Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Birds of Paradise Raja Ampat

Birds of Paradise such as Paradisaea rubra and Diphyllodes respublica can be found in Waigeo, Gam and Batanta islands. Glossy Manucode (Manucodia ater), another species of bird of paradise whose feather is plain black, lives in the whole territory of Raja Ampat. They are not considered as important target by birdwatchers. Visitors usually choose Waigeo because they can easily go by fast passenger ferry that go back and forth between Sorong city and Waisai town twice a day. 
Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) can easily be watched in the coastal area. I often see the male and female birds at Warduwer beach where they eat fruits especially in the mornings and late afternoons (before sunset). For Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Diphyllodes respublica), it lives deeper in the rainforest.
Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) in southern region of Waigeo island
Red Bird of Paradise
Wilson's Bird of Paradise in Waigeo island
Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Diphyllodes respublica)
Several places have become an important birdwatching destinations in Raja Ampat. Saporkren is the famous one. For me, personally, I organize my tours to rainforest close to Kabui bay. I combine this rainforest birding trip to this site with snorkeling and sightseeing tours by boat. There is no road that we can use to reach the birding ground. So, we use motorized boats. I also organize birding trips to eastern and north-eastern regions of Waigeo. Usually, the birdwatching trips to this places are combined with village tour, riverwalk tour, swimming, and turtle watching activities. Tourists like them because they could  meet local people, watch birds and enjoy the beautiful nature of Raja Ampat.
Dutch lady was enjoying snorkeling to see coral reef and tropical fish.
Snorkeling in Raja Ampat
For other species such as Paradisaea minor; Seleucidis melanoleucus; and Cicinnurus regius, they can be found in Salawati and Misool islands. However, because these birds can be found in mainland West Papua, most tourists watch them in the mainland. 

Birdwatching in Mainland West Papua
From Sorong city, tourists can take a 4WD car to Klasow valley and enjoy birdwatching in the villages of Klatomok, and Malagufuk. Klatomok is more suitable for elderly people or those who cannot walk for hours in the jungle because it is a roadside village. Because birding activity is carried out in rainforest, I cannot fully guarantee that visitors will be able to see all the target birds that I mention above. There are other birds that live in Klasow valley including Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Northern Cassowary, Lowland Peltop, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Blyth's Hornbill, and a lot more.
Another alternative is Tambrauw regency which is located further to the east. It takes around 5 hours to reach Fef which is the capital of the regency. I highly recommend that tourists go birding accompanied by birding guides who really know the areas. Ayapokiar village located deeper in Tambrauw mountains is the destination for avid birders.


Tambrauw is a great destination for birdwatching. Visitors should travel in a group of three to four people to share the cost of transportation.  Another alternative of traveling to Ayapokiar is by plane from Manokwari city to Kebar, tourists need to continue overland to District Senopi and then by 4wd car from Senopi to Ayapokiar. Susi Air operates Cessna Caravan 208 between Manokwari and Kebar several times a week. Tickets can be bought at the airport. There is a good guesthouse in Ayapokiar so visitors could stay in the village for several days and do day tours to the forest. The road in this remote mountainous region is empty. It is a very nice birdwatching site.

Also read:
Birdwatching Trip to Raja Ampat
Birding and Snorkeling Tours in Raja Ampat islands
Bird Tour in Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat Birds
Raja Ampat Birding
Snorkeling and Watching Birds of Paradise in Raja Ampat

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Raja Ampat in July

July is the month where a lot of travelers want to go to Raja Ampat to spend their vacation. As a matter of fact the sea is full of waves particularly in south and central regions of the archipelago. I used to guide a Dutch lady in July. We went to southern region of Waigeo and stayed at a homestay near the entrance area to Kabui bay. Although the sea was quite protected, we could still experience waves. Snorkeling was possible only in the morning. Sometimes,  We did a tour by a motorized wooden boat around Kabui bay. The waves were quite strong. We used outrigger boat. We went to karst in the bay to see the scenery and enjoyed some birdwatching. Waves hit us from the bow when we were heading back to the homestay. All our clothing was wet. The boat crews was busy taking out water from inside the hull using a small water dipper.
Orange-skunk anemonefish, Three-spots Dascyllus and damselfish
Orange-skunk Anemonefish
Although the wind and the waves were quite strong at the beach, when I did freediving at a depth of 2 to 5 meters, the visibility was quite good. I could still make pictures of coral reef and marine life. I used a small action camera Brica B-Pro 5 Alpha Edition. It was not the best camera for underwater photography but it was good enough for snorkelers who want to have an affordable underwater photographic device.
Karst in Kabui bay of Gam island
Karst inside Kabui bay of Raja Ampat
For those who want to explore the tropical rainforest in Raja Ampat, july is a perfect month. Orchids, tropical plants, reptiles, mammals, birds and insects can be seen while we walk in the jungle. As a tour guide, I organize birdwatching tour to Raja Ampat all year round, even in late June, July and September when the waves are big. There are a lot of birds that we can watch including Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Great-billed Parrot, Violet-necked Lory, Red-cheeked Parrot, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Hooded Butcherbird, Beach Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Willie Wagtail, Torresian Crow, Pacific Swallow, White-breasted Woodswallow, Wimbrel, Brahminy Kite, White-belly Sea Eagle, and a lot more.
Birdwatching activity can be done using binoculars, and spotting scope.
North coast of Wageo island Photo by Charles Roring
North coast of Wageo
Which places you could visit in July?
You could visit places in Raja Ampat that are not directly exposed to sea current and waves that come from south-east or south-west directions. So, doing land tours in Waigeo, Salawati or Batanta will be ok. However, transport vehicles are not always available especially for big boats that go to Salawati and Batanta. Regular passenger ferry go to Misool, and Waigeo. There are also ships that go to Kofiau. Coastal villages in northern region of Waigeo have got calm waters in July, August and September. It is a suitable place for swimming, fishing, and wildlife watching in the forest.
Booking
The spread of Covid-19 around the world is still going on. If the threat of this virus has stopped and tourism activities can be continued again, anyone will be allowed to visit Raja Ampat again.
If you are interested in traveling to Raja Ampat and want me to organize your tour and accompany you, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by e-mail to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180

Also read:
Raja Ampat Birds
Snorkeling and Watching Birds of Paradise in Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat beach

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Raja Ampat Archipelago Region

The regency of Raja Ampat archipelago is located in Papua Barat province in the Republic of Indonesia. There are 4 big islands, i.e. Waigeo, Salawati, Misool and Batanta as well as hundreds of smaller tropical islands. Because the islands are located close to equator, it receives sunlight all year round. Ocean Current that flows between the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean through seas in Indonesia have become an ideal environment for marine life to thrive in Raja Ampat.
Coral reef in Mioskon island photo: Charles Roring
Coral reef in Raja Ampat
Every year thousands of visitors from Europe, the North America, Asia, and Australia go to Raja Ampat to enjoy sightseeing, swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Significant number of visitors go there to explore the biodiversity of its rainforest.
Where to stay? Most of the homestays, guesthouses and beach resorts can be found in Google Map.
When visitors go to Raja Ampat to enjoy their vacations, they will need comfortable accommodation. There are tens of guesthouses locally called "homestay." Some in Kri island include: Yenkorano, Mangkurkodon, Turtle homestay.  In Waigeo island, near Waisai town, there are Kakatua Hostel, Yendebabo, Mamatua Homestay, Wapnansan Homestay, Mandos Guesthouse, and Yengkawe, and Yensner. West off Waigeo - in YefMo island, there is Sea Fans Homestay
In Gam Island, there are Yensrai Homestay, Monkairi Homestay, Yenros Homestay, Yenanas Paradise Homestay, Monkairi Homestay.
For beach resorts, along the coast of Waigeo, there are Raja Ampat Dive Resort, Scuba Republic Beach Bungalow, Hamu Eco, Gurara Dive Resort, Waiwo Dive Resort, Waigeo Villa, TPK 48, Korpak Villa and Resort, Coral Paradise Resort.  In Urai island, there is Raja Ampat Doberai Eco Resort. It is not far from Raja Ampat Biodiversity Ecoresort in Gam island.

Piaynemo Karst in Fam islands
Piaynemo Karst in Raja Ampat
Marine Life
Raja Ampat Archipelago has been famous around the world as the region that has got the richest marine biodiversity in the world. According to Wikipedia, there are 1,508 species of fish, 537 coral species, and 699 mollusk species. As more exploration of the sea of Raja Ampat is being conducted, more species of marines creatures may be found in the future. This wealth of marine biodiversity attracts thousands of recreational divers, students, and scientists to see, study and admire its beauty.
table coral in Mansuar island
A huge table coral in Mansuar island where other corals grow on it
Snorkeling and scuba diving is the main activity which tourists like to do when they go to Raja Ampat. There are hundreds of dive sites which they can explore.
Snorkeling in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Snorkeling in Raja Ampat

Rainforest
Tropical rainforest that covers Raja Ampat islands are the natural habitat of a lot of species of plants, birds, insects, mammals, and reptiles. These are important attraction for visitors who like to explore the biodiversity of forest. In general green vegetation in the islands of Raja Ampat is devided into 4 types, i.e. mangrove forest, coastal forest, pseudo montane forest, and montane forest. Pseudo montane forest can be seen mostly in the slopes of most of the small islands of Raja Ampat. Since the top soil of the ground insvery thin, and the beneath it is mostly hard rocks or fossils of corals, the forest is not dense and the diameter of the trees are not big. This is different if we go deeper into the interior region of Salawati, and the mountainous regions of Waigeo, Misool and Batanta where soil layer is thicker. The trees are usually big and dense. This dense tropical rainforest that is rich in wildlife is included the zones of conservation area or nature reserve.
Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) in Waigeo island
Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra)

Rainforest tours to Raja Ampat has been increasingly more popular especially among birdwatchers and wildlife photographers. Most of them take the tours to watch Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) and Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Diphyllodes respublica) as well as a lot of other tropical birds that are endemic to West Papua region.
Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus respublica)
Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Diphyllodes respublica)
What to bring?

  • Sunglasses, clothing for swimming, snorkeling or beach walk or hiking in the forest will be needed for traveling in Raja Ampat. Visitors who like marine sport activities will need snorkeling mask, snorkel and fins. For those who like to explore rainforest and observe wildlife, hiking shoes, binoculars and zoom cameras will be needed for such activities.
  • Anti insect and sunblock lotions or oils.
  • Traveling around hundreds of tropical islands is fun but can be challenging because of sunny weather. While doing snorkeling or sightseeing excursions by boats or on foot, visitors need to bring bottled water, biscuits or dietary supplements. Vitamin C, B6 and E are important for enhancing one's immune system.

How to get to Raja Ampat?
  • If you live in, for example, Holland or Germany, you need to fly from your country to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. 
  • Continue your trip to Sorong city by taking a domestic flight provided by Garuda, Batik Air, Sriwijaya Air.
  • I could meet you and organize your trip to Raja Ampat.
Raja Ampat islands are in the Republic of Indonesia
Raja Ampat is a regency in Indonesia
Please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or whatsapp to: +6281332245180 if you want me to organize your trip to Raja Ampat and guide you to enjoy sightseeing, snorkeling and birdwatching/ rainforest tours.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Raja Ampat Reef Fish

Raja Ampat archipelago region has got the highest marine biodiversity in the world. It is a must see destination for visitors who like to see various species of reef fish. When I go to the islands for guiding tourists, I always provide enough time to do snorkeling and freediving. I have got a Fujifilm XQ2 with its waterproof case that allows me to take pictures and videos of reef fish, and other marine creatures that live in coral reef. Sunlight in general can effectively reach 15 to 20 meters below the surface. These are depths where marine life is abundant.
Anemonefish in coral reef of Raja Ampat
False Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in coral reef of Waigeo island
Raja Ampat archipelago
Based on my personal observations of traveling and doing scuba diving or snorkeling in eastern and southern areas of Waigeo island especialy in Mamiaef, Waim, Saporkren, Kabui bay, Kri, Yenbuba Strait, Mansuar, Arborek, Piaynemo, abundant fish can be seen in coral reefs that are less exposed to human activities or in areas where there is current. Kofiau is another important group of islands where the wealth of marine biodiversity is well preserved. In Misool, marine protected areas are the place where reef fish thrive.
Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi) and Lemon Damsel (Pomacentrus moluccensis)  Photo: Charles Roring
Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi) and Lemon Damsel (Pomacentrus moluccensis)
Small-toothed whiptail (Pentapodus caninus)  Photo: Charles Roring
Small-toothed Whiptail in Raja Ampat
Dolphins, whales, Manta, Giant Trevally can be seen in area along the waters of Waigeo, Dampier Strait, near Arborek and between Mansuar and Gam islands. Tasseled Wobbegong and Black Tip Shark thrive in Yenbuba strait and most of the fore reef sites of most of Raja Ampat islands. For much smaller fish such as Striped Surgeonfish, Damselfish, Pink Anemonefish, Orange skunk Anemonefish, Butterflyfish, Blenny, Angelfish, Box Fish, Knifefish and Moorish Idol, they can be seen in most of the coral reef of the archipelago.
Moorish Idol and Butterflyfish from Waigeo island
Moorish Idol and Butterflyfish in coral reef of Waigeo island

Birdwatching and Snorkeling
I spent 5 days/ 4 nights doing birdwatching and snorkeling in Raja Ampat recently. I guided Michael - a tourist from the United States. It was a nice trip because we were able to see Red Bird of Paradise, Wilson's Bird of Paradise, Blyth's Hornbill, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Coconut Lorikeet, Red-cheeked Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Beach Kingfisher, Dusky Scrubfowl, Mimic Meliphaga, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Hooded Butcherbird, Moustached Tree Swift, Pacific Swallow, White-breasted Woodswallow, Olive-backed Sunbird (now also called Sahul Sunbird), Tern, Lesser Frigatebird, Torresian Crow, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Eastern Osprey, and etc.
Wilson's Bird of Paradise
Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus respublica)
I brought a 20-60×60 spotting scope, a good pair of binoculars, and a Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600mm telephoto lens. For snorkeling and freediving, I only brought a mask and a snorkel with my underwater camera. I didn't bring my swim fins to minimize the weight of my travel bag. This equipment greatly enhanced our birding experience. I also was able to take good photos both above and under water.
If you are interested in taking snorkeling and birding tour in Raja Ampat with me as your guide, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.