PALAU April 2 - 17 2020

Tour date: 
Thursday, 2 April 2020 to Friday, 17 April 2020
Duration: 
16 days
Price: 
US $10,570 to $12,500 per person, depending on cabin type,
Highlights: 
• Learn about and participate in cutting-edge marine science and whale research from captivating lectures and active participation with onboard scientist. • Navigate through the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon amidst dugongs, manta rays, and spinner dolphins while taking a special opportunity to swim amongst non-stinging jellyfish. • SCUBA dive and snorkel through crystal-clear waters in pristine, remote, and world-renowned sites. • Explore the rich culture of this small archipelago by visiting with inhabitants of Tobi Island.
Overview: 

Sail amongst tropical islands in the western Pacific Ocean on our scientific exploration of the newly created Palau National Marine Reserve. We created this unique expedition in partnership with Conservation International that concentrates on the science of a world-renowned marine sanctuary, ultimately contributing to its long-term protection. Sail aboard the comfortable Ocean Hunter III for twelve days through these very remote tropical islands that lie in the western Pacific Ocean. Explore Palau National Marine Sanctuary with marine experts and visit the pristine Helen Reef Atoll. Snorkel and dive in the World Heritage Rock Islands Southern Lagoon where tropical forested karst islands meet coral caves and jellyfish lakes. Explore some of the most diverse reefs on the planet and learn first-hand from scientific researchers aboard about the biology of Palau’s whales, fish, and reefs. You will also experience the unique culture of the people from these rarely visited South West Islands.

Start Location: 
Koror Koror
Palau
Finish location: 
Koror Koror
Palau

Palau - Micronesia Marine Sanctuary - April 2-17 2020

Safari overview

Sail amongst tropical islands in the western Pacific Ocean on our scientific exploration of the newly created Palau National Marine Reserve. We created this unique expedition in partnership with Conservation International that concentrates on the science of a world-renowned marine sanctuary, ultimately contributing to its long-term protection. Sail aboard the comfortable Ocean Hunter III for twelve days through these very remote tropical islands that lie in the western Pacific Ocean. Explore Palau National Marine Sanctuary with marine experts and visit the pristine Helen Reef Atoll. Snorkel and dive in the World Heritage Rock Islands Southern Lagoon where tropical forested karst islands meet coral caves and jellyfish lakes. Explore some of the most diverse reefs on the planet and learn first-hand from scientific researchers aboard about the biology of Palau’s whales, fish, and reefs. You will also experience the unique culture of the people from these rarely visited South West Islands.

HIGHLIGHTS
Learn about and participate in cutting-edge marine science and whale research from captivating lectures and active participation with onboard scientist.
Navigate through the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon amidst dugongs, manta rays, and spinner dolphins while taking a special opportunity to swim amongst non-stinging jellyfish.
SCUBA dive and snorkel through crystal-clear waters in pristine, remote, and world-renowned sites.
Explore the rich culture of this small archipelago by visiting with inhabitants of Tobi Island.

LEADERS: Scott Davis and a local guide.

DAYS: 16 including estimated travel time. 12 nights aboard the Ocean Hunter III.

GROUP SIZE: 14.

BOAT: The Ocean Hunter III, 16-passenger yacht.

COST: $10,570 to $12,500 per person, depending on cabin type, double occupancy, not including airfare, singles extra. 

CONDITIONS: This is a non-smoking tour for people who are very interested in spending the maximum time in nature. 

 

ITINERARY OVERVIEW (Meals b= Breakfast, l = Lunch, D=Dinner)

Apr 2–3 2020 Travel to Palau.

Apr 4 Arrive in Koror, Palau.
Accommodation: Hotel in Palau Meals: D

Apr 5 2020 Expedition in Risong Bay.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 6–7 2020 Diving and snorkeling in the Rock Islands.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 8 2020 Travel to Peleliu Island for wildlife watching and history of the region.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 9 2020 Whale research at sea.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 10 2020 Explore the ecologically unique and diverse region of Fana Island.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 11 2020 Whale research at sea.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 12 2020 Tobi Island for diving and island tour.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 13–14 2020 Helen Reef for diving, marine research, and visit the ranger station on Helen Island.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 15–16 2020 Navigate back to Koror while conducting whale research.
Accommodation:  Aboard the Ocean Hunter III Meals: B, L, D

Apr 17 2020 Disembark in Koror for flights homeward. Arrive home, depending on flight schedules.
Meals: B

LEADERS (Total of 2)

Scott Davis
Scott is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, and travel. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, his research and photo assignments took him to the far corners of the globe. National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet, and other renowned magazines have used his photography. His patience for teaching and love of capturing the essence of his subjects make him one of our most popular tour leaders.

Boat:  The Ocean Hunter III
The Ocean Hunter III is a 96-foot, steel-hulled live-aboard motor yacht designed by divers, making her the perfect choice to fully and comfortably experience the islands of Palau. This high-quality ocean-going vessel accommodates 16 guests in eight air-conditioned cabins with private bathrooms (toilet, shower, washbasin, and vanity) and hot water. The main deck sports a luxurious salon with a flatscreen TV, computer station, and library. This deck also contains a well-equipped galley, large dining room, spacious gear room with camera table and charging station, and dive deck with individual storage bins. Relax on the upper deck in one of the two jacuzzis or loungers. The experienced and friendly crew consists of several local Palauan guides who have grown up on these reefs and care deeply about preserving the Palauan environment and culture.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Apr 2–3 ~ Fly to Palau
Depending on your home departure location, you will leave on April 2 or 3.

Apr 4 ~ Arrive in Palau
Arrive in Koror, Palau for an overnight stay before boarding the ship the next day.

Apr 5 ~ Visit Risong Bay and embark on our ship
This morning, transfer from the hotel to the harbor to board a speedboat, while your luggage is boarded onto the Ocean Hunter III. You will start the expedition with a wildlife-rich day in Risong Bay. Here you will benefit from local knowledge guiding you through a long morning at Black Tip Lake, Shipwreck Bay, Kingfisher Bay, and Mandarin Fish Lake. You’ll kayak to look at baby black tip sharks, paddle past glorious limestone cliffs with endemic plants and birds, snorkel among jellyfish, and hear about the historical significance of the area during World War II. Mandarin Fish Lake will cap a beautiful morning with a snorkel over pink sea fans and stunning soft corals, perfect habitat for juvenile sail fin tang, pajama cardinal fish, and mandarin fish. While eating lunch, search for dugongs before an early afternoon snorkel timed with the tide where manta rays may be feeding at Lolita’s Garden. By late afternoon, you’ll head back to the harbor where Ocean Hunter III awaits to take you to your next destination with possibilities for more wildlife sightings once out of port.

Apr 6–7 ~ Diving and snorkeling Ulong and Ngemelis in the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon
Explore a rainbow of diversity as you snorkel or dive among dazzling schools of mandarin fish, dugongs, manta rays, and spinner dolphins. The complex reef system within this collection of uninhabited limestone islands supports over 385 types of coral, sustaining a large variety of plant, bird, and marine life. You will discover endemic populations of ocean species in the unusual collection of marine lakes located here (isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers). Some lakes are home to millions of non-stinging jellyfish that you can swim amongst! The ship will anchor in the heart of this distinct landscape, allowing for beach BBQ dinners and visits to some of the world-famous dive sites of Palau. Dive highlights may be Blue Corner, Big Drop-Off, and German Channel where gentle giant manta rays show up at a ‘cleaning station’ for parasite-eating fish to pick them clean of pests. The richness of Ulong and Ngemelis guarantee both snorkelers and divers will have incomparable wildlife experiences. Ulong boasts superb coral life, anemones, sea snakes, and myriad fish species. Timing the tide gives the possibility of finding gray reef sharks riding currents with great viewing for both divers and snorkelers. Ngemelis can legitimately be called the underwater Serengeti of this beautiful planet. Yet exploring on land is also a must where cultural finds, like Yapese Stone Money, and birds, such as the mound-building Micronesian megapode, are found.

Apr 8 ~ Wildlife watching and history of Peleliu Island
Keep your eyes peeled for migratory shore birds and whale encounters as the Ocean Hunter III motors toward the island of Peleliu. Here, the snorkeling and diving are glorious and divers may visit the breathtaking fish and corals of the Peleliu Wall diving area.

On land, you will scout for endemic birds while you learn about the role these islands played in World War II, visiting the intense relics of the Battle of Peleliu where up-ended tanks are now taken over by glorious fig roots, reclaiming the island’s wild nature. You will also search for coconut crabs, the largest known terrestrial arthropod, and learn about the biology and conservation of these enormous hermit crabs. Listen for the mysterious whistle of the elusive and endemic bush warbler as you walk through these forested islands.

Apr 9 ~ Whale research at sea
Join our resident whale researchers as they explain and demonstrate their study methods. You can actively participate in the search for whales and dolphins, and in the collection of behavioral, visual, and acoustic data. Sperm whales frequent these waters; so with some luck, we may find ourselves amongst a family group of these incredible mammals with the largest brains of any species on the planet.

Apr 10 ~ Explore the unique biodiversity of Fana Island
Fana is an uplifted reef flat island in the Southwest Islands of Palau that qualifies as a globally significant ‘Important Bird Area.’ This international designation indicates that this area is critical for the conservation of bird populations. On land, you’ll scout for congregations of nesting black noddy and common white terns, as well as brown noddy, great frigatebird, and red-footed booby. On the beaches, you will search for coconut crabs and nesting green sea turtles. You will also have the opportunity to dive or snorkel through a magnificent rainbow of hydrocorals.

Apr 11 ~ Whale research at sea
Spend a second exciting day assisting onboard researchers as they search for and collect data on whales and dolphins, participating with them at the watching and listening stations.

Apr 12 ~ Tobi Island diving and island tour
Explore this small limestone island, learning about the culture and lifestyle of the 16 people that live here and that of their ancestors, a culture with a separate dialect endemic only to Tobi. Tour the culturally-modified tiny island to see taro patches that have sustained the inhabitants for over 150 years and visit other significant cultural sites. You will also have the opportunity to dive or snorkel in the reefs around this unique island.

Apr 13–14 ~ Helen Island Ranger station; diving and marine research
Helen Reef atoll has been named as a ‘Marine Protected Area,’ helping to safeguard it from overfishing and poachers. While diving or snorkeling around this spectacular collection of remote reefs, you will encounter an abundance of dazzling fish and other marine life. Inside the ring of coral reef sits Helen Island, which is uninhabited except for the rangers stationed there to protect the reef’s conservation status. Visit the ranger station to learn about the ongoing marine research to better understand and protect this breath-taking site.

Apr 15–16 ~ Navigate to Koror while conducting whale research
Surprises may await on the voyage north toward our port in Koror, traveling through rich waters where pilot whales and sperm whales are known to feed. You’ll continue learning about and assisting in marine research during this time at sea.

Apr 17 ~ Disembark in Koror and transfer to airport
The group will disembark the ship in Koror around 8:00am and transfer to the airport or into town, depending on your departure time. If you wish to extend your stay, we are happy to book a hotel in Koror for you (not included, subject to availability).

COSTS (ALL COSTS ARE IN US DOLLARS)

Costs and Cabin Options

Type: Standard
Description: Double occupancy, one upper and one lower twin bed, private bath, and large storage space and closet. Lower deck.
Cost per Person: US $10,570

Type: Deluxe Twin
Description: Double occupancy, one upper and one lower twin bed, plus additional twin bed, private bath, and large storage space and closet. Upper deck. External door to sun deck and Jacuzzi.
Cost per Person:US $11,100

Type: Deluxe Queen
Description: Double occupancy, one queen-sized bed and one twin bed, private bath, large storage space and closet. Lower deck.
Cost per Person: US $11,100

Type: Master Stateroom
Description: Double occupancy, one king-sized bed and one single bed/sofa, private bath, large storage space and closet. Upper deck. External door to sun deck and Jacuzzi.
Cost per Person: US $12,500

Costs are per person depending on cabin type, double occupancy, not including airfare singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. If space is available, cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 90% over the listed cabin cost. Single rooms are subject to availability.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.

Payment Schedule

Deposit - Due now to reserve your space - US $500 per person
Second - Due March 1, 2019 - US $3,000 per person
Third - Due September 1, 2019 - US $3,000 per person
Final - Due November 1, 2019 - Remaining balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.

Cancellations
Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $300 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.

On or before August 31, 2019 /  Forfeited Amount per Person US $300
September 1 to 30, 2019 /  Forfeited Amount per Person 10% of tour cost
October 1 to 31, 2019 /  Forfeited Amount per Person 40% of tour cost
On or after November 1, 2019 /  Forfeited Amount per Person 100% of tour cost

Included
All leaders, transport, landing fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
Airport transfers on April 4 and April 17.
Lodging the night of April 4 in Koror.
Twelve nights aboard the Ocean Hunter III, April 5 through April 16.
Meals from dinner on April 4 through breakfast on April 17.
Non-alcoholic beverages while aboard the Ocean Hunter III.
Full gear rental for kayak, snorkel, and SCUBA activities.
Onboard lectures and workshops by leaders and researchers.
Trip Materials - information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included
All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,500–$2,500 from the USA to Koror, Palau (ROR), depending on origin.
Airport departure fee (currently $50).
Passport and visa fees.
Alcoholic beverages while aboard the Ocean Hunter III.
We can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
SCUBA certification courses, but we can arrange at an extra cost.
Gratuities - tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $500–$600 total per participant.
Dive insurance with evacuation, but it is required for you to purchase. 
Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance.
Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, internet access, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.

SIGN UP
Please contact us first to check availability, reserve your space, and obtain a Reservation/Release Form. To confirm your reservation, we require a deposit and form from each participant.

OTHER DETAILS
Climate
In April, average temperatures range from the mid to upper 70’s°F (24–26°C) at night, up to the mid to upper 80’s°F (29–32°C) during the day, with high humidity and about a 50% chance of daily rain showers. The water temperature averages 84°F (29°C).

Fitness Level

Minimal fitness is required to join this safari, but your fitness and snorkeling ability enrich the experience. Getting in the water to snorkel or SCUBA dive is not required – this safari can be a wonderful experience from the vantage of the ship and tenders – however water activities are a significant part of the voyage. At minimum, you need to comfortably and safely move around the ship and embark/disembark from the landing tenders. To get the most out of this safari, you should be comfortable in the water, snorkeling, and getting in and out of the water via a boat ladder. Please contact us if you don’t have experience snorkeling but would like to join this safari. Strong swimming ability and the ability to free dive (i.e., diving underwater without SCUBA tanks) are not required, but will also enhance your experience.

Our voyage will include landings and opportunities to hike on shore, typically no more than a mile or two on varying terrain. Walks and hikes are generally at a slow pace with stops for observation and photography and may be skipped by anyone that is not interested or able.

Flights
Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Koror, Palau (ROR) in time for dinner on April 4. Depart from Koror (ROR) any time after 10:00am on April 17.

Seasickness
Don’t let a fear of seasickness keep you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in this area. Because we are close to the islands most of the time, the seas tend to be gentle. Our crossing to and from the southern archipelago can be exposed to choppy conditions, so bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure. You may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness at www.cheesemans.com/seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.

Conditions
Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days, but giving you a more in-depth experience.
Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because you are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants
Use of Drones/UAVs on Tours: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), AKA drones, are not suitable for use on most expeditions due to logistical constraints and in many cases, local and national laws or regulations. In some cases, such as on our polar voyages, we operate under environmental regulations that ban the use of recreational drones. Do not bring a drone on safari without contacting us first.

Conservation
We are passionate about conserving the precious regions that we travel to and supports many conservation efforts. By visiting these areas, we contribute to sustainable conservation of these valuable wildlife habitats. We urge you to support conservation organizations that protect and restore natural habitats and write letters to tourism and government agencies to promote work in preserving wildlife.

Conservation International (www.conservation.org) is working to preserve the Palau Islands and its wildlife and would make good use of your donation to fund their ongoing conservation efforts

Ocean hunter iii Deck Plan

Deck plan is not to scale and shows the number of beds in each cabin, not actual bed arrangement.

Cabin sizes vary slightly.

FaqS

Do I need to SCUBA dive or snorkel while on this safari?
No, however these activities will significantly enrich your safari experience.

Can I learn to SCUBA dive on this trip?
Yes, you may arrive several days early to Koror and participate in a SCUBA certification course. Several businesses offer these courses, which we can book for you through the company our local trip leaders recommended to us or you may book yourself. Please contact us for more details.

 

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