A true expedition voyage in every sense, this journey will explore Indonesia’s rarely visited and little known biodiverse-rich jungle-capped volcanic islands scattered across pristine pellucid waters well beyond traditional tourist routes. Join acclaimed author, scientist and explorer Professor Tim Flannery as you discover a true paradise where untouched dense jungles home to some of the rarest flora and fauna on the planet meet crystalline tropical waters teeming with exotic marine life and some of the world’s best coral reefs all wrapped in a land steeped in history and rich in culture and tradition.
One of the fastest growing locations in Indonesia, Sorong is the starting point of your expedition. Meet your fellow travellers at a central city location and transfer to the Spirit of Enderby. Settle into your cabin and meet your expedition team and captain for a welcome on board.
Part of the Sultanate of Tidore during the spice trade wars, Misool Island is the second largest island in the aquatic wonderland that is Raja Ampat (aka Four Kings Islands, named after its four main islands) and your introduction to this stunning marine environment. Discover caves hidden among verdant forests featuring rock art dating back more than 5,000 years, while under its protected waters Dugong, Bumphead Parrotfish, Clownfish, Manta Rays, Ghost Pipefish, Harlequin Shrimp, Pygmy Seahorse and more can be found among spectacular coral gardens and sea-cave cemeteries. Aim to explore the labyrinth of caves and passages including the water-filled dome-topped network of Tomolol Caves and enjoy the extraordinary experience of swimming among thousands of stingless jellyfish.
Image Courtesy of Heritage Expeditions taken by D Brown
Kofiau Island is an ancient slice of isolated continental crust covered in lush rainforest, the least visited among the major islands in Raja Ampat and yours to explore. Activities on offer during the day include snorkelling and exploring the island where you will be on the lookout for the endemic birds Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher and Kofiau Monarch, lime-green Kofiau Green-tree Python and, if lucky, the Red Bird-of-paradise.
Lapped by stunning turquoise waters, Raja Ampat’s collection of 1,500 tiny, jungle-cloaked islands are Indonesia’s least developed and easternmost islands. Forming part of the Coral Triangle (one of the most biodiverse marine habitats on the planet), plan to spend 3 days exploring the bounty of rainbow corals, shoals of fish, ocean-carved limestone formations and jungles of this tropical paradise of forgotten islands. Spotting the Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise and Red Bird-of-paradise will be high on your agenda, with two early morning visits ensuring the best opportunity to see these spectacular birds in their natural habitat. If you are lucky you may also spot the Lesser Bird-of-paradise.
Part of the Su Islands (Mios Su) or the Soe Island Group, a cluster of small islands off the northern coast of Western New Guinea, your visit to little-known and explored Amsterdam Island channels the true expedition nature of your voyage providing an opportunity to explore this pristine environment very few have seen.
Located at the top of the Bird’s Head Peninsula and surrounded by lush rolling hills and imposing spine of the Arfak Mountains, Manokwari is the capital of West Papua. Here the plan is to travel into the Arfak Mountains to the Pegunungan Arfak Nature Reserve and enjoy the rare opportunity of exploring the higher elevations and misty tropical montane rainforests with their exceptional suite of endemic plants, animals and birds. During your journey you will be on the lookout for the Western Parotia, Vogelkop Bowerbird and Magnificent Bird-of-paradise among the region’s 320 bird species.
Enjoy an unforgettable day swimming with the iconic Whale Sharks of Kwatisore Bay in Cenderawasih Marine Park. One of the best places in the world to snorkel with these gentle giants, aim to visit the local fishermen’s Bagans (handmade floating platforms) where these mega-fish, hopeful of catching smaller fish escaping fishermen’s nets, are known to congregate. This spectacular 15,000-square-kilometre marine park is also home to some of the finest coral reef examples in the world and 18 tropical islands where 209 species of fish, 4 species of turtle, dolphin and Blue Whale can be seen.
Exploring the seldom-visited remote coasts, white sand beaches and crystalline waters of twin islands Biak and Supiori in the Schouten Islands archipelago of Cenderawasih Bay is your plan for the day. Separated by a narrow mangrove-lined channel, the islands boast the highest endemic diversity in Papua including 17 endemic birds. Among the species you may encounter are the Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Redcapped Flowerpecker, Yellow-bibbed Fruit Dove, Geelvink Imperial Pigeon, Biak Black Flycatcher and Numfor Paradise Kingfisher and Leaf Warbler. A snorkel excursion exploring the abundant marine life and pristine reefs is also planned.
Flanked by tropical rainforest and at around 800-kilometres long, the biologically-rich Mamberamo River is considered the Amazon of Papua. Snaking through dense, unexplored and unspoiled terrain it sustains a plethora of wildlife including wallabies, tree shrews, crocodiles, frogs, butterflies, endemic birds and hundreds of species of plants, as well as a number of traditional tribes who are largely cut off from the outside world. Plan to Zodiac cruise the river’s mouth searching for wildlife and visit local tribal people.
The peaceful paradise of Lake Sentani, the glittering freshwater lake reflecting the steep, verdant mountains in the Cyclops Strict Nature Reserve of Papua’s capital Jayapura, is renowned for its famous artifacts, traditional motifs, pottery, woodworking and bark paintings. Taking local buses, journey to the seldom visited lake’s edge before enlisting traditional longboats, passing stilt houses, as you navigate its many islands. Experience local culture in the form of dance and artists at work making bark paintings and bride money, visit the small church built at the beginning of the 20th Century and World War II monument to General Douglas MacArthur on Gunung Ifar for breath taking lake views before returning to Spirit of Enderby for lunch and sailing towards Vanimo and Papua New Guinea.
Undoubtedly a highlight on your voyage, plan to explore by Zodiac the intricate network of lagoons and mangroves surrounding this cluster of salt and freshwater lakes sustaining a myriad of wildlife where the Sepik River (the longest in Papua New Guinea) joins the Bismarck Sea. Used as a staging location for barge traffic by the Japanese during World War II, it is also the location of at least four Allied aircraft that were lost or abandoned between 1943 and 1944. Home to more than 100 villages and inspiring the region’s renowned Sepik art, expect to enjoy their hospitality and handiwork firsthand.
The self appointed ‘Prettiest Town in the South Pacific’, Madang is bound by lush rainforest, calm blue waters studded with volcanic islands, 34-sunken ship dive sites, Tupira’s supreme surf break, flourishing coral gardens and rich history. For those disembarking, a transfer to a central hotel, or the airport, will conclude your voyage, or continue your adventure exploring Papua New Guinea.