Indonesian Explorer: Raja Ampat to Papua New Guinea - Heritage Adventurer
Travel to Papua New Guinea and the most remote islands in Indonesia with a highly enthusiastic, wildlife-obsessed, expert expedition team.
Indonesia: Drink It In
Welcome Aboard the
A true expedition voyage in every sense, this 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 award-winning wildlife filmmakers Neil Nightingale and Karen Bass 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 teaming 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.
- • Explore one of the richest concentrations of flora and fauna on the planet with 25,000 species of flowering plants,1,592 bird species and half of the world's fish species.
• Boarding traditional longboats and sailing among stilt houses that are the home to Papuan artisans and dancers is just one of the many opportunities you'll have on this voyage to meet local people and experience local culture.
•This outstanding New Zealand operator is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on bird life and the other wonders in this region.
Travel Curator’s Insights:
From $11,295 per person
Plan for 2022 or 2023. Entry restrictions are in place to prevent COVID-19 in New Zealand. Policies and protocols provided before you book.
Oct 7-24, 2023
Ask us for 2024 dates
Hover here for specific dates
Trip Sustainability Awards
Fantastic advances in minimizing carbon footprints at locations.
On the East African Energy Renewal Board
Runs local educational facilities for children.
Day 1: Denpasar, Bali
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 Mt. Agung. Meet your expedition guides at the Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort this afternoon and transfer to Heritage Adventurer.
Day 2: Denpasar, Bali
Enjoy breakfast followed by time to explore the cultural and historical delights of Bali’s capital. Board your ship this afternoon and settle into your cabin, join the captain and your expedition guides in the bridge as we set sail.
Day 3: Sumbawa Island
East of its more famous sibling Lombok, mountainous Sambawa 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, observing martial arts displays and 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 the first snorkelling excursion off splendid Pink Beach, with world-class experience often described as “swimming in an aquarium”.
Day 5: Kodia Island
This morning we are welcomed by the stunning white sand beaches and turquoise waters of coral reef fringed Kodia Island. While excellent snorkelling and beachcombing are a given, hikers, photographers and birders will want to explore the dry forests home to an impressive number of birds and wildlife. Today is an authentic expedition day.
Day 6: 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 and gardens. 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 wasp fish, flying gurnards, multitudes of crab species, and dazzling anemones.
Day 7: 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 a number of 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 including the Blue-fronted Lorikeet and enjoy the hospitality of local communities during village visits.
Day 8: Seram Island
One of Indonesia’s relatively undiscovered gems, Seram Island seamlessly blends stunning tropical island aesthetics with biologically rich and rare flora and fauna of the Wallacea region at the crossroads of Asia and Australasia. In addition to having Indonesia’s deepest cave, Hatu Saka, and the world’s longest underground river, Sapalewa; 6 of Seram Island’s 28 mammals and 33 of its more than 213 bird species are endemic or near endemic. Our explorations here could include venturing into the jungle to look for Seram Masked Owl, Thrush, Oriole, Honeyeater, Myzomela and Friarbird, Moluccan Cockatoo and Scops Owl, and visiting an interior stilt house village where life continues unchanged. Though headhunting is no longer practised, traditional weapons including bow and arrow are still used for hunting.
Day 9: 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 heart-shaped lagoon of Karawapop.
Days 10-11: 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 ensuring 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 12: Manokwari and Arfak Mountains
Located at the top of the Bird’s Head Peninsula and surrounded by lush rolling hills and impressive spine of the Arfak Mountains, Manokwari is the capital of West Papua. Options here include an early rise travelling high into the Arfak Mountains to the Pegunungan Arfak Nature Reserve exploring the higher elevations and misty tropical montane rainforests with their exceptional suite of endemic plants, animals and birds. During our journey we will be on the lookout for the Western Parotia and Vogelkop Bowerbird, and visit the viewing hides for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe the Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, among the region’s 320 bird species. Alternatively enjoy a sleep in and explore the fascinating town of Manokwari, home to more than 24 different tribal groups.
Day 13: Cenderawasih Marine Park
Enjoy the unforgettable experience of 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, 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 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, which we will explore, where 209 species of fish and 4 species of turtle can be seen. We also plan to visit a village where the locals live by a unique mix of traditional, Dutch and modern influences.
Day 14: Biak & Rusbasbedas Islands
The seldom-visited Biak Island in the Schouten Islands archipelago of Cenderawasih Bay boasts the highest endemic biodiversity in Papua including 17 endemic birds. Among the species we may encounter are the Long-tailed Honey-buzzard, Red-capped Flowerpecker, Yellow-bibbed Fruitdove, Geelvink Imperial-pigeon, Biak Black Flycatcher and Numfor Paradise-kingfisher and Leaf Warbler. In the afternoon we plan to sail to the pristine and isolated Rusbasbedas Island with its white sand beaches, shear drop-offs and enormous corals teeming with brightly coloured fish make it paradise for snorkellers and beachcombers.
Day 15: Liki Island
Enjoy a warm welcome on Liki Island, part of the Koemamba Islands in formerly Dutch New Guinea, where villagers share local customs and traditions along with some of the island’s culinary delights. Explore the forest looking for wildlife on a nature walk, or snorkel along the edge of the abundant coral reef on this charming and rarely visited island.
Day 16: Jayapura
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, and is our destination following an early morning arrival. We will journey to the lake’s edge before enlisting traditional longboats, passing stilt houses, as we navigate its many islands. Experience local culture in the form of dance and artists at work making bark paintings and bride money before returning to the ship for lunch and sailing towards Vanimo and Papua New Guinea for our International arrival into Papua New Guinea.
Day 17: Sepik River, Papua New Guinea
We have allowed plenty of time to fully appreciate this remarkable river, its birds, animals and the people that call it home. The Sepik River, the longest in Papua New Guinea, flows from the highlands to the Bismarck Sea. It is a rich arterial river that has fostered great traditional artists. We plan to explore the river by Zodiac, following tributaries and channels in search of local wildlife. Enjoy a warm welcome at Kopar Village where we will experience village life and a traditional Dragon Dance unique to this region. The world-renowned artists of the Sepik region travel long distances to meet the ship and there is the opportunity to purchase unique carvings and more directly from them.
Day 18: Madang-Port Moresby
The self appointed ‘Prettiest Town in the South Pacific’, Madang is bound by lush rainforest, calm blue waters studded with volcanic islands, Tupira’s supreme surf break, flourishing coral gardens and rich history. For those disembarking, a flight to Port Moresby will conclude your voyage, OR continue the adventure with us on Discover the Secrets of Melanesia.
Please 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.
Additional fees: Discovery Fund: $600pp
Heritage Adventurer is a true pioneering expedition vessel of exceptional pedigree. Often referred to as the 'Grande Dame of Polar Exploration' due to her celebrated history and refined design, she was purpose built for adventure in 1991 at Finland's Rauma shipyard and specifically designed for Polar exploration. Setting a peerless standard in authentic expedition travel, Heritage Adventurer (formerly known as MS Hanseatic) combines the highest passenger ship ice class rating (1A Super) with an impressive history of Polar exploration. Having held records for the most northern and southern Arctic and Antarctic navigations, and for traversing both the Northwest and Northeast Passages, the Heritage Adventurer is perfect for pioneering New Zealand-based signature experiential expedition travel.
Originally designed to accommodate 184 guests, Heritage Adventurer now welcomes just 140 expeditioners ensuring spacious, stylish and comfortable voyages, while a fleet of 14 Zodiacs ensures all guests are able to maximize their expedition adventure. Heritage Adventurer proudly continues our traditions of exceptional, personalized expedition experiences as this operator's flagship.
Capacity: 140 Guests
Specialists: Seasoned Expedition Leader, Highly-credentialed Naturalists, Expert Crew
Featured in the documentary "Go Further South"
2014 World Responsible Tourism Award Candidate
2012 New Zealand Travel Awards Finalist
"The Heritage Adventurer, formerly the Hanseatic Explorer, is a comfortable and spacious ship perfect for long expeditions. Her roomy cabins all have seating areas and offer a great use of space. The stars of the show are this operator's expedition leaders and naturalist guides. These are some of the most seasoned and intrepid expeditioners in the world. If you're looking for true adventure on an attractive and comfortable ship, the Heritage Adventurer will provide adventure for you in spades."
Life On Board
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If you're looking for a true expedition in the sense that everyday will be a complete surprise, travel with these bird and wildlife-passionate experts to a region where locals love them and every nautical mile brings new delights.
Joy Martinello, Founder
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