and camp in the jungle. Since we will be
carrying everything ourselves, food and
other supplies will necessarily be limited.
There will be no cold beer or even fresh
water. The jungle will be dense, almost
impenetrable at times, and swarming with
mosquitoes. And of course, there’s no
guarantee we’ll be coming back at all.”
I showed him the map and the sporadic
airline schedule to make sure he knew
what he was getting into, but he was
determined to come along.
My other companion was Paola Pierucci,
an Italian wholesale tropical fish dealer.
Little did she suspect that our trip was to
turn into one of the most difficult journeys
I had ever undertaken within a lifetime of
more than 700 expeditions.
Getting to Kaimana
Our journey began with a 12-hour flight
from Frankfurt, Germany, to Bangkok,
Thailand, followed by a 4-hour flight to
Denpasar, Bali. This is where everyone
gets off, for Bali is a Pacific Island
paradise for vacationing Europeans and
Australians. Thousands of vacationers
used to land here every day, but the
numbers have greatly decreased due to
the devastating effect on local tourism
that the infamous October 2002 Bali
nightclub-bombing incident had.
A pair of Kamaka rainbowfish Melanotaenia kamaka, male in front, female in back.
After an overnight stay in Bali, we set
out for Ujung Pandang (Makassar), located
in the eastern portion of the Indonesian
archipelago. Our flight stopped at Biak,
the northernmost island of Indonesian
New Guinea, which then brought us to
Jayapura, the capital of Irian Jaya.
A couple of days later, our chance came:
A flight became available from Sentani
Airport (which is a surprising 60 km
[approx. 40 miles] distance from Jayapura)
to Nabire, a former Dutch settlement. Irian
Jaya is still mostly covered—perhaps 75
percent—in tropical forest. The north is
divided from the south by a massive chain
of mountains, Pegunungan Maoke. Its
peaks (Puncak Jaya, 4884 meters [approx.
16,000 feet]; Puncak Mandala 4640 meters
[approx. 15,200 feet]; Puncak Trikora
4730 meters [approx. 15,500 feet]) are the
highest in Indonesia, and these mountains
are among the highest in the world. On
The Lakamora rainbowfish, discovered by the author and described by G. R. Allen & S. J. Renyaan as Melanotaenia lakamora in 1996.
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