COVID Booking Refund Guarantee

22nd January 2023 to 4th February 2023

In the footsteps of Alfred Wallace: Cruise Indonesia

From $11999 per person

Deposit 25%. Second deposit of 25% due on 7th July 2022. The balance of 50% is due on the 5th October 2022.
Discover the magnificence of the Golden Birdwing butterfly, Wilson’s Bird of Paradise and the unbelievable jellyfish lake and much more on this incredible adventure for nature lovers
Clear
Pay a 25% deposit per item
Suited to
Families, Couples, Groups, Individual
Difficulty
No sailing experience is required although if you would like to learn more about how the boat works and is navigated, the skipper will happily oblige, even letting you help hoist the sails.
Nights onboard
11
Vessel type
A traditional Indonesian Pinisi made from Ironwood.
Vessel length
42 metres
Skipper
Yes
Crew
Total crew of 14
Berth Style
22 guests in 11 cabins All cabins are en-suite.
Insurance Required
Yes

Discover the secrets of Alfred Wallace's voyage of discovery around the Malay Archipelago

22 January 2023 -  04 February 2023- 13 days

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 12 days aboard the beautiful sailing boat Ombak Putih.
  • A unique program of island exploration and evening talks.
  • Explore primary rainforests, marine ecosystems, and their flora and fauna, including several Bird-of-paradise species and Wallace’s Golden Birdwing butterfly.
  • In-depth insight into the life and work of Alfred Wallace plus the natural treasures of Indonesia.
  • No more than 22 passengers on-board allowing for close and frequent interaction with the accompanying experts.
  • Many opportunities to enjoy the water by kayak, paddleboard and snorkelling.

In partnership with:

Alfred Wallace was undoubtedly one of the greatest naturalists of all time. Not only did he jointly publish the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin in 1858, but he made very many other major contributions to biology and to subjects as diverse as glaciology, astrobiology, anthropology, and epidemiology. He spent 8 years in the region and the book he wrote about his journey, The Malay Archipelago; The Land of the Orang-utan and the Bird of Paradise, is one of the most highly regarded scientific travelogues of the nineteenth century.

Explore the several Spice and Raja Ampat islands as Wallace did, marvelling at the biodiversity and stunning beauty. Cruising aboard a 24-berth luxury crewed schooner and visiting several sites that were important to Wallace’s discoveries. We will help you find diverse species on land, in the air and at sea including several species of the Bird of Paradise, Golden Birdwing Butterflies and numerous sea creatures. Plus local culture, primary rainforests, geology, conservation projects and relaxation of the highest order.

Accompanying the cruise are three experts. George Beccaloni an entomologist, evolutionary biologist and Wallace expert. George helped devise this itinerary, which has the highest and most authoritative Wallace content of any Indonesian tour, and visits key places that aren’t on the itineraries of other tours.

Nita Cesar and Kees Groeneboer are the cruise directors, who between them cover marine biology, ornithology, marine conservation charities, linguistics and Indonesian history. All three experts will join the daytime activities, sharing considerable insight into the region’s history, the wildlife you will find and Wallace’s adventures.

For every guest, we will make a contribution to the Wallace Correspondence Project, whose aims are to locate, digitise, catalogue, transcribe, interpret and publish the surviving correspondence and other manuscripts of this important 19th century scientist.

This cruise is limited to 22 guests. 15 guests are required for this tour to run.

In partnership with New Scientist.

THE ITINERARY

DAY 1

ARRIVE IN TO SORONG AND MEET YOUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS

After your flight arrives into the West Papuan port town of Sorong, the gateway to Raja Ampat, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the Swiss Belhotel in Sorong for one night. (We suggest you fly into the Indonesian capital Jakarta or Bali, then take a local flight to Sorong)

Here you will have a welcome dinner and meet entomologist, evolutionary biologist and Wallace expert George Beccaloni. Throughout the cruise, George will be giving several talks covering the work of Alfred Wallace, early human civilisation in Indonesia, and the varied flora, fauna and marine life that you will encounter on your journey.

DAY 2

JOIN THE OMBAK PUTIH, WEIGH ANCHOR AND VISIT THE YENBUBA FISHBOWL

In the morning you will be transferred to the stately Ombak Putih, a traditional Indonesian Pinisi. There will be time for you to get settled into your rooms, have a quick safety briefing, and enjoy an alfresco lunch while meeting the crew and the other accompanying experts, Nita Cesar and Kees Groeneboer.

Ready to start your adventure, we will weigh anchor, leave the harbour behind, and cruise to Yenbuba at Mansuar Island, where you can enjoy your first snorkel. This site is known as the ‘fishbowl’ because of the chance to see so many different types of fish around the bay.

The several snorkelling opportunities on the cruise are highlights and the crew make it easy for all ages and abilities to take part in exploring the fascinating marine environments. Less confident swimmers can be supported with floatation devices and you will be exploring shallow sites ideal for snorkelling with abundant coral and fish.

DAY 3

RAINFOREST EXPLORATION, WALLACE’S HUT AND FRIWIN

Today you will rise at 4.30, off Saporkren village. The dinghy will carry you across to the village in the dark and a local guide will take you on a short drive into the forest on a pre-dawn quest to spot the gorgeous Wilson’s Bird of Paradise. We hope that the efforts of your early start will pay off, enabling you to catch a rare and privileged sight of the bird’s elaborate courtship dance as the day breaks over the forest canopy. Each time you return to the boat after an activity, a cold towel and drink will be waiting for you.

After breakfast back on board, you will visit the Wallace Hut in East Gam island, a faithful recreation maintained by local villagers of the hut Wallace spent time in on his expedition. On the way to the hut there will be some fascinating insects and vegetation to inspect.

After a siesta, the boat will travel to Friwin island, a beautiful snorkelling spot with colourful sea fans, several tunicate species such as the Polycarpa aurata, a “local resident” starry pufferfish and occasional sightings of reef blacktip shark.

Should you wish to sleep under the stars on the upper deck, the crew will provide sleeping bags.

DAY 4

WALLACE’S CHANNEL AND MIOSKON

When you emerge from your cabins you will be in the southwest corner of Kabui Bay next to ‘Wallace’s Channel’ where Wallace emerged after his very challenging sail from Seram. After breakfast you can take dinghies through the narrow channel and examine the vegetation clinging to the limestone cliffs. You will then return to the ship and head out of the bay; with luck you will see some dolphins.

The boat will then move to Mioskon Island for more snorkelling and the opportunity to watch a multitude of huge fruit bats flying overhead just after sunset, followed by a beach BBQ in a secluded spot.

DAY 5

SAWINGGARAI, THE DAMPIER STRAIT AND ARBOREK

Today will present another opportunity for keen naturalists as you head to the village of Sawinggarai on Gam Island.  You’ll 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 the local guides, you will see this rare bird’s elaborate courtship display as dawn breaks over the forest canopy. The guides are particularly good at imitating the female birds calls to draw out the male birds.

After returning to the boat, you will turn your 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 including the Sawandarek House Reef. Here you will see masses of healthy coral formations, sightings of big napoleon wrasse, schools of bumphead parrotfish, and if you’re lucky you might spot a wobbegong shark in the strait’s biodiverse waters.

You will end the day by mooring off the tiny Arborek Island, where the local children will perform their traditional dances for you. You can also walk around the village and gain a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept very much alive by the villagers living in this isolated place. The sea here is notable for the thermocline (layered sea temperature changes) due to the location in the Dampier Strait, and you should see rare giant clams, batfish and silversides whilst in the water.

DAY 6

PENEMU, KLAARBECK AND FLYING-FOXES ON YAR ISLAND

You will wake up in front of the island of Penemu, a dramatic location with a short hilltop climb to take in the amazing views. After some great snorkelling on the island’s reefs, you will cruise past Klaarbeck, where Wallace landed after his difficult journey from Seram after a combination of unpredictable winds, fierce currents, difficult anchorages and lack of water sources ended with him being unable to retrieve two crewmen who were stranded to the south on the small island of Kommerrust.

Afterwards, we hope to reach nearby Yar Island at dusk to witness thousands of flying foxes emerging and flying off to feed.

DAY 7

EXPLORE THE MISOOL ARCHIPELAGO

This morning you 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 you into the heart of the bay to a partially submerged cave where it is possible to swim, snorkel or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites.

You will then move on to a mysterious jellyfish lake and swim amongst the many thousands of stingless animals: undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most memorable activities. After returning to the boat, you can 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, and plants, tools and vessels.

DAY 8

SEARCHING FOR THE LESSER BIRDS OF PARADISE

Today we will try our best to help you view Lesser Birds of Paradise displaying in the wild. An unforgettable experience for anyone lucky enough to see them. You will rise around 4:00 and have a quick breakfast and go ashore at Kapatcol, where local guides will be waiting to take you through the forest to hopefully see the birds as they dance around in their ‘lekking’ (courtship display) trees.

You will have time for a look around the village and possibly a visit 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’.

DAY 9

SOUTHERN HALMAHERA

When you wake up today you will find yourself off the extreme southern tip of Halmahera near the islands of Djoronga and Damar, where you will go snorkelling and visit a local village before heading off later in the day for Bacan.

DAY 10

WALLACE’S GREATEST ZOOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES ON BACAN

You will wake up off the western coast of Bacan, another of Indonesia’s historic spice sultanates. You go ashore to explore the forested slopes where Wallace made some of his greatest zoological discoveries, including the Moluccan Cuscus, the Standardwing Bird of Paradise, the world’s largest bee Megachile Pluto, and the huge and magnificent Golden Birdwing Butterfly. Wallace described the latter species as the “finest butterfly in the world”. When he caught the first male in 1859 he wrote: “When I took it out of my net, and opened its gorgeous wings, I was nearer fainting with delight and excitement than I have ever been in my life; my heart beat violently, and the blood rushed to my head, leaving a headache for the rest of the day.” Very few Westerners have ever seen this species alive and few groups of tourists are taken to see them. Of course, there is no guarantee you will see it – but we will try very hard and will be employing as your guide the one person on Bacan who knows exactly where it can be found.

You should also keep a close watch for these and a host of other animals, some of them endemic to these islands: parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, hornbills, the elusive cuscus and the endangered black macaque – the only monkey in Maluku.

DAY 11

WEDA REEF AND RAINFOREST RESORT

You will rise early and transfer to cars in Bastiong Village, Halmahera, who will drive over the dividing range towards Weda Reef & Rainforest Resort. Together with the local community, the owners of the resort manage a foundation for education and conservation of the primary forest and its wildlife. They are proud to be able to protect 700 hectares of primary rainforest, home of the Wallace’s Standardwing Bird of Paradise, plus many other species of birds and other wildlife.

You will start your walk into the forest early, so that by 6:00 you will be quietly below the trees used by males of Wallace’s Standardwing for their communal courtship display. The polygamous males gather and perform a spectacular aerial show, each ‘parachuting’ with its wings and its vivid-green breast shield spread, and their feather ‘standards’ fluttering above its back. You’ll walk back to the road to have breakfast at a shelter before heading out for a morning of bird watching (hornbills, giant cuckoos, parrots, and possibly the Paradise-crow, another species of Bird of Paradise).

There will be a chance for a snorkel in Weda Bay before having lunch at the resort. After lunch there may just be time to explore behind the resort for Wallace’s Golden Birdwing butterfly, before driving back to boat at Bastiong.

Nothing is compulsory and we have built in a lot of individual flexibility and relaxation into the expedition.

DAY 12

DODINGA: WHERE WALLACE MADE HIS GREATEST DISCOVERY

Today you will wake up off the coast of Halmahera, just across from Ternate, with the mighty peaks of Ternate and Tidore as your dawn backdrop.

After breakfast, you will head to the village of Dodinga: the very place where Wallace was living when, in a fit of malarial delirium, he discovered the mechanism which drives evolutionary change – natural selection. Once he had recovered, he promptly wrote a detailed essay explaining his theory, which he posted to Charles Darwin as soon as he returned to his base on Ternate. His essay, which was published together with Darwin’s thoughts on the subject in August 1858, prompted Darwin to publish his book Origin of Species in 1859, which explained the theory in greater detail.  Dodinga is a pretty little riverside village with friendly people, colourful houses and the ruins of an old Portuguese fort, and its importance in the history of science cannot be understated.

After spending some time with the villagers, sharing some fresh coconuts and enjoying their hospitality, you will head back to the boat for lunch and then go off for an afternoon of snorkelling and relaxation. Then a farewell party in the evening.

DAY 13

EXPLORE TERNATE THEN DEPART

Today marks the end of your adventure, but first you will head into the city, which has retained its commercial and political importance as the administrative and trading center of North Maluku. Of the four historically powerful spice sultanates, Ternate is the only one where the sultanate has survived uninterrupted. You will visit Fort Toluko built by the Portuguese and the ‘Kedaton’, the palace of the Sultan, with its rich collection of heirlooms.

You will also see the impressive Fort Oranje built by the VOC (Dutch East India Company) and the probable site of the house where Wallace lived when he posted his essay on natural selection to Charles Darwin in 1858. After your tour, you will travel back to the boat and say goodbye to the crew and your sea-based home, Ombak Putih, before we transfer you to the airport for your onward journey.

MEET THE EXPERTS

Dr George Beccaloni is an entomologist, evolutionary biologist, taxonomist, museum curator, science historian and natural history photographer, who worked at London’s Natural History Museum as a research entomologist and curator (specialising in butterflies and cockroaches) for 20 years. George has studied the life and work of Alfred Russel Wallace (the co-discover of evolution by natural selection) for 20 years and is the founder and Director of the Wallace Correspondence Project.

Nita Cesar is the cruise director and a passionate marine ecologist with experience of coral restoration. She is a certified Rescue Diver with over 1,000 logged dives under her belt. Growing up, she lived nomadically from one Indonesian island to another which is the reason why she can speak four Indonesian local languages. In 2020, Nita was awarded as an Inspiring Change Maker through her non-profit work at Peek Under The Surface, which helps educate children living on the coastlines about marine conservation and distributing swim goggles to them to help them engage with the ocean.

Dr Kees Groeneboer is a linguist, historian and 30-year resident of Jakarta. He is passionate about the spectacular birdlife of his adopted homeland. He has travelled extensively though Indonesia’s eastern isles on countless missions to see, hear, and identify as many as possible of these graceful, colourful and often-endangered denizens of the forests and the cliffs. He often shares his enthusiasm with others by leading specialist bird-watching cruises during which he embellishes his bird expertise with his in-depth knowledge of Indonesian history and culture. He is published on language policy and has a PhD in the history of the Dutch colonial policy in Indonesia from 1600 onwards.

COVID-19 CUSTOMER SERVICE PROTOCOLS

Fully flexible deposit: choose between receiving a full refund or transfer to an alternative departure date if your tour is postponed due to Covid-19 in the destination country.

Safe touring protocols: we will always aim to operate our tours as per the original itinerary. Although if necessary our expert local tour guides may amend scheduled activities or visits to comply with local safety advice. The safety and well-being of our guests is our priority.

  • All meals, soft drinks, tea, coffee and snacks (vegetarian and special menus on request)
  • Professional cruise directors, accompanying experts and local guides delivering evening talks, daytime guiding and all activities
  • All excursions, park fees, cultural experiences and off boat fees
  • Hotel accommodation for your first night in Sorong
  • Kayaks, snorkelling equipment and paddleboards
  • Cabin cleaning and two pieces of laundry every day
  • Transfers between your international flight arrival and the boat
  • 100% Financial Protection on all payments
  • Travel insurance
  • International and internal flights (we suggest you fly into Jakarta or Bali, then an onward flight to Sorong. Returning from Ternate onto Jakarta/Bali)
  • For solo travellers we are happy to arrange for you to share a cabin with another guest of the same gender at no extra cost. Alternatively, if you wish to book a cabin for yourself, it is double fare.
  • A fine selection of wines, beer, and spirits for sale onboard
  • Tips for the crew

ACCOMMODATION

Ombak Putih

New Scientist Default Image

A traditional Indonesian Pinisi made from Ironwood that is small enough to explore the places large cruise ships can’t and will mostly use its traditional sails to traverse the region, leading to a more elegant journey with lower impact on the region’s ecology. A stylish, well-appointed boat.

On the main deck there is a covered saloon bar and air-conditioned dining area plus a rooftop lounge. The boat carries kayaks, two tender boats, stand-up paddle boards and snorkelling equipment. All of which will come in very useful for exploring the stunning coves and bays along the way.

New Scientist Default Image

Cabins

The boat houses 24 guests in 12 spacious twin-share with twin bunks or double beds. All cabins offer creature comforts and necessary amenities including a private bathroom with a toilet, hot shower, and washbasin.

Local Hotel

Swiss Belhotel, Sarong

A recently built 4-star hotel ten minutes from the airport and in the heart of the city. It has large comfortable bedrooms and an outdoor pool, ideal for relaxing after your flight.

COVID-19 CUSTOMER SERVICE PROTOCOLS

  • Fully flexible deposit: choose between receiving a full refund or transfer to an alternative departure date if your tour is postponed due to Covid-19 in the destination country.
  • Departure briefing: covering Coronavirus specific measures in place at arrival airports, with the airline and in the destination country including local regulations.
  • Safe touring protocols: we will always aim to operate our tours as per the original itinerary. Although if necessary our expert local tour guides may amend scheduled activities or visits to comply with local safety advice.  The safety and well-being of our guests is our priority.

PACE AND PHYSICALITY

No sailing experience is required although if you would like to learn more about how the boat works and is navigated, the skipper will happily oblige, even letting you help hoist the sails.

There will be some very early morning starts, as the best time to view the various Birds of Paradise species is at daybreak, however there will be plenty of time to rest and recuperate onboard.

When on land there will be some trekking (a few miles) but nothing too strenuous. Some of trekking will be off track and through primary rainforest, so stout walking shoes are recommended.

There will be ample opportunity to explore the seas by kayak, paddleboard and snorkeling. The crew can help with all these activities and they will guide the boat to shallower waters, so they can make these activities as inclusive as possible. The itinerary might change as local conditions and opportunities present themselves.

The plan is to be flexible to be able to provide you with the best experience possible. No activity or visit is compulsory and you are welcome to stay on board at your leisure.

 

We suggest you fly into Jakarta or Bali, then onward flight to Sorong

We suggest you fly back returning from Ternate onto Jakarta/Bali

Alfred Wallace was undoubtedly one of the greatest naturalists of all time. Not only did he jointly publish the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin in 1858, but he made very many other major contributions to biology and to subjects as diverse as glaciology, astrobiology, anthropology, and epidemiology. He spent 8 years in the region and the book he wrote about his journey, The Malay Archipelago; The Land of the Orang-utan and the Bird of Paradise, is one of the most highly regarded scientific travelogues of the nineteenth century.

Explore the several Spice and Raja Ampat islands as Wallace did, marvelling at the biodiversity and stunning beauty. Cruising aboard a 24-berth luxury crewed schooner and visiting several sites that were important to Wallace’s discoveries. We will help you find diverse species on land, in the air and at sea including several species of the Bird of Paradise, Golden Birdwing Butterflies and numerous sea creatures. Plus local culture, primary rainforests, geology, conservation projects and relaxation of the highest order.

Accompanying the cruise are three experts. George Beccaloni an entomologist, evolutionary biologist and Wallace expert. George helped devise this itinerary, which has the highest and most authoritative Wallace content of any Indonesian tour, and visits key places that aren’t on the itineraries of other tours.

Nita Cesar and Kees Groeneboer are the cruise directors, who between them cover marine biology, ornithology, marine conservation charities, linguistics and Indonesian history. All three experts will join the daytime activities, sharing considerable insight into the region’s history, the wildlife you will find and Wallace’s adventures.

For every guest, we will make a contribution to the Wallace Correspondence Project, whose aims are to locate, digitise, catalogue, transcribe, interpret and publish the surviving correspondence and other manuscripts of this important 19th century scientist.

This cruise is limited to 22 guests. 15 guests are required for this tour to run.

In partnership with New Scientist.

THE ITINERARY

DAY 1

ARRIVE IN TO SORONG AND MEET YOUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS

After your flight arrives into the West Papuan port town of Sorong, the gateway to Raja Ampat, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the Swiss Belhotel in Sorong for one night. (We suggest you fly into the Indonesian capital Jakarta or Bali, then take a local flight to Sorong)

Here you will have a welcome dinner and meet entomologist, evolutionary biologist and Wallace expert George Beccaloni. Throughout the cruise, George will be giving several talks covering the work of Alfred Wallace, early human civilisation in Indonesia, and the varied flora, fauna and marine life that you will encounter on your journey.

DAY 2

JOIN THE OMBAK PUTIH, WEIGH ANCHOR AND VISIT THE YENBUBA FISHBOWL

In the morning you will be transferred to the stately Ombak Putih, a traditional Indonesian Pinisi. There will be time for you to get settled into your rooms, have a quick safety briefing, and enjoy an alfresco lunch while meeting the crew and the other accompanying experts, Nita Cesar and Kees Groeneboer.

Ready to start your adventure, we will weigh anchor, leave the harbour behind, and cruise to Yenbuba at Mansuar Island, where you can enjoy your first snorkel. This site is known as the ‘fishbowl’ because of the chance to see so many different types of fish around the bay.

The several snorkelling opportunities on the cruise are highlights and the crew make it easy for all ages and abilities to take part in exploring the fascinating marine environments. Less confident swimmers can be supported with floatation devices and you will be exploring shallow sites ideal for snorkelling with abundant coral and fish.

DAY 3

RAINFOREST EXPLORATION, WALLACE’S HUT AND FRIWIN

Today you will rise at 4.30, off Saporkren village. The dinghy will carry you across to the village in the dark and a local guide will take you on a short drive into the forest on a pre-dawn quest to spot the gorgeous Wilson’s Bird of Paradise. We hope that the efforts of your early start will pay off, enabling you to catch a rare and privileged sight of the bird’s elaborate courtship dance as the day breaks over the forest canopy. Each time you return to the boat after an activity, a cold towel and drink will be waiting for you.

After breakfast back on board, you will visit the Wallace Hut in East Gam island, a faithful recreation maintained by local villagers of the hut Wallace spent time in on his expedition. On the way to the hut there will be some fascinating insects and vegetation to inspect.

After a siesta, the boat will travel to Friwin island, a beautiful snorkelling spot with colourful sea fans, several tunicate species such as the Polycarpa aurata, a “local resident” starry pufferfish and occasional sightings of reef blacktip shark.

Should you wish to sleep under the stars on the upper deck, the crew will provide sleeping bags.

DAY 4

WALLACE’S CHANNEL AND MIOSKON

When you emerge from your cabins you will be in the southwest corner of Kabui Bay next to ‘Wallace’s Channel’ where Wallace emerged after his very challenging sail from Seram. After breakfast you can take dinghies through the narrow channel and examine the vegetation clinging to the limestone cliffs. You will then return to the ship and head out of the bay; with luck you will see some dolphins.

The boat will then move to Mioskon Island for more snorkelling and the opportunity to watch a multitude of huge fruit bats flying overhead just after sunset, followed by a beach BBQ in a secluded spot.

DAY 5

SAWINGGARAI, THE DAMPIER STRAIT AND ARBOREK

Today will present another opportunity for keen naturalists as you head to the village of Sawinggarai on Gam Island.  You’ll 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 the local guides, you will see this rare bird’s elaborate courtship display as dawn breaks over the forest canopy. The guides are particularly good at imitating the female birds calls to draw out the male birds.

After returning to the boat, you will turn your 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 including the Sawandarek House Reef. Here you will see masses of healthy coral formations, sightings of big napoleon wrasse, schools of bumphead parrotfish, and if you’re lucky you might spot a wobbegong shark in the strait’s biodiverse waters.

You will end the day by mooring off the tiny Arborek Island, where the local children will perform their traditional dances for you. You can also walk around the village and gain a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept very much alive by the villagers living in this isolated place. The sea here is notable for the thermocline (layered sea temperature changes) due to the location in the Dampier Strait, and you should see rare giant clams, batfish and silversides whilst in the water.

DAY 6

PENEMU, KLAARBECK AND FLYING-FOXES ON YAR ISLAND

You will wake up in front of the island of Penemu, a dramatic location with a short hilltop climb to take in the amazing views. After some great snorkelling on the island’s reefs, you will cruise past Klaarbeck, where Wallace landed after his difficult journey from Seram after a combination of unpredictable winds, fierce currents, difficult anchorages and lack of water sources ended with him being unable to retrieve two crewmen who were stranded to the south on the small island of Kommerrust.

Afterwards, we hope to reach nearby Yar Island at dusk to witness thousands of flying foxes emerging and flying off to feed.

DAY 7

EXPLORE THE MISOOL ARCHIPELAGO

This morning you 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 you into the heart of the bay to a partially submerged cave where it is possible to swim, snorkel or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites.

You will then move on to a mysterious jellyfish lake and swim amongst the many thousands of stingless animals: undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most memorable activities. After returning to the boat, you can 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, and plants, tools and vessels.

DAY 8

SEARCHING FOR THE LESSER BIRDS OF PARADISE

Today we will try our best to help you view Lesser Birds of Paradise displaying in the wild. An unforgettable experience for anyone lucky enough to see them. You will rise around 4:00 and have a quick breakfast and go ashore at Kapatcol, where local guides will be waiting to take you through the forest to hopefully see the birds as they dance around in their ‘lekking’ (courtship display) trees.

You will have time for a look around the village and possibly a visit 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’.

DAY 9

SOUTHERN HALMAHERA

When you wake up today you will find yourself off the extreme southern tip of Halmahera near the islands of Djoronga and Damar, where you will go snorkelling and visit a local village before heading off later in the day for Bacan.

DAY 10

WALLACE’S GREATEST ZOOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES ON BACAN

You will wake up off the western coast of Bacan, another of Indonesia’s historic spice sultanates. You go ashore to explore the forested slopes where Wallace made some of his greatest zoological discoveries, including the Moluccan Cuscus, the Standardwing Bird of Paradise, the world’s largest bee Megachile Pluto, and the huge and magnificent Golden Birdwing Butterfly. Wallace described the latter species as the “finest butterfly in the world”. When he caught the first male in 1859 he wrote: “When I took it out of my net, and opened its gorgeous wings, I was nearer fainting with delight and excitement than I have ever been in my life; my heart beat violently, and the blood rushed to my head, leaving a headache for the rest of the day.” Very few Westerners have ever seen this species alive and few groups of tourists are taken to see them. Of course, there is no guarantee you will see it – but we will try very hard and will be employing as your guide the one person on Bacan who knows exactly where it can be found.

You should also keep a close watch for these and a host of other animals, some of them endemic to these islands: parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, hornbills, the elusive cuscus and the endangered black macaque – the only monkey in Maluku.

DAY 11

WEDA REEF AND RAINFOREST RESORT

You will rise early and transfer to cars in Bastiong Village, Halmahera, who will drive over the dividing range towards Weda Reef & Rainforest Resort. Together with the local community, the owners of the resort manage a foundation for education and conservation of the primary forest and its wildlife. They are proud to be able to protect 700 hectares of primary rainforest, home of the Wallace’s Standardwing Bird of Paradise, plus many other species of birds and other wildlife.

You will start your walk into the forest early, so that by 6:00 you will be quietly below the trees used by males of Wallace’s Standardwing for their communal courtship display. The polygamous males gather and perform a spectacular aerial show, each ‘parachuting’ with its wings and its vivid-green breast shield spread, and their feather ‘standards’ fluttering above its back. You’ll walk back to the road to have breakfast at a shelter before heading out for a morning of bird watching (hornbills, giant cuckoos, parrots, and possibly the Paradise-crow, another species of Bird of Paradise).

There will be a chance for a snorkel in Weda Bay before having lunch at the resort. After lunch there may just be time to explore behind the resort for Wallace’s Golden Birdwing butterfly, before driving back to boat at Bastiong.

Nothing is compulsory and we have built in a lot of individual flexibility and relaxation into the expedition.

DAY 12

DODINGA: WHERE WALLACE MADE HIS GREATEST DISCOVERY

Today you will wake up off the coast of Halmahera, just across from Ternate, with the mighty peaks of Ternate and Tidore as your dawn backdrop.

After breakfast, you will head to the village of Dodinga: the very place where Wallace was living when, in a fit of malarial delirium, he discovered the mechanism which drives evolutionary change – natural selection. Once he had recovered, he promptly wrote a detailed essay explaining his theory, which he posted to Charles Darwin as soon as he returned to his base on Ternate. His essay, which was published together with Darwin’s thoughts on the subject in August 1858, prompted Darwin to publish his book Origin of Species in 1859, which explained the theory in greater detail.  Dodinga is a pretty little riverside village with friendly people, colourful houses and the ruins of an old Portuguese fort, and its importance in the history of science cannot be understated.

After spending some time with the villagers, sharing some fresh coconuts and enjoying their hospitality, you will head back to the boat for lunch and then go off for an afternoon of snorkelling and relaxation. Then a farewell party in the evening.

DAY 13

EXPLORE TERNATE THEN DEPART

Today marks the end of your adventure, but first you will head into the city, which has retained its commercial and political importance as the administrative and trading center of North Maluku. Of the four historically powerful spice sultanates, Ternate is the only one where the sultanate has survived uninterrupted. You will visit Fort Toluko built by the Portuguese and the ‘Kedaton’, the palace of the Sultan, with its rich collection of heirlooms.

You will also see the impressive Fort Oranje built by the VOC (Dutch East India Company) and the probable site of the house where Wallace lived when he posted his essay on natural selection to Charles Darwin in 1858. After your tour, you will travel back to the boat and say goodbye to the crew and your sea-based home, Ombak Putih, before we transfer you to the airport for your onward journey.

MEET THE EXPERTS

Dr George Beccaloni is an entomologist, evolutionary biologist, taxonomist, museum curator, science historian and natural history photographer, who worked at London’s Natural History Museum as a research entomologist and curator (specialising in butterflies and cockroaches) for 20 years. George has studied the life and work of Alfred Russel Wallace (the co-discover of evolution by natural selection) for 20 years and is the founder and Director of the Wallace Correspondence Project.

Nita Cesar is the cruise director and a passionate marine ecologist with experience of coral restoration. She is a certified Rescue Diver with over 1,000 logged dives under her belt. Growing up, she lived nomadically from one Indonesian island to another which is the reason why she can speak four Indonesian local languages. In 2020, Nita was awarded as an Inspiring Change Maker through her non-profit work at Peek Under The Surface, which helps educate children living on the coastlines about marine conservation and distributing swim goggles to them to help them engage with the ocean.

Dr Kees Groeneboer is a linguist, historian and 30-year resident of Jakarta. He is passionate about the spectacular birdlife of his adopted homeland. He has travelled extensively though Indonesia’s eastern isles on countless missions to see, hear, and identify as many as possible of these graceful, colourful and often-endangered denizens of the forests and the cliffs. He often shares his enthusiasm with others by leading specialist bird-watching cruises during which he embellishes his bird expertise with his in-depth knowledge of Indonesian history and culture. He is published on language policy and has a PhD in the history of the Dutch colonial policy in Indonesia from 1600 onwards.

COVID-19 CUSTOMER SERVICE PROTOCOLS

Fully flexible deposit: choose between receiving a full refund or transfer to an alternative departure date if your tour is postponed due to Covid-19 in the destination country.

Safe touring protocols: we will always aim to operate our tours as per the original itinerary. Although if necessary our expert local tour guides may amend scheduled activities or visits to comply with local safety advice. The safety and well-being of our guests is our priority.

Temperature in this sailing area varies little (27° to 33° Celsius year-round) with mostly blue skies and light winds. We suggest you bring the following:

Light cotton/ linen clothes, including a pair of long trousers for visits in the villages

Water shoes (boots or plastic shoes)

Hiking shoes

Camera

A plastic / waterproof bag for your camera when disembarking

High protection suntan lotion

A hat

Insect repellent

Dive/ snorkelling equipment if you have your own (there is plenty on board)

A sweater for cool evenings

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