Discover paradise! – Raja Ampat to Papua New Guinea

This authentic Indonesian Explorer takes you on a 19-day expedition cruise through Indonesia’s remote and little-known tropical islands. Swim with the Whale Sharks in Triton Bay, visit Komodo National Park, home to the famed Komodo Dragon, discover Jacques Cousteau’s “underwater nirvana” Wakatobi National Park and explore the turquoise waters and rainbow corals of Raja Ampat as we traverse powdery white sand beaches and untamed jungles.

During our voyage from Bali to Port Moresby we have the opportunity to see Birds-of-paradise and many more endemic species, World War II relics and visit remote tribes. A true expedition voyage in every sense, our journey will explore Indonesia’s rarely visited and little known biodiverse-rich jungle-capped islands scattered across pristine pellucid waters well beyond traditional tourist routes. Join us and 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. Comprised of some 18,000 islands, this Southeast Asian archipelago’s fascinating human history dates back almost 2 million years. European arrival saw Portuguese spice traders chasing the fragrant bounty of nutmeg and cloves in the 16th Century, this was followed by Dutch colonisation then Japanese occupation during World War II before Indonesia regained its independence in 1949.

While still a heavy hitter on the spice trading scene, Indonesia is now attracting attention for having one of the richest concentrations of flora and fauna on the planet. One of the world’s 17 mega diverse countries, Indonesia is home to 2 of the planet’s 25 biodiversity hotspots, 18 of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global 200 ecoregions and 24 of BirdLife International’s Endemic Bird Areas. Its dense forests, jungles, oceans and waterways we will be exploring boast more than 25,000 species of flowering plants (40 per cent of which are endemic), 1,592 bird species (430 of which are endemic and 114 considered extremely threatened), 1,051 reptile and amphibian species, 515 species of mammal and half of the world’s fish species. For botanists, birders, photographers and nature lovers alike, this expedition offers numerous opportunities to spot once-in-a-lifetime species and experience rare wildlife encounters on remote and unknown islands. Sublime wildlife, incredible underwater encounters, exceptional birding and thrilling cultural exchanges await on Indonesian Explorer.

Starts in Bali, IndonesiaEnds in Cairns, AustraliaDuration: 19 DaysNext Departure: 13 October 2024



Sumbawa Island

• Komodo National Park

• Wakatobi National Park

• Buru Island

• Raja Ampat

• Misool Island

• Bomberai Peninsula

• Triton Bay

• Etna Bay

• Asmat Villages


Day 1Bali, Indonesia
Day 2Denpasar
Day 3Sumbawa Island
Day 4Komodo National Park
Day 5Wakatobi National Park
Day 6Buru Island
Day 7-9Raja Ampat
Day 10Misool Island
Day 11Bomberai Peninsula
Day 12Tritan Bay
Day 13Etna Bay
Day 14-15Asmat Villages
Day 16At Sea
Day 17Thursday Island, Australia
Day 18At Sea
Day 19Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea to Cairns

Day to Day Itinerary

DAY 1:
Bali to Indonesia
– For centuries Bali has captivated the imagination of artists, writers, and travellers with its landscapes of emerald terraced rice fields back-dropped by the sacred volcano of Mount Agung. Make your way to the hotel where you will spend the first night of the expedition. This evening you will meet your fellow voyagers and expedition guides over dinner at the hotel.

DAY 2:
– Enjoy breakfast followed by time to explore the cultural and historical delights of Bali’s capital, Denpasar. This afternoon transfer to Heritage Adventurer where your Captain and Expedition Team will welcome you aboard as we set sail for Sumbawa Island.

DAY 3:
Sumbawa Island

East of its more famous sibling Lombok, mountainous Sumbawa Island blends laid back island life with spectacular volcanic ridges, terraced rice fields, tangled jungles and beautiful sandy beaches replete with stunning coral reefs and remote bays awaiting exploration. Historically divided between east (Bimanese speakers) and west (Sumbawanese speakers) this isolated island that time almost forgot juxtaposes luxurious mansions alongside old wooden huts, remote wilderness and traditional Adat law and lore. Today we will experience a number of time-honoured traditions and cultural encounters including meeting the creators of the famed intricate hand-woven ikat fabric and observing ancient tribal rites for a truly authentic immersion in the local culture.

DAY 4:
Komodo National Park
– A sanctuary for the giant monitor lizard, the Komodo Dragon, walk along a forested pathway to a viewing area for a closer look at these prehistoric reptiles which can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds. The surrounding forest is home to Timor Deer, the favourite prey of the dragons, as well as elegant Yellow-crested Cockatoos. Enjoy snorkelling off splendid Pink Beach, a world-class experience often described as “swimming in an aquarium”.

DAY 5:
Wakatobi National Park
– Famously described by legendary underwater explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau as an “underwater nirvana”, Wakatobi is a cetacean highway and home to breathtaking coral walls. Today’s snorkel excursions reveal an incredible array of marine reef inhabitants; underwater photographers will appreciate a bizarre macro world among corals as shallow as 20 feet. Highlights include colourful Frogfish, Octopus, Marbled Snake Eels, Cockatoo Waspfish, Flying Gurnards, multitudes of crab species and dazzling anemones.

DAY 6:
Buru Island
– Fascinating and seldom visited, Buru Island is located at the boundary between the biogeographic zones of Australia and Asia. A high proportion of the species of birds and mammals that occur here are found nowhere else with 10 endemic bird species and 4 endemic mammals as well as several near-endemic species. This morning we will explore these remote shores together with our expert naturalists and guides. Enjoy opportunities to explore the forests in search of wildlife and many of the endemic species and enjoy the hospitality of local communities during village visits.

DAY 7-9:
Raja Ampat
– Lapped by stunning turquoise waters, Raja Ampat’s collection of 1,500 tiny, jungle-cloaked islands are among Indonesia’s most beautiful. We plan to spend 2 days exploring the bounty of rainbow corals, shoals of multi-coloured fish, intriguing ocean-carved limestone formations and jungles of this tropical paradise of forgotten islands. Believed to contain the most biodiverse marine habitat on the planet, the waters surrounding Raja Ampat are home to 600 species of hard coral and 1,200 types of reef fish and make for exceptional snorkelling and Zodiac cruising. On land, spotting the brilliant Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise and Red Bird-of-paradise will be high on our agenda here, with early morning visits planned to ensure the very best opportunity for all to see these remarkable birds in their natural habitat and, hopefully, witness their rarely seen mating dance around their ‘lekking’ trees. Other activities could include beachcombing, visiting villages and engaging in cultural exchanges with locals and forest walks.

DAY 10:
Misool Island
– 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 our introduction to this stunning marine environment. Rich in heritage, it was colonised by the Dutch however, still maintains its cultural essence and traditional ways of life with indigenous constructions, folk dance and respect for nature prevailing. On land, 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. Over the course of the day, we aim to explore the labyrinth of caves and passages and hike up to the viewing platforms to enjoy the spectacular vistas and heartshaped lagoon of Karawapop.

DAY 11:
Bomberai Peninsula
– Today we have a full day of exploration planned at the seldom visited Bomberai Peninsula, which is also often referred to as the Bird’s Beak Peninsula for its location to the south of Bird’s Head Peninsula. A lush tropical forest blankets the hills which rise to the remote Kumafa Mountains. The turquoise waters sculpting the karst limestone coast are renowned for the abundance and diversity of tropical fish species. Join your expedition team ashore discovering the unique plants and wildlife of the region before snorkelling among enormous colourful soft corals and thousands of strong cast from Finding Nemo attracted by the rich food source delivered via underwater channels and currents.

DAY 12:
Triton Bay
– Enjoy the unforgettable experience of swimming with the iconic Whale Sharks of Triton Bay. One of the best places in the world to snorkel with these gentle giants, we aim to visit the local fishermen’s Bagans (handmade floating platforms) where these mega-fish (known to grow more than 12-metres in length), hopeful of catching some of the smaller fish escaping fishermen’s nets, are known to congregate. This afternoon Heritage Adventurer drops anchor off Aiduma Island, one of the most remote islands in Indonesia and world-renowned underwater wonderland and dive site. Discover dazzling soft coral forests teeming colourful reef fish including dinner plate-sized Blue-ring and Six-bar Angelfish, and impressive red and white striped Lionfish, among others, on a snorkelling highight.

DAY 13:
Etna Bay
– This morning we embark on an exploration of the seldom visited Etna Bay. Indenting the coastline of the Kaimana Regency and described by those who have visited as a “tropical fiord beneath mountains that rise abruptly from the sea”, an authentic expedition adventure awaits. Local mythology claims that Indonesia’s legendary Garuda bird and national emblem lives in these mountains. Join your expedition team as we explore this unknown terrain together.

DAY 14-15:
Asmat Villages
– Ten thousand square miles of mangrove forest, bamboo, and sago palms have long sheltered the Asmat region from outsiders. At high tide our ship enters the shallow channel of the Flamingo River to anchor near the village of Agats, the regional capital of the Asmat. A remote riverine world is revealed as Zodiacs carry you along narrow waterways lined with the entwined branches of thick mangrove forests, home to Torresian Imperial Pigeons, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, and bright red lorikeets. As you make your way upstream, villagers – whooping and chanting in elaborate warrior gear and war paint – paddle vigorously toward you in intricately carved canoes to escort you ashore where an enthusiastic welcome awaits. A walk along elevated wooden boardwalks leads to a cathedral with superb carvings, and museum with displays of ancestor poles, drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls; a reminder that cannibalism and head-hunting was practiced by the ancestors of some villagers. Asmat woodcarvings are known for their powerful lines and coarse, expressive motifs, and are widely considered by collectors and scholars to be among the world’s finest carvings and can be purchased directly from the village artisans.

DAY 16:
At Sea
– Relax on board after our adventures, join a lecture, update your photos/journal or watch the world go by in the Observation Lounge or from the poolside.

DAY 17:
Thursday Island, Australia
– The colourful island paradise of Australia’s northernmost point, Thursday Island, is one of 274 islands scattered between the northern tip of Queensland and Papua New Guinea in the Torres Strait. Settled in the late 19th Century, its early fame rested on pearling by Japanese fishermen, while during WWII, Australian and American troops were stationed at the base here. Explore the small sleepy town, discover the island’s rich culture and arts, and take in the sweeping view from Green Hill Fort, built in 1893, which once guarded the island’s main approaches. Its underground tunnels, now refurbished, house the Torres Strait Heritage Museum.

DAY 18:
At Sea
– Enjoy some well-earned downtime after our day at Thursday Island and relive the memories of this fantastic adventure with a recap and special farewell dinner celebration.

DAY 19:
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to Cairns, Australia
– Arrive in Port Moresby, bustling gateway and capital of Papua New Guinea where village and urban life exist side-by-side. After breakfast, enjoy a visit to the National Museum and Arts Center, exhibiting one of the finest collections of primitive art in the world and lunch before boarding your flight to Cairns. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and/or opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

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