Thursday, February 21st, 2019
Crossing the Equator to Wayjag
Sailing through the night we cross the equator aboard Prana by Atzaro. And just as dawn begins to break we arrive off Wayjag, an uninhabited group of islands in the north of the Raja Ampat.
It’s a tricky approach and not one to be attempted without local knowledge. But our Captain is an old hand at this. First he expertly guides us through the narrow steep sided passage, then we enter one of the most beautiful lagoons this island chain has to offer. Best of all there is no one else in sight.
After our hearty breakfast, north of the equator, we take the tenders to the beach to climb the peaks. With its iconic limestone outcrops, Wayag and the marine sanctuary that surrounds it, has become the poster child of Raja Ampat.
Trekking, Scrambling and Climbing
First we trek, then we scramble and finally we climb. Hand over hand we reach upwards over limestone escarpments, across rugged outcrops, past pinnacles of rock to the very top of the island. This is not a climb for the feint hearted. Nor for those with a distaste of heights. But Oh, what a view from the top.
We gaze down upon conical shaped karst islands, scattered across an emerald sea. Even the smallest islet is topped with lush green vegetation. Looking further we see unspoilt rainforest covering the larger islands and virgin white sandy coves edge everything! It’s one of the most beautiful views we have ever seen.
Travelogues always seem to include at least one shot across the lagoon from up on high. And photographs do not do it justice. It is spectacular.
Lunch is served ashore on the beach. The crew have been working hard while we have been playing. The tables and sun umbrellas are set along the water’s edge.
Here we feast upon lobster, steak, chicken and other BBQ goodies cooked cooked in front of us. The table groans under bowls heaped high with salads and vegetables from the galley on board Prana by Atzaro.
Here a Shark, Everywhere a Shark
Cedric, our charismatic cruise director, suggests that after lunch, we visit the Ranger station here. Staying here temporarily are the people whose job it is to patrol these waters. So they guard the marine sanctuary against foreign fishing boats eager to plunder the bountiful aquatic life.
The Rangers greet us politely as we approach. Their sedate courtesy is in direct contrast to the frenzy of black tipped reef shark, who immediately swim among us hoping for food.
They are not disappointed! Our crew have come prepared and our cameras click and videos are shot. As we shoot, the sharks swim in and out of our legs chomping on raw fish pieces, completely uninterested in our bare human flesh.
Motorised water sports are not allowed within the marine sanctuary. And anyway none of us would want to break the glorious peace of the location. We enjoy ourselves while respecting the ocean and our surroundings by employing less noisy water sports: snorkelling, diving, kayaking or paddle boarding.