallace about this part of the world and what continues to attract scientists and nature lovers from across the globe. Led by Dr. Tony Whitten, this tour features excursions and discussions that will nourish your mind, while the time spent on the boat will relax your body to ensure a truly unforgettable trip.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
Your flight arrives in the port town of Ambon, the gateway to the Moluccas. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the harbour where the Ombak Putih will be waiting at anchor. Once settled into your cabin, you will have time to meet Dr. Whitten; he and your cruise director will then brief you about the trip. Ready to start our adventure, we will weigh anchor, and stop for a refreshing swim along the way. Later, we will enjoy dining alfresco on the main deck while getting to know the other passengers and crew and watching the sun set on our first day at sea.
This morning will be spent on the island of Manipa, said to have magical powers because the Portuguese, the Dutch and the Japanese never set foot on it despite occupying the surrounding islands. The village we will explore is simple but bright with tropical blooms, while the surrounding gardens, groves and forests yield produce such as cashew nuts and the sago palm. We will visit a distillery for the locality’s famous 'kayu putih' oil—a universal panacea that no Indonesian household is without, for all the aches and pains, colds and stomach upsets that afflict us. It is distilled from vats full of the crushed leaves of melaleuca trees.
Today you will wake up in front of Boano Island, which is famous for its towering cliffs, karst formations and white-sand beaches. We’ll use the tenders to explore this beautiful coastline. During lunch you will move to a nearby string of uninhabited islands for some spectacular snorkeling.
Seram (formerly Ceram) is a remote place of hilly jungle, which is rarely visited by outsiders, yet your vessel will allow you access to this most fascinating and mysterious island. Your destination is the village of Sawai, an oasis in itself, but also a perfect land base for you to make the most of Seram’s stunning northern coast and Manusela National Park. You will spend two days trekking, exploring and bird-watching in the area before you continue on your course for the famous Raja Ampat Archipelago.
Today you will find yourself anchored in Tomolol Bay on Misool Island. 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 your 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 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.
Awaking to see the sunrise over this picturesque chain of islands, you will have a chance to visit a cavernous grotto adorned with spectacular stalactites. The more adventurous can swim or paddle through the dark waters to reach the other islands that make up the Misool archipelago. The landscape is typical of 'karst dissolution', of a great number of tiny islets whose bases over time have been eroded by the relentless motion of the tides. You will 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.
In the morning, the boat will be moored in front of the island of Penemu. The heart of the island is home to the famous ‘Hidden Bay’. Take a short hike here to experience one of the most famous views that Raja Ampat has to offer. The rest of the day you will spend exploring, kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling in the surrounding areas.
Today the Ombak Putih will make its way through the Dampier strait, home of some of Raja Ampat’s premier reefs. With a bit of luck, you will hope to snorkel with some of the larger marine life attracted to the strait’s nutrient-rich currents. You will end your day in front Arborek Village, where you can easily circumnavigate the tiny island by foot and get a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept alive by the villagers living on this tiny isolated island. Arborek is also home to a local manta conservation project where volunteers will happily show you around and explain their efforts and programs in more detail.
This morning you will wake up on the north coast of the jungle-clad island of Batanta. The jungle-clad island of Batanta offers us a chance to stretch your legs on a trek into the island’s interior. You will anchor at the foot of Arefi Village, nestled on the north coast of the island, where you will find local guides to escort you through the mangrove waters to the start point of your hike. A short walk along the riverbed brings you to the first of two jungle waterfalls complete with a refreshing pool for cooling off. The fit and adventurous may choose to continue the uphill climb along the rocks to where a second, larger cascade awaits. After leaving the wilderness behind you, you will find a nearby spot to swim and snorkel.
Today you will wake offshore of Sawinggarai Village. It will be an early morning start as the dinghy takes you in the dark over to the village and a local guide will take you on a 20-minute walk into the forest. As dawn breaks in the forest canopy, you should get good views of the bright 'Cendrawasih Merah' or Red Bird of Paradise. Back in the village there will be time to meet with the community and perhaps visit the school. You will be back on the boat by mid-morning and if time permits you'll travel over to Pef Island to snorkel and motor around the convoluted coast, while learning the myth about the prehistoric hand print still visible high on a limestone cliff. In the afternoon you’ll head towards Sorong and should have time for a snorkel before dinner.
After breakfast you will say goodbye to Dr. Tony, the crew and your sea based home, the Ombak Putih. We will take the tenders ashore where you will be transferred 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.
Please Note: This tour begins in the island of Ternate. Airfare to Ternate and from Sorong are not included in the tour package. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Special Guest Departure: Dr. Tony Whitten
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. The subject of his PhD at Cambridge University was on the endangered gibbon on a remote and primitive island west of Sumatra in the mid 1970s. After this Tony worked at the University of North Sumatra where he initiated production of a major and innovative series of books on the ecology of the several regions of Indonesia, writing three of them himself, each taking about three years. During a two-year spell in the UK, he was employed by the British government’s conservation agency to write its Recovery Plan for Protected Species – covering sea anemones to wild cats. 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, started various region-wide and global activities (e.g. on the forgotten biodiversity of caves and karst), 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.
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.
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.