Mind you it should be called Four Aces, since this trumps many places on Earth.
Rajah Ampat (Four Kings) lies at the western end of the island of New Guinea, formerly Irian Jaya, and consists of among the least visited islands in the world, with some of the most spectacular and pristine snorkeling and diving sites imaginable.
The islands of the area is virtually uninhabited, boasting a total population of less than 50,000 people who for centuries have lived a subsistence life based around the sea.
This place is old and wild – the Amazon is a youngster in comparison to the jungle here – some scientist has proved that, don’t ask me how….
Sheer cliffs rise from turquoise waters, covered in dense green foliage with not a human footprint to be seen anywhere.
I traveled here with 11 keen conservationists, led by Dr G, a man who has specialised in the study of turtles in this area. Most of my companions originate in the Sunshine Coast of Queensland where they help to preserve endangered turtles. We are here to see leather-backs amongst other things. These are the largest turtles in the world, and travel all the way from feeding grounds in California to lay eggs on the beaches here.
I’d never heard of the place before, but when I found out the itinerary, which included nesting turtles, birds of paradise, and whale sharks, I couldn’t resist. Count me in, I cried, and they did.
First stop is Bali, where we spend a couple of nights assembling our motley crew – most of whom I have never met before.
I haven’t been to Bali for a couple of years, and it isn’t my destination of choice any more, but the winter has set in in Sydney and it’s going to be nice to wear shorts and t-shirts again….