01. My eventual route around the archipelago of islands to the west of the main island of Waigeo. In all it was 430 km. For greater detail and a zoomable map click on the green “Map” tab
02. The small Mandos Homestay was built on stilts over the sea. There were 4 rooms and a dining area. The kayaks belonging to RARCC organization Kayak4Conservation were stored near here and I was lucky to be able to rent one
03. The kayak I rented was made in Raja Ampat by RARCC. It was very robust. As part of the rental package I had to take a guide who I later had to dispense with. My guide was called Sony and he wasa local from near Saporkreng village
04. One of the small settlements on the eastern side of the large Karoei Bay. There were occasional beaches here between the rugged karst shoreline.
05. Approaching the North East corner of Karoei Bay where there was a cluster of islands and karst towers which spanned the mouth of a side bay where the village of Waroffa (Wawiyai) lay.
06. The simple unstaffed guesthouse at Feey Yef where we spent the first night. The food was brought by the care taker who lived in Waroffa who cooked it there and brought it to us
07. Heading west from Feey yef homestay across the northern shore of Karoei bay. Just after these karst towers is a river estuary covered in mangroves where there were some large crocodiles apparently
08. Warikaf homestay was in a small bay off the main Karoei Bay. It was near a tidal stream called Passage where the water flowed in and out with the tide.
09. There were some small coral beds around Warikay homestay some right under the houses on stilts and there was some good snorkeling around here.
10. About to head down the Passage which connects Warikaf homestay in Karoei Bay to the open sea. It was about 3 kilometres long and had a rich marine fauna.
11. The small island of Paniki was a tropical paradise with a simple homestay which unfortunately was closed
12. The homestay on Paniki island looked like it was abandoned and there was no sign of life on the tiny island
13. Some of the coral atolls and reefs which surrounded the east side of Pulau Gof Besar. Just beyond is the main Island of Waigeo and the unseen fishing hamlet of Waisilip
14. Heading west from Selabalam lapo homestay and just about to go round the end of the peninsula at the western tip of Waigeo Island to reach Sarpele village
15. The fishing and administritive village of Sarpele where I had to buy a very expensive and unnecessary boat entry permit to visit Wajag island in a weeks time.
16. Just about to set off from the Prajas homestay to go out into the open Pacific Ocean for the 30 kilometre crossing to Uranie Island. Sony is on the left and the homestay owner in the middle
17. Heading out into the Pacific Ocean from Salio en route to Uranie Island some 25 kilometres to the north. Sony was a good paddler in the sheltered waters but the exposure and swell unnervered him and we had to return to Salio where I had to get rid of him.
18. Crossing the equator some 3 kilometres to the west of the small island Sony called Manomono. This island was just off the NE corner of the large Kave Island
19. My idyllic campsite in the West Bay of Uranie Island. This whole island conjured up images of what Robinson Crusoe’s island must have been like
20. Looking south down the beach I was camped on in the West Bay of Uranie Island from the north end of the beach. My campsite and tent is just visible on the left and the baus entrance is on the right of the photo.
21. A sea horse feeding on the plankton and algae on the coral beds around the base of the karst citadels in the West bay on Uranie Island where I camped for 2 nights
22. Looking back from calm waters after paddling 5 kilometres along the north side of Uranie Island in an extremely lumpy sea with the threat of a undercut. razor-sharp, limestone coast to get dashed against it anything went wrong.
23. Back in the tranquility of the West Bay on Uranie Island aftewr having gone round it with the dangerous north coast and possibily the angry shark ramming on the south coast.
24. Aproaching Palau Coquille Island where there was a large swell on the exposed and north and east side (in the pioctures middle) onm the south side, beyond the tower to the left it was calm with a beautiful beach.
25. Threading a route through the islets on the south side of Palau Quoy island as I make my way to the beach under the steep peak to the photos left. This beach on Palau Quoy was still 3 kilometres away
26. On the beach on the south of Palau Quoy island looking south over the small breakers on the reef and beyond to the cluster of islets I had passed through en route from Palau Uranie island earlier in the day
27. Sunset on the beach on the south side of Palau Quoy where I spent the night camping in the hammock slung between trees hoping it would be cooler.
28. Looking west down the beach on Palau Quoy island where I spent the night. Even early in the morning the sun was merciless.
29. About to head off west from Palau Quoy in the excellent Kaskazi kayak which was produced locally. The voluminious hatches were vital as I had to take 40 litre bottles of fresh water with me, enough for about 12 days.
30. I had assumed I would be able to get a wide brimmed hat in Sorong before I left but the few shops only had hats which ladies could buy to go to church in. This kayak trip was one of the very few times I ever used sun cream such was the intensity.
31. Arriving at the Ranger Station on Wayag Island where I was to spend the next two nights. There were about 10 rangers here who worked on weekly rotas
33. The kayak on the beach by the ranger station at Wayag where I made base camp to explore the archipelago over the next 2 days
Heading north in the huge convuluted lagoon of Wayag exploring the various passages between the towers and ridges. Here I was trying to find the routh out to the north
34B. The narrow passage throughj the island of Wayag from the lagoon to the north side was blocked by a wall of 1.5-2 metre breaking waves
35. Having failed to paddle through to the passage on the north side of the archilelago I returned to the main lagoon and headed west into the heart of the dramatic scenery. Here I paddled over a shoal of fish.
36. On the second day I returned to the lagoon to paddle amongst the towers and search for an elusive route up one of the towers which was I knew existed but could not get information on its whereabouts
37. After many hours exploring I found by chance the route up a tower from the beach below. I was very steep with the occasional rope to haul up on. Here is the view looking west
38. Here is the view from the tower looking east over the archipelago and Wayag Island beyond. One of the most incredible places I have ever been.
39. The corals just off the jetty at the Wayag Ranger Station were stunning and were great to snorkel over with small carverns fuull of tropical fishes
40. A giant clam just by the jetty at the Wayag Ranger Station. This one was about a metre long and filtered water through it body inhaling in in the shown intake valve and expelling it in an unseen valve to the left
41. One of the Black Tipped Reef Sharks which was swimming in the bay off the Wayag Ranger Station. The sharks were apparently harmless despite being nearly 2 metres long
42. The beach in the south bay on Kave Island had no fresh water for bathing, which I craved.
43. The longboat at Sea Fans Homestay on Manyaifun Island where I stayed with 3 French, a Serb and a Russian for a night
44. The relative luxury of the shack which I shared with Sasha and Sergey. Here I ate fresh food and had a sweetwater shower
45. A fisherman on a longboat beside Miosarar Island which I passed en route from Manyaifun to Yefnabi Kesil islands
46. Some of the corals on the SE corner of Yefnabi Kesil Island where I would camp the night
47. The sea around Yefnabi Island was teeming with corals and shoals of fish
48. There were perhaps a hundred different spieces of fish swimming in the corals around Yefnabi Island, some in very large shoals with thousands of individuals
49. Swimming with Sergey, the Russian photographer, around Yefnabi Kesil island we passed over a paradise of corals and fish
50. There were also some magnificent coral clumps and coral fans which many of the smaller fish swam in the vicinity of and darted into them when anything suspicious or threatening appeared.
51. Andreas, who acted as lookout on the boat to spot the manta rays, preparing a meal for us in the evening on the small island of Yefnabi Kesil where I camped with the 3 French.
52, A near three metre manta ray gliding past me as I snorkelled amongst them. They were graceful filter feeders and completely harmless
53. The near metre wide mouth of a manta ray swimming towards me as I snorkelled in a pod of about 6 of them. They gracefully veered to the side to avoid a collision with me
54. An eagle ray which Natalie, one of the free diving Fench, took when I lent her my camera. It was about 15 metres deep and too much for me to dive down to.
55. The homestead at Piaynemo on the island of Fam Besir where I stayed for 2 nights was in a very spectacular archipelago
56. The Piaynemo archipelago on the island of Palau Penem in the Fam islands. It was like a small version of Wayag
57. One of the homestays on the island of Arborek. The island was quite busy with a handful of homestays, a small shop and a few diving businesses
58. Going up the channel by the eastern entrance to Beser Bay to the homestay where I pre-ordered lunch. Afterwards I went into the Jellyfush Lagoon to explore its warm waters surrounded by mangroves.
59. Sorkelling off the beach by the Tau Yado Homestay on Yendrbabo Beach was a magnificent and easy site with a rich variety of corals and large shoals of tropical fish
60. A typical longboat which is used all over Raja Ampat as the main means of travel. Ths one was at Tau Yado Homestay
61. Another one of the rustic homestays on Yendebabo beach. This one was called Kordiris Homestay and was quite simple with a few sleeping shacks on the beach and a lodge built on stilts over the water for dining in.
62. Passing the peaceful village of Yenbeser on my way back to Mandos Homestay at Saporkreng on my final day.
63, Returning to the homely Mandos Homestay at Saporkreng after 3 weeks with 430 kilometres paddlinmg behind me since I left it. Here I met the very helpful Tertius again who was based here for the season managing Kayak4Conservation