Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, with more than 17,500 islands in the equatorial archipelago, extending 5,150 kilometres / 3,200 miles east to west, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in Southeast Asia. The five largest islands are Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Sulawesi, and the western half of New Guinea known as West Papua. The islands are often mountainous, covered in dense rainforests, and many feature active volcanoes. Most of the smaller islands belong to larger groups, such as the Moluccas, also known as the Spice Islands.

On our maiden expedition to West Papua, we cruise in Raja Ampat, the jewel of West Papua. This area of Indonesia – part what is called The Coral Triangle, is home to arguably the most diverse marine life in the world. Here, you will encounter what enthralled British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, about this part of the world when he trekked through the Malay Archipelago in the mid-19th century, and discovered a biogeographical boundary that separated two distinct faunal universes. It became known as the Wallace Line and is the most famous biogeographical boundary in the world. This line runs through the narrow strait between Bali and Lombok.

Our voyage to West Papua will sail through this remarkable region, staying on the eastern side of the biogeographical line, exploring the wonders of the Coral Triangle and Misool Marine Reserve – included in Dr Sylvia Earle’s list of Hope Spots, ‘special places that are scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean.’ At Raja Ampat, immerse yourself in the picture-postcard scenery, both above and below the water, and encounter a natural treasure widely considered the ‘Amazon of the Seas,’ where six out of the seven species of sea turtles can be found!

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