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Village at the beachfront in Sorong, Indonesia

In the Wake of Wallace

Sorong - Ternate - Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Katharina
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This unforgettable cruise will travel to remote exotic Indonesian islands in the wake of the legendary Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection and author of the most famous travelogue about the region, The Malay Archipelago. Like Wallace, we will go in search of the stunningly beautiful Birds of Paradise, which he regarded as “…one of the most beautiful and most wonderful of living things.” Your journey on-board the Katharina will visit some of the places that most fascinated Wallace, including Ambon, Seram, and the remote Raja Ampat Islands with their pristine incredibly diverse coral reefs and glorious Birds of Paradise.
Dutch Fort Ternate in IndonesiaSunset at an ocean resort in Raja Ampat, West Papua, IndonesiaBreathaking view of Kahatola Waterfall in TernateArborek Band in IndonesiaDutch Fort Ternate in IndonesiaVillage at the beachfront in Sorong, Indonesia
Highlights
  • Take a pre-dawn hike to observe wildlife
  • Look out for the Wilson’s Bird of Paradise
  • Snorkel outside of Kabui Bay
  • Admire the impressive vegetation that clings to limestone cliffs
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Sorong | Embark

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 harbor where the Katharina 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 harbor behind, and cruise to a small island, where we can enjoy our first snorkel. Upon entering the marine protected area of Raja Ampat, we will head towards Waigeo, Raja Ampat’s biggest island. 

Day 2: Saporkren Village

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We wake to the entrancing serenity of the entrance of the Wallace Channel in the SW corner of Kabui Bay. After a leisurely breakfast, we will take the dinghies down to the far end of the channel and will read the section from Wallace’s The Malay Archipelago where he describes trying to find the way to Kabui Bay. We will snorkel just outside the entrance as well as along the channel, and around the mushroom-shaped islands as we return to Kabui Bay. We then move to the NE corner and meet the villagers of Wawiyai village where FFI works. At dusk, we will take the dinghies again to wait by a small island for hundreds of great-billed parrots to fly from the main island to roost for the night. 

Day 3: Red Bird of Paradise | Dampier Strait | Aborek Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We will wake offshore of Yenbesir Village.  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- to 30-minute walk into the forest. As dawn breaks in the forest canopy, we should get good views of the bright ‘Cendrawasih Merah’ or Red Bird of Paradise. On the way down we will pass the faithful reconstruction of the hut used here over 150 years ago by Alfred Ruissel Wallace.  We hope there will be time to go to the village, meet with the community, and perhaps visit the school. We will be back on the boat by mid-morning and we’ll find a wonderful site to snorkel and (if our luck holds) see some large fish. We’ll stop off at a tiny island to see the enormous coconut crabs. As the sun sets we will be relaxing on board and hoping to see hundreds of fruit bats leave their roost on the island of Mioskon as they go to the mainland to feed. We move to the nearby village of Saporkren.

Day 4: Kabui Bay | Yenbeser Village

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
When we emerge from our cabins we 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 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; with luck we might see some dolphins.  We will spend the afternoon in Yenbeser 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 by the villagers using plans from FFI (Fauna & Flora International) and a grant from SeaTrek. We will also visit a nearby small island where a local man has set up a coconut crab 'sanctuary'. The island is home to a small number of these monsters (Birgus latro, the world's largest terrestrial arthropod), and you can get up close and personal with these magnificent yet docile beasts. Another late afternoon snorkel along a reef with some spectacular giant clams (the world's largest bivalve) will lead us into dinner at anchor on board.

Day 5: Penemu | Klaarbeck | Yar Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today is a day or snorkelling, Wallace tracking, and exploring some of Raja Ampat’s most beautiful limestone karst islands. We 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, we will set course for 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. Hopefully, we will be able to land on Klaarbeck and climb the hill that Wallace climbed in the vain hope of signaling to his stranded men. Afterwards we hope to reach nearby Yar Island at dusk to witness thousands of flying foxes emerging and flying off to feed. This night we will find a remote beach where we will have a beach BBQ and party, a highlight of any SeaTrek journey.

Day 6: Misool Archipelago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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, 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. We 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 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 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 7: Kapatcol

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we will try our best to see the Lesser Birds of Paradise displaying in the wild, an unforgettable experience for anyone lucky enough to see them. We will rise around 4am and have a quick breakfast and go ashore at Kapatcol, where local guides will be waiting for us to take us through the forest to hopefully see the birds as they dance around in their ‘lekking’ (courtship display) trees. We can make no guarantees, however, as we do not have them on a leash. 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’.

Day 8: Halmahera

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
When we wake up today we will find ourselves off the extreme southern tip of Halmahera near the islands of Djoronga and Damar, where we will go snorkelling and visit a local village before heading off later in the day for Bacan.

Day 9: Bacan

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We will wake up off the north shore of Bacan, another of Indonesia’s historic spice sultanates. We go exploring ashore at the isolated village of Geti or its neighbour Goro-Goro, walking up a rainforest-clad stream valley. Bacan is where Alfred Russel Wallace discovered the Golden Birdwing Butterfly and the world's largest bee, Megachile pluto. We’ll keep a close watch for these and a host of species, some of them endemic, including parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, hornbills, the elusive cuscus or a rare black macaque – the only monkey in Maluku (these ones were introduced a long time ago from North Sulawesi, where they are now endangered).

Day 10: Bastiong Village, Halmahera

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We will rise at 3.00am, have coffee and snacks, and transfer to cars at Bastiong Village, Halmahera, which will drive us 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. We will start our walk into the forest so that by 6am we 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. We’ll walk back to the road where we will 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 might 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.

Day 11: Halmahera | Dodinga

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we will wake up off the coast of Halmahera, just across from Ternate, with the mighty peaks of Ternate and Tidore as our dawn backdrop. After breakfast we 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, we will head back to the boat for lunch and then go off for an afternoon of snorkelling and relaxation. Tonight we will have a final farewell party.

Day 12: Ternate | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Today marks the end of our adventure, but first we will head into the city, which has retained its commercial and political importance as the administrative and trading centre of North Maluku. Of the four historically powerful spice sultanates, Ternate is the only one where the sultanate has survived uninterrupted. We will visit Fort Toluko built by the Portuguese and the ‘Kedaton', the palace of the Sultan, with its rich collection of heirlooms.  We 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 our tour we will move back to the boat and say goodbye to our crew and our sea-based home, Katharina, before transferring to the airport for our onward travel.

Ship/Hotel

Katharina

Sail on board the Katharina
Katharina ship
Katharina

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$9,850
Katharina Cabin
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Cabin Deck
Cabin Deck. Spacious, air-conditioned twin-share cabins with twin bunks or double beds. Private bathroom with toilet, washbasin, and hot shower.

Notes

- All rates are quoted in USD and represent cost per person, based on double occupancy.
- Cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.75 times the published rate.
Included
  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
  • 11 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • First aid kit containing all major medicines.
  • Use of sleeping bags for sleeping on deck.
  • Complimentary cotton backpack, luggage tag, fan, and stainless steel water bottle, which guests are encouraged to take home and keep.
  • Two pieces of laundry each day.
  • Beach BBQ with complimentary wine, beer, and selected cocktails
  • English-speaking SeaTrek tour leaders
  • Full board including all meals and soft drinks, tea, coffee, snacks. Starting and ending with lunch on first and last days.
  • All port fees
  • Welcome drink and cold towel upon boarding the boat on the first day and each time guests return from all off-boat excursions
  • Daily room cleaning
  • Towels and linens
  • Sunscreen lotion but do bring your own
  • Soaps, shampoo and conditioner
  • Selected wines with special farewell dinner
  • Use of on-board TV and multimedia facilities
  • Library of books, kids’ games and TV documentaries
  • Unlimited use of espresso machine
  • All park fees, cultural performances, local guides, and off-boat activities
  • Use of all facilities on board, including snorkeling gear, paddle boards, kayaks, board games
  • All transfers to and from the boats in ports
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Domestic Flights
  • Alcoholic drinks outside of special dinners and beach BBQ.
  • Fuel Surcharge - to be invoiced separately
  • Transit hotels

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