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“Dragons and BoPs”

Bali to Port Moresby

Explore Indonesia and New Guinea for Birds-of-Paradise, Komodo Dragons, Whale Sharks, speciality island endemics and all from a comfortable expedition ship

For many birders, when they think of New Guinea, the birds which immediately come to mind are the Birds-of-Paradise, a truly incredible family which unquestionably includes some of the most amazing species on Earth.

On this fantastic expedition cruise, not only are there opportunities to look for two of the best species in the family, namely Wilson’s and Red Birds-of-Paradise, but will also spend time exploring some of the richest islands for birds and wildlife in Indonesia including Komodo, home of the incredible Komodo Dragon and endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo with all these species seen on the inaugural 2023 voyage.

Other islands on the itinerary, such as Buru have multiple endemic birds to look for and the trip will also include the opportunity to enjoy some of the best snorkelling on the planet with the additional possibility of swimming with Whale Sharks.

This nineteen day cruise offers some incredible highlights for both the keen birdwatcher and those with wider wildlife and cultural interests and all from the comfort of a custom-built expedition ship. WildWings’ guide Frank Lambert will be aboard (working for Heritage Expeditions) so you can be assured that an expert bird guide will be on the ship.

Tour Dates & Prices

Sun 13th October 2024

Thu 31st October 2024

  • Phone Us to Book

Tour Cost: 19 Days from £10350 * excluding flights

Deposit: £2600 Single Supp: £3510* Group Size: 15
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* The price quoted above is per person for the most basic cabin.

What's Included?

All on board ship accommodation, meals, house beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, expedition shore excursions, pre-cruise transfer, post cruise flight Port Moresby to Cairns, one night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (including dinner and breakfast). Programme of lectures by noted naturalists.

Cost Excludes

All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights unless specified above, visas, extensions, travel insurance, optional extras such as kayaking.

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The voyage will be accompanied by a WildWings/Limosa tour leader subject to a minimum number of bookings (please see “group size” above for the number required). If this total is not achieved, there are always expert bird and wildlife guides employed by Heritage Expeditions aboard the vessel who are there to assist everyone.

The Land Only Tour Cost is the amount you will pay WildWings.

Despite the end of pandemic restrictions, we have taken the decision to continue to price our holidays as excluding international flights.

To keep the process as simple as possible, we are working very closely with a dedicated agent at Travel Counsellors, Sacha Barbato, who is essentially now our “in house” flight consultant.

Sacha is a highly experienced independent ATOL bonded travel agent, and his contact details are as follows: [email protected] and 01603 360099

He will be able to advise you which flights we are recommending for each holiday and will be able to book these for you.

This will also sometimes give you the option to travel from a regional airport if you prefer.

Main Deck Triple: £10,350 per person

Main Deck Triple Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, two single beds and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Superior Triple: £10,995 per person

Superior Triple Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, two single beds and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Deck 4 Superior: £11,995 per person

Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Deck 5 Superior: £12,990 per person

Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Main Deck Single: £15,995 per person

Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system. Superior Single: £16,500 per person Superior Single Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Worsley Suite: £16,500 per person

Located on Deck 6, Worsley Suites are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable chaise-style lounge suite, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Heritage Suite: £23,000 per person

Located on Deck 6, Heritage Suites are an expansive 44m2 and feature large double panoramic windows, king bed, large living area with a sofa, coffee table and chairs and grand marble bathroom with a double basin, bathtub and shower, large writing desk, floor to ceiling cabinetry for storage and a flat screen entertainment system.

Please note: the above prices are per person and include landing fees.

Tour Highlights

  • cruise from Bali (Indonesia) to Madang (Papua New Guinea) on a comfortable expedition ship
  • look for Wilson's and Red Birds-of-Paradise
  • explore islands rich in localised endemics such as Buru
  • visit Komodo Island, the home of the world-famous Komodo Dragon
  • enjoy some of the best snorkelling in the world at Raja Ampat
  • opportunities to swim with Whale Sharks at Triton Bay
  • explore rarely visited locations such as the Bomberai Peninsula in West Papua

Outline Itinerary

  • Arrive Denpasar, Bali

  • Explore Bali in the morning. Embark Heritage Adventurer in the afternoon and sail

  • Sumbawa Island

  • Komodo Island

  • Wakatobi National Park, Sulawesi

  • Buru Island

  • Raja Ampat

  • Misool Island

  • Bomberai Peninsula

  • Triton Bay

  • Etna Bay

  • Flamingo River

  • At sea

  • Thursday Island, Australia

  • At sea

  • Disembark in Port Moresby. Fly to Cairns, Australia

Trip Info
Red Bird-of-Paradise © Dan Brown/Heritage Expeditions

New Guinea is synonymous with Birds-of-Paradise and on this amazing cruise, we stand a great chance of seeing what is arguably the ‘best of the bunch’, the stunning Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise. With excellent opportunities to also find Red Bird-of-Paradise, we can expect to see at least two members of this extraordinary family, however, there is plenty more to enjoy on this 19-day expedition voyage.

Boarding Heritage Adventurer on the famous Indonesian island of Bali, the ship will sail eastwards visiting a number of islands in this extraordinary island nation. Some of these, such as Buru are home to multiple endemic birds and we will hope to see a good selection of these during our time ashore with Buru Friarbird, Buru Golden Bulbul and Buru Flowerpecker, for example, all seen on the 2023 voyage.

There will, however, be opportunities to also enjoy some of the other special wildlife of this region and on Komodo Island, for example, one of our priorities will be to see the Komodo Dragon, a dinosaur-like monitor lizard which can grow to up to 10 feet (3 metres) in length!!

Indonesia offers some of the best snorkelling on the planet and even the keenest birder is likely to want to spend some time in the water as the corals and variety of tropical fish are truly mindboggling. The seas around the Raja Ampat islands (off western New Guinea), for example, are believed to contain the most biodiverse marine habitats anywhere and are home to 600 species of hard corals and 1,200 types of reef fish.

Continuing eastwards, the ship will arrive at New Guinea, a huge island which stretches 1,500 miles from end to end. Even to this day, the lush highland forests have not been fully explored with new species still to be found. Whilst we will be unable to venture into the high mountain, nevertheless, we will have the opportunity to explore a number of rarely visited locations as we travel along the southern coast of this extraordinary island.

On one day, for example, there will be a visit to Triton Bay where the focus will turn to finding the world’s largest fish, the huge Whale Shark. This area is regarded as one of the best places in the world to snorkel with these gentle giants, as they sometimes congregate around the local fishermen’s Bagans (handmade floating platforms) hoping to catch some of the smaller fish escaping from the nets.

Continuing eastwards, we will reach the remote village of Agats which is located near the mouth of the mighty Flamingo River which flows down from the highlands. This community is located a little to the east of the huge Lorentz National Park which is the largest protected area in South-east Asia and there will be an opportunity to explore the narrow waterways of the mangrove forest and look for more specialities.

The final landing will be on Thursday Island, a remote Australian island in the Torres Strait which separates the tip of Queensland from New Guinea. As well as an opportunity to learn about the history of this isolated location, there should also be the opportunity for some final birding with the possibilities including Beach Thick-knee, Torresian Imperial Pigeon and Torresian Kingfisher.

Komodo Dragon © Richard Webb
Komodo Dragon © Richard Webb

Day 1: Denpasar, Bali

This incredible expedition cruise starts on the Indonesian island of Bali which has captivated the imagination of artists, writers, and travellers for centuries. Transfer to your hotel where you will spend the first night of the expedition with an opportunity to meet your fellow voyagers and some of the expedition guides over dinner at the hotel.

Day 2: Denpasar

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast followed by time to explore the cultural and historical delights of Bali’s capital before board your expedition ship, Heritage Adventurer, in the afternoon. After settling into your cabin, join the Expedition Team on the outer decks as we set sail.

We are likely to encounter our first seabirds of the expedition which could include species such Great Frigatebird, Great Crested Tern, Lesser Crested Tern and Black-naped Tern, as well as both Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.

Day 3: Sumbawa Island

Lying to the east of the more famous island of Lombok, the mountainous island of Sumbawa blends laid-back island life with spectacular volcanic ridges, terraced rice fields, tangled jungles and beautiful sandy beaches replete with stunning coral reefs and remote bays.

Landing near a local village, there will be an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating culture as well as explore the area for birds and other wildlife.

As this will be our first landing, there should be plenty of new species to see and in more open areas we may, for example, find reasonably widespread birds such as Watercock, Javan Pond Heron and Oriental Dollarbird but will also hope to find our first specialities of the trip which could include Black-naped Fruit-dove, Tenggara Swiftlet, Indonesian Honeyeater, Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Short-tailed Starling, Wallacean Cuckooshrike, Pale-shouldered Cicadabird, Brown-capped Fantail, Black-fronted Flowerpecker, Rusty-breasted Whistler and Golden-rumped Flowerpecker.

Day 4: Komodo National Park

Komodo Island is world famous for the giant monitor lizards, the ‘Komodo Dragons’, that can be found on the island and getting some good views of these prehistoric-looking reptiles will be our main priority of the morning.

Growing to 10 feet in length and weighing up to 300 pounds, these are the largest lizards in the world and we stand an excellent chance of multiple encounters with these amazing animals. We may also see their favourite prey, the Javan Rusa (or Timor Deer), as we explore as these are reasonably common on the island.

Komodo also has plenty of interesting birds to look for with one of the species seen in 2023 being the critically endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo with other sightings including Javan Plover, Green Junglefowl, Sunda Collared Dove, Black-naped Monarch, Wallacean (Flores) Drongo, Flame-breasted Sunbird, Ornate Sunbird, Thick-billed Heleia, Rusty-breasted (Tenggara) Whistler, Helmeted (Tenggara) Friarbird and White-shouldered Triller

There should also be chances to see Orange-footed Scrubfowl which is a member of the “megapode” family that buries its eggs in substantial mounds.

As we sail away from the island, it is worth being out on deck as there are chances for both Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin and Spinner Dolphin, as well as Bulwer’s Petrel, Crested Tern, Bridled Tern and Black-naped Tern.

Day 5: Wakatobi National Park

This national park is located off southeast Sulawesi and comprises a series of comparatively small islands and surrounding atolls and reefs. Famously described by legendary underwater explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau as an “underwater nirvana”, Wakatobi is home to some breath-taking corals and the main emphasis of the day will be some snorkel excursions to enjoy the amazing marine life which comprises a myriad of corals and tropical fish.

For those wanting to look for birds, one of the possibilities is the Wakatobi White-eye, a highly localised member of this widespread tropical family which is endemic to the small island archipelago off SE Sulawesi. There should be other endemics which are restricted Sulawesi (and nearby islands) and those we could find include Ornate Lorikeet, White-rumped Triller and Grey-sided Flowerpecker. We will also want to check any imperial pigeons we see, as the small island specialist and poorly known Elegant Imperial Pigeon is known from these islands.

Day 6: Buru Island

The rugged and mountainous island of Buru is rarely visited by birders. Despite this, there are ten species which are endemic to the island, as well as a number of other near-endemic species. Whilst some of these are only known for the uplands, others range down to sea-level and those we will look for include Buru Raquet-tail, Spectacled Imperial Pigeon, Buru Green Pigeon, Amboyna Cuckoo-dove, Buru Cuckooshrike, Buru Oriole, Buru Friarbird, Buru (or Black-tipped) Monarch and Buru White-eye.

We will also want to keep an eye out for the critically endangered and extremely poorly known Blue-fronted Lorikeet which has only been seen on a handful of occasions in recent decades. Whilst it is generally thought that this is primarily a montane bird, there is some evidence to suggest that it may also range down to the lowlands.

Days 7-9: Raja Ampat

Lapped by stunning turquoise waters, Raja Ampat’s collection of 1,500 tiny, jungle-cloaked islands are among Indonesia’s most beautiful and we have three days scheduled to explore this unique part of the country.

For birders, some of these islands are extremely special as two highly localised birds-of-paradise can be found here, Red Bird-of-Paradise and Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise, with the latter widely regarded as one of the most beautiful birds in the world. With the males having red, yellow and black plumage, a blue cap and an extraordinary curled tail, it is difficult to disagree with this assessment!!

Very early starts will be required to maximise our chances of seeing these special birds and whilst the “Red BoPs” have leks in traditional trees, “Wilson’s BoP” predominantly displays on the ground so we may have to use some carefully located blinds to have a chance of seeing this gorgeous bird.

There are plenty of other speciality birds which occur here and those we could find include Moluccan King Parrot, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra and Common Paradise Kingfishers, as well as Golden and Frilled Monarchs, Rusty Mouse-warbler and Olive-crowned Flowerpecker. If we are extremely fortunate, we could even find the huge Western Crowned Pigeon (seen in 2023), Eastern Hooded Pitta (a recent split from Hooded) and Raja Ampat Pitohui.

With the waters around Raja Ampat considered to be the most biodiverse marine habitat on the planet, this will be another occasion when even the keenest birder will probably want to spend some time snorkelling, as the seas are truly beyond words with 600 species of hard coral and 1,200 types of reef fish known to occur in the area.

Day 10: Misool Island

Misool is the second largest island in the Raja Ampat archipelago and offers some stunning snorkelling opportunities where it is possible to find species such as Bumphead Parrotfish, Clownfish, Manta Rays, Ghost Pipefish, Harlequin Shrimp, Pygmy Seahorse as well as some spectacular coral reefs. Whilst we would be extremely fortunate to encounter one, Dugong can also be found here.

There should also be an opportunity to explore the forests of this rich island and there are a number of species we are unlikely to have encountered so far which we may find including Ivory-billed Coucal, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Wompoo, Orange-fronted and Dwarf Fruit Doves, Great-billed Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Frilled Monarch and Lowland Peltops.

The spectacular King Bird-of-Paradise is also known from the island but seeing this diminutive bird, however, requires good fortune indeed. Lesser Bird-of-Paradise and Glossy-mantled Manucode also occur.

For those with wider interests, there will also be an opportunity to hike to some caves in the forest where the rock art dates back more than 5,000 years and hike to viewing platforms for stunning views.

Day 11: Bomberai Peninsula

We have a full day to explore the Bomberai Peninsula, which is often referred to as the Bird’s Beak Peninsula given its location to the south of the famous Bird’s Head Peninsula at the western end of New Guinea.

A lush tropical forest still blankets the lowlands of this region with this continuing up into the remote Kumafa Mountains with the whole area remaining seldom explored. Indeed, an expedition in 2014 to the inland cloud forests discovered a new species to science, the Satin Berrypecker, and whilst we will be unable to reach the elevations where this was found (1,200m), we have the chance for some genuine surprises as we explore this rarely visited region.

As well as the opportunity to explore ashore, there will also be an opportunity for some snorkelling amongst enormous colourful soft corals of this special area.

Day 12: Triton Bay

Our main goal for the day is to have the opportunity to swim with Whale Sharks and Triton Bay is considered one of the best places in the world to snorkel with these gentle giants.

Occasionally growing to over 12 metres in length, this species is the largest of the world’s sharks, however, unlike some of their more notorious cousins, they are not a threat to humans as they gather around the local fishermen’s Bagans (floating platforms) hoping to catch some of the smaller fish escaping from the nets.

With these enormous fish often utterly engrossed in getting an easy meal, there can be great opportunities for some close encounters.

During the heat of the day, Heritage Adventurer will reposition to Aiduma Island which is considered one of the most remote islands in Indonesia but, nevertheless, is considered a world-renowned underwater wonderland and dive site. The snorkelling is also superb with some of the angelfish growing to the size of a dinner plate as they swim around a forest of soft corals.

There should also be an opportunity to go ashore to explore around a local village.

Day 13: Etna Bay

This morning we embark on an exploration of the seldom visited Etna Bay. Indenting the coastline for over 25 miles, this area has been described by those who have visited it as a “tropical fiord beneath mountains that rise abruptly from the sea”, so it will be an authentic expedition as we set off to explore.

Days 14-15: Flamingo River and Agats village

Continuing eastwards, we will reach the remote community of Agats which is located a little to the east of the huge Lorentz National Park which is the largest protected area in South-east Asia. Covering over 2.3 million hectares, this World Heritage Site is the only place in the world where there is a continuously protected area which includes snow-capped mountains, highland, mid-elevation and lowland forests and tropical marine environments.

Located on the eastern side of the mighty Flamingo River which flows down from the interior, Agats is surrounded by thousands of square miles of mangrove forest, bamboo, and sago palms and we will use Heritage Adventurer’s fleet of zodiacs to explore this very different habitat.

We can expect to travel up narrow waterways with mangroves and other uncut forests on both banks where we hope to find a completely different suite of birds with a variety of colourful parrots and imperial pigeons amongst the likely possibilities.

We are also likely to encounter villagers in their intricately carved canoes and there will be an opportunity to explore ashore where as well as looking for birds and other wildlife, those who wish can visit a museum with displays of drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls, a reminder that cannibalism and head-hunting was practiced by the ancestors of these people.

The region is also well-known for the quality of the woodcarvings and as well as seeing some of these in local displays, there will also be an opportunity to purchase these directly from local village artisans.

Day 16: At sea

After multiple back-to-back days of exploration ashore and in the zodiacs, we will have a more relaxing day at sea, although there will still be wildlife to look for from the outer decks as the ship cruising eastwards. Although the waters in this region are relatively shallow, we stand an excellent chance of seeing a range of seabirds and cetaceans during the day. For those wanting to ‘take it easy’, there will also be the option of attending lectures or enjoying a dip in the ship’s swimming pool.

Day 17: Thursday Island, Australia

This remote island is one of 274 which are scattered between the northern tip of Queensland and Papua New Guinea. Located in the Torres Strait which separates the two huge landmasses of Australia and New Guinea, there is a small sleepy town on Thursday Island and, for those who wish, there will be an opportunity to visit the Green Hill Fort which was built in 1893 and was then used in the Second World War as a defence against a possible Japanese invasion of Australia. The fort’s underground tunnels now house Torres Strait Heritage Museum.

Birds we could see whilst ashore include Blue-winged Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-breasted Woodswallow, Pheasant Coucal and Sahul Sunbird.

Day 18: At sea

We will have a final day at sea as the ship heads for Port Moresby which is the capital of Papua New Guinea. During the day we should cross waters that are over 2,000 metres deep so there is a good chance we could encounter a variety of species which are more associated with deep water. As well as pelagic dolphins, we might be fortunate and find some beaked whales or possibly even a Sperm Whale and potential seabirds could include Kermadec and Tahiti Petrels.

Day 19: Port Moresby and onward to Cairns, Australia

After breakfast, those who wish can join an excursion to the National Museum and Arts Centre which exhibits one of the finest collections of New Guinea art anywhere in the world. After lunch, the flight to Cairns (which is included within the tour price) departs or there is the option to continue on the next cruise (visiting Melanesia) or explore more within Papua New Guinea.

Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and/or opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.

Whale Shark, Raja Ampat © Dan Brown/Heritage Expeditions


Heritage Adventurer is a purpose built expedition ship (which was previously known as Hanseatic and Resolute) which offers extremely comfortable cabins and passenger facilities.

Originally designed to accommodate 184 guests, Heritage Adventurer will carry a maximum of 140 expeditioners ensuring spacious, stylish and comfortable voyages. There will be a fleet of 14 zodiacs to ensure all guests are able to maximise on their expedition adventure.

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