Close Encounters of the Gentle Kind
There’s only one thing better than listening to David Attenborough’s favourite cameraman Doug Allan talk about Whale Sharks – and that’s joining Doug to swim with, film and photograph these beautiful creatures for yourself.
The waters around Raja Ampat on the northwest tip of West Papua offer some of the best diving in the world. Pristine reefs are home to a myriad of brightly coloured fish and corals as well as the ocean’s biggest fish, the whale shark. Steppes Travel are offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dive these waters with BBC Cameraman and fourth element team diver Doug Allan, exploring the coral reefs and underwater wrecks, and soaking up the culture and history of these paradise islands.
LEARN FROM THE BEST
Doug Allan’s photographic awards include seven Emmys, four BAFTAs and five Wildscreen Pandas. He is two-times winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Underwater Category, and has three Honorary Doctorates in recognition of his camerawork. Doug was one of the presenters on Operation Iceberg, also featuring fellow team diver Andy Torbet, as well as filming many of the sequences in this award-winning series.
In 2011 he filmed and presented the BBC series Ocean Giants about whales worldwide, although his most well-known work is probably the blue-chip BBC series’ Planet Earth, Frozen Planet and The Blue Planet.
Sir David Attenborough’s simple assessment of Doug pretty much sums him up in our opinion…
“Wildlife cameramen don’t come much more special than Doug”
SWIMMING WITH THE WHALE SHARKS
The Whale Sharks of Cenderawasih Bay are famous for the unique way in which they interact with the local fishermen. Present in the bay year-round, the whale sharks live alongside and have a symbiotic relationship with the local fishing trade. The sharks appear to “herd” shoals of fish towards the local bagans or fishing platforms and over the years have learnt to suck any excess fish from the huge fishing nets as they are hauled from the waters every morning. Conservationists have studied the sharks and it appears that the relationship between the shark and fishermen is one of mutual benefit and and respect.
11 DAYS OF PARADISE
The trip will be spent aboard the Tiare – a comfortable 40-metre yacht with six cabins, built using salvaged materials from traditional Javanese homes. There is a central living area, library and small spa and a crew of 15 on board including two chefs and a dive instructor who will ensure that this cruise is as enjoyable above the water as it is below.
You don’t need to have previous diving experience, but you need to be a confident swimmer. Time spent in the water will be in the company of Doug Allan as well as the two dive guides and dive instructor from the Tiare, and will comprise of three to four dives each day, maybe more when with the whale sharks. You will have the chance to dive WWII wrecks including the Junkyard, and night dives will also be possible on some days.