Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
"What's up? Tell us! "Telling Raja Ampat, not so simple. I feel like I've come back from the end of the world. I don't know where to start...
Return to West Papua
Above, the spectacular viewpoint on the islets of Fam, emblematic of Raja Ampat's landscapes... You can see Otto, my great Papuan dive guide, and my partner Sarah.
Raja Ampat, they are crumbs of karst rock covered with primary forest in the middle of a sea of coral. It's an archipelago in Papua, ruled by Indonesia. It's a (still) preserved nature (but for how long?) where the National Geographic comes to film sharks and manta rays. It is a paradise of biodiversity for divers avid for underwater wonders.
To reach the island of Kri, in Raja Ampat, I traveled 14,994 km exactly from Rennes, according to the site Tripline with which I drew the route below (click on Show Map). The end of the world.
In January 2015, nearly three years have passed since my very first trip to Raja Ampat. The archipelago is located in West Papua, in the far east of Indonesia. I dream of going back there. That's where I did the most beautiful dives of my life.
I take the plane a few days after the attacks against Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher of the Porte de Vincennes in Paris. After the horror, I have in my line of sight two weeks of vacation and carelessness.
This departure makes me feel like a balm after these terrifying events. There is something soothing about contemplating the Earth from above, sliding across time zones at night, leaving one world for another. The iPhone turns into a moment sensor.
It's a long journey, therefore. It starts at Rennes station, with the TGV which takes me directly to Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Approximately 3 hours journey.
First aerial section : Paris-Jakarta via Dubai on Emirates Airlines. About 14 hours in the air and a short stopover in the middle. Upon arrival, I planned a night's rest near the Jakarta airport before taking off the next day for Papua.
Second air route: Jakarta-Sorong via Makassar on Garuda Airlines. Nearly 6 hours in the air with a somewhat long stopover in the middle.
I arrive at Sorong at daybreak. There are only about fifteen minutes drive to the pier and an hour and a half by speedboat to reach my goal: Kri Island.
I'm often asked about the time spent in transport... For this ladled trip from Rennes, it represents about 24 hours in all. With the stopovers and if you allow yourself a night's rest, it takes a total of nearly two days to reach Raja Ampat from Europe! But it's worth it.
During the crossing between Sorong and Kri, a school of dolphins cross our path, as a happy omen. When the familiar triangle of Kri begins to become clearer on the horizon, I can't wait!
I'm going to find the island I've been dreaming of for so long months. I will see again the pontoon of Sorido Bay Resort and its incredible blue hole in the middle of the coral. And then, above all, this fabulous, extraordinary, unique profusion of life underwater. Raja Ampat, finally!
A little historical-political reminder: the western half of the huge island of New Guinea, once colonized by the Dutch, was annexed by Indonesia in the 1960s (the eastern half became the independent state of Papua New Guinea). At the time, the Indonesian army committed massacres. Nowadays, a Papuan separatist movement continues to take action and the Indonesian authorities do not hesitate to brutally repress any demonstration, even peaceful ones. Riots broke out in August 2019. in West Papua (in Manokwari, Sorong and Fakfak, among others) after the arrest of Papuan independence students in Java, against a backdrop of racist tensions: the government has then cut the internet in Papua and sent a thousand soldiers In 2017, almost twenty years after the Biak massacre (1998), the Indonesian military and police have carried out mass arrests in Nabire and Sentani, whilea petition for West Papua was trying in the same year to make the voice of Papuans heard on the international stage. I'm closing this parenthesis, but when you go there as a tourist, you have to be aware that the region is unstable and not quite a "paradise" for everyone...