Thursday, December 6, 2018

Adventure in Raja Ampat

Adventure tour for snorkeling and birding as well as sightseeing in Raja Ampat
Adventure in Raja Ampat
As a tourist guide, I offer adventure tours for tourists who are interested in exploring the islands, beaches, coral reef, karst and rainforest of Raja Ampat. The tour will be started from Sorong city which is the gate to the islands. We will cross the sea by fast boat, first, to Waisai town (the capital of Raja Ampat regency). It takes around 2 hours to reach it. After that we will go to a guesthouse located at the beach.
After the long boat trip, we could take a rest for 1 hour to refresh our body. We can enjoy snorkeling and freediving at the house reef of the guesthouse. Participants of this tour need to bring their own mask, snorkel and fins.

Snorkeling, freediving and Taking Pictures and Videos Underwater

Sweetlips and reef fish in Raja Ampat
Diagonal Sweetlips
A good underwater camera or action camera is also useful for taking pictures of the coral reef, fish, blue sea star and other marine creatures in the water. I personally use Nikon Coolpix W300 or Fujifilm XQ2 with waterproof housing. In the past, I used an action camera, Brica B-Pro5 Alpha Edition. Taking pictures underwater is quite challenging especially for those who do freedive for the first time. There are waves, water current. The light in coral reef is less than on land. Freedivers usually use weights to help them go into deeper water. I don't use weights. The maintain a stable position while taking pictures in the water, I hold my breath for a little bit more than one minute and then hold a hard coral with my left hand. My right hand will be then one that holds the camera and press the shutter button.
There are a lot of species of fish which snorkelers and freedivers can see in the coral reef including damselfish, goatfish, black-tip reef shark, trevally, wrasse, parrotfish, blenny, gobby, dottyback, puffer, frogfish, and a lot more. To take pictures of them, I position myself as lower or flat as possible in the water so that I will be on the same eye level with the fish. This is quite difficult because of the buoyant force that pushes me to the surface. Holding rock, and making my body as calm as possible will help me to attract fish. When fish are closer and within a good shooting distance, I will aim my camera and shoot them. After spending around 1 hour snorkeling and freediving, we will go back to the beach and take a rest.

Birding

Male Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra)
Red Bird of Paradise
In the evening, just before the sun disappears in the west, we can see more activity of birds in the forest edge. Birds such as Eclectus Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Palm Cockatoo, Red-cheeked Parrot, Great-billed Parrot, Violet-necked Lory, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Sacred Kingfisher, and Willie Wagtail are quite active along the forest edge and coastal area.
Visitors need a good pair of binoculars to watch them. I personally use Visionking 10×42mm to watch birds. The famous brands that birdwatchers use are Swarovski, Leica, Nikon. Bringing a spotting scope with a tripod will also enhance the birdwatching experience.

Sightseeing Tour

Adventure trip to Piaynemo karst
Piaynemo Karst
The next few days will be spent in various parts of Raja Ampat. We will go by boat to karst islets that are quite far from the guesthouse where we stay. We will also visit sand bank located at sea, and swim at the beach of tropical islands. A trip to a coastal village can also be organized. Because most of this trip will be conducted by boat, participants of the tour must bring waterproof bags that can protect their cameras and other electronic devices during the trip.
Raja Ampat islands and Papua as a whole are beautiful. There is a pop song in Indonesia whose lyrics say: Surga Kecil yang Jatuh ke Bumi meaning Little Heaven that falls on earth.
It is important for us to preserve its rainforest and marine environment. Ecotourism is one of the solutions that can generate alternative income to the local people. When people get positive benefits from this environment, they will protect it.

Booking
If you are interested in traveling to Raja Ampat and want me (Charles Roring) to organize your tour in these islands, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.
Also read:
Tour to Uninhabited islands of Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat Adventure Tour for Nature Lovers
Raja Ampat Adventure Tour

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Raja Ampat Snorkeling Review

Raja Ampat is considered as the best destination for visitors who like snorkeling, freediving and scubadiving. The marine biodiversity of this archipelago is the richest in the world with thousands of tropical reef fish and marine animals that live in pristine coral reef. As a tourist guide, I often organize tours to Raja Ampat for visitors who want to spend 3 days to 1 week snorkeling and sightseeing around the islands.
Marine environment in coral reef of Waigeo island
Marine Life in the coral reef of Warduwer beach, Waigeo island
Snorkeling Sites
There are a lot of snorkeling sites in the regency that I like. Some of them include the coral reef areas in southern coast of Waigeo, Waim island, Mamiaef island, Friwen wall, Five Rocks, Kabui bay, Yenbuba strait, Cape Kri, western region of Mansuar, Gam island, and an island at the front of Piaynemo. There are a lot of fish in Yenbuba strait but the current is quite strong especially during the transitions between low and high tides. 
From my personal snorkeling experience with tourists, I consider the island in front of Piaynemo is my favorite choice for experienced snorkelers. Big fish including sharks can be seen in coral reef area. 
Arborek island has got snorkeling spots that are quite good but the jetty of the island is often crowded with speedboats that make the island as a rest area before and after visiting Piaynemo.
Coral reef in Sawondarek used to be one of the best snorkeling sites in Mansuar island. Unfortunately, the area around the jetty suffer from serious damaged due to waves and boat activities during low tide.
small rock islands in Raja Ampat archipelago
Karst islets in Raja Ampat
In southern coast of Waigeo, Warduwer beach and Yengkawe beach are my recommended site. However, experienced snorkelers and freedivers will choose Warduwer because of its drop off reef that is scary but rich of marine life. A beach resort will soon be constructed at this site. 
Five rocks are also rich in fish but the visibility is often poor due to constant waves and current that hit the rocks. For visitors who prefer secluded beach and exclusive snorkeling trip, Isanak beach in Waim and southern coast of Mamiaef island are excellent choice. There, snorkelers can enjoy camping for several nights to see the beauty of marine life in the uninhabited islands. Very few local guides know the existence of this beach. 
Snorkeling Device
Although Raja Ampat has been famous as one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world, it does not have local manufacturers that can make various kinds of snorkeling devices. So, visitors who want to go there must bring their own snorkeling mask, snorkel, fins, swimsuit, and underwater camera. 
If you are interested in taking a snorkeling vacation in Raja Ampat and want me to be your snorkeling buddy or guide, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or whatsapp: +6281332245180.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Raja Ampat Guided Snorkeling Tours

Karst islets in Raja Ampat archipelago of Indonesia
Raja Ampat has become my favorite destination when I guide visitors on various snorkeling tours in the regency. I usually go to the archipelago with some tourists and stay in one of the resorts or homestays. From that place, we will visit islands where coral reefs are in very good condition to enjoy snorkeling, sightseeing and even birdwatching. We usually spend between 3 to 5 days to see a lot of species of tropical fish and other marine animals. Some of them were Pink-Anemonefish, Striped Surgeonfish, Butterflyfish, Sweetlips, Blacktip Shark, Moorish Idol, Three-spots Dascyllus, Sweetlips, and grouper.
A special trip by motorized boat could also be arranged for visitors who want to enjoy sightseeing in Kabui bay, Piaynemo or Wayag, Sandbank, and Mansuar, Friwen wall, and the passage between Waigeo and Gam island.
Tropical Fish
Marine Life in Raja Ampat
Visitors need to bring their own masks, snorkel and fins if they want to enjoy the beautiful underwater scenery of Raja Ampat.
The marine tours are usually carried out by speed boat or motorized wooden boat to islands that are located within one or two hours trips from the resort or guesthouse where we stay.
Marine Environment in Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat reef and Fish
The number of participants of the tours are from 1 or 2 to 6 or 8 people. Sometimes I guide more tourists. For safety reason, tourists are advised to wear snorkeling jackets that we provide. Snorkelers will be able to keep afloat on the coral reef that is a fragile environment.
In addition to snorkeling, freediving, and sightseeing, your trip to these islands can be combined with birdwatching. Birds such as Red Bird of Paradise, and Wilson's Bird of Paradise are important targets. There are also other interesting birds which visitors can see during the tour including Eclectus Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Palm Cockatoo, Eastern Osprey, and Brahminy Kite, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Red-cheeked Parrot, Hooded Butcherbird, Beach Kingfisher, Coconut Lorikeet and a lot more. Most birdwatchers bring their own binoculars.

Getting to Raja Ampat

You need to take international flight from your country to Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia). After that you could continue your trip to Sorong city. Most Domestic airlines in Indonesia such as Garuda, Sriwijaya, Nam Air, Batik Air and Lion Air provide regular flights to Sorong.
Alternative route: You could fly to Singapore. After that, by Silk Air you could fly to Manado city (the capital of the Province of North Sulawesi). There are regular flights by one of the above airlines to Sorong city. I could organize your trip from Sorong to Raja Ampat islands.
If you are interested in visiting Raja Ampat and want me to organize your trip, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.
Also read:

Friday, November 23, 2018

Snorkeling Pictures from Raja Ampat

Recently I visited Waigeo island of Raja Ampat to enjoy snorkeling and birding. I spent 4 days/ 3 nights exploring the reef and rainforest of the tropical island. It was a nice experience because I could see a lot of fish such as surgeonfish, damselfish, yellow tail blue devil, pink anemonefish, parrotfish, moorish idol, wrasse, butterflyfish and a lot more.
Snorkeling photo from Waigeo island
Marine Life in Raja Ampat
The coral reef that I explored was located in the south of Waigeo island particularly at Warduwer beach. The length of the beach was around 200 meters with fine white sand covering it. To avoid stepping on the reef flat areas, I went to the drop off side by an outrigger canoe. A villager paddled the small boat for me.
Freediving photo from drop off reef of Waigeo island
Underwater picture from Raja Ampat

My snorkeling gear was a pair of swimfins, a snorkeling mask and snorkel. All of them had Whale logo as the brand name. They were comfortable to wear on my feet, face and mouth.
Hard coral at the drop off edge of Warduwer beach of Waigeo island
Coral Reef in Waigeo
For taking pictures underwater, I used Nikon Coolpix W300 and Fujifilm XQ2. I did not bring dive watch to measure how deep I went into the water. The visibility was very good and the reef was abundant with fish.
I preferred drop off to reef flat because in deeper water, I had more freedom of moving in the water. I could also see big fish in drop off reef. Actually, the pictures in this blog post were made when I was around 2 to 7 meters below the sea surface. So, it could be considered as freediving.
If you are interested in snorkeling in Raja Ampat and want me to organize your tour, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by text to my whatsapp: +6281332245180.
Related Post:
Snorkeling and Hiking Tour in Raja Ampat
Tour to Raja Ampat Karst
Raja Ampat is the best snorkeling destination