Lake Kamaka is surrounded by calcareous rocks
and full of aquatic and terrestrial vegetation—
grasses, ferns, tree ferns, and Nymphaea sp.
lilies grow in the lake and surrounding area.
Lakamora is located in a faraway country, hardly known to
even those who live there, and
at the time of my expedition had
been visited only twice before
by outsiders. It is a lake in
the south of the world’s second
largest island—remote, exotic
New Guinea, the land of the
Inever stop looking for fish. For
years I have sought new endemic
species in small, unexplored, and
isolated freshwater lakes all over the
world. I look for remote lakes (if a lake is
easy to reach, at the end of some road or
other path, someone will have already been
there long ago), scouring detailed, large-scale maps. No ordinary maps will do, and
even the Internet can be disappointing.
Once I spot a likely lake, I may spend
weeks on planning how to reach it.
I found one of these very remote lakes
on a map of southern New Guinea, my
favorite Indo-Pacific tropical island. No
name was given, and when I eventually did
find the name, it was not the one the local
villagers used. I put the name into a search
engine and came up with nothing at all.
Planning the Trip
Having found the lake on paper, I began
my research. It wasn’t exactly on Route 66;
in fact, it wasn’t near anything. The closest
settlement I was able to find was a tiny
village by the name of Kaimana, which is
in southern Irian Jaya (Papua), a province
of Indonesian New Guinea. I planned to
fly first to Jayapura, the regional capital,
and then work out some way of reaching
Kaimana. Kaimana, I discovered, was a
small settlement established during the
Dutch colonial period; it is the only
village in this part of Nova Hollandia (a
former name of Indonesian New Guinea).
By contacting Kris, a friend in Sorong
Province, I discovered that Merpati, the
Indonesian island-hopping airline, flew
from Sentani Airport to Nabire three times
a week, and that there was a connection
from Nabire to Kaimana once a week.
So far, so good. I now knew what to
do, but what the outcome would be was a
different matter. What was I to say to my
two companions if things didn’t work out?
We would be stuck deep in the jungle,
miles from anywhere. But at the very least,
I was happy we had a plan and a flight into
I could see from my map that Lake
Lakamora and two companion lakes
nearby were a considerable distance from
the nearest inhabited place, so we were
looking at a long trek through the jungle.
For this difficult journey, I chose two
stalwart companions. One of them, my
Swiss friend Patrick de Rham, an expert on
Madagascar’s fishes (among other things),
had put in a request to come along. He had
wanted to come on a field trip with me for
some years, but for one reason or another it
had never happened. I gave him a colorful
warning of what lay ahead of us.
“We will have to walk for days on end