Seasons Greetings from Seatrek

We wish you a merry KARST-mas and a Happy 2014!

Please forgive the play on words, but the pun was irresistible! Working a “karst” theme into this year-end blog provides a fantastic opportunity to stroll down a most magnificent memory lane, featuring some of the most incredible seascapes Seatrek has sailed through this past season.

What exactly is a karst?  It is a distinctive topography where a unique  landscape is shaped and shifted by thousands of years of rain and water movement.  As rain falls through our atmosphere and permeates the soil, it accumulates CO2, making it acidic. As this water comes in contact with such soluble rock as limestone, the infiltrating acidic rain naturally exploits any cracks or crevices in the rock.

Over long periods, the carbonate bedrock begins to dissolve, and openings in the bedrock increase in size and an underground drainage system begins to develop, allowing more water to pass, further accelerating the formation of karst. As a result of tens of thousands of years, the karst system is formed, characterized by sinkholes, caves,  vertical shafts, disappearing streams, and springs, to complex underground drainage systems and caves.

So what does all that have to do with us at Seatrek?  Our trips that explore the Raja Ampat and Triton Bay regions of Papua are prime examples of the incredible result of the this ancient geological process.  Opportunities to explore this unique landscape are endless…

Lucky us! We are spoiled for choice when looking for pristine, sandy beaches tucked away amongst the cliffs and crags.

Seatrek explorers make their way to Tomolol cave for an unparalleled spelunking experience.

Sunrise from the top deck …which islands shall we explore today?

Bathers, snorkelers and kayakers enjoy a morning of crystal blue waters and vibrant coral reefs.

Sea kayaks are the perfect vehicle for exploring the unique karst landscape.

If you think topside is spectacular, wait til you check out the vibrant coral reefs below.

These very same islands attracted naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in 1860 in his search for birds of paradise.

Inside karst caves, one might find a wide range of speleothems – structures created by the deposition of slowly dripping calcium carbonate solutions. In other words: “pretty caves!”

A wide variety of caverns where beautiful displays of stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and other stunning forms of karst topography can be seen throughout the  region.

Gliding amongst the tranquil waters gives nature, and us, a perfect opportunity for reflection.

Navigating the karst maze is the best kind of adventure.

Talk about a village with a view! Triton Bay’s Lobo village lays at the foot of towering karst cliffs.

The mushrooms islands of Wayag are completed by their reflection in the sea.

Prehistoric cave paintings in Raja Ampat and Triton Bay remind us of the region’s earliest visitors.

If openings in the karst are large enough for humans to enter, they are termed caves. But what do we call them when they are big enough for our tenders?

Triton Bay’s limestone topography lights aglow at sunset.

Tomolol cave makes for spectacular spelunking from sea level – just swim or kayak through the enormous cavern.

Unique shapes of the karst formations inspire the imagination.

Seatrek explorers reflect on the natural beauty of the Indonesian Archipelago.

A little tropical rain adds to the adventure experience on our karst explorations.

Happy holidays to all of our Seatrekkers. We look forward to exploring with you again in 2014!

*On a personal note, I would like to thank all the guests and crew who made these journeys magical and memorable.  – Jen (Photographer, Blogger, Tour Leader and Lover of Karst)