INCREDIBLE experience snorkelling with whale sharks. I went on this tour from Bali, which was not an easy journey to Nabire – 3 planes there 2 planes back, exhausting! But I can say without hesitation that it was totally worth all the effort, truly a once in a lifetime experience with Jefalgi Papua Tours. Arriving in Nabire town, I felt a little uneasy because people really stare.. but I think this was due to the fact that they don’t see many tourists. It’s also possible I have a little extra paranoia. I am a solo female traveller so I had lots of saftey related queries – but from the beginning the company were in touch on whatsapp. My guide met me at the airport and talked me through the itinerary. He then drove me around town to a couple of places so I could choose where I was most comfortable to stay for the that night in Nabire. They spoke great English which is nice as many people do not in this region. In the morning we travelled to Cenderawasih Bay, which was a couple of hours journey – first by car and then by boat. The little wooden lodgings was so pretty, it was nestled on a stunning coral coastline against the rainforest. The room was very simple just a mattress on the floor, but it felt like a rustic jungle camp, of all part of the experience of sleeping in the jungle! The food was absolutely incredible, and a massive variety with huge portions, always way more than I could eat. Over the two days we went by speed boat to visit the active fishing platforms which are spread wide apart in various places in the bay.
When looking for these whales you must keep in mind that they are wild natural animals.. so the guide can’t promise where or when or how many you will see – so much depends on the weather and conditions. But being on a boat with experienced fishermen and my guide – we saw many whale sharks over the two days. We stayed at those platforms for as long as I wanted, until I was totally satisfied – I swam with between 3 and 5 whale sharks at a time! I was extremely nervous at first, so a few of the guides swam with me until I felt more comfortable. They were such good company and made a huge effort to get amazing photos of me with the whale sharks. I mostly saw the smaller, younger whale sharks (who are the most frequent visitors of the surface), but I did see two very large, 6 to 7 meter ones, which was very lucky. They are curious so often swam right into me when I wasnt looking – which was scary at first.. but honestly you feel at ease with them so quickly because they are so gentle and harmless. They have clearly visited these platforms for many years before tourists started visiting – because they eat tiny fish which must be floating away from the fishing nets. Now the men working here throw fish for the whales so it’s almost like they are friends, its lovely to see! We went out 3 times over 2 days (I opted to see more whales over going on the paradise bird trek – really nice that they were flexible about that). Absolutely all in all one of my life highlights, truly spectacular. Thankyou so much for all of your kindness and for making a solo travelling lady all the way from the UK feel so looked after, I had the best experience. (Jenny, April 2018)