Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Purple Naped Lory

On the way to Ambon from Bula - the capital of East Seram regency, I met a bird vendor in the Transmigrasi area. That afternoon, the rain had just stopped and the driver stopped the car near a shop to load several sacks of rice. The farmers in the transmigrasi area of East Seram have turned the island into the center of rice production. 
Slowly and surely, sago and tuber roots as the staple food of the Moluccan people are being replaced by rice. It is one thing that should not have happened. The tropical rainforest of Seram that is rich of various species of plants and animals is now getting smaller due to the conversion of thousands of hectares of the forest area into monoculture palm oil plantations. I am really concerned about it. But this is a general phenomenon that occurs not only in the Moluccas but also in many islands in Indonesia that are rich of precious bio-diversity.
I got off from the busto straighten my aching legs. I took the chance from this short stop to urinate at the nearby bush. When I walked out of the bush, I saw the bird seller was standing in front of the bus carrying an arch cane where a black head lory was perching. A passenger approached the bird seller and asked its price. The seller said that it was 1 million rupiahs. 
This price is considered high for local standards. But as someone who has been working in the world eco-tourism business, I consider the price as relatively small or cheap. I can only hope that there will be birdwatching tour operators who are willing to help this bird trader by providing birding trips to the natural habitat of this bird. When writing this article, I try to find the name of this bird on the internet. After searching on the internet for around 2 hours, I managed to get some accurate information about the endangered bird. Its name is Purple-naped Lory (Lorious Domicella). According to CITES, the bird has been put in the Endangered status. It means that this bird may become extinct. Why is it endangered or threatened? Because birds are hunted and traded as cage pets.
Purple-naped Lory in Seram Island
It is sad to see that these birds of Seram island are continuously captured and sold to buyers outside Maluku. Moluccan birds will face extinction soon. 
It's a pity to loose all these important birds of Maluku. Although they look small and weak, they play important role in maintaining the balance of the environment. Birds spread the seeds of fruits that they eat to all corners of the forest. This function as seed dispersers makes Moluccan forests remain green. In addition, coastal birds that eat fish have directly provide natural fertilizer to forests in Seram, Ambon, Buru and other islands in Maluku that were formed from the coral reefs that came out of the sea water due to tectonic pressures. As a result, these rocky islands can now become fertile islands covered by tropical green vegetation.

Birding Tour in Sorong regency of West Papua
Golden Myna (Mino anais)
There is a birding site in Sorong regency called Klasow valley. It is covered by lowland tropical rainforest. Birds such as Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Papuan hornbill, Large Fig Parrot, Black Lory, Magnificent Riflebird, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Lesser Birds of Paradise, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Brahminy Kite, Friarbird, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Dwarf Kingfisher make the forest as their natural habitat.
As a tourist guide, I often organize birding trips to the valley where visitors stay for 3 to 4 days to explore the wealth of avifauna of the forest. However, it is not only birds that we can see while walking in the jungle. There are butterflies such as the Silky Owl (Taenaris catops), Blue Mountain Swallowtail (Papilio ulysses).
Visitors, guided by local vilagers, can also do night walk to see wallaby (a kind of small kangaroo).

How to get there?
  • Fly from your country to Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia)
  • Fly to Sorong city
  • I will meet you at the airport to organize your trip and guide you into the valley.
Cost: Please, contact me by email to: or send your message by whatsapp to my number +6281332245180 for customized itinerary and budget calculation.
by Charles Roring.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ambon is now safe for foreign travelers

I visited Ambon last week. It was a beautiful coastal city. As the capital and gate of Maluku province, Ambon can be reached by airplanes and by PELNI passenger ships. Daily flights served by Lion, Batavia, Sriwijaya connect Ambon with major cities in Indonesia. Open if you want to find ferry that goes to Ambon that is match with your itinerary. From Ambon, you can explore the nearby Seram and Buru islands or fly to Banda to snorkel over the pristine coral reef. As a matter of fact, you can enjoy snorkeling in some small islets near Ambon such as Pulau Tiga (consisting of three islets) and Pulau Pombo. The most famous beach is Natsepa but Liang is the one that is covered with white sandy beach. Those who like hiking will find Mount Salahutu as a nice destination. In Indonesia, Ambonese are known as good singers. You can easily buy CDs of Ambonese songs at music stores in Ambon. 
Ambon is a small but very crowded town. Town dwellers build their houses from coastal areas up to steep slopes in Batu Gantong, Air Salobar and Kuda Mati.

Most of the villages in Ambon are located in the coastal area. Fish are consumed every day. Go to Paradise Resto if you want to eat traditional Moluccan cuisines. If you need a guide to show you interesting places in Ambon city and other places in Central, North and South East Maluku, I recommend that you meet Rudi Fofid. You can contact him by email:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Traveling to Misool islands in Raja Ampat

Most of the visitors who go to Raja Ampat complain about the cost of traveling which they think is very expensive. There are 40 liveaboards (wooden sailing boats) that provide dive services to scuba divers who want to explore the beauty of the underwater world of Raja Ampat. These liveaboards sail throughout Raja Ampat to many of its best dive sites that are located in remote islands of the regency where their coral reefs are still in pristine condition with high marine biodiversity. Most of these liveboards are equipped with satellite phones which tourists can use in emergency situation to contact their loved ones. Each guest room is Air Conditioned. At the stern of the boat, modern dive equipment has been prepared by dive masters and boat crews ready to be used by guests. Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and snacks are served regularly. That's the main reason why the cost of traveling with liveaboards is considered very high. However, you will get what you have paid for.
If you are a person who are adventurous and want to see the islands backpacking, I can provide you with some  simple explanation. 
The cheapest way to explore Raja Ampat
Traveling to Waisai (the capital of Raja Ampat regency) can easily be done by fast boat from Sorong. The usual rate is Rp. 120,000 (one hundred twenty thousand rupiahs). Another destination that I highly recommend is the Misool islands that are located in the south of the regency. KM Sabuk Nusantara 32 sails regularly from Sorong to Yellu/ Harapan Jaya in Misool. After that the ship passes through tens of small islands of Misool to Bula in East Seram. This vessel connects the Sourthern areas of Raja Ampat regency with East Seram. In East Seram, KM Sabuk Nusantara 32 visits Bula, Geser, Gorom, and Kesui. Then she will continue her trip to Fakfak, Kaimana and Timika. Go to Pelabuhan Rakyat in Sorong to find boats that go to other islands in Raja Ampat. So, don't be sad if you cannot afford for a diving package offered by various liveaboards on the internet. You can still see the natural beauty of Raja Ampat in a much cheaper price that is more suitable to your pocket.

Because the vessel goes only to Harapan Jaya in Misool islands, you will not be able to go to remote islands that have been famous as diving destinations. You can still enjoy snorkeling in the coral reef in the islands near Yellu or Harapan Jaya. Contact local fishermen to help you find the reefs.
Another world class travel destination in West Papua is the Iris strait and Triton bay of Kaimana. The underwater environment of the Iris strait is unique because it is mostly covered by soft coral. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Best Snorkeling Spots in Manokwari

Snorkeling is a healthy water sport that can improve your body metabolism and widen your knowledge about the marine environment. Manokwari, the capital of West Papua province of Indonesia, has got several  snorkeling spots that are suitable for anybody who wants to explore the natural beauty of the underwater world of tropical sea. As a tour guide, I frequently accompany tourists who want to enjoy snorkeling along the coastal areas of this town. Here are some of my best spots:
Anggresi - located at the foot of Arfak mountains, the coral reef of Anggresi is a world class snorkeling and diving destination. It takes around 40 minutes to reach the spot by a motorized outrigger boat. The marine environment in this spot is still in its pristine condition. Because of its remoteness, very few people have snorkeled in Anggresi. Hard corals and ornamental fish such as the striped surgeon fish, butterfly fish and parrot fish can be seen at depths between 1.5 to 7 meters. If you do the snorkeling or diving in this spot, you need to equip your camera with flashlight. Flashlight can improve the quality of your underwater photographs. Don't snorkel too close to the beach or high swell will push you into the hard and sharp rocks of the corals.
Asai - Go to this place if you want to relax for several days or weeks in Manokwari. Here, the sea is your front yard where as tropical rainforest is your back yard. From hiking in the jungle to snorkeling in the coral reef, you  can enjoy them both in Asai. I really like this place because its seascape is really beautiful. There is a wooden house overlooking the blue sea.
A Dutch family who owns the house has provided two rooms for visitors who want to rent them. The rate per night for two people is Rp. 300,000. The owner plants a lot of tropical flowers around the house including hibiscus, heliconia golden torch. In the morning, when the sky is clear and the sunlight hits the fresh flowers which have just bloomed, butterflies, and bees come to collect the nectar. Visitors who are interested in taking a hiking tour in the jungle will be able to see dendrobium orchids and other tropical flowers along banks of the Asai river.
Raimuti - this is also a nice spot for snorkelers who want to see colorful reef fish that thrive just outside Manokwari town. The reef extends from north to south for around 500 meters from Raimuti island parallel with the beach of Arfai towards Arfak mountains. Pristine coral reef can only be accessed by boat.
Mansinam Island - this is relatively a nice snorkeling spot for travelers who are traveling on a budget. Bring your own snorkeling mask and fins. To go to the island, just take a water taxi in Ketapang boat harbor of Kwawi. The normal rate for each passenger of the boat is Rp. 3,000. The best snorkeling spot in Mansinam is along the southern area of the island. Coconut trees, pandanus and beach hibiscus flower plant grown near the white sandy beach of Mansinam. I also see some flower plants that look like canna.
Manim islet - you need more efforts to reach this spot. First, you have to go to Numfor island (by airplane 20 minutes or by ferry boat 5 hours). Then you need to continue your trip to Warido village where you can rent a boat to bring you to Manim. From Numfor to Manim, you will spend 1 hour. Bring extra batteries if you want to take as many pictures of fish and coral reef in the island as you like. Beautiful tropical birds like to perch on the branches of trees that grow in this tiny island.
Manim's waters are rich of marine life. by Charles Roring