Saturday, December 29, 2018

Snorkeling and Freediving in Drop-off Reef of Mansinam Island

I have just completed a snorkeling tour in Mansinam island for 2 tourists. They were two girls from United Kingdom and New Zealand. We enjoyed snorkeling and recreational freediving in the drop-off reef. We were accompanied by a student who studied Marine Biology. It was a great experience because we could see a lot of fish and hard corals. Reef flat was around 1 to 2 meters deep. The drop off area was from 2 to 25 meters deep. It was a site that was good for freediving.
New Zealander girl was freediving in Mansinam island of West Papua
New Zealander girl was freediving in Mansinam island
To take pictures I had to freedive to a depth of around 5 meters so that I could be closer to the fish. One of girls, Leyla, practiced her freediving skill too. She descended to a depth of 5 meters. When she was going down to deeper waters, I took some pictures of her. This snorkeling and freediving trip were special experience for them.
Coral reef and fish at sea
Marine Life in Mansinam island
Black-backed Butterflyfish
After exploring the coral reef, we did some hiking tour to Jesus statue located at the top of Mansinam island. We met some pilgrims who were walking up the slopes to see it too.
In the previous day, we went hiking to a hill forest in the north of Manokwari ciry. We saw a lot of millipede, spiders, butterflies, lizard and bats. I saw a terrestrial snake New Guinea Ground Boa - also called Viper Boa (Candoia aspera).
Hiking tour in Manokwari hill forest with two British and New Zealander girls.
Rainforest Tour in Manokwari hill
Direct flight route to Manokwari
Flying route to Manokwari city from Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia)
How to fly to Manokwari city
The adventure tour that I describe above is concentrated in Manokwari - the capital of Papua Barat province in the Republic of Indonesia. You could also take the tour here. What you need is flying to Manokwari city.

  • First, fly from your state to Jakarta, the capital of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • Second, take a domestic flight from Jakarta to Manokwari city. Airlines such as Garuda, Sriwijaya Air, Batik Air provide regular flights to Manokwari. 
  • There are hotels such as Aston Niu, Swissbel, Oriestom Hotel that you could choose to stay.
  • Tickets for your flights and rooms in the hotel can be ordered through traveloka.com
  • I will be happy to meet you at the airport or at the hotel where you stay in Manokwari and then organize your trip both to the forest and to the coral reef areas.

If you are interested in visiting Manokwari to see its coral reef and rainforest, and want me to organise your tour, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by e-mail to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Mansinam Island

Christian pilgrims visit Mansinam island every day.
Mansinam Island
This is Mansinam island in Dorey bay of Manokwari. Every day, it is visited by Christian pilgrims who want to see the sites where German and Dutch missionaries lived between 1800s and early 1900s to preach Gospel for the first time to the indigenous Papuan people.
Approximately half of the island is still covered by green forest that is the habitat of birds, butterflies and reptiles. The coastal areas of Mansinam, especially its southern region, are good for swimming, snorkeling and other water sports activities. I have guided tourists to this tropical island numerous times. We went there to see its villagers, hiked to the top of Mansinam to see Jesus statue, and also went to the beach to see its coral reef.
In the book the Malay Archipelago, Alfred Russel Wallace wrote that he landed on this island and met three German missionaries, Ottow, his wife and Geissler who had been there since 5 February 1855. They were preaching Gospel. Wallace did his research on flora, fauna and natural history of Netherlands New Guinea at that time.
Snorkeling site in Manokwari
Mansinam island
Mansinam now is still attractive for tourists who love marine sports. I often guide tourists to enjoy snorkeling in the coral reef area for visitors who want to see such fish as grouper, boxfish, damselfish, striped surgeonfish, convict surgeonfish, yellow-tail blue devil, three-spots dascyllus, and butterflyfish.
Tourists are highly recommended to bring their own masks, snorkels and fins.

How to go to Mansinam island
  • Fly from your country to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.
  • After that fly from Jakarta to Manokwari - the capital of Papua Barat province. Domestic airlines such as Garuda, Sriwijaya Air, and Batik Air offer regular flights to this city.
  • I can meet you at the airport or hotel where you stay and organize your tour to the island.
Other Snorkeling Spots
As a matter of fact, there are coral reef areas in Manokwari which tourists can visit to enjoy snorkeling. In the northern region, visitors can swim over the coral reef to see Red and Black anemonefish, wrasse, parrotfish and etc. 
Land Tour
In addition to visiting Mansinam island, I also offer hiking, and sightseeing tour to the forest for tourists who like to see birds, butterflies, reptiles, and suburban area of Manokwari. Birdwatching can also be arranged if tourists bring their own binoculars.

Booking
Please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or whatapp: +6281332245180, if you plan to visit Mansinam island or explore other places in West Papua.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Travel to Raja Ampat

Every year the number of visitors who travel to Raja Ampat increases. People go there to see beautiful landscape of the islands, do snorkeling or scubadiving over pristine coral reef and walk inside the forest to watch birds of paradise. There are hundreds of islands in Raja Ampat from the big four: Waigeo, Salawati, Misool and Batanta to the famous Kri, Mansuar, Gam and Arborek. There are also beautiful karsts such as Piaynemo, Wayag and Fish Lagoon.
Drone picture of Raja Ampat
Islands in Raja Ampat
Diving and Snorkeling
Liveaboard diving boats offer diving and sightseeing tour package for visitors who are interested in exploring the remote islands of Raja Ampat. This kind of service is similar to a small floating hotels that provide a relatively comfortable accommodation close to nature. Most of the diving boats are built using wooden materials with designs that have been adapted from the Phinisi sail boat. The cost of traveling with liveaboard boats is expensive.

Staying in Local Guesthouses or beach resorts and Exploring Raja Ampat using small boats

There is also a more affordable way which tourists can choose if they want to explore Raja Ampat. There are tens of guesthouses and beach resorts operating in most of the big islands in Raja Ampat. Visitors can go there and stay at one of them. To enjoy snorkeling, visitors can explore the house reef in front of the guesthouse or hire a boat that can bring them to coral reef areas in other islands. My favorite choice is Isanak beach. It is located in the eastern region of Raja Ampat. I used to guide tourists on snorkeling tour to coral reef areas in Sawondarek, Yenbuba Strait, Five Rocks, West Mansuar, Mamiaef, Kabui, Friwen, and Arborek. They were very good places for snorkeling.

Hiking and Birding

Tourists who like rainforest can explore Raja Ampat to see Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Violet-necked Lory, Great-billed Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Beach Kingfisher, Hooked Bill Kingfisher, Red Bird of Paradise, and Wilson's Bird of Paradise. To enjoy birding and wildlife watching, tourists need to bring their own binoculars and spotting scope. A good hiking boots is also needed especially if the birding activity is done in the forest. I like birding in Raja Ampat because I can see both coastal birds and rainforest birds. For identifying bird, I highly recommend that tourists buy a field guide book: Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt, Bruce Beehler.
Beach Kingfisher (Todiramphus saurophagus)
Beach Kingfisher
There are a lot of species of trees, shrubs, creeping plants, and other vegetation that we can see in Raja Ampat. There are also insects, reptiles and mammals which we can photograph. Rainforest is an interesting site to explore. There are orchid flower plants that grow in the forest including the Tiger orchid or also called Queen of the Orchids (Grammatophyllum spesiosum).
Tiger Orchid(Grammatophyllum spesiosum)
Tiger Orchid
Traveling to uninhabited islands
I offer customized tour for visitors who like adventure. I can organize tour to uninhabited islands whose beaches are in very good condition and ideal for snorkeling. Camping in these uninhabited islands can also be organized. The coral reef is very good. It is located in a place where visitors do not go because of the lack of transportation and information about it on the internet. We could enjoy swimming, camping and snorkeling as well as hiking, birding and wildlife watching. There are some coastal villages which we can visit too.

How to go to Raja Ampat
  • Fly from your country to Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia)
  • Fly from Jakarta to Sorong city. Batik Air and Lion Air operate Airbus 320 on a regular flights to Sorong. Garuda operates Boeing 737 and Bombardier CRJ 1000. Usually, the planes leave Jakarta at night and land in Sorong city early in the morning.
  • I can meet you at the airport and organize your trip to Raja Ampat

Booking

If you plan to travel to Raja Ampat and want me to organize your trip and guide you around the islands, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp: +6281332245180.

Also read:

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.