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Raja Ampat: Coral Triangle Adventure

Enjoy some of the world’s best snorkeling and watch for whales with expert assistance while cruising aboard the luxurious liveaboard, El Aleph.

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Overview

  • Enjoy daily snorkeling or diving in the wonderland of Raja Ampat while traveling aboard the ultra luxurious pinisi schooner, El Aleph.
  • Cetacean expert Benjamin Kahn will lead us in spotting marine mammals including Bryde’s and sperm whales, and much more.
  • Your participation supports data collection on cetacean habit use data that can drive MPA expansion and further protection of deep water habitats and associated shallow water ecosystems of the Coral Triangle.

Escape for a 12-day adventure to Raja Ampat aboard the luxury ship, El Aleph, and enjoy daily snorkeling or diving in the most biodiverse coral reef ecosystem in the world. Multiple hours will be spent each day immersed in Raja Ampat’s famous and beautiful reefs where cetaceans, manta rays, turtles, and large schools of fish are all frequently sighted. Time will also be devoted in the afternoons to surveying for marine mammals, plus optional morning outings to go birding.

This program is co-led by Benjamin Kahn, a cetacean biologist specializing in the Coral Triangle. From experience, we know that most whales are sighted in the Dampier Strait. Our itinerary aims to maximize marine mammal encounters, and you will get to participate in visual whale surveys, use hydrophones to listen to their unique sounds and, on rare occasions, observe them while snorkeling. All whale survey activity is carried out in a manner designed to ensure that the species and habitat are not disturbed.

Trip Dates & Cost

2020: February 19 – March 1. $9,800 / person + park fees.* Group limit 10 only.

2021: February 22 – March 5. $9,995 / person + park fees.* Group limit 10 only.

* A deluxe master cabin is available at an additional cost. Trip prices do not include international airfare, or in-country airfare from to/from Sorong. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.

Photos
Naturalist

Benjamin Kahn is a cetacean researcher and director of the Coral Triangle Oceanic Cetacean Program for APEX Environmental. He is an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre of Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. Benjamin first worked with Oceanic Society in 2015 aboard our Raja Ampat: Snorkeling and Whale Watching expedition.

Wayne Sentman is our director of conservation travel programs and an Oceanic Society naturalist since 1998. He is an experienced guide with a diverse background in marine mammal, seabird, and marine debris research. Wayne also co-teaches undergraduate field programs in Kenya on human-wildlife conflict and on the use of social media and art to raise public participation in conservation. He recently received a Master's in Environmental Management from Harvard University.

Pete Oxford works in some of the world’s most pristine and remote wildlife and cultural destinations as a full-time professional photographer. His images have appeared in major magazines including National Geographic, Time, Outdoor Photographer, and Smithsonian, and have been featured ten times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. Pete and his wife Reneé also lead expeditions to some of the world’s richest cultures and most biodiverse areas of our planet.

Itinerary

Guests will need to arrive to Jakarta at least one day prior to the start of the expedition. In-country flights to and from Sorong, where our expedition begins and ends, are not included in the trip price, but will be arranged by Oceanic Society. The following itinerary is an example, and is subject to change based on weather and other external factors during our voyage.

Day 0: Arrive into Jakarta
Arrive into Jakarta on your own and stay overnight. If you are originating from North America, please note that you will be crossing the International Date Line. You'll want to arrive at least 24 hours in advance to adjust to the time change and give yourself a buffer period before your flights to Sorong.

Day 1: Jakarta - Sorong, Embark
Today is the official start of our trip. Everyone will board an early morning flight to Sorong, West Papua, where we will be transferred to the privately-chartered and luxurious boat, El Aleph, our home for the next 11 nights. Once everyone is checked in, we will set sail.

Days 2-11: Exploring the Raja Ampat Archipelago
Welcome to Raja Ampat! One of the most diverse, healthy, and colorful underwater regions in the world, where snorkelers and divers can experience incredible fish, corals, and wildlife. We'll spend the next 10 days exploring the region, with time dedicated to morning and afternoon snorkel/dive sessions (generally 4-5 hours per day), as well as expert-facilitated cetacean observations.

We try to keep the day- to- day schedule flexible, based on factors such as wind, weather, tide, and species' behavior and movement. Possible snorkel and dive sites may include reefs adjacent to Waigeo, Batanta, Mansuar, Gam, Fam, Wayag, and Penemu Islands, as well as the Dampier Strait where cetaceans (and manta rays) are most frequently sighted.

There will also be opportunities to explore the maze of paradise islands aboard Zodiacs and in the water, and make a stop to climb Mount Pindito on Wayag Island.

One of the most exciting and unique elements of this expedition is that it has a ‘science’ focus, and there will be dedicated time spent spotting, following, and monitoring various cetacean species, and their behaviors. With luck there may be opportunities to snorkel with the whales.

We will have the opportunity to learn from Benjamin Kahn, an eminent, and renowned cetacean expert, who along with the team, will be gathering data on our sightings to contribute to conservation plans for the region, and globally for migratory species. Those interested can get involved with ‘spotting’ these majestic creatures from the observation deck, so that we can start to understand their behavior.

Day 12: Sorong - Jakarta (or Bali)
At the conclusion of our trip, the group will disembark in Sorong, West Papua and transfer to the airport in time for our flights back to Jakarta (or Bali). Depending on your return flight schedule, you may fly home this evening or stay overnight (on your own). Please inquire about our post-trip extensions to snorkel in North Sulawesi or trek in Borneo.

Accommodations

Our expedition takes place aboard El Aleph, a 40-meter luxury ship purpose-built for exploring the remote and legendary Raja Ampat. From the polished wood finish – more reminiscent of a fine guitar than a phinisi schooner – to the-state-of-the-art electronics and navigation suites, no expense has been spared in providing the ultimate in relaxed, luxury charter. El Aleph features just 5 cabins accommodating a maximum of 10 guests (4 double cabins, 1 master suite), each with en suite facilities, and is staffed by 12 crew members. Multiple decks and a large lounge area offer ample space to spread out and relax, or to dine al fresco as you take in the surrounding views.

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