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SERIOUS Raja Ampat Discussion Thread NOW SET FOR 2016


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#1 WreckWench

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:51 AM

RAJ AMPAT UPDATE:

Hey gang... we have locked in two back to back trips to Raj Ampat in Jan/Feb 2016 on Dive Damai. I will be getting dates and details posted soon in a "SAVE THE DATE" thread/topic but this is going to happen! And I am THRILLED!!! This will be the first trip to this area myself. Oh by the way...Dive Damai is the PHOTOGRAPHER'S DREAM BOAT!!! We will be on the NEW boat for both trips... details coming soon! - KAMALA


I haven't been following the whole thread here but let me add Raja Ampat liveaboard to the bucket list:

https://en.wikipedia...a_Ampat_Islands



Raja Ampat is ALWAYS on the bucket list and one of the few places we've not done...YET! ;)/>/>

I'm trying to work it into the calendar in the next 18-24 mos...so will use this thread for input on times to go, best vendor etc. :thankyou:/>/>

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#2 AnemoneAmy

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 08:51 PM

Woohoo! Sounds great. Thanks for looking into it! You know, Squidly may be interested to help plan this one if you ask.

#3 Squidly

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:00 PM

Count me in for Raja Ampat! The longer the trip the better too! WooHoo!

#4 AnemoneAmy

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:24 PM

Land based or liveaboard?

One site with a lot of useful info:
http://www.papua-diving.com/faq/

#5 jesterdiver

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 09:42 PM

Wow! Great site, I'm interested!

Land based or liveaboard?

One site with a lot of useful info:
http://www.papua-diving.com/faq/



#6 WreckWench

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 04:57 AM

Woohoo! Sounds great. Thanks for looking into it! You know, Squidly may be interested to help plan this one if you ask.



We are always open for member suggestions as to best time of year to go, best time of year for pricing vs conditions, best operator, landbased or liveaboard etc. Let him know (if he doesn't see this reply) that we are seriously looking at Raja Ampat and if he has done any leg work or wouldn't mind doing any leg work on the destination we'd be happy to have his help or anyone else who'd like to help out too.

In addition we need a feel for what land activities we should include once in the area and/or a sister trip since it is so far to go. I saw a recent trip offering for this year that priced liveaboard, a short layover in Bali and air from LAX at $7800 so this will NOT be a cheap trip.

Having said that...this Nov when we hold our annual trade show is when I should try to be ready to negotiate a contract to get the dates we want.

Thanks to anyone that wants to help in this endeavor! :respect:/>

Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
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"Imitation is the sincerest flattery." - Gandhi
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Kamala Shadduck c/o SingleDivers.com LLC
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#7 WreckWench

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 05:06 AM

Count me in for Raja Ampat! The longer the trip the better too! WooHoo!



Cool Peter! Amy thinks you might be willing to help research this venue...we'd love the help! Once I have a good feel for the best two operators (or if there is only one worth using) then I'll work on contract negotiations at our annual industry show in early Nov. :thankyou:

Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
SD Forms & Documents.... here !

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"Imitation is the sincerest flattery." - Gandhi
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Kamala Shadduck c/o SingleDivers.com LLC
2234 North Federal Hwy, #1010 Boca Raton, FL 33431
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710 Dive Buddy Lane; Salem, SC 29676
864-557-6079 tel/celfone/office or tollfree fax 888-480-0906

#8 ScubaTex

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 12:10 PM

I've made 2 trips to Raja Ampat, one in Oct. 2008 [after the Bali-Wakatobi trip], and the second this past Feb.-Mar. While the logistics and cost of going are considerable, but the diving was worth any inconvenience endured during the trip. While I immensely enjoyed my land based trip, I think the better trip was the liveaboard[s], for covering the entire RA area. Prior to going on the last trip I posted cost information and numerous video links to RA under this thread, beginning 2/3's down the first page. I recommend any trip to RA be for at least 10 days, since there will be at least 3-4 travel days, plus additional 'sailing time' between port and the various dive sites of RA. All land based and liveaboards [exception transition cruises] originate from Sorong [SOQ], West Papua, Indonesia, which requires multiple domestic flights from port of entry. On both of my trips I utilized Jeremy Barnes at Manado Safari Tours to book my domestic air. While you can make reservations electronically, you must pay for those reservations using a credit card issued by an Indonesian bank. Secondly, many flight options will be turbo props on different airlines, which may cause a connection problem. I suggest you route the trip thru Jakarta [CHK] then fly Sriwijaya Air #SJ598 to Makassar [UPG], then #SJ570 UPG>>SOQ. Warning this a 'red eye', departing CGK 1230AM, and arriving SOQ 0745AM, with 45 minute layover in Makassar. The scheduling of these flights allows the opportunity to rebook on alternate flights, if something does go wrong. It also avoids the expense of an overnite layover along the way. Third these are 737's although the baggage allowance is only 20kg. The return flights are #SJ571 & #SJ593, which will return you to CGK at 320PM, which should allow a connection that evening. Another word of warning, ticket counters do not open until 2 hours prior to departure from the international terminal, there are no chairs in the lobby of the ticket counters.
The Oct. 2008 trip was to Misool Eco Resort, a land based operation, in the southern portion of RA. I was fortunate to spend 12 days here, after it had opened only 10 days prior to my arrival. The trip from Sorong was 3-1/2 to 4 hours by boat [I think they have a faster boat now], arriving at about 9PM. The next morning was magical as I watched 3 juvenile black tips circling the lagoon as I walked to breakfast. The lagoon is birthing area for the sharks, I believe the resort has an article dedicated in a newsletter this year. The area around MER is strictly controlled by the resort, they have exclusive rights to the area, all liveaboards must check in and receive permission to dive sites within their MPA. On my last trip, I counted seven liveaboards in the MER area in one day.
My last trip started in Lembeh [9 days], then a transition cruise [10 days] from Lembeh to Sorong aboard MY Mermaid I, of which the last 6 days were spent in RA, and another 11 days aboard MSY Ondina totally within RA. Each of the liveaboards had their positives and negatives. Liveaboard diving in RA is done from two tenders/zodiacs, Mermaid gear up on the dive deck, Ondina gear up aboard the tender [crew carries your bc/tank & camera to tender]. This was accomplished by dividing divers into 4 groups, to start each dive, but you could return on your own. Take a SMB and a horn, more than once I was separated from my group trying to get a picture, or was ‘blown’ off a dive site. Half of the diving in RA is on under water pinnacles, the other half on those that break the surface. You will experience plenty of current, most dives begin with diving into an area where the current is split by the pinnacle, where most of the pelagics and reef fish feed, if the guides don’t drop you in the right place your lungs will burn, your heart will feel like it’s coming thru your chest, just to make it onto the site, and once you reach depth you may discover you’re being taken by down current. Take a reef hook or a ‘stick’, after one dive my steel stick was bent at a 30 degree angle. Do the night dives, especially around the jetties/piers in the ‘north’, the bottom around them maybe full of trash, but they’re also full of ghost pipefish, walking sharks [they only come out at night, otherwise you may find one under a table coral sleeping], wobbegongs, and many other critters
Mermaid was a boat on the order of the ‘Explorer’ boats in the Caribbean, Ondina is an Indo phinisi, which was only once under sail. The food was better on Mermaid, wake up, continental b-fast, dive, cooked to order b-fast, dive, buffet lunch, dive, snack, night dive, dinner. The Ondina same schedule had the same dive/meal schedule, although there were days on board both when there was no night dive, usually prior to & after to going to the southern portion of RA. Mermaid gave dive/meal notification in person with a knock on your cabin door, Ondina by ringing a bell. Ondina showed her age, and lack of maintenance, although I was told she was scheduled for a month in dry dock to change out engine, install new compressor, and EAN membrane unit [I did experience the difficulty the crew had in refilling tanks prior to the next dive]. The camera deck/tables on both the Ondina and Mermaid were limited, especially considering RA is a uw photographic paradise.
Cost – international airfare approximately $2,000 – Indo domestic airfare $522 – Mermaid I Budget cabin 2,540E including EAN – Ondina 2,640E not including EAN – current exchange rate: 1E = $1.33 – +RA park fee
Is it worth it, YOU BET, you won’t want to leave. You’ll be planning for the day when you can return, as I did on may last days at MER in 2008. The key to this trip is planning, the liveaboards are booked far in advance, and they only cruise RA from Oct. – May, MER is also on a similar schedule.
I will try to monitor this forum, to answer any questions.

Bill

Edited by ScubaTex, 12 September 2013 - 12:12 PM.

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#9 WreckWench

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 01:06 PM

Thanks Bill...looks like I should recruit you to help put the next one together. Would you use the same liveaboards if you went again? If not who would you want to use? I know Jeremy very well and used him before...he is a great guy!

Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
SD Forms & Documents.... here !

Click here TO PAY for Merchandise, Membership, or Travel
"Imitation is the sincerest flattery." - Gandhi
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#10 Sea Urchin

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 02:38 PM

The 2 boats I'm looking at are the Arenui and Damai II. This will be an expensive trip so might as well spend the money. If we are in the area...handfeeding whalesharks are on their itinerary.
Try to act as old as your shoe size once a day...it will keep you young and happy (my shoe size is 6&1/2)

Love like you haven't been hurt before.

#11 WreckWench

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 09:34 PM

I have contracts with Arenui already but am not familiar YET with Damai II. I know Arenui is very pricy...

My goal is to negotiate a contract during our industry tradeshow in early Nov. That is right around the corner so does not leave a lot of time. Dates are running 2 years out so I have to start now.

ALL INPUT IS WELCOME AND APPRECIATED! I would rather rely on the great research members who have gone already such as ScubaTex and members planning to go such as Que and others have done then re-invent the wheel.

Que when were you looking at going?

Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
SD Forms & Documents.... here !

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"Imitation is the sincerest flattery." - Gandhi
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Kamala Shadduck c/o SingleDivers.com LLC
2234 North Federal Hwy, #1010 Boca Raton, FL 33431
formerly...
710 Dive Buddy Lane; Salem, SC 29676
864-557-6079 tel/celfone/office or tollfree fax 888-480-0906

#12 ScubaTex

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 10:56 PM

Thanks Bill...looks like I should recruit you to help put the next one together. Would you use the same liveaboards if you went again? If not who would you want to use? I know Jeremy very well and used him before...he is a great guy!

Don't mind helping out, as you can tell I've spent many hours looking at boats, schedules, prices, etc. There are many boats which cruise RA, the Ondina would be considered budget priced, and to tell you the truth, with the exception of the dive guides who were A++, the rest of crew wasn't very attentive, and as I said there was a noticeable lack of maintenance to the boat, thread bare towels, and very basic Indonesian style food. I suggest you contact Debbie Fugitt of City Seahorse Tours after Nov. 20, to see if the condition of the boat has improved. Ms. Fugitt runs back to back 14 day tours of RA primarily for photographers every year in Oct. or Nov. The only problem I had with Mermaid was with the dive guides, 20% of the time dropped in at the top of the pinnacle, instead of up current to drift onto the point of the wall, resulting in a lung burning, heart throbbing swim against the current to get onto the site. The guides would go to the site and try to determine the current from the surface, whereas the guides on Ondina would go to the site, and freedive to determine the current. It's very important to pay close attention to the dive briefings, and pay attention to the guides during the dive. I lost 'Spawn' on one dive, when the guide signaled to swim to cross the current running thru a valley between pinnacles, I signaled back to Erica, but she hadn't entered the valley staying along the edge to take pictures. When she finally decided to cross she fought & fought to get across, but burned thru her air, without enough to do a safety stop. I surfaced with her, but made a safety stop and deployed my SMB, I was over half way back to the boat.
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#13 ScubaTex

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 11:14 PM


In addition we need a feel for what land activities we should include once in the area and/or a sister trip since it is so far to go. I saw a recent trip offering for this year that priced liveaboard, a short layover in Bali and air from LAX at $7800 so this will NOT be a cheap trip.

Having said that...this Nov when we hold our annual trade show is when I should try to be ready to negotiate a contract to get the dates we want.

Thanks to anyone that wants to help in this endeavor! :respect:/>/>/>

No it's not a cheap trip, nor is it one you want to rush thru in one week. I suggest at least 10 days in RA, and if you can afford it another stop along the way. The actual flying time is 24 hours[from DFW], that's a lot of seat time. Count on 3-4 days travel time, depending on connections. If you really want to drag me [lol] into this one, make it a relocation cruise, beginning in Ambon diving Triton Bay, then ending in RA & Sorong.

Time on earth is precious, time underwater even more so. Live life one day at a time. Dive your @$$ off!!!


#14 Diver Ed

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 08:54 AM

I will second Bills recommendation for Kamala contacting Deb Fugitt. My knowledge is limited to some research that I have done while trying to put a trip together. I have yet to make it work though, so, unlike Bill, I do not have the first hand experience. I do know that most of the boats dive Komodo for part of the year, and move to RA for the other part of the year. I seem to recall the scheduling revolving around the season and weather of Komodo, and when the weather is seasonally poor there, the boats head to RA. I looked into a trip to RA for last September, as a friend had time off then. I only found one boat, the Pearl of Papua, that was in RA. All other boats were still in Komodo. I asked a couple of times for a total cost and method of payment, and never got a straight answer. I decided that I did not trust the boat. To verify it, I went through a couple different agents, and was still unable to get satisfactory answers to my questions. I seem to recall that Deb Fugitt runs her trips on the Ondina, and has for many years. She runs a trip in October, and I seem to recall reading that it is one of the first RA trips every season. I do not know if she books the Ondina because of the boat, or the schedule. Most of the other operators start running RA trips in November I think. I also seem to recall that there really wasnt much of an issue with when you dove there. I think it is a 12 month a year destination. Bill also mentioned that the preferred flight route was through Jakarta. I was told the same thing when I was looking into a trip. I wanted to go through Manado, and add a week of diving around Lembeh to a liveaboard in RA. I recall being told that there was a reliability issue with the flights between Manado and Sorong, and if I opted for that route, I should add at least one extra night in a hotel in Sorong in case I could not get there on the scheduled day. I definitely want to dive Raja Ampat. As it is such a difficult place to get to, as well as an expensive trip, I think a 10 day live aboard is by far the best option. It is too far to go to be limited to a few dives a day in one location. Ed
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#15 AnemoneAmy

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:47 AM

Wow, I will have to read all of these great posts! Thanks everyone for the legwork already done. I'm sure that I will want to make the trip at least two to three weeks to justify the hassle of getting there. Since it is so expensive, I will prefer that this happen quite a bit after Galapagos. So, Dec. 2015 or later.




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