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The Great Raja Ampat Dive Adventure

For a review of the trip click here.

The Great Raja Ampat Dive Adventure

Paddy has managed to reserve 18 places at the hottest place in world diving. He has 18 spots at the Kri Eco resort in the Raja Ampat Islands of what used to be called Irian Jaya and is now referred to as West Papua. Dates are July 6 - July 20, 2008.

Many of you will know about this place by now. David Doubilet (the famous underwater photographer) has just had an article published in the latest National Geographic . Other articles have recently turned up in Sport Diver and several other publications. Click here for a commentary and photos on the Raja Ampat islands by Andrea and Antonella Ferrari.

Dr. Gerry Allen recorded 283 and 281 fish species respectively at Cape Kri and the South Fam group during one tank dives. These were the highest totals Dr Allen has ever recorded, 200 species is considered the benchmark for an excellent count. So far over 1000 fish species have been recorded (yup, the entire Caribbean only has 800 or so). The islands also have the world's highest known coral diversity for their size … 565 of the 590 hard coral species known from Indonesia are found here (the entire Caribbean has less than 70 species). Set to the east of Wallace's line, the land flora and fauna is primarily Australian. There is a bird of paradise here as well as a hornbill species and a bunch of parrots. Ever been woken up in the morning by a flock of sulfur-crested cockatoos? The Kri Eco resort is on a limestone island and there are undoubtedly caves to explore and frogs to find and orchids to admire. The topside stuff is almost as exciting as what is found underneath the water. The Papuans are Melanesians ... the same stock as the Fijians, and by repute almost as friendly. But because West Papua is part of Indonesia the food is way better than Fiji.

You can check out Kri Eco here. Accommodation is relatively spartan but certainly adequate (better than Waisalima and as good as, or better than, Isla Marisol). 


 

Price

The base price is US$2800. This is not a fixed price, the price is subject to the value of the Euro. If the Euro goes above US$1.40 there will be a slight price adjustment. If you bring someone else "on board" I will reduce your price by $150.  The package covers 28 dives and transfers, all accommodation and food.

JWU students, staff and faculty and Colorado School of Mines faculty, students and staff $2700.

I need a US$650 deposit as soon as possible. If this is difficult Paddy will accept credit cards but will add on 3% transaction fees. I will refund $300 of the $650 should you change your mind prior to Jan 31. Please send checks to:

Paddy Ryan
Ryan Photographic
2802 East 132nd Circle

Thornton, CO 80241

I will only send a receipt if you specifically request one.

 

What the package doesn't cover

MARINE PARK ENTRANCE FEE: from the 19th of August 2007 onwards all divers and non divers visiting Raja Ampat will need to pay an annual entrance fee for the Marine Park of Rp 500,000 per person (Rp 250,000 for Indonesians). The resort collects payments on behalf of Conservation International . Rp350,000 goes towards conservation purposes and the remaining Rp 150,000 goes to local government. Currently the US$ is worth roughly Rp 9,150. This could change if the US dollar continues to freefall.

PAPUA TRAVEL PERMIT: Please bring 3 passport photos and 3 copies of your passport for the Papua Travel permit (Surat Jalan) which the resort will organize.

SATURDAY NO DIVING: There is no diving between 6pm Friday and 6pm Saturday as this is the day of rest for all staff. Night diving at 7pm is possible.

EQUIPMENT RENTAL: If you need to hire gear please let me know exactly what you need in advance with sizes required.

CURRENTS: Please also be aware that there are sometimes strong currents in this area which is one of the reasons for so many fish. If you have a reef hook please bring it.

BIRD OF PARADISE: The resort offers free transport to see the Red Bird of Paradise on Saturday mornings. Guests should pay Rp 100,000 which goes towards conservation of these birds.

HOTEL ACCOMODATION TO AND FROM KRI ECO: I can arrange this for you if you wish.

EXTRA CHARGES: For extra charges the resort will only accept cash payments in Euros, Rupiah or US Dollars. Credit card payments can be processed in Sorong but you will need to inform the resort in advance and you will need to allow extra time in Sorong to do this.


 

Airfares and getting there

It's a hell long a long way and will cost accordingly. We'll probably fly LAX to Singapore to Manado (in Sulawesi) to Sorong. We will aim to arrive in Sorong on July 5th and overnight before the transfer. 

A couple of nights in Sulawesi or Singapore on the way home are recommended ... there's cool stuff to see there and it breaks up a very long journey.

 The airfare is estimated to be around $2000 from LAX. Some of you may have air points and will want to make your own arrangements. Please let me know. It may be possible to organize individual itineraries. I recommend making your bookings as soon as possible.

 

Malaria and health

Malaria is endemic and the strain present is resistant to Lariam. Dr Robin Ekholm, the trip doctor recommends malarone. She also recommends Hepatitis C shots. More information on medical aspects will be posted later.

 

About you

You'll need to be a non-smoker, of cheerful disposition and reasonably fit. Our group doesn't like whiners. If you are going to complain about the occasional cold shower or stuff not being like it is in the US then we don't want you. Most of us enjoy a drink or two after the diving and we tell a few tall tales over dinner. We welcome people who enjoy life and are open to new experiences. If this isn't you, please don't ask to join us!

Our dive group, Waisalima, Kadavu, Fiji 2007

 

About Paddy

Paddy is a full professor at Johnson & Wales University and an adjunct associate professor at the Colorado School of Mines. He has been a diver for 30 years and an underwater photographer for 27. He has wide-ranging biological and photographic interests with work represented in three photo libraries. His photos have been widely published, most recently in National Geographic (Spain). Dr Ryan has published 5 books and a number of zoo guides (he wrote and photographed the Fort Worth and Denver Zoo souvenir guides). Paddy is passionate about the natural world and loves to share his enthusiasm. For more information about Paddy click here.

 

Paddy, self portrait


 

What you'll see   - Underwater

Pygmy sea horses, wobbegong sharks, clown fish, giant clams, manta rays, mandarin fish, ghost pipefishes, bobbit worms, scorpion fishes, lionfishes, jawfishes, nudibranchs and sharks that walk.


Ghost pipefish

 

What you will see - Topside

Sulfur-crested cockatoos, hornbills, red birds of paradise, cuscus, Dave, Paddy and Ken in Speedoes.


Cuscus (left) and sulfur-crested cockatoo (right)

 

Here's a collection of New Guinean wildlife photos

Pygmy seahorse
Jawfish
Crocodilefish
Seawhip goby
Leaf Scorpionfish
Freckled hawkfish
Flatworm
Lionfishes
Anemone fish
Frogmouth
Sea star detail
Flowery cod
Squat lobster in crinoid
Mantis shrimp
Brittle star
Blue ribbon eel

 

Diving

Water temperatures will be 80 degrees and above. There can be substantial currents but you can tailor your diving to mostly avoid these (but why bother ... this is when all the great stuff is out feeding). I will require everyone to have some sort of emergency signaling device ... a safety sausage will be mandatory.

Most dive sites are close to the resort but we may visit sites that are up to an hour away. If you get seasick you'll need to take appropriate medication.

While most dives will be suitable for beginners it is possible there will be some current dives (it brings out the best soft coral and fish). We won't inflict a current dive on new divers until they are deemed competent to cope.

 

Aerial of reefs by Kri Eco Resort. Thanks to Helena for photo.

Kri Eco accomodation at sunset

Kri Eco accommodation

Max Ammer, Kri Eco and Sorido resort owner in front of Kri Eco

 

Weather

We will be right on the equator. Expect warm and muggy days and warm and muggy nights. This is the tropics so it is possible there could be several days of rain, but this won't affect the diving.

 

Packing list

Old time dive hand, Shannon Mayes, has put together a packing list. You can access this by clicking here. Thanks Shannon.


 

Carbon credits

I recommend that you buy offsets for the carbon dioxide produced by the flights and by the compressor and outboards. For more information on carbon credits please check out this website.

 

Dive Trip Bios

I included brief bios of several of the trip participants. This will give you the chance to get to know each other a little better before we leave. Click here.


 

Fun Stuff

Some recent diving related miscellenia. Click here.


 

For more information

Contact Paddy via email at paddyaryan@aol.com or phone 303-457-9795.

To check out the Ryan Photographic website go to www.ryanphotographic.com

Cheers and beers,

Paddy

 

Review


It really was all good. We knew before we got there that there were no en suites, that there were no hot water showers and no AC. We didn't really miss these "luxuries" anyway as we were there to dive. Being lulled to sleep
by the sounds of jacks hitting schools of baitfish and the quacking of the local pair of rajah shelducks was very special. We were issued with reef hooks at the start of our stay and encouraged to use them. Most of us did without but at times they were useful. Sleeping barracuda was a site with a current so strong that one could just swim into it when working really really hard. Initially I was disappointed with what wasn't there ... no Lembeh Straits muck diving critters ... no frogfish, wasp cockatoofish, wonderpus or mimic octopuses. But what is there is fabulous. Home to incredible fish and hard coral diversity it was often difficult to decide what to look at. On one amazing dive on "Sardines" we were doing our safety stop when a resident herd (I can't call it a school) of giant bumphead (Napoleon) wrasse came storming along the reef crest. They ranged in size from "little" guys barely three feet long to five foot giants that must have weighed two hundred pounds. Being in the middle of such a group of behemoths going about their business, blithely unconcerned about us strange humans was a heart-stopping, tear inducing experience. I feel privileged to have seen such a sight.

Food was excellent and there was plenty of it. Staff were friendly (perhaps a little shy) and helpful. Once, when I was walking to the restaurant in a small downpour, one of the staff ran with an umbrella to give to me. When one of our party was ill, they were frequently visited by staff to see if they could be helped.

We never did see mantas even after three attempts. But our boat had so much fun anyway that the folk in the office could hear our drumming on any available surface in the boat for several miles before we docked. Crazy Eddie's dance on the bow just summed up the trip. I smiled from first waking up to going to bed at night. I'm grinning now as I remember an amazing three weeks. You must do the trip to "The Passage". It costs extra but it is worth every cent. The limestone islands, the mangroves and the bat cave are all part of this expedition and to add to the pleasure you get a real luxury at the end of it (yes, you get a hot "mandi" usually reserved for after a night dive).

Manager Maya Hadorn, personable and multi-talented, left on vacation after two weeks of our stay but her standins Ami and Nickson were equally helpful and pleasant. Max Ammer, the owner, came and chatted with us and made us feel at home. He was a little harassed at the start of our trip because upmarket Sorido around the corner was occupied by the King of the Netherlands and various hangers-on. A number of us picked up dysentery during our stay ... I suspect the salsa! A daily diet of immodium allowed for comfortable diving. Each accommodation unit had a power strip and after borrowing some adapters from Maya I was able to keep two housings running the whole time.

Staff are scrupulously honest. Small items like a Swiss army knife were always where I left them. They are a little shy and retiring at first but as they get to know you they start to open up. The people contributed enormously to the success of our trip. Meeting mostly European fellow divers was another plus. Getting there is the pits. We arrived two days late thanks to bad weather and changed airline schedules. Take time in Manado to enjoy the city and go and see the black macaques and the tarsiers at the Tangkoko Reserve. But the diving was memorable and just a little bittersweet. This was how the world used to be. We will return, I'm starting to save up right now
.


Write to me if you want to come with us in 2009 or 2010.

 

 

 

 

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Ryan Photographic, 2802 East 132nd Circle, Thornton, CO  80241  USA  Phone 303-457-9795