Sailing the Jewels of Raja Ampat in the footsteps of Alfred Wallace
- Vessel: Katharina
- Where: Ambon, Indonesia
- Duration: 12 days
- Embark: Ambon, Maluku - 21 September 2023, 08:00
- Disembark: Sorong, West Papau - 2 October 2023, 13:00
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Set the sails from Ambon to Sorong exploring the wildlife delights of the Indonesian archipelago.
Discover colourful kaleidoscopic coral reefs and trek across tropical islands for spectacular wildlife watching opportunities as you immerse yourself into this bucket list Indonesian adventure holiday.
Follow in the footsteps of naturalist Alfred Wallace – known for his theory of evolution by natural selection. This fascinating voyage will see guests island hop through Indonesia’s tropical archipelago searching for Birds of Paradise, mysterious caves with ancient rock paintings and endless secluded coves teaming with corals and colourful fish. Listen as the sulphur-crested cockatoo flies amongst luscious green landscapes and swim with the other-worldly, rare stingless jellyfish in a forest pool of evolution.
- World famous Coral Reefs
- Rainforest trekking
- Wildlife watching
- Local Culture
- Private ensuite cabins
- Package Travel Cover
A day to day guide
D A Y 1
Arrive into Ambon where you will be taken straight to Katharina at Harbour.
Ready to start our adventure, depart for the island of Saparua, and visit the Dutch built VOC-Fort Duurstede (1691) stormed in 1817 in a revolt led by Ambonese Kapitan Pattimura, a national hero and martyr. Later, we can enjoy our first snorkelling near the small uninhabited island.
In the evening, we will begin our voyage to the Banda Islands, the original source of nutmeg; in the 15th and 16th centuries, this aromatic spice spurred exploration and shaped colonial empires.
D A Y 2
Explore the coastline of the Island of Suanggi, a small rocky island populated by an enormous, noisy colony of seabirds. We will then continue our journey to the Banda Archipelago, arriving first at the tiny outlying island of Run, where the English and Dutch vied bitterly for control of the nutmeg trade. In 1667, under the Treaty of Breda, Run was the subject of an unbelievable real estate deal when it was ceded by the English to the Dutch in exchange for Manhattan.
After visiting the village and the remains of the British-built Fort Swan, we can snorkel offshore. After lunch, wander the pretty island of Pulau Ai, where we will wander through the village and visit the remains of the Dutch-built Fort Revenge, followed by some more beautiful snorkelling. In the evening we will head to Banda Neira, the main island in the Banda chain, where we will anchor in a small, protected bay in the lee of Gunung Api volcano.
D A Y 3 – 4
The Banda archipelago is made up of many islands and guests have the choice to explore the outer islands of Lonthoir, Ai, Run and Hatta. Each island has its own history from old plantation ruins, Dutch cemeteries and European fortifications. The tiny island of Run was the subject of an unbelievable real estate deal in 1667, when under the Treaty of Breda, it was surrendered by the English to the Dutch in exchange for Manhattan.
Visit Fort Revenge on the island of Ai or enjoy the tranquil beauty on Lonthoir as you wander the nutmeg groves where shapely fruit bearing trees grow in the shelter of the native almond trees. With a bit of luck and guidance from the locals, we should be able to spot the elegant Imperial Pigeon – a species that Wallace himself discovered and named. These funny creatures feast on whole nutmegs which the local still harvest by hand using age-old techniques. Guests can buy the baked goods, condiments and jams flavoured with fresh mace and nutmeg – a delicacy rarely obtainable outside of the Banda Islands.
Climb the fortress of Hollandia as we meet the local “perkeniers” – a small holder farmer managing plantations. Learn about the war and conflict that shook these lovely islands which is hard to believe given their current peace and tranquillity.
Leaving the Banda Islands, the boat will navigate through the Sonnegat between Neira and Gunung Api, possibly escorted by kora-kora – giant Moluccan galley ships traditionally used for ceremony and warfare, propelled by warrior-oarsmen
Since conditions of wind and tide will determine the order in which we visit various islands, we cannot guarantee any particular order. On the biggest island of Neira, guests can stroll through the quaint colonial outposts characterful streets, inspecting notable residences, a museum, churches and a waterfront market.
Across the harbour is the jungle-clad volcanic island cone of Gunung Api (fire mountain) and for the more ambitious guests, an early morning ascent up a challenging track provides stunning views across the islands.
The islands are also home to excellent coral reefs nearby where we can watch some amazing marine life and if we are out at dusk, we will have a good chance of seeing arguably the world’s most stunning fish – the jewel-like Mandarin Fish.
D A Y 5
We will wake up off the coast of Pulau Igar, an island in the north of the Watubela Archipelago, where we can enjoy some morning snorkelling and beach activities. At midday, we will continue north to Pulau Manawoka.
In the afternoon we can visit the friendly villagers of Amar Sekaru, who will happily guide us through their beautiful plantations. Near the village, we will find the two little lakes of Sole, connected to the sea by a small tunnel. Swimming in these lakes and tunnel evokes the feeling of discovering an unknown planet. Overnight we will continue our journey to Pulau Daram in Raja Ampat.
D A Y 6
We should arrive at the island of Daram by mid-morning, allowing us the opportunity for some trekking, snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up-paddle-boarding and beach activities.
At lunchtime we will continue to Pulau Farondi, northwest of Daram, where we can snorkel in the late afternoon.
In the evening we will cruise to the village, where the Katharina will spend a quiet night at anchor in anticipation of our morning quest to see the lesser bird of paradise in the wildlife.
D A Y 7
Today We will rise around 4 am and have a quick breakfast and go ashore, where local guides will be waiting for us to take us through the forest to hopefully see the Lesser bird of paradise as they dance around in their ‘lekking’ trees.
We will have time for a look around the village and possibly a visit to the school and to learn about the way Nature Conservancy is working with the village to empower with local women with a fishing practice called sasi. Mid-afternoon we will set off to the eastern side of Misool to Tomolol Bay.
D A Y 8
This morning we will wake to see the sunrise over the picturesque chain of islands that makes up the eastern part of 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.
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 and snorkel while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites.
We will then move on to the mysterious jellyfish lake and swim amongst the many thousands of stingless animals.In the afternoon, 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 cave paintings, estimated to be anything between 3,000 to 5,000 years old and depicting various human figures and huge human palms, fish, flowers and plants, tools and vessels.
D A Y 9
We will emerge from our cabins in the southwest corner of Kabui Bay next to ‘Wallace’s Channel’ where Wallace emerged after his very challenging sail from Seram.
After breakfast, we will take dinghies through the narrow channel, examine the vegetation clinging to the limestone cliffs, and snorkel at a few contrasting sites. We will then return to the ship and head out of the bay.
We will spend the afternoon in a local village where Wallace spent some months and (if the tides are right) we’ll visit a faithful replica of Wallace’s small hut, which was built with a grant from SeaTrek. Followed by a visit to a nearby small island where a local man has set up a coconut crab ‘sanctuary’. The island is home to a small number of the animals (Birgus latro, the world’s largest terrestrial arthropod.
Another late afternoon snorkel along a reef with some spectacular giant clams will lead us into dinner at anchor on board, ready for an early morning venture for the Red Bird of Paradise.
D A Y 1 0
After our encounter with the red bird of paradise, we will make our way through the Dampier strait, home of some of Raja Ampat’s premier reefs. With a bit of luck, we hope to snorkel with some of the larger marine life attracted to the strait’s nutrient-rich currents.
We will end our day in front of small Village, where we can easily circumnavigate the tiny island by foot and get a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept alive by the villagers living on this tiny isolated island. This village is also home to a local manta conservation project where volunteers will happily show us around and explain their efforts and programs in more detail.
D A Y 1 1
It will be an early morning start as the dinghy takes us in the dark over to the village and a local guide will take us on a 20-minute walk into the forest. As dawn breaks in the forest canopy, we should get good views of the bright Red Bird of Paradise. Back in the village, there will be time to meet with the community and perhaps visit the school.
We will be back on the boat by mid-morning and if time permits we’ll travel over to Pef Island to snorkel and motor around the convoluted coast while learning the myth about the prehistoric handprint still visible high on a limestone cliff.
In the afternoon we’ll head towards Sorong and should have time for a snorkel before dinner.
D A Y 1 2
After breakfast, we will stroll around the island near Sorong with traditional transportation called Becak. During the First World War, Doom island served as an administrative centre of Dutch Empire administration in West Papua and continued to become the core of Sorong for some time before the city grew in mainland Papua. During the Second World War, Japanese forces occupied and fortified the island, building a network of tunnels and bunkers.
The island was attacked by American and Australian aircraft throughout the war. Following the war, a fishing station was briefly established on the island before it was moved to Manokwari. When we back on the boat, we will say goodbye to our tour leaders, crew and captain and transfer you to the airport or hotel for your onward travel.
MEET THE EXPERT
Jeffrey Mellefont is a research associate of the Australian National Maritime Museum, where he had a long career as a publisher and editor. Formerly a blue-water mariner, celestial navigator and skipper, Jeffrey became a specialist marine writer and photographer and has made a lifetime study of the fascinating maritime world of Asia and in particular of Indonesia. He has published extensively on these subjects in both popular and academic journals.
Jeffrey has been visiting Indonesia since 1975 when he was immediately drawn into the maritime life of this tropical archipelago with its extraordinarily diverse cultures and history, as well as the study of Bahasa Indonesia, a national language with its roots in the ancient world of sailors and seaborne traders. Jeffrey’s richly illustrated presentations on your SeaTrek cruise draw upon decades of research and adventures sailing with the traditional seafarers and boat builders of Indonesia. He has also sailed through the archipelago by yacht. Jeffrey has shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for this oceanic world by leading tour groups exploring maritime themes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia and India.
Seafaring history expert, Jeffrey Mellefont, leads an adventure through ancient monsoon sailing routes to some of Indonesia’s remotest islands, connecting us with the true nature of this island nation: a maritime crossroads of rare spices, sea-borne trade, migration and boat-builders.
All voyages for Katharina
Guest berths: 14 Rig: Gaff Ketch
Built in 1995 on the Indonesian portion on the island of Borneo, Katharina was originally planned for use a commercial freighter but caught the eye of her current owner with her elegant sailing lines and sleek hull shape.
They saw her transformation into a charter vessel as an exercise to conserve her Indonesian authenticity and in 2014, employed local craftsmen to complete a beautiful interior refit. Working alongside her sister ship Ombak Putih, (larger but equally as beautiful!), they are both fine examples of some of the few original boats that still sail these waters.
Now led by Captain Ferdi, Katharina takes guests on skippered sailing holidays to explore the cultural heritage, natural wonders and wildlife of the Indonesian islands.
The top deck is a raised sun-lounging area sitting on the roof of the saloon and bar, giving guests secluded relaxation and stunning views. On the main deck, Katharina is rigged traditionally to make best use of the wind as the weather permits. A generous and comfortable saloon and bar sit to the stern of the boat while a large dining table sits under a canopy at the bows, perfect for alfresco dining under the stars.
Below decks, her interior refit has been to a high standard with spacious cabins and campion-ways. Hand-crafted beds using local timber and locally made soft furnishings give the boat an authentic Indonesian feel. There are six private ensuite cabins for guests in a combination of double beds, twin bunks and three berth cabins.
The galley sits to the stern and is really where this boat comes to life. With 12 crew on hand, you won’t have to a lift a finger with freshly-prepared meals showcasing the very best of Indonesian cuisine and hospitality.
Deck planMore about Katharina
Life on board
Indulge in a world of adventure as you discover the natural beauty of the Indonesian archipelago from the water. Walk barefoot along sandy shores, enjoy delicious local cuisine and wonder at the endemic wildlife species across the islands.
Life on-board Katharina is one of traditional Indonesian culture, from the welcoming local crew to the fresh local delicacies, fascinating endemic species and breath-taking Indonesian landscapes. The local people are at the heart of everything that Katharina does. From employing local people to sail her to the traditional craftsmen that built her, the networks and connections that have been nurtured by the crew are heart-warming. Visit remote villages where you’re greeted by running children, laughing and joking, sharing their local crafts. Dance around the fire, play music, exchange gifts and wonder their fascinating corner of paradise.
Sleeping and Relaxation
With six private, air-conditioned en-suite cabins full of traditional Indonesian charm, spacious communal area, alfresco dining areas and sun-lounge deck, Katharina offers plenty of seclusion and relaxation. There are kayaks, snorkel gear and SUP’s for guests to use and the crew can arrange extra activities ashore from kite-surfing to cookery classes.
There are a total of 12 crew on Katharina so you really won’t have to lift a finger. From home-made cocktails, freshly prepared Indonesian cuisine, there is even a host to take care of any extra excursion planning.
- Full board including all meals, soft drinks, tea, coffee and snacks. (Starting and ending with lunch on first and last days)
- All Indonesian tour leaders
- All park fees, cultural performances, local guides and off-boat activities.
- Welcome drink, cold towel upon boarding and each time guests return from off-boat excursions.
- Daily room cleaning
- Two pieces of laundry each day
- Towels and linens
- Complimentary cotton backpack, luggage tag, fan and stainless steel water (which guests are encouraged to take home)
- First aid kit containing all major medicines
- Sunscreen lotion
- Soaps, shampoo and conditioner
- Beach BBQ
- Free wine, beer and selected cocktails at the beach BBQ
- Selected wines with special farewell dinner
- All port fee
- Use of on-board TV and multimedia facilities
- Library of books, kids games and TV documentaries
- Use of all facilities on board including snorkelling gear, paddle boards, kayaks, board games
- Use of sleeping bags for sleeping on deck
- All transfer to and fro the boats
- Fuel surcharge fee
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Domestic flights
- Transit hotels
- Alcoholic drinks outside of specials dinners and beach BBQ
- Crew and tour leader tips
- Incidental expenses on land (souvenirs, private purchases etc)
Travel insurance notes
As this is an active adventure holiday, we advise that everyone has the appropriate personal accident travel insurance whilst onboard in addition to standard travel insurance which would cover you in the time between making your booking and departing for your adventure. These policies can sometimes be combined so please check with your travel insurance provider.
This voyage will likely be more than 12miles offshore.
Package Travel Regulations
This trip is covered by our Package Travel Regulations (PTR) Insurance. Please click here to view the Terms & Conditions.
Are all meals included?
Yes - all meals are included in the price (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Hot Drinks)
Are there any added extra's?
No, unless you go ashore. Excursions are not included.
Can you cater for dietary needs?
Vegetarian, halal, kosher, children’s fare, low fat dishes, allergies, etc. However, we must be notified in advance of any special needs so we can make arrangements.
What language is spoken onboard?
What are the sleeping arrangements?
(All cabins are ensuites) 2 x double cabins, 2 x triple cabins (one double bed & one upper single bunk), 2 x twin bunk cabins.
How many toilet/showers does she have?
There are six ensuites with each cabin.
Is there WIFI?
No! Time to disconnect from the modern conforms and reconnect with nature!
Can I charge my phone/Camera?
Are there life jackets provided?
Are Waterproofs provided?
Do I need sailing experience?
No, absolutely not! Just a need for adventure.
Will I be sea sick?
Everyone reacts differently but we recommend if you are at all worried to take some medication 24 hours before departure. Ginger tea and biscuits also help with sea sickness.
Is bedding included?
All bedding and shower towels are included. Please bring your own swimming towels.