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yahsemtough

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

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OK I head to Raja Amphat, Indonesia in January.

 

My flights are to Sorong but, my return is the real question. I have 2 options and I am wondering what other experience may have been in the area.

 

I need to connect with the Silk Air flight in Manado on the 23rd which leaves Manado at 1:40pm. We get off the boat in Sorong on the 22nd in the morning. There is not direct flight bad to Manado on the 22nd. The Flight on Lion Air leaves Sorong and arrives in Manado at 10am on the 23rd. Silk Air said that is enough time for transfer.

 

My other option is Merpati Air on the 22nd. It leaves Sorong at 1:30pm to Ujung Pandang and then leaves for Manado at 21:00 on Lion Air arriving at 22:30pm.

 

Which flight am I better taking?

 

Todd

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Hi Todd,

 

When we were there last month, we took the Lion Air flight back to Manado and had more than enough time to connect (remember, there is a one-hour time difference between Sorong and Manado so you gain that going back). In fact, since the Silk Air counter doesn't even open until about two hours before the flight, we were sitting on our suitcases for quite a while waiting for them to get ready for us.

 

As for the reliability of any of the airlines -- hard to say. Word around there was that Merpati was not very reliable and were horrible for overweight charges on luggage. However, when we flew out to Sorong, Lion Air canceled our flight and we ended up on the 4AM (yes, 4AM) flight out of Manado on Merpati. We made the 4AM flight after our 0030 wakeup call at Lembeh and I can also confirm that their overweight charge was more than the Lion Air one.

 

Another thing -- it is much better for overweight charges if you can only do one leg -- most airlines charge by how far you fly so you'd be paying more for excess luggage on the one-stop flight. By the way -- be sure to ask for your scuba allowance when they are calculating your overweight charge . . .

 

Hope this helps,

 

Mike

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Hey Mike thanks,

 

I had you and Deb in mind specifically when I was posting this. If Deb does this trip regularily does she usually just book back and connect onto Silk Air on the same day with Lion Air?

 

On the way to Sorong I am flying in the day before.

 

I will certainly keep the overweight issue in mind I am working on trimming weight right now from the pile of luggage in the spare bedroom.

 

So you seem to think the 23rd with the connection should be fine and better than Merpati also...

 

Thanks again for the help

 

Someday we will end up on the same boat. We seem to be going to the same places.

 

Todd

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She booked all of us (at least those of us going back through Manado) onto the same-day itinerary this time. Last year the flights were on a different schedule and we had no choice but overnight in Manado. The same-day flight on Lion/Wings is certainly the cleaner solution. With all the airlines out there, though, there will be uncertainty. If it matters to you, Merpati seems to fly bigger planes. Our Merpati fllight was a 737 (though suffice it to say is was NOT a newer variant), the Lion/Wings flight was a turbopop. Merpati was packed full -- Lion was half-full allowing us to put large carryon luggage in the seats in the back.

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Thanks Mike this info really helps.

 

Either way I end up on Lion Air as it is Lion Air from Ujung Pandang after flying Merpati from Sorong. As for uncertainty, I hear you that is my consern. Any North American Airline and I would be a little less worried but, some of them still have their issues too for lack of on-time flights.

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I've not been to Roger's Armpit, but would very much like to. I am looking forward to seeing your pix from that trip, Todd.

 

Alex

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Thanks Alex,

 

I'm pretty excited about the trip. 17 days on the boat.

 

I plan to try the Magic filter for the first time and probably give the teleconverter/diopter combination a tryout also.

 

Robert Delfs will also be on the boat.

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I made sure to give myself plenty of slack by staying at Manado the day before going to Sorong, then staying at the Marriot (Note the one T) in Sorong on the way back before taking the first flight to Manado, where I stayed another night. Sounds lengthy but Manado is not a bad place to stay and Sorong is an experience!

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Hmm they told me to fly into Sorong the day before the boat left to ensure my luggage makes it. Granted they did mention to bring a good book for the overnight in the Sorong Hotel.

 

Sounds like you have flown in the day of your depature... <_<

 

John what was your experiences with the airlines to and from Sorong?

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Basically, all of the little domestic airlines in Indonesia (Merpati, Lion, etc.) seem pretty flaky as far as cancelling flights.

 

OTOH, my experience with Lion and Merpati (3 trips, involving multiple flights on both) suggests that if a flight is not cancelled, it's likely to be roughly on time, so (as Mike said), the Lion air flight directly from Sorong to Manado should get you there in plenty of time to make your connection there.

 

The best thing, of course, is to at least allow an extra day before your big international flights (e.g., out of Singapore), so that if you do get stuck somewhere, you can still catch some later flight to Singapore and make your connection home. But it doesn't sound like that's an option for you, and I don't always practice what I preach either -- I have twice nearly missed the Indonesian flight that would enable me to catch my flight out of Singapore.

 

Bottom line in your case? I'd stick with the Lion flight from Sorong to Manado. Going the other route, where you have twice as many flights that might get cancelled, just seems like you're doubling your risk, not reducing it.

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Good points.

 

If I miss my flight to Singapore I have 24 hours till my next flight would leave Singapore for North America. So probably some way to rearrange in a long routed way to get to Singapore if worse case.

 

Or, I'll let Silk Air know I'm with Wetpixel and they would surely hold the plane for me. :D

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Good info in this topic guys, very useful for anyone thinking about a trip to Raja Ampat. I moved it to the travel section where I think it will be easier to find.

 

Luiz

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Been to Sorong a few times. 3 via Manado and twice via Makassar/Ujung Pandang. Neither Lion or Merpati can be considered reliable. Merpati cancelled my flight out of Biak 4 times in 4 days.

So basically, I'd take overnighting in Manado as 1st choice since Sorong is a malaria area (but a very fun place to visit if you are into WWII stuff) and Ujung Pandang isn't exactly a fun place either. As a canadian, you shouldn't have to worry too much in that town esp at the airport :D

There are 2 big hotels in the city of Manado, all within 20 mins of the airport. The Gran Puri is cheaper and busier. The Ritzy is on the waterfront and probably more accessible to internet, nightlife etc. I pick the Ritzy every time except once when I chose the Grand Puri.

SIA will not hold the flight for you but depending on what connection you are going for it's pretty easy to find a flight within 24 hrs. Going to YYZ there are 3 flights daily SIN- FRA and 2 flights from FRA-YYZ. Only problem is that MDC-SIN is 4 times weekly. And since the 23rd is a monday... your next flight would be wed. In that case, go dive a day in Lembeh or Manado on rental wetsuits.

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<_<

 

John what was your experiences with the airlines to and from Sorong?

My flights (Lion/Wings) went on time but in each case I used the first of the day. That way delays and ensuing cancellations do not build up.

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My return on Silk Air is booked for the 23rd and then from Singapore onward home.

 

I have been to Manado the last 2 years so I am good on accomodations should I fly back to Manado from Sorong on the 22nd. Just more worried about which routing ends up being the better to make that connection on the 23rd.

 

Malaria...hmmm I didn't get that one. Got enough of the other shots this year. Only on land for 1 day coming and going. WOnder if I should consider that one. I know it is a possibility in Sorong area.

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Papua Barat is a malarial area. SInce you'll be on the boat most the time that's not a consideration, but if you are staying in sorong overnight, well be prepared. malaria is not fun on a plane. One of my dive buddies had to endure some serious stuff. Good thing I had spare Malarone for treatment but he was miserable all the way back to LA and that was the direct flight. Then he had to be evaced to Cedar Sinai upon landing.

Malarone is the most friendly of malarial prophalactics, with short application periods and fewer side effects than the other known pills.

My suggestion would be to go to Manado and stay the night there. It's a pain to fly the route via UP but safer to catch your international flight. So this way if the SOR-MDC gets canceled on the 22nd you have a backup 23rd.

In UP, since you have such a long wait, you may want to hire a taxi and head to the Banteng (fortress). It's nothing spectacular but a fun way to kill a few hours. Or you can head to the harbor to watch the phinisi fishing boats come in with their catch. Lots of big fish (which is why we don't see them that often in Indo waters anymore).

Btw I think it's now Makassar again.

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I'll probably be taking anti-malarials (malarone) in this trip, at least until I get a sense of where Larry likes to anchor the boat. Malaria mosquitos don't like to fly over water, but sometimes the boat ends up close enough to shore for them to make the journey. Also, I got bit pretty bad on the forehead while shooting over-unders on snorkel in the mangroves on my last trip to RE. It was midday, so those probably weren't the malaria kind (but they might have been the dengue or encephalitis kind!). Anyway, the next time I try that I'm wearing a hood and drenching my head with DEET. Malaria is doing well in West Papua this year, credited with causing or contributing to the deaths of 55 people last month.

 

Note that malarone doesn't really protect you against vivax, just falciparum malaria, but that's the one you really want protection against. Vivax just makes you sick, falciparum is the one that can kill you.

 

Larium (meflaquine, if I'm spelling it right, in the US) is definitely what you don't what to take as a prophylactic, for lots of good reasons, but it's good to have some on hand as a treatment drug - better than malarone in case you actually get it, and it's effective against vivax as well as falciparum. Once you take Larium, the diving stops, of course.

 

I went to see Widja (H20) today to see about the flights to Soring, still have no f***ing idea. But she said she'd send me an email with the flights that would work. I'll sort it out later in the week.

 

Frogfish

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Widya has been very helpful to me. Although she keeps typing December on the flight dates. Not sure if she is pulling my leg but when you have mutiple days of flights, missing one causes a mountain slide.

 

Tell her thank you for all her help.

 

I have gone with the Lion Air flight on the 23rd of January as Steve said it has been reliable. The other routing south adds flights and risk in my mind. Although the Manado resort says come to Manado on the 22nd. Anyway worse case I probably could change my mind last minute just before departing the boat.

 

If you get into Sorong on the 4th let me know and we can hang out and look for mosquitos. :) Widya has booked me into some place for the night. Or, tell Larry to let us on the boat early. :D Steve mentioned the Hotel is well and "experience". :D

 

PM or email me when you clarify you trip schedule.

 

I look forward to meeting you and getting some great shots.

 

Todd

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Timely discussion....... I'm heading that way in March. I don't even know what my air from Manado to Sorong will be (Kararu is booking it). So I played it very safe and am getting into Manado a day early, and spending 2 nights in Manado on the way back because I was afraid to book connecting flights. I'm getting into Manado on a Sat. so the next flight to Singapore is Mon. One more night in paradise can't be all bad.... right? Besides my Singapore air ticket is non changeable (consolidator fare).

 

What's the diving like in late March/early April?

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It should still be fine in March/April, though that's getting near the end of the "season" in RE. I used to have a chart showing monthly variation in rain and sea conditions, but I can't find it at the moment. We had rain a few days last year, otherwise perfect weather (and the rain helped with our fresh water problems) - that was the only time I've been before.

 

Anyway, it's not like you're going to change your plans if I told you the weather wouldn't be perfect, right?

 

I strongly urge you to check out the REA (Rapid Environmental Assessments) for RE on The Nature Conservancy's Coral Triangle Center website

 

TNC Coral Triangle Center

 

Click on reports on the left-hand side. There are two very useful reports there:

 

- Donnelly R., Neville D., Mous P. 2003. Report on a rapid ecological assessment of the Raja Ampat Islands, Papua, Eastern Indonesia, held October 30 – November 22, 2002. Report from The Nature Conservancy Southeast Asia Center for Marine Protected Areas, Sanur, Bali Indonesia. 246 p (pdf, 5,500Kb). High resolution version (pdf, 15,250 Kb).

 

Or jump Here

 

 

- Erdmann M.V. & Pet J.S 2002. A rapid marine survey of the northern Raja Ampat Islands (Eastern Indonesia). Report from Henry Foundation/The Nature Conservancy/NRM/EPIQ. 36 p (pdf, 699 Kb).

 

Or jump Here2

 

There is also a very good REA done by CI (written by Sheila McKenna, Gerald R. Allen and suer Suryadi) that used to be up on the site, but it seems to have been removed.

 

The only problem with the direct flights between Manado and Singapore is that I don't get to meet people who would otherwise be transiting Bali.

 

 

 

Robert

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I certainly didn't intend that last post to be a converation stopper. I hope it's only because people have downloaded the Rapid Ecological Assessment on Raja Empat from the TNC site and are busy reading it!

 

Frogfish

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I did read some of the REA, very interesting stuff for an old marine ecology student like myself.

 

Of course I wouldn't cancel my trip because of weather concerns. I was mainly wondering what kind of currents, vis, temps, to prepare for.

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www.iriandiving.com has some good sections on weather/rainfall/water temp etc if you want to look at it....pretty good resort too, by the way!

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