By Dian Hasan | July 22, 2010
Raja Ampat means “four kings”, referring to the islands Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and Misool. This region on the north-western tip of New Guinea comprises about 610 islands spread over 50,000 sq km of spectacular scenery. Here we also find the remote islands of Misool a scenic range of majestic limestone structures with precipitous cliffs and craggy spires.
According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth. Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.
- Over 1,000 species of fish
- Over 700 molluscs
- Over 540 species of scleractinian (hard) corals = 75% of the world total
- 4.6 million hectares of reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and rocky coastline
- Scarcely populated and minimal industrial development
No wonder that this ecosystem attracts more and more divers and is earmarked by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Culture for future eco-tourism development. With this in mind, the Government of Indonesia is looking to nominate the archipelago as a World Heritage Site.
Some of the highlights include the great dives and under as well as above water caves of Misool, the blue water mangroves, the reefs of the Fam Islands, the fish and manta rays of the Dampier straight, the pearl farm at Aljui Bay and the great karst islands of the Wayag Archipelago. Then there are the extensive mangrove forests and the many deserted beaches. Some excellent diving can be found in the “blue water mangroves” just west of the Island of Misool. In the north there is some superb critter diving at Waigeo Island and great coral and fish dives in Dampier Straight.
The underwater world is enchanting with the greatest and healthiest coral reef biodiversity of its size in the world, nearly 1,200 species of fish and 540 species of coral have been recorded, 70% of the world’s total number of coral species.
By Dian Hasan | July 22, 2010
Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the straits between Sumba and Flores and consists of the three larger islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones. Because of its unique geology, the islands have developed equally unique wildlife. With dragons on land and a utopia underwater, you will find an array of dive sites and hiking trails to suit every level of experience.
From pristine corals, mantas, sharks, turtles, dolphins, dugong and giant pelagics to tiny pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs and frog fish, you’ll find the diversity of marine life inspiring if not mind boggling. The islands feature a dramatic wild savannah landscape with patches of forest especially on the southern hills of Komodo and Rinca. White and red sand beaches, blue lagoons teeming with fish and some of the most spectacular underwater scenery in the world entice divers and guests from around the world.
The underwater topography is as varied as the marine life it homes. Dive sites vary from gentle coral slopes to sheer cliff walls, channels, flat bottoms, pinnacles, caves, swim-throughs and a host of hard and soft corals. From the Flores Sea in the north, the warm waters gradually become cooler as you travel southwards into the Indian Ocean.
By Dian Hasan | July 21, 2010
Few people realize that Bali’s immense popularity as a world travel destination has made it into a cruise center, from where cruises carrying divers and surfers ply the oceans east of Bali to explore Lesser Sunda Islands of Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores, West Timor and further afield. The leading attraction in these waters is of course the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) giant monitor lizard that inhabits the island that forms the Komodo National Park.
Bali’s cruise industry is mostly made up of the smaller, human-scale live-aboard ships fashioned from the traditional Phinisi schooners and converted into modern ocean-plying sail boats.
Until recently, however, most of these majestic Phinisi were better looking on the outside, and the interior was reduced to an afterthought. It was all rustic and traditional, not that much different from the ambience found in the fishing villages where the Bugis crafted Phinisis.
Luckily, some forward-thinking liveaboard operators, understood that the market was looking for something better. Something with an umph! Hence, designers were commissioned, some style quotient got kicked in, and voila!… a new crop of luxury phinisi emerges. Seven Seas is a clear precursor. Continue reading
One of North America’s pioneers of eco-friendly hotels, Sundance Resort in was conceived with minimizing its negative imprint on the immediate environment, back in 1969 when land for the resort was purchased.
Sundance Resort, in North Fork Provo Canyon in Utah, is probably more famous for its owner – Hollywood former leading man and director, Robert Redford – who has been leading in his conservation and community-led endeavors since stepping away from Hollywood limelight some two decades ago.
This is the perfect venue for a rustic yet chic destination wedding or honeymoon anytime of the year. The atmosphere is romantic, and adventure options abound. Winter is perfect for skiing and snowboarding, and the rest of the year you can hike, bike, horseback ride, even kayak down the river. If you’re not the adventurous type, fret not. Relax at the spa or unleash your creative side at the art shack workshop. The restaurants offer 5-star dining and terrific wine list.
Sundance has several areas to hold a ceremony and reception. Its largest – Rehearsal Hall – accommodates 250 guests and has a great view of the pond.
Sundance Resort has a long standing history of Green policies, dating back to the property’s original purchase (1969). Continue reading
By Dian Hasan | July 15, 2010
Fresh on the heels of FIFA World Cup 2010, everything African seem to be in vogue. The continent which offers so much natural beauty is finally getting the exposure it deserves, with travel getting the immediate boost. The continent that invented the safari, is now spearheading hospitality design and responsible tourism into a bold new direction: eco-friendly designers digs, whether in tents, more permanent accommodations, and now… even on water. Design is the new catchphrase!
Africa’s first luxury river safari has been launched: The 135-foot-long Zambezi Queen is the first eco-friendly, floating boutique hotel in Southern Africa. Its inaugural journey a few weeks ago in Botswana marks a major departure in high-end river experiences and a landmark event in African tourism.
The state-of-the-art ship takes guests along Botswana’s great Chobe River, which boasts one of the densest populations of wildlife on the African continent. The chic, contemporary design of the Zambezi Queen set against the backdrop of the African wilderness creates a unique experience. All fourteen suites are tastefully furnished with either a double or two single beds. Private balconies in all rooms offer unparalleled views of the African wildlife along the river.
By Dian Hasan | July 9, 2010
Many travelers who visit Raja Ampat come back with a common story: “If paradise existed on earth it must be Raja Ampat”! Such is the breathtaking beauty of nature that astounds any one who ventures the enormous distance to get there.
It is said that none other then Jacques Cousteau was responsible for discovering Raja Ampat decades ago, identifying as part of The Coral Triangle.
The Coral Triangle is a geographical term referring to the tropical marine waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste that contain at least 500 species of reef-building corals in each ecoregion. This region encompasses portions of two biogeographic regions: the Indonesian-Philippines Region, and the Far Southwestern Pacific Region. The Coral Triangle is considered to be the global epicenter of marine biodiversity,  and a global priority for conservation. For this reason, WWF considers the region as a top priority for marine conservation, and the organization is addressing the threats it faces through its Coral Triangle Program, launched in 2007. ~ wikipedia
Located on a private island in Raja Ampat, Misool Eco Resort is fringed by powder-white beaches and protected by stunningly clear lagoons and abundant reefs. This truly eco-friendly resort has only nine deluxe water cottages and a brand-new beautiful villa, all built with indigenous materials by local artisans. Every single piece of construction wood and all the furniture was milled or carved from salvaged driftwood and free-fallen timbers, thus creating a living art gallery for all visitors and staff. While eco-friendly, the accommodations are luxurious with natural stone flooring, ceiling fans, air-conditioning (the walls are insulated and plastered to keep the cool in), full bathrooms, large verandas with inviting hammocks, and lovely views over the ocean even from your bed.
Tambo del Inka, the first luxury hotel to break ground in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas (and Luxury Collection’s second property in Peru), opened its doors today. Its location, smack in between the historic ruins of Machu Picchu and the modern city of Cusco, seems to be echoed in the hotel’s ethos—its 128 floor-to-ceiling-windowed rooms are decorated in keeping with ancient Peruvian tradition, while its bright, contemporary architecture (from Miami-based firm Arquitectonica) leaves no modern luxury to be desired.
We love the property’s authentic details, and trust us, you will not be at a loss for things to do here—you can hit the spa (directly accessible from all guest rooms) for indigenous treatments, sample Novo Andina locavore cuisine at in-house Hawa restaurant, or take a train from the hotel’s private station up to the hilltop Macchu Picchu.
Surrounded by an abundance of natural—the Andes and Vilcanota mountains, the Urubamba river, Lake Piuray—and historical beauty, not to mention easy access to the country’s capital city to alleviate travel-day hassle, this super-new, super-gorgeous hotel is high on our list of new-comers. Special introductory rates start at $387 through September 2010.
Source: Travel & Leisure