New tour – The Solomon Islands: A Wildlife Cruise in the South Pacific!
We are delighted to announce that we have exclusively chartered the live-aboard vessel MV Bilikiki in December 2018, for a pioneering wildlife cruise in the South Pacific. The Solomon Islands is a nation comprised of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in the South Pacific, lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and north-east of Queensland, Australia.
Embarking in Honiara (the capital of the Solomon Islands), under the guidance of professional marine biologist Dr Chas Anderson, our 10-night cruise will take us westward past the Russell Islands and out into the Solomon Sea, towards New Georgia and Marovo Lagoon (the largest double barrier reef lagoon in the world). Our voyage will take us past rugged jungle-clad islands, watching out for dolphins and whales that might include such species as Spotted Dolphin, Fraser’s Dolphin, False Killer Whale and Blue Whale, and we will be looking out especially for Omura’s Whale, a little known baleen whale that was only described in 2004.
Whilst we will enjoy plenty of time at sea each day, searching for and enjoying cetacean sightings, we will also make time for visits ashore to enjoy birds and other wildlife, and to visit traditional Melanesian villages. The larger islands are rugged volcanic outcrops, carpeted with lush tropical rainforest, whilst many of the smaller islands are reef cays. The forests support a rich birdlife, including many endemics, and possibilities include Heinroth’s Shearwater, Beck’s Petrel, Solomon Island Sea-eagle, Red-knobbed Imperial-pigeon, Ducorps’ Cockatoo, Yellow-bibbed Lory, Finsch’s Pygmy-parrot, Buff-headed Coucal, Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-shrike and Steel-blue Flycatcher, as well as a wealth of smaller creatures including birdwing butterflies and beautiful dragonflies.
As for the reefs themselves, the Solomon Islands lie within the Coral Triangle, the centre of global marine biodiversity. The coral diversity is stupendous, and the reefs are thronged with colourful fishes … so we can expect world-class snorkelling! We will anchor most nights in sheltered bays and lagoons, making time to snorkel over these magnificent coral reefs, including at least one site where there is a real chance of snorkelling with Manta Rays.
As our journey to Honiara will take us via Brisbane, we will also be offering a pre-tour extension to visit Lamington National Park, Queensland, to enjoy a little birding ‘down under’ and allow time to recover from jet-lag before continuing our journey to the South Pacific.
Further information, including prices, anticipated flights, and extension details will be available in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, to register your interest and be the first to receive the full tour itinerary, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.