Monday, October 21, 2013

Wonders of Papua

After getting jerry jugs of fuel from a service station with the help of our agent's helper, we were finally ready to leave Tual Indonesia on October 20th (supposedly the stations will not sell fuel to jerry juggers because of the bombing in Bali 10 years ago where the bombers used jerry jugs of fuel).

It was an overnight sail to the west end of Papua - Indonesia shares this large island with Papua New Guinea. The poorest people of Indonesia reside in mostly the villages and countryside of Papua. SV Relapse had recommended that we stop here to see the big freshwater waterfall that drops into the ocean. It was indeed stunning as we dropped anchor (S03°53.453' E132°49.300') on the 21st of October.

Our digital charts (OpenCPN) showed us anchored 1 nautical mile inland but we were actually in 5 metres of clear sandy bottom. The only way to the waterfall is by air or water and there are no roads connecting the few towns of Papua.

Sea Turtle by waterfall

As we approached, we saw 1 large whale as it was feeding and scooping up fish in its wide open jaws. We had to quickly stop to avoid him, oblivious in his feeding. It would continually rise to the surface as it made another swipe for fish. We hadn't seen a whale for about a year till now.

The shallows were an incredible colour of emerald green. There were many small rocky islets and the cliffs of Papua were steep and verdant. It was so peaceful. We were all alone (no more chanting being blasted from minarets!) with just the blissful crashing of water as it thundered into the ocean.

Time to explore so we took the dinghy over to 2 small tree covered islets and were astonished to see and hear thousands if not millions of cute fruit bats. There was no beach area but we didn't wish to go ashore - it was amazing to watch so many bats. A once in a lifetime experience I am sure.

They were scrambling up tree vines stuck to the sheer wall using their tiny clawed wings. Others would stay stationary and hug their wings around their bodies to conserve heat as they peered wonderingly back at us. It may sound weird but these bats were honestly really cute with their fox-like faces.

Are you lookin' at me??

The noise of the dinghy outboard excited them so they took to flight to go to the nearby next islet. It was a mass exodus with the high-pitched shrill screaming of their call!

Check out the awesome wing structure of this lone bat...

Once we finally tired of watching the bats, we decided to see if we could get the dinghy behind the large waterfall with gallons of water crashing with such force. It was fresh in more ways than 1 - it was also refreshingly cold!

Looking out from behind the falls!

There were so many smaller waterfalls - in 200 metres, we counted about 10. A small fishing boat came in and anchored in the next cove for a short washing off in the small falls of that cove before moving off.

There were many coves and hidden paradises. We dinghied in and out of many but this was 1 of our favourites. Jordan even saw a jumping trevally fish but unfortunately we did not bring a fishing rod with us on our explorations.

Charming cove

We hung out at 1 of the many white sandy beaches. The sand was so fine it was just like the consistency of flour. We don't think too many cruisers stop here as there were lots of shells lying about.

Fine sand, fine man

We were also able to get the dinghy right inside a couple of the caves in the neighbourhood.

Looking out again

In the evening sunset over the sea, Jordan noticed a haze in the sky as the bats were heading out for their evening foraging. It was an incredible sight to see them by the thousands.

Wow, what a busy and enchanting day, the ending being lulled to sleep by the steady pattern of the endless rhythm.

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