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-Upon arrival in Ambon you will be taken straight to Katharina at Harbour. Once settled into your cabin, our cruise director will familiarise you with the vessel’s facilities and safety procedures.
-Ready to start our adventure, we will depart for the island of Saparua, were we will 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.
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-Before breakfast we will use the tenders to explore the coastline of 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 we will continue to 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.
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-In the morning we can do a walk on P. Banda Besar, also called P. Lonthor, the biggest island of the Bandas to see the clove and nutmeg cultivation that has been nurtured since the VOC times.
- On the way we pass Fort Hollandia, as well as some planters’ mansions from the old days. In the afternoon we can snorkel near the Gunung Api, on the side where in 1988 the lava flew into the ocean and where now all kinds of new coral is growing.
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-Those of us who are brave and fit enough can start the day before dawn by climbing 640-metre-high Gunung Api, following a narrow track to be rewarded by a stunning view over the Banda Archipelago.
-After returning to the boat, we can snorkel over the area where the lava flowed into the sea during the 1988 eruption of Gunung Api.
-In the afternoon we will explore the village of Banda Neira, visiting Fort Nassau (1600), Fort Belgica (1611), some restored planters’ mansions, a church, a cemetery and other remains of the Dutch colonial era, all of which will give us a feel for the rich history of this place.
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 4am 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 eastern side of Misool to Tomolol Bay.
D a y 8
-This morning we will wake to see the sun rise 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 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.
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-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.
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-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 hand print still visible high on a limestone cliff.
- In the afternoon we’ll head towards Sorong and should have time for a snorkel before dinner.
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-After breakfast, we will stroll around the island near Sorong with a traditional transportation called Becak. During the First World War, Doom island served as an administrative center 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.