This 10-day cruise on Katharina includes jungle trekking and swimming with whale sharks off Papua's southwestern coast; idyllic bays and beaches of the South Sea; and exploration of the remote archipelagos of Gorong and Watubela and their settlements. Visit the mystical and historically important Spice Islands in the Banda Archipelago. In addition to the ability to search for traces of the spice trade and colonial history, there is also the chance to climb a well-known volcano and snorkel in awe-inspiring coral reefs. This is a great journey for nature and culture explorers. A full and intensive program for anyone who likes to find "new territories," learn about their history, meet the people who live there and enjoy the many different species of plants and animals both above and below sea level.
Visit Hitu Lama, the ancient port of the Spice Trade that was in use for centuries
Enjoy spectacular snorkeling in the white-sand beaches of Boano Island
Trekking, exploring and bird-watching in Seram
See the Lesser Birds of Paradise in the wild with local guides
Arrived at Kaimana airport, you are taken to the harbor, where the Katharina awaits. Start with a visit to the Commonwealth War Cemetery, where many Allied troops from World war II are buried.Head to the north of the island and visit Hitu Lama, the ancient port of the Spice Trade that was in use for centuries before Europeans made it to the Indies.
Visit the market and see a traditional Balieo house. Also on the tour will be the Waipauwe Mosque (1414), the Immanuel Church (1512), and finally to Fort Amsterdam (1514) one of the first European forts built in Maluku. After this, return to the boat before heading out and on your adventure.
Seram is a remote place of the hilly jungle, which is rarely visited by outsiders, yet your vessel will allow you access to this most fascinating and mysterious island. Visit the village, an oasis in itself, but also a perfect land base for you to make the most of Seram’s stunning northern coast and Manusela National Park.
Spend two days trekking, exploring, and bird-watching in the area before you continue on your course for the famous Raja Ampat Archipelago.
Today, try your best to see the Lesser Birds of Paradise in the wild, an unforgettable experience for anyone lucky enough to see them. Rise around 4 am and have a quick breakfast and go ashore, where local guides will be waiting for you to take you through the forest to hopefully see the birds as they dance around in their ‘lekking’ trees.
On your way back, 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 local women with a fishing practice called sasi. Mid-afternoon set off to the eastern side of Misool to Tomolol Bay.
This morning, 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, tenders will take you to see this partially submerged cave where it is possible to swim or snorkel while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites. Then, move on to the mysterious jellyfish lake and swim amongst the many thousands of stingless animals.
In the afternoon, use tenders to explore 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.
This morning, find yourself in front of the island of Penemu, a dramatic location with a short hilltop. Before sunrise, go on the early morning walk to see the amazing views. Once you are back to the boat you will take the dingies for some great snorkeling on the island’s reefs
Emerge from the cabins in the southwest corner of Kabui Bay next to ‘Wallace’s Channel’ where Wallace emerged after his very challenging sail from Seram. 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 animals (Birgus latro, the world's largest terrestrial arthropod), and you can get up close and personal with these magnificent beasts.
Today the Katharina will make its way through the Dampier strait, home of some of Raja Ampat’s premier reefs. With a bit of luck, snorkel with some of the larger marine life attracted to the strait’s nutrient-rich currents. End your day in front of the small village, where you can easily circumnavigate the tiny island on foot and get a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept alive by the villagers living on this tiny isolated island. This place is also home to a local manta conservation project where volunteers will happily show you around and explain their efforts and programs in more detail.
Wake offshore of Sawinggarai Village. It will be an early morning start as the dinghy takes you in the dark over to the village and a local guide will take you on a 20-minute walk into the forest. As dawn breaks in the forest canopy, 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. Be back on the boat by mid-morning and if time permits you will 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.
Day 10: Sorong | Disembark
After your last breakfast, we will stroll around on dry land at the Doom island with 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.
Back on the boat, say goodbye to the tour leaders, crews, and captain and transfer you to the airport or hotel for your onward flights.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!