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In the company of our guest expert, Kees Groeneboer, this special 10-day cruise will explore parts of the famous Raja Ampat region as well as the coastal area of the mainland of West Papua as far as Kaimana. The jungles of Papua are home to endemic and rare animals, while the spectacular region of Raja Ampat is one of the most noteworthy ecological niches on the planet, where the below-surface world is reminiscent of a living kaleidoscope and the above-surface views are among the most stunning that you are likely to behold in a lifetime. You don’t need to be a seasoned birdwatcher to appreciate the dazzling birdlife of Raja Ampat, and hopefully we will be lucky enough to witness the extraordinary courtship dances of both the red bird of paradise and Wilson’s bird of paradise.
Note: The price of this cruise does not include any domestic airfares to and from our start and end points, however, our reservations specialists in Bali are more than happy to help arrange domestic flights on your behalf and advise on scheduling. We book hundreds of flights each year on behalf of our guests and we know the best routes to take to ensure you arrive on time. We only book with IATA-approved airlines that have met with international standards of safety and dependability. Except for Bali, transfers to and from local airports to the boat are also included. If you are booking flights by yourself, please do not book any flights before checking with us first. Our first and last day programmes rely on strict time scheduling, so please confirm with us to ensure that you arrive and depart at your destination with plenty of time to spare and to avoid disruption to other guests' schedules.
At around 10 am, we will embark the Katharina at her mooring in the harbour of Sorong. Once settled into your cabin, our cruise director will familiarise you with the vessel’s facilities and safety procedures. Ready to start our adventure, we will depart for the island of Mioskon, about 5 hours north-west of Sorong, near Waigeo. Pulau Mioskon is the ideal place for snorkelling off the beach, water sports, and bird watching. At dusk, we can watch thousands of flying foxes crossing over to the Waigeo mainland. In the evening we will move to the nearby village of Sapokren on Waigeo.
Today will be an early start, setting out before dawn on a trekking and bird watching expedition near the village Sapokren in the hope of seeing the red birds of paradise performing their spectacular courtship dances. On the way back we should see many other birds native to the area, and we will pay a visit to the village itself. Later, we will cruise deep into Kabui Bay between the islands of Gam and Waigeo. In the afternoon we may explore the beautiful rock formations of this bay by dinghy. We will end up at a beautiful spot for snorkelling near the narrow passage between Gam and Waigeo. In the evening we will cruise to the village of Yanbesir on Pulau Gam.
Starting before dawn, we can participate in a long trek from the village of Yanbesir in search of the fabulous Wilson’s Bird of Paradise, in the hope of seeing its elaborate mating display on the forest floor. Making our way back to the boat we will be accompanied by the calls and sounds of the jungle coming to life, and we will be sure to spot a variety of birds along the way. We will then move on to Pulau Mansuar, where we can enjoy the beach and do some great snorkelling in the afternoon. In the evening we will cruise to Batanta Island and anchor at the foot of Arefi Village, nestled on the north coast of the island.
The jungle-clad island of Batanta offers us a chance to stretch our legs again on an adventurous trek into the island’s interior. At Arefi Village, we will find local guides to escort us through the mangrove waters to the start point of our trek. A short walk along the riverbed brings us to a jungle waterfall complete with a refreshing pool for cooling off. At lunchtime, we will continue to the small island of Jerif, and in the afternoon we can do some snorkelling and we might even be lucky enough to spot some manta rays. Late afternoon we will set off in the direction of Tomolol (Tamulol) Bay on the east side of Misool, cruising overnight.
In the morning we will explore the shallow waters and winding canals of Tomolol Bay in the dinghies, followed by some beautiful snorkelling in the bay near Wagmag. After lunch we will visit the revered and magical Tomolol Cave, which opens to a massive, hidden lagoon, where we can swim or use the kayaks to explore the surroundings. In the late afternoon we will move to nearby island of Lenkafal.
Our second day in the Misool area will be spent enjoying water sports, beach activities and snorkelling near Pulau Lenkafal. We might also swim in a saltwater lake with thousands of harmless jellyfish, and visit a magical statue cave. In the afternoon, we will start the long 18-hour crossing to Fakfak on the mainland of West Papua.
In the morning we can explore the regional harbour town of Fakfak, while the crew barter for fresh supplies at the big market. Later, we will cruise to Pulau Semai for water sport activities in the afternoon. In the evening we will continue cruising along the uninhabited coastline of western Papua, with its mountainous landscape covered with thick jungle, in the direction of Kiti-Kiti.
After breakfast, we can take a swim under the impressive Kiti-Kiti Waterfall, which cascades from the mountains into the sea. The rest of the day will be spent at a nice beach in the area, where we can snorkel, swim, kayak and paddle-board. Overnight we will cruise on along the coast to Pulau Namatote.
In the morning, with a bit of luck, we may have a chance to swim with the whale sharks that are resident in this area. Snorkelling alongside these gentle giants is one of the ultimate bucket-list experiences. If they are here, we will most certainly get into the water with them, but unfortunately we can offer absolutely no guarantees as to their presence. Later we will move in the direction of Triton Bay, searching for cliff paintings – glyphs and pictorial-signs – left by ancient inhabitants high on the cliff galleries along the coast. At Triton Bay, one of the natural wonders of western Papua, we will find ourselves surrounded by small eroded cliffs mushrooming from the sea, reminiscent of flying saucers that have landed from outer space. After exploring this area and snorkelling at one of the nearby reefs, we may visit the village of Lobo to witness local life in this remote part of Papua. In the evening we will have a farewell party with the crew on board or on the beach. Overnight we will cruise to our final destination, the harbour of Kaimana.
In the morning we will disembark the Katharina, bid farewell to the crew, and transfer to the airport of Kaimana for the return flight to Bali, Jakarta or elsewhere.