Cruises – discovering the natural world

Borneo, Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica

Now you can visit Borneo, Papua New Guinea and the magnificent national parks of Costa Rica on a luxury cruise. Most of the places are inaccessible to most of them can be reached under the watchful eye of local and on-board explorers using RIBS or motor boats. Depending on the region, you will be accompanied by a professional expeditionary team or experienced guides who will take you to the best places to observe wildlife, rare birds and plant species, and often visiting local communities for unforgettable encounters with people who live in these wild regions.

Borneo is the third largest island in the world, shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and the tiny Brunei Sultanate on the north coast. The countries of Sarawak and Sabah cover the northern territory of Malaysia, and the southern region of Indonesia is known as Kalimantan.

The memory of Borneo evokes dreams of adventure and raw nature, and reality is not disappointing. It is a natural paradise for the jungle, rainforests, mountains, extensive cave systems and coral reefs, probably best known for its orangutan population and ongoing conservation and conservation work. In the Tanjung Puting World Biosphere Reserve, Camp Leakey has been running an orangutan conservation programme since 1971, and in the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre young orangutans are rehabilitated and reintroduced into the environment. Visitors can observe their nutrition and behaviour in a regulated environment, and in the Cabang Panti research station in Gulung Palung National Park they can be seen at large.

The only way to reach the Tanjung Datu National Park in Sarawak is through a long forest hike or by a small boat. Behind the magnificent beaches, pristine rainforests support Bornean Gibbon, crabs feeding on macaques and monkeys leaves, and behind them, there are stretches of rare dipterocarp forests. Nearby is the Bako National Park, where you can expect probosci’s monkeys, long-tailed macaques, flying lemurs and carnivorous plants. Arches and sea cliffs form a coastline and routes lead to waterfalls, cooling pools and streams.

Coastal islands are no less attractive to visitors. Kangean Island has long golden beaches and monkeys and dragons live in a mangrove forest on their tiny island. The Karimatas chain is very rarely visited, but coral reefs are wonderful diving areas, with mountains and rainforests inland.

Lush green Papua New Guinea is only 90 miles from Cape York at the northern tip of Australia, but its culture and amazing diversity of plants and animals is a distant world. There are 3000 different orchids, and 700 species of birds include the Paradise Bird. It is one of the least explored regions on earth, with some areas in contact with the outside world as early as the 1970s. Many of its plants and animals have not yet been discovered.

The population is almost as diverse, with more than 850 spoken languages and ethnic groups widely divided between New Guinea, Papuas, highlanders and Icelanders. 82% of the population lives in small villages, where tribal customs are still practiced.

The Sepik River runs from the Highlands to the Bismarck Sea in the north, and from its banks you can visit the village of Watam and its seven clans. The bird of paradise and the world’s largest butterfly, Queen Alexandra Birdwing, live on the hills above the fjord. In the village of Dei Dei Dei Dei Village, locals still cook their food in hot springs, and on the island of Fergusson the rainforests cover the mountains and there is a chance to see the purple-brown Torah, a rare endemic parrot for Papua New Guinea.

National Parks cover a quarter of Costa Rica, preserving rainforests, swamps, wild, beautiful beaches and lagoons, as well as a tenth of the world’s mammal species. Along the Nice Peninsula there are the national parks of Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio and Santa Rosa and the nature reserve Curu, which you can visit during your cruise in Costa Rica.

The coastline is a combination of idyllic beaches and broken surfing, supported by dense forests, palm trees and mountains; divers and surfers come to Playas de Coco, where at sea there is a bonus of shipwrecks and shark caves to discover. With the help of guides, expect to see jaguars and slots in Tortuguero National Park, and with Isla Tortuga, the rays of mantas, pilot whales and whale sharks. The Curu Nature Reserve has a growing population of rare spider molluscs and all five Costa Rican mangrove species are growing here – atmospheric forests and swamps are available from the zodiac.

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