Friday, May 31, 2019

Snorkeling at RAFLOW Resort of Raja Ampat

RAFLOW stands for Raja Ampat Flow. It is the name of a beach resort that us being built in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat. I went snorkeling at this beach yesterday.  I brought an underwater camera - Nikon W300 to take pictures of fish and other marine animals that I saw in the water.


Marine Life at the house reef of Raflow Resort
Marine Life at the beach of RAFLOW resot
The coral reef at the front waters of RAFLOW resort is in very good condition. There were a lot of fish including parrotfish, butterflyfish, rabbitfish, anemonefish, surgeonfish, damselfish, lionfish and even wobbegong. 
The visibility was also very nice. I tried several settings of the camera to see the ones that are suitable for snorkeling or freediving. The fish symbol or the underwater mode is not always the best setting. I swam slowly from the beach to the reef flat area. Most of the fish here was small. When I moved closer to buttress zone and drop off zones of the reef, I could see bigger fish.
Tropical Fish in the waters of RAFLOW Resort
There were around 3 species of anemonefish that I found. They were Pink Anemonefish, Spinecheek Anemonefish and Red and Black Anemonefish. To take pictures of them, I had to freedive and hold rock coral. While my left hand was holding the coral, my right hand was busy pressing the shutter buttons of the camera to capture beautiful marine life in front of me.
Pink Anemonefish
I spent around two and a half hours in the water in two snorkeling sessions. In the evening which is the sunset time, the surrounding atmosphere of the resort was very peaceful.
White Sandy Beach at RAFLOW Resort
Birds such as Willie Wagtail, Mimic Honeyeater, Torresian Crow, Hooded Butcherbird, Helmetted Friarbird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and several other birds were singing in trees or in the air. RAFLOW Resort is a nice place for visitors who want to enjoy holiday in Indonesia. They can swim and do snorkeling or freediving as much as they like. They can also watch birds which are also colorful and beautiful.
If you are interested in taking a holiday at Raja Ampat Flow Resort, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp: +6281332245180.

Monday, May 27, 2019

My Freediving Photos from Raja Ampat

I often guide tourist on a snorkeling tours to Raja Ampat. During the tours, I could take a lot of pictures and coral reef. To make high quality photos, I need to be on the same eye level with my subject. It means I have to freedive to deeper water.
Here are some photos that I made in Warduwer beach of Waigeo island in Raja Ampat
Freediving Picture from Raja Ampat

Freediving Picture from Raja Ampat archipelago
Raja Ampat Underwater
If you are looking for a guide for your snorkeling and birding tour in Raja Ampat, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or whatsapp: +6281332245180.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Kingdom of Nemo

I frequently guide tourists on snorkeling trips to coral reef areas in Raja Ampat, Tambrauw, and Manokwari. The objective of the trips is to find and see various species of beautiful and colorful tropical fish. The fish that I and tourists like to see is anemonefish. There are several species of nemo.
red and black neno
Red and Black Anemonefish
In the waters of Yengkawe homestay and Raflow Beach Resort of Raja Ampat, I see Pink Anemonefish. In northern coast of Manokwari, the ones that I often see are Red and Black Anemonefish. Yesterday I went to the same beach to enjoy snorkeling again. When I walked into the waters, it was in low tide. As usual, I carried my digital camera Fujifilm XQ2. I had inserted it into its waterproof case.
Slowly I swam away from the beach. There were Striped-surgeonfish, Yellow-tailed Blue Devil Fish, Butterflyfish, Rabbitfish on the reef flat area. As I moved closer to deeper water, I saw more varieties.
red and black anemonefish
Kingdom of Nemo
There was a huge boomie that was located in deeper water. I went there. Because it was in low tide, the distance of the top of the boomie from sea surface was around 2.5 meters. So, it was easy for me to freedive. With the camera in my right hand, I decended to the boomie. I had visited it a few times. So, it was not a new thing for me. Its top was covered by anemone. I found a hard coral where I could grab to stabilize my body in the water. It was a cauliflower coral that was strong and would not easily brake. I pulled myself deeper to be in eye level position with the anemone. There were a lot of fish around me. I did not want to waste my time down here. So, I quickly aimed my camera at the fish and made a lot of shots. Most of the nemo fish were Red and Black Amemonefish. I called this boomie as Kingdom of Nemo.
yellow nemo fish
Spinecheek Anemonefish
When I was busy exploring the boomie, I found another different species of nemo playing on some anemone inside a crevice of lettuce coral colony. It looked like a Spine-cheek Anemonefish. Interestingly the fish was much smaller. The edges of its fins were yellow. Its body was dark yellow with three vertical white bars covering its front, middle and rear sides. The one that I saw in Mansinam island was significantly bigger with strong maroon color.
For one hour in the water, I saw a lot of species of marine creatures including the sexy Burrowing Clam, Crab, and Leopard Blenny. My snorkeling experience that day was very nice. The sea was calm and the visibility was good. I could upload new photos and stories to this blog.
If you are interested in taking a snorkeling tour in Raja Ampat, Tambrauw and Manokwari regencies of Indonesia, and want me to be your guide, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

leopard blenny fish
Leopard Blenny
Burrowing clam in reef rock
Burrowing Clam
Clownfish are attractive for visitors who are avid snorkelers. They are colorful, easy to be watched, and are not affected by the venom from the "hair" of the sea anemone. The symbiotic mutualism relationship is nice to be watched. Anemone provides protection to the nemo fish from predators. Its poisonous tentacles are safe nest for nemo. On the other side, movements of clownfish swimming through and wedging inside the anemone has improved the circulation of water as well as supply of air to the anemone. Clownfish cleans anemone by eating leftover meals from its tentacles, so, he is a carpet expert. Charles Roring/ 20 May 2019.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sightseeing and Birdwatching in Kabui Karst

There are a lot of karst islets inside Kabui bay of Raja Ampat. I often travel around this bay by boat when I guide tourists on sightseeing and birdwatching trip in West Papua. Because of its remote location, very few people like to see them. 
Karst in Kabui bay
For birdwatchers, birding in the karst of Kabui bay is a challenging adventure. Holding binoculars and watching birds while standing on a small boat are quite difficult especially when the sea is a little rough. There are some beaches which can be used as good sites for birding. My favorite choice is Lesser Urai island and the beaches of Gam island that face Kabui bay. I can use my spotting scope at this beach. Sea birds such as White-breasted Woodswallow, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Beach Kingfisher, Willie Wagtail, Pacific Swallow as well as Lesser-crested Tern, Lesser Frigatebird, Striated Heron, and Eastern Osprey are the ones that I often see in the coastal area of Kabui. 
Spice Imperial Pigeon
There are also other birds such as Hooded Butcherbird, Rainbow Bee-eater, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Puff-backed Meliphaga, and female Red Bird of Paradise. 
The scenery of karst formations in Kabui bay was beautiful. I often see dolphins on the surface of the sea. 
White-breasted Woodswallow
If you are interested in visiting Raja Ampat and want me as your guide, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by whatsapp to: +6281332245180 or you could also write to my email to: peace4wp@gmail.com.

Watching Palm Cockatoo in Raja Ampat

One of the birds that I like to watch in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat is Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus). Locally this bird is called Kakaktua Raja (meaning King Cockatoo). 
King Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) in Raja Ampat
In my last visit to Warduwer beach in southern area of Waigeo, I saw some Palm Cockatoes flying and landing on the branches of a catappa tree. The birds ate its fruits. I walked closer to the tree hiding my body among thick green shrubs that covered the beach. When the birds became clearly visible, I turned on my camera and aimed it at one of them. I made several shots to make sure that I got the best pictures. 
In addition to Palm Cockatoo, I also saw several other species including Blyth's Hornbill, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Torresian Crow, Lesser-crested Tern, Eclectus Parrot, Spangled Drongo, Striated Heron, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Beach Kingfisher.
Pied-Imperial Pigeon
Warduwer beach was a nice place for birdwatching. Its beach was covered by white sand. Soon, a resort will be constructed there. The name of the resort is Raja Ampat Flower (RAFLOW). Visitors who stay at the resort can enjoy birding, snorkeling and sightseeing in that beach.
While guiding tourists in Raja Ampat, I organized boat trip to some islands in Kabui bay and its surrounding areas. Some places that we visited were Gam island, Lesser Urai island, and Wawiyai viewpoint. There we saw Stephan's Emerald Dove, Olive-backed Sunbird, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Lesser Frigatebird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Brahminy Kite, and Singing Starling.
The coral reef at RAFLOW Beach Resort was very beautiful. There was a lot of species of fish and other marine creatures including Pink-anemonefish, Striped Surgeonfish, Moorish Idol and various species of butterfly fish.
I used Nikon W300 to take pictures of the marine life.
Raja Ampat has been famous as the epicenter of marine bio-diversity. There are more than 1,500 species of fish known to science. 
Marine Life at Raja Ampat Flower Resort
For more information about birding, snorkeling and sightseeing in Raja Ampat, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by whatsapp to: +6281332245180 or email: peace4wp@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Exploring the Natural Beauty of North Sulawesi

Guest Post - Trip Report by Astrid
A long journey I finally arrived in Manado. The homestay was close to the airport, within 10 minutes I was there. The owner took me to the room. Actually it was more like an apartment. There was even a roof terrace. From here I had a nice view.
It's been a long day for me. To start the journey through North Sulawesi the next day in a relaxed way, Charles offered me a massage. A lovely massage. I could fully relax and my fatigue disappeared as snow in summer. I slept very nice that night.
The morning started well with room service. The owner brought a delicious breakfast. With enough energy in my body the day could start. Today I went to visit a waterfall.
The path to the waterfall was beautiful. Along the way I was able to take a lot of pictures. There was much to see. It was a careful walk because the path was slippery.  
Waterfall in North Minahasa
After a while we reached the waterfall, very impressive. From a height of approximately 40 meters the water came down. After taking some pictures we went back. Along the way we were attacked by a tropical rain shower. We spent more than half an hour hiding under the trees with a poncho like a tent on top of us.  Afterwards we saw that a few meters further there was a house where we could have taken shelter. But that is not nearly as adventurous.

After the shower we continued our walk. The road to the village was still long. The chance of a new shower was very high, so we hoped that we would meet a car or motorcyclist who would like to give us a lift. We didn't have to wait long. A car arrived and the friendly gentleman brought us to the village. From there we took public transport back to the hotel. What I find striking is how helpful the people here are. Very nice to experience.

Birding in North Minahasa regency
After our visit to the waterfall we move to the other side of the road. There is our new base. The homestay and the hotel are outside the city. Yet there is still a lot to see here. There are plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal. There were also souvenir shops. It is nice to see them.
What is also worth a visit is the traditional market. This market is just off the main road to Manado. It is located in a quiet neighborhood. They sell fruit and vegetables.  I have also been to Manado. I visited the museum and found out more about North Sulawesi.
After these days Bunaken was on the program. With the taxi boat I made the crossing. The homestay where I stayed was close to the "harbour". It is not really a port, but you dock on the beach. Not far from this beach is the homestay where I will stay for a few nights. Vano took me there. I was kindly received by his family. She made you feel at home. The meals she cooked were very tasty.  
Passengers were going out of the Stella Maris boat that had just arrived in Bunaken
The view from the homestay is great. When the weather is clear you can see Manado lying there. Furthermore, there were many birds and crabs to see.
I was in Bunaken island

The next morning Vano took me on a motorcycle trip across the island. Our final destination was the beach on the other side of the island. A beautiful beach. From here boats leave for the drop off place where you can dive and snorkel.

Because it is still rainy season, there was a lot of rain from time to time. Luckily I was back at the homestay.

Unfortunately it rained the next day. I was going to snorkel this day, but due to the weather conditions I didn't do this. Because it didn't look like it would clear up, we went back to the mainland. From there we drove to the terminal to take the bus to Doluduo, a 6 hour ride. The road to Doluduo is very varied. The ride was not comfortable, but I thought it was an experience and wouldn't have missed it.

At the beginning of the evening we arrived at the homestay. Also here we were warmly welcomed. Aunt Mien, the owner had made us a nice meal.

To relax the muscles again I got a relaxing massage from Charles. After the massage I felt completely fit again.

Ricefield in North Sulawesi
The next day we would go into the woods. With the bike we drove to the national park. To get into the woods you need a local guide. Unfortunately there was no one present. After half an hour we decided to walk back. We then walked back to the village. A varied walk. We saw several birds, farmland, villages with rice fields and beautiful views. Enough photo material. In the afternoon we explored the surrounding area.
The next day we would go into the rainforest in search of the bird Maleo. Unfortunately the rain threw a spanner in the works. We decided it was better to leave. At the end of the day we arrived back in Manado.
After a nice night's sleep we went to our next destination, Tangkoko. Here you can find tarsiers and I really wanted to see them.
By bus we travelled to Tangkoko. We arrived at the end of the morning. The room was simple. I was still shocked by a 2 large cockroaches that walked over the ground. Charles tried to catch them, but they flee into an inaccessible corner.
Spectral Tarsier
In the afternoon we went with a local guide into the national park. We were able to spot different kinds of birds. And we also found the tarsiers. Very small cute looking animals.
After the walk we had some tea in the restaurant. Suddenly I was called because a snake had fallen from the tree.
The next morning I woke up early. We are going to make a morning walk. It is very nice to see how the rainforest awakens. There are many different sounds to be heard. We have been able to see several birds and have also been able to take good pictures. It was a nice experience.
After lunch we left for Tomohon. This place is situated in the mountains. The temperature is pleasant. We were in a hotel just outside the city. You can walk well here and spot birds. We went by bus. On the way we got a blowout. It does happen that a few meters further the tire repair shop was. Luckily the tire was quickly changed and we continued our trip.
The hotel where we stayed was in a quiet neighborhood. The room was clean. Only breakfast was not included. In the evening we had dinner in the neighborhood.
The next morning we got up early. We are going to visit a crater. On the other side of the hotel we bought some biscuits and water. With a grab car we went to the foot of the mountain. There we walked up. Because it is so early the clouds are still low. In the beginning there was nothing to see, but over time nature drew the curtain further and further. Little by little the crater came into view. Eventually the sun broke through and I was able to enjoy the view to the fullest.


We were supposed to walk all the way back, but we were able to charter a motorbike. It was still a long walk. The three of us got on the bike and drove to Tomohon.
There we visited the traditional market. Besides the standard vegetables, fruit and trinkets they also sell dogs, meat mice, mice and snakes. It is very special to see.
Meat and wings of fruit bats
We had lunch at the KFC. Then we went to a crater lake. Also with a grab car. We agreed with the driver that he would pick us up 2 hours later.
The lake is beautiful to see. Every now and then the smell of sulfur meets you. At several places you can see the steam coming out of the earth. We have also been able to spot several birds. I enjoyed the view.
After resting for a while we walked to the city in the evening to eat somewhere. After dinner we explored the city further. At a sandwich shop we bought some sandwiches for breakfast. The next morning we would get up early to spot birds.
That morning we saw different kinds of birds. It was a nice relaxing walk. After the walk we took a crab car back to Manado.
On the way Charles bought me dodol. This is a delicacy consisting of rice flour, palm sugar and coconut milk. It is a coffee-like cake. It is quite sweet. It was packed in palm leaf. It is very laborious to make this.
Dodol - sweet rice cake made with palm sugar, coconut milk and peanuts
The last few days of my trip I stay in Manado. I have been to Airmandidi for 1 day. I have family there. Unfortunately they were not at home. I did meet the neighbors. A very hospitable family.
The last day we went to the most beautiful beach of Manado. It was a long drive, but it was more than worth it. A beautiful white beach and an azure blue sea.
Paal Beach in North Sulawesi
After 14 days my adventure in North Sulawesi came to an end. The program that Charles had set up was very varied. He showed me a lot, so I got an impression of the area. Everything was well taken care of and I am very happy that Charles accompanied me during my trip. Full of great memories I got on the plane to start a long trip to the Netherlands.