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The Journey to Paradise Photos of great cultural and natural beauties of Papua New Guinea

 
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  #11  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:47 PM
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There were stations set up just like the tender had on SD2. They filled your tanks with whips. We used nitrox the whole week; it was 32-33 percent. While we were staying at Walindi, I noticed that the boat was in the bay around the same dive sites we were on Tuesday.

They had the people eat at Walindi for dinner that night, and then I saw them in the bay again Wednesday afternoon, and then tied up at Walindiís dock Thursday morning! They never left after that! We were scheduled to get on board on Saturday.

Star Dancer :
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  #12  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:48 PM
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I told Jennifer that we need to start working on the crew right away to let them know weíve been here (at Walindi) all week and that itís not ok for us to re-dive all the same sites. I started casually mentioning this to the staff at Walindi after I saw the SD tie up Thursday morning.

Walindi owns 49% of the Star Dancer. It worked. The captain told us not long after we got on that he didnít think we wanted to dive the same sites again, so we were going out into the Bay for the first night, dive there the first full day, then off to the Vitu (pronounced Witu) Islands, there for a day or two, then to Fatherís Reef. The Vitu Islands are usually visited only on ten day trips, so we lucked out.

Nice Colourful fish as seen here in this picture :
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  #13  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:52 PM
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We travelled the long distances at night. The steam out to the Vitu Islands took around 10 hours. The Vitu Islands are actually the top of a huge volcano with one side of the caldera collapsed. This allows boats an entrance to it.

The diving inside the caldera is mostly muck diving, which sounds like a waste of time, but really isnít. We saw quite a few spectacular creatures there. There were blue fluorescent-like nudibranchs on the black sandy bottom, pipefish everywhere, blue ribbon eels, mantis shrimp, upside down jellyfish and a few other things I still donít know the names of.

Brian & Jennifer underwater at Kimbe :
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  #14  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:55 PM
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We then moved outside the caldera to a couple of outer reefs. This was spectacular. Thousands of schooling fish, dog-toothed tuna, scorpionfish, leaf scorpionfish, octopus, moray eels and tons of other fish Iíve never seen before.

The last dive there was at a reef right off shore at a cocoa plantation called ****eyís Place. Itís named after the plantation owner who came on board and ended up taking four of us onshore to take a short tour of his place.

Heís an Australian ex-pat who married a local woman in the 1960ís and has lived there ever since. He has 190,000 cocoa trees on his plantation and ended up being quite a character.

Plantation owner seen here in this picture :
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  #15  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:56 PM
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I skipped the night dive to sit around and BS with him for a few hours. The diving was, even this close to shore, excellent. It was another mostly muck dive and we ended up seeing 2 devil scorpionfish that actually have what look to be arms instead of pectoral fins, they pull themselves along on the bottom instead of swimming.

Right after the night dive (which was at the same place) we pulled out to head off to Fatherís Reef all the way across the bay. We ended up doing about 9 dives at Fatherís total. The visibility turned out to be unreal. It was at least 150+ feet. The numbers of fish and the variety is stunning.

Underwater shot :
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  #16  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:57 PM
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At Fatherís, which is actually a huge reef chain with many dive sites, we saw cuttlefish, sharks, scorpionfish, pygmy seahorses, schools of bump-headed wrasse, 3-4 different types of lionfish, harlequin ghost pipefish, huge schools of fish, the list goes on and on. Eleven dives total at Fatherís.

Another thing worth mentioning is the variety of anemones and anemone fish. All around the whole Kimbe Bay area the variety and numbers are unbelievable.
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  #17  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:59 PM
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Around the middle of the week the Captain (Mat) told everyone that since Rabaul was day to day on airline flights in/out, that we were going to disembark back at Walindi and that Walindi would take care of changing our air travel plans out of Talasea on Saturday (we were scheduled to return to Rabaul) .

This turned out to be a mistake. The idiots changed all the incoming peopleís tickets from Rabual to Walindi before finding out if there was room for us on the outgoing flights. Well, there wasnít. So the next day they told us that to make our outgoing connections we would have to get off the boat Friday and fly out that day!

What this meant is that they were ending the cruise a day early! There were 11 of us on board and 8 of us had to do this. We were all really disappointed, but there was nothing we could do.
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  #18  
Old 08-12-2002, 03:01 PM
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So we left Fatherís and went back towards Walindi, dived a few more dives in the bay closer to the resort, then got off the boat on Friday. We ended up missing 5 dives because of this. Itís hard to put a value on something like that but we all figured PH owed us at least one daysí refund.

The organization is so screwed up that when we called a couple weeks later to their Miami office they said they didnít even know any of this had this happened until the day before, when another one of the passengers called to ask what they were going to do about it. They are giving us 25% off a future trip on any of their wholly-owned company boats. There are only 3 to pick from. The rest are partially owned by others, like Walindi.
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  #19  
Old 08-12-2002, 03:03 PM
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Overall I think the diving in PNG was at least as good as Palau, with the smaller stuff much better. Iíve seen a lot of photo contest winnerís pictures with captions stating Kimbe Bay or Walindi. I can see why.

The area doesnít really have that many high voltage exhilarating-type dives, but it more than makes up for it with the huge variety and health of the reef systems in the area. Another thing that makes it so great is that thereís nobody else there.

The only other boats we saw were the dugout canoes with the locals in them. Absolutely no other dive operations are in that area.

Local people out selling local market foods on the waters of West New Britain :
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  #20  
Old 08-12-2002, 03:05 PM
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Thereís also very few wreck dives. This is really a small part of the diving possibilities in PNG. There are other parts of the country that have fast drift dives, muck dives, wreck dives, you name it.

Itís much bigger than Palau and a lot more varied. It also has more problems. Malaria is one of them. You have to take anti-malaria medication if you go there.

Thereís no way around it. Itís not worth taking the chance because itíd ruin your whole trip. The dive guides I talked to at Walindi get malaria 4-5 times per year! We took Malarone and really didnít have any side effects. We did get bitten by mosquitoes at Walindi too.

Jennifer and Brian on the back of the boat :
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