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Komodo or Raja Ampat


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#1 loftus

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 07:37 AM

I recently won a liveaboard trip in the UWPG competition with Kararu in Indonesia. The only dive trip I've ever made in that part of the world is Sipadan.
It appears that there are two itinerary / schedule choices, Komodo area or Raja Ampat area. I'd like some input as to which to choose and why. From a photography perspective wide angle is my primary interest, sharks and bigger animals if possible. Anyone interested enough can look at their itineraries here
http://www.kararu.co...s.php?year=2011
Thanks for any help or input; also if anyone has been with this outfit and has any input as to their boats etc, I'd appreciate your input.

Edited by loftus, 26 January 2011 - 07:39 AM.

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#2 John Bantin

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 07:40 AM

I recently won a liveaboard trip in the UWPG competition with Kararu in Indonesia. The only dive trip I've ever made in that part of the world is Sipadan.
It appears that there are two itinerary / schedule choices, Komodo area or Raja Ampat area. I'd like some input as to which to choose and why. From a photography perspective wide angle is my primary interest, sharks and bigger animals if possible. Anyone interested enough can look at their itineraries here
http://www.kararu.co...s.php?year=2011
Thanks for any help or input



I'd go for Raja Ampat but a northern itinerary that includes Kri. The diving is quite tough but this is where all the action is!
(Others may differ of course.) Komodo is also fun!

Edited by John Bantin, 26 January 2011 - 08:34 AM.

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#3 loftus

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 07:43 AM

Thanks John
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#4 philsokol

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 08:21 AM

Hi Jeff,

I've been to both twice and would do either again. The first thing to consider is getting there. For Komodo and that area, you can make Bali your international gateway and then it's an easy couple hour flight to Luanbajo or Maumere. If you've never been, spend some time in Bali on either end - it is a magical place (bring an extra suitcase for shopping!).

Sorong is a little more involved from my experience. You can get there from Manado via Singapore - Changi is the the airport to which all others aspire and the connection to Manado is easy from the US with a cushy overnight in Changi. Once in Manado, you can always spend a couple days in Lembeh. The downside here is I've heard the Manado-Sorong flight, while short, is not 100% reliable, especially when it comes to having all your gear travel with you. If you go this way, you might want to build an extra day in to allow for luggage snafu's. Unfortunately, Sorong is, how shall we say, a less picturesque place to hang out than Bali. The other way to Sorong is through Jakarta, overnight there and then Makassar (Ujang Pandang) to Sorong. This is essentially another full travel day. I don't know if you can make it to Sorong going Bali-UPG-Sorong without a forced overnight in UPG.

Diving-wise, they're both great and have their pluses. From my limited experience, you have the chance to see more sharks in Komodo and there's a great manta site at Lang Koi. Horseshoe Bay and Cannibal rock are excellent macro sites and there's also a resident pair of sea eagles who'll provide great photo ops as they fish or pick up scraps from the boat. And of course, there's the dragons.

Rajah Ampat doesn't have a lot of big stuff, except a couple good manta sites. There are however, lots of interesting wide angle opportunities - Boo Island (with it's "windows"), the Passage, a couple jetties, giant fans and big schools of fish if you're lucky. I found my night dives here were far superior to Komodo. The reefs in both places can be lush and fishy.

I've also been on the Cheng Ho. It's huge and comfortable. All the wooden phinisi boats leak to some extent if it starts raining on you, but the Cheng Ho is a sieve. When I was on it, several of us had water in our cabins and they had to have plastic sheets over the charging station. This was two years ago, so I don't know if that's still the case.

PM me if there's anything else I can add.

You will have an awesome trip on either route!

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#5 Drew

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 12:01 PM

An older controversy about Kararu can be found here:
http://wetpixel.com/...showtopic=21759

For WA sharks and big fish, sell the trip and go somewhere else :island:
Big fish is kinda tough to find in Indo. You get GTs, fleeting glimpses of yellow fin tuna etc. Black/white tip sharks with a few grays thrown in are the type of sharks you'll see but not in abundance. Once in a while, a hammer will pop up.Sharks have been decimated all over Indo (and where it's not, I'm not saying where they are! ;)) The Napoleon Wrasse population is coming back but they are skittish unlike the fed ones at other destinations. You do have mantas and if you are lucky and the moon phase, viz and current are right, you get a mini-Hanifaru(about 10-15%) going occasionally.
In R4, the biggest fish around is probably the QLD Groupers around Misool. I've seen really big ones deep, but they are skittish and avoid people (understandably so since they are hunted still!). Of course, R4 is also a place where there are salty crocs, but they are usually more afraid of people and swim off.
Why one goes to Komodo and R4 in general is for coral health and biodiversity. You get the bigger fish in Komodo because Komodo Park is more protected.
If you want a shot of bigger stuff and you have fellow guests who are a bit more gungho (and you charm the cruise director to give you a bit of leeway), the cetacean migration route pass Alor can be pretty awesome. I've dived with pods of Melon Heads, Long Fin Pilots, Frasers (skittish but if you get a shot underwater, it's a rare shot!) and spotted dolphins, not to mention Sperm and Sei whales. These chances are pretty rare and you have to do the Alor itinerary to get that chance.
There is a resident 200+ pod of melon heads and frasers dolphins which roam around the Banda Sea. So I'd also check the Ambon-Sorong itinerary. Confused yet?

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#6 scorpio_fish

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 02:56 PM

I'm quite partial to the wide angle in Raja. If you do the Ambon to Sorong itinerary, you can use Bali as a gateway and not have to overnight in Makassar. Plus, you can arrive in Ambon early and dive there.

I'm pretty sure you could close your eyes and point at the computer screen and do just fine.
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#7 elbuzo

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 05:37 PM

Buddy

I went to Raja Ampat on the Kararu ( Oct/2009) and loved the place . It's true you will not see many big fishes but the reefs and the abundance of school of colorful fishes will give you plenty oportunities to fill some cards. I saw mantas , wobbegong sharks ( pretty nice subjects by the way ) some groups of mobulas and some dogtooh tuna ;but what you lack on the big side is compensated with the huge biodeversity and the amazing top side views of some of the islands . Also sometimes you can feel that you are in one of the most remote places on the planet without seeing another boat nor people for days.

The boat is nice , big, roomy ( i had a single room , and was the biggest i ever had on a liveaboard ) and slow ; i really liked . No problem with leaking but we have no rain , i remember that they mentioned they fixed the problem.

On that trip i met several people that have been to Komodo and they rave about the place .

If i have the chance i go to Raja Ampat again without hesitation .

It's important that you choose the right time of the year to go there , i heard that viz can be pretty bad sometimes . I think best time is Oct-Nov. and March-April .

My trip departured from Ambon and i arrived there from Bali trough Makassar . Bali is great but if you go with the boss , you better take 2 empty suitcases ;-) . I love Bali and the diving there , not big fishes unless you go on the mola mola season but some nice scenics below and above water . Ambon is great for macro only .

Any other question let me know

JA

#8 MikeVeitch

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 01:50 AM

Kararu is currently using the Aurora as their ship, saw them the other day.
For Raja I would suggest feb or march for best viz. Komodo can be in the 60s temp wise ;)
Lots of mantas in both places, nothing else big. Drew, saw melon heads odd kri couple weeks ago, but they bolted. Some big baleens off batanta as well, not sure what kind, I would guess fin or sei as they were big! Didn't see any whales in alor or banda :island:

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#9 loftus

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 03:03 AM

Thanks for all that info folks; as always WP comes through as the place to get the info you need. Sounds like I will be aiming for Feb / March 2012 to RA.
Komodo will have to wait....so many places, so little time.
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#10 Drew

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 05:24 AM

Didn't see any whales in alor or banda ;)

And what month is this? :D Plus the cetaceans will always bolt when they hear you coming :island:

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#11 blueline

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 08:34 AM

Thanks for all that info folks; as always WP comes through as the place to get the info you need. Sounds like I will be aiming for Feb / March 2012 to RA.
Komodo will have to wait....so many places, so little time.



Either one should be an excellent choice not to be missed (dive there at least once in a lifetime).

I did Komodo in Feb last year and ended up to be myself and my dive buddy on the boat (everyone else canceled fearing it was a bad time to go). Couldn't get any better. Also, diving at Horseshoe bay for 2 days with only 3 people in the water was an experience. Snorkeling was also pretty good with decent visibility. Dec-Feb is the best time to dive Horseshoe bay in terms of water temps. Summertime it gets really cold. The north side had so-so visibility with a lot of plankton/marine snow in the water, however, we saw a whale shark by Crystal Rock. I'd say Dec-Feb might provide the best of both worlds (North-South side) at Komodo.

As for RA, I'm pretty sure it won't disappoint you either..

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#12 okuma

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 07:19 PM

Standard gear on any phinisi is 2 plastic paint tarps.
Generally the problem with these boats is the lack of a sub floor under the deck. When it is dry, the deck caulking shrinks and then it rains and leaks for a while into your room. A couple of plastic will keep your bedding dry.
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#13 elbuzo

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 06:52 PM

Forgot to specify ... the Kararu's boat that i was in , was the Cheng Ho .

#14 JayKav

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 08:28 AM

Considering the Aurora boat for late september this year along the Komodo-Flores route. Anyone have any experience with boat/trip?