Day 1 — Cairns, Australia
Embark the Silver Discoverer for this stunning Silversea Expedition – Mysteries of New Guinea. This afternoon, you will meet your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Tonight we invite you to meet some of your fellow travellers and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
Day 2 — At Sea
While Silver Discoverer sails across the Coral Sea, get acquainted with the amenities on your home away from home for the next 17 days. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and perhaps attend a workshop or lecture that will prepare you for the experiences of Papua New Guinea.
Day 3 — Alotau, Papua New Guinea
Alotau is the provincial capital of the Milne Bay Province and our port of entry into Papua New Guinea. The town and surrounding area has been an important staging ground during World War II and we will see remains and memorials dating back or referring to the war. On our tour of the town we will reach viewpoints of the bay and get to see the markets, which are frequented not only by locals, but also by islanders selling their products or looking for produce to take back into Milne Bay. Alotau is an important port facility for the islands and attracts many vendors of handicrafts from different islands.
Day 4 — Kafure, Papua New Guinea
Kafure, located on the south-eastern peninsula of Cape Nelson in Oro Province, is situated next to a tropical fjord (the work of ancient volcanic activities) and is fringed by uncharted coral reefs. We will take our Zodiacs ashore at a small village to be welcomed with songs and dances. Later, climb into a local canoe to explore the smooth waters of the Kwapurina Fjord. With villagers as our oarsmen, we will be guided under canopies of ancient mangrove forests acting as home to a wide range of colorful birds and butterflies. Continuing on our journey, we return to the entrance of the fjord and the small settlement where villagers will demonstrate the making of tapa cloth and offer interesting souvenirs.
Day 5 — Tuam, Papua New Guinea
Banana-shaped Tuam is an uplifted coral atoll covered in palm trees. The only village is located on the lower eastern side of the island. Highly exposed to the trade winds, the islanders have set up protective walls made out of palm-branches giving the village the look of a fortified castle from a distance. A trail marked by white sand leads from the landing site to the settlement area of neatly organized wooden huts and houses with pandanus-thatched roofs. In the village, several dance groups will wait for us at different locations and will perform their special songs and dances.
A walk in the forest permits you to see the different gardens set up in the “higher” regions of the island. The island has a spectacular reef and snorkelling next to the drop-off will reveal a myriad of reef fish.
Day 6 — Kopar Village, Papua New Guinea
During the afternoon, Silver Discoverer will approach the Sepik River for a visit to Kopar, a small village of not more than 200 people at the river’s mouth. Depending on the tide and currents, Silver Discoverer might enter the Sepik River to anchor in front of this little village. The people of the Sepik are known for their artefacts and Kopar presents another opportunity for souvenir hunters. For the keen birders, a Zodiac cruise along the shore of the Sepik or into the small canals just upstream from Kopar village can be rewarded with sights of flood plain birds and parrots and the odd kite. During our visit we will present school supplies to the local community. Your donations will be very welcome. Please see below under the section entitled, “360 DEGREES OF GIVING.”
Day 7 — Vanimo, Papua New Guinea
Vanimo will be our clearance port out of Papua New Guinea. Since visitors are quite rare in this part of the country, we will likely be the main attraction in town. After being greeted ashore we will drive to a local venue for traditional dancing and to see the handicrafts produced in Sandaun Province. Afterwards, we will drive to a local beach for a refreshing swim, or perhaps a walk along the beach to the next little village. To reach the village a stream might have to be crossed and at high tide this involves balancing across a tree trunk bridge.
Everyone will return to our little expedition ship around sunset. During the evening hours Silver Discoverer will be cleared out of the country to carry on along the north coast of New Guinea towards the Indonesian half of this large island.
Day 8 — Jayapura (Port Numbay), Indonesia
At Jayapura – locally known as Port Numbay – we will receive our official clearance into Indonesia. A welcome at the ship will illustrate some of the traditional dances from West Papua. Inland from the town is Lake Sentani, famed for the distinctive art, traditional motifs, sago bowls and bark paintings of the people who live on and around the lake.
We will take local buses to reach the shore of the lake and will then continue on native longboats to reach one of the islands. Here we will see a local dance presentation, walk around the island, perhaps climb up to the church for nice views of the lake, and will have the opportunity to see the famous lake artifacts including bark paintings and bride money.
Return to Silver Discoverer shortly after noon for lunch aboard and to get underway for our next stop.
Day 9 — Pudaidori Island, Indonesia
During the morning, Silver Discoverer will continue sailing westward to reach a small group of islands east of Biak. Although Biak played an important part during World War II and still has a large military presence, Pudaidori and the other small islands east of Biak bring promise of a tranquil tropical setting and a snorkeler’s delight. You may want to take the afternoon to relax on the white sandy beaches, swimiming and snorkelling, or looking for bird life ashore.
Day 10 — Auri Islands, Indonesia
The Cenderawasih Marine Park features over 15,000km2 of relatively undisturbed marine and coastal habitat and the extensive coral reefs rank amongst the finest in the world. Cenderawasih is renowned for its diversity of coral reef fish species, including numerous species of butterfly fish, angelfish, damselfish, parrotfish, rabbitfish and anemone fish.
Cenderawasih (Bird-of-Paradise) Bay encompasses the Auri Islands offering some of the most beautiful clear-water snorkeling in the huge bay. The dozen or so islands have white sand beaches and excellent reefs. Auri’s spectacular karst islands also merit Zodiac cruises to explore the geological formations. One snorkel site has a trio of American WWII planes sunk in formation in only a few meters of water.
Cenderawasih Marine Park is known for congregating whale sharks. As the biggest fish in the sea, they feed exclusively on the smallest planktonic creatures, growing to more than 12 meters in length. While there are other places in the world where snorkelers can seek a close encounter with these gentle giants, in Cenderawasih Bay the whale sharks tend to linger close to the surface for extended periods. They have become accustomed to taking small fish that spill from the nets of local fishermen.
Day 11 — Pulau Roon, Indonesia
Pulau Roon is just south of the Auri Islands. Closer to the mainland, its twisted coastline has many secluded bays and sandy beaches with the potential for excellent snorkeling on shallow offshore reefs. Pulau Roon is also peppered with small villages that might warrant an impromptu visit by Zodiac to connect with local people in an authentic and spontaneous interaction that can only be achieved on an expedition such as ours.
Day 12 — At Sea
While Silver Discoverer rounds the northwest tip of New Guinea, known as the Bird’s Head, our lecturers will take some time today to prepare you for the Raja Ampat and coastal Papua. More entertaining and relevant than many university lectures, the choice of presentations on offer through the day will no doubt stimulate both thought and conversation aboard the ship.
Day 13 — Misool, Indonesia
The Raja Ampat region of West Papua, with its multiple islands and intricate system of reefs lies in the heart of the Coral Triangle. This region has been called the most biodiverse area of ocean on the planet. Silver Discoverer will anchor amongst small islands just off the coast of the larger Misool Island, and the Expedition Team will scout the best reef and beach combination for your visit.
Steep coral walls and drop-offs are festooned with table corals, staghorn corals, and orange and purple sea squirts. We hope to see giant clams nestled into the coral formations while fish in rainbow colors sprinkle the reef above. From confetti-size inhabitants amongst the branching staghorn corals, to enormous solitary bumphead parrotfish this will be another snorkeler’s delight. Beach activities and bird watching will be on offer too.
Day 14 — Den Weg Islands, Indonesia
On the southern shore of the Fakfak Peninsula are several karst islands that brought international interest in the 1930s thanks to extensive fields of ancient rock art that were found here. We will take our Zodiacs to explore several of the islands and will have a close look at the most accessible wall paintings that almost resemble Aboriginal motives from the Dreamtime. Depending on local permits we might also be allowed to visit one of the smaller villages and have a look at day-to-day modern life.
Day 15 — Triton Bay and Auiduma Island, Indonesia
In 2008, the Kaimana Regency declared a 6000 km² Marine Protected Area around the waters of Triton Bay. The non-profit organization, Conservation International, maintains an office in Kaimana and a field station out in Triton Bay where visiting scientists can do their work. The marine biodiversity is second to none and the area offers everything from the tiniest pygmy seahorses to large and graceful whale sharks. The Expedition Team will select a prime spot for swimming and snorkeling within the bay. In addition, we hope to pay a visit to remote Auiduma Island.
Day 16 — Kai Archipelago, Indonesia
Kai Islands will be our final opportunity to meet local people and to take to the water on this voyage. Depending on the conditions (and permits that are granted), we may choose to visit a village first, or to have a relaxing day in the water and on the beach to cap off this adventure in and around New Guinea.
Day 17 — At Sea
As the miles peel away in our churning wake, you may wish to take advantage of one last fascinating lecture series, or perhaps you want to take time out to edit the many photos you have taken during the voyage. Regardless of how you spend the day, be sure to attend the screening of our Videographer’s final video recap of the voyage.
Day 18 — Darwin, Australia
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Please Note: Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
360 DEGREES OF GIVING
They say it’s better to give than to receive, luckily we have the opportunity to do both. The friendly villagers we visit throughout our expedition welcome us with such warm hearts, and we receive so much from them, that we want to make sure we’re giving right back.
In the spirit of goodwill, we greatly encourage you to help us support the local communities we will be visiting. Gifts may consist of second-hand children’s clothing, school supplies (pencils, pens, and writing tablets), and medical supplies (Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, and first aid items). Supplies received will be collected on board by the Expedition Team and evenly distributed throughout the villages as we visit.
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