As we woke up, we noticed a group of nine frigatebirds cruising under some wispy clouds. We are still in the Raja Ampat region, a diving and snorkelling paradise. It is difficult to reach other than by sea and therefore relatively untouched. It is very exciting to see the richest biodiversity in the world for ourselves.
The nature of an expedition is that plans can change. Yesterday, we could not visit a local village, but expedition leader Lyle Gwin made possible a visit to another colourful village today, Sawandarek. After breakfast, we ferried over in Zodiacs. The region is not very developed, and the villagers were looking forward to meeting us. The culture of Indonesia is just as diverse as the sea life. We had time to wander through the village and interact with children and adults, and some of us opted to go snorkelling nearby in the local reef. We returned to the ship for another expertly prepared lunch with many choices.
Snorkelling was planned for the afternoon, but we learned that crocodiles had been sighted in the area. We invoked plan B, which turned out to be an excellent choice: a Zodiac cruise through the many limestone rocks covered with tropical rainforest and inhabited by a number of bird species. They also have an endemic palm species here, Wallaceodoxa raja-ampat, of which we saw plenty. We investigated the mangroves and found orchids and many rainforest plants. Another unique perspective of this special area opened up for us. We returned to the ship after taking more photos and then we got ready for the final night. Captain Fred is always entertaining in his speeches during cocktail hour, and this was followed by a very special farewell dinner. Tomorrow, we have to say goodbye, but this experience will stay with us for a long time. We look forward to our next expedition.