This special itinerary honours Alfred Russel Wallace, the prominent scientist who was one of the first who dared to raise concerns over the environmental impact of human activity some 150 years ago.
In the company of our guest experts - Dr. Tony Whitten or Alexander Reeuwijk, we will revisit some of the areas that Wallace found so fascinating, and we will hopefully experience the magic of seeing the bird of paradise in its full glory within its natural habitat. Wallace’s observations of the marked zoological differences across a narrow strait in the archipelago led to his proposing the faunal boundary line, now known as the Wallace Line, which separates the eco zones of Asia and Australia. West of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species, while to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin is present. While he was exploring the archipelago, Wallace refined his thoughts about evolution and had his famous insight on natural selection. In 1858 he sent an article outlining his theory to Darwin; it was published, along with a description of Darwin’s own theory, in the same year.
This adventure takes you to many of the exact locations that Wallace describes in his landmark publication and of course we have several copies of Wallace’ s book (which was reprinted by PERIPLUS in 2000) in the ship’s library.
Note: The price of this cruise does not include any domestic airfares to and from our start and end points. If you are booking flights by yourself, please do not book any flights before checking with us first.
Your flight will arrive in the West Papuan port town of Sorong, the gateway to Raja Ampat. From the airport we will transfer you to the harbour where the Ombak Putih will be waiting at anchor. Once settled into your cabin, your cruise director will familiarise you with the vessel’s facilities and safety procedures. Ready to start our adventure, we will weigh anchor, leave the harbour behind, and enter the marine protected area of Raja Ampat, home to unique birdlife and the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world. We will cruise towards the island of Waigeo, stopping for a refreshing swim along the way before watching the sun set on our first day at sea.
While it is still dark, our tenders will ferry those of us who are feeling fit and adventurous to the village of Sapokren, where a local guide will take us on a challenging trek into the forest in the hope of seeing the Wilson’s bird of paradise. The male is red and black with a yellow mantle on his neck, light green mouth, rich blue feet and two violet tail feathers. The featherless crown is turquoise, ornamented with double black crosses. If we are lucky, we may be able to observe the male dancing from a distance of just five metres. Before the dance, he will clear the ground from any leaves or other obstacles that may disrupt his performance. On our way back to the boat, accompanied by the sounds of the jungle coming to life, we will be sure to spot a number of bird species along the way. We will spend the remainder of the day resting from the morning’s activities and enjoying the waters and reefs of Raja Ampat.
Today will present another opportunity for keen birdwatchers, as we rise early and walk into the forest on a pre-dawn quest to spot the remarkable red bird of paradise, one of the species that Wallace was most anxious to collect. With a little luck and the help of our knowledgeable guides, we might catch sight of this rare bird’s elaborate courtship display as dawn breaks over the forest canopy. After returning to the ship, we will turn our attention from the sky to the sea as the Ombak Putih makes her way through the Dampier strait, home of some of Raja Ampat’s premier reefs. If the currents are in our favour, we might see some of the area’s larger specimens of marine life, which are attracted to the strait’s nutrient-rich waters. We will end the day by mooring off Pulau Arborek in front Arborek Village. Here, we can easily circumnavigate the tiny island by foot and gain a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept alive by the villagers living in this isolated place.
A swim through Tomolol’s mysterious dome-topped cave is undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most memorable activities. After an early breakfast, our tenders will take us 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, we will use our 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 ‘petroglyph’ 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. We will then spend a quiet night at anchor.
This morning we will wake to see the sun rise over the picturesque chain of islands that makes up the Misool archipelago. The topography is typical of ‘karst dissolution,’ featuring a great number of tiny islets whose bases have been eroded over time by the relentless motion of the tides. We will spend the day maximising everything that this fascinating area has to offer by marvelling at both the marine wonderland under the water and the magnificent landscape above the surface. We can test out our paddling skills in the sea kayaks, watch for birds perched on the rocks, or just sit back and take in the glorious scenery. After a full day of island hopping, the Ombak Putih will begin her overnight journey.
This morning we will explore the Pisang Islands. These tiny gems isolated in the vast waters of the Ceram Sea offer us a chance to relax and enjoy the sparkling white-sand beaches, clear waters, and vibrant reefs before making our way to the shores of West Papua. Here we will follow the shoreline until we reach the village of Sipitnanam. After visiting the village and meeting the residents, who spend their days fishing the nearby waters and tending their nutmeg plantations, we will continue south along the coastline through the night.
Today we will wake up to the beautiful sight of Kitikiti waterfall. Here, in the wilderness, a roaring river cascades down the jungle-clad mountains and crashes into the sea below. We can swim under the waterfall and explore the extraordinary reefs nearby before rounding Cape Papisol to the Karawawi region, where we will stop to refresh ourselves before journeying on to Triton Bay.
Triton Bay is a place of unsurpassed natural splendour, where time and tides have sliced the limestone landscape into tall cliffs and numerous islands separated by lagoons and narrow channels. We will spend our time swimming from secluded beaches, snorkelling the vibrant turquoise waters and kayaking amongst the rocky outcrops. We can also enjoy watching the birdlife from the comfort of our tenders as we explore this extraordinary maze of karst islands, before visiting the village of Lobo, which is a friendly place at the foot of a 1000-metre-high cliff.
We will make the most of our last morning in Triton Bay by cruising through the undisturbed coves, caves, and lagoons before heading north through the Namatote Passage. Namatote’s cliffs are also well known as a gallery of prehistoric art, boasting an impressive collection of cave paintings, glyphs and pictorial signs left by ancient nomads high upon the rock walls. We will spend our final evening on the ship resting at anchor and enjoying a farewell dinner with our captain and crew.
In the morning, we will find ourselves at anchor in the harbour of Kaimana. After a final, hearty breakfast, we will say goodbye to the Ombak Putih and her crew. Our tenders will take you ashore for your transfer to the airport for your onward travel.
Every effort will be made to carry out our cruise itinerary as planned; however, our itineraries are subject to change at the captain’s discretion. When touring at sea, weather, currents, and even harbour masters don’t always co-operate with our planned itinerary, which sometimes make our planned schedules challenging or even impossible to carry out. For that reason, our written itineraries must be approached with reasonable flexibility. We reserve the right to make alterations due to circumstances beyond our control and/or other factors, in the best interests of all. It’s all part of the adventure.
All cabins are located below deck and offer private bathroom, portholes, individually controlled air conditioning, and ample storage space including safety deposit box.
Vessel Type: Yacht
Length: 42 metres
Passenger Capacity: 24
Built: 1997 / Refurbished 2015
The Ombak Putih is a traditional Indonesian schooner custom built from Iron wood by Buginese ship builders. The Ombak Putih is 42 metres long and provides accommodation for up to 24 guests in 12 comfortable cabins. With approximately 400 square meters of public space divided over 2 main decks, the Ombak Putih offers both open and covered space in abundance, allowing for privacy and serene relaxing. All cabins are located below deck and offer private bathroom, portholes, individually controlled air conditioning, and ample storage space including safety deposit box. Led by Captain Feri, 14 dedicated crew members coming from all regions of the archipelago make your stay with us a memorable experience.
- Spacious twin shared cabin with twin bunk beds or double bed
- Each cabin has a private bathroom with toilet and hot shower
- Washbasin and soap toiletries in your cabin
- Cabins have individually controlled air conditioning
- Towels and beach towels that are regularly changed
- Valuables and travel documents can be stored in the ship’s safe
- Dining in spacious air conditioned lounge
- Teak wooden furniture in lounge, cabins and on deck
- Spacious sun and semi-covered decks
- Free tea, coffee and mineral water
- Excellent food and snacks (vegetarian food on request)
- A selction of wines, cold beer and other alcoholic drinksare offered for sale
- Fresh water on-deck shower
- Outdoor sleeping facilities
- Professional cruise director
- Unlimited use of our snorkeling equipment and 2 sea canoes
- Television, DVD and music center in lounge