Indonesia boasts many wonders when it comes to filming and photography. There are an endless amount of landscape, cultural, natural history, travel, and scientific subjects to choose from. With an archipelago of over 17,000 islands stretching 5000 square kilometers, the diversity of the natural attractions are seemingly endless. One of the most unique areas for shooting in nature is the Raja Ampat area of West Papua province.
Raja Ampat Karst Landscape
Raja Ampat is located at the western edge of the “Birds Head Peninsula” of Papua. This small archipelago consists of hundreds of small islands spread over an area of 8000km2. The islands are karst limestone and covered in vibrant green jungle. The jagged peaks and sheer cliffs of the islands create a dramatic backdrop to the beautiful white sand beaches. With a beautiful blue sea surrounding the islands, Raja Ampat boasts endless landscape photography opportunities.
With a very small population of only approximately 40,000 people in such a large area, the region is pristine. The villages are spread out and small with only a few hundred on average per village. The people live a mainly subsistence living from fishing and local produce. Everyone is friendly and welcoming and it’s possible to stay a few days in most villages throughout the area. They have strong traditions and many stories to tell. They are a proud people willing to share their knowledge and skills and often have a confident presence on camera.
Raja Ampat Wildlife
The wildlife in the area is unique with many exotic species of birds and marsupials. The only true native mammals in Papua are bats, and there is a large population of them in the area. Caves full of bats and small islands with a population of thousands of flying foxes dot the archipelago. Sunset is always a favorite time of day for filming as these flying mammals head out en masse to hunt during the night. The islands of Waigeo and Batanta are home to two endemic Birds of Paradise. The Red Bird of Paradise and the Wilsons Bird of Paradise cannot be found anywhere else in the world. These beautiful birds boats amazing colors and their mating dances are incredible to film.
Incredible Marine Life
Not to be outdone by their terrestrial counterparts, the marine life in Raja Ampat is a sight to behold. With the highest fish and coral biodiversity on the planet, there is a never ending variety. Underwater film makers and photographers consider the area one of the “holy grails” as the ocean boasts so much life. Schools of mating sardines invite large groups of sharks and other predators such as trevally and devil rays. These scenes create magic for the camera. The colorful soft corals and sea fans that dot the area are a wonderful backdrop throughout. If that is not enough, there are over a dozen species of whales and dolphins found here. From transient species such as orcas and Bryde’s whales to more resident species such as spinner dolphins.
Overall, Raja Ampat offers such a wide variety of stories and personalities it’s impossible to cover it all in one trip. Months are needed to explore the intricate history of the people and their relationship with the area. The wildlife is so diverse, it would take years to document the terrestrial species alone. Underwater the filming and photography opportunities are never ending. If you are considering a film or photography project in Raja Ampat please get in touch, we have many years of experience in the area. Our team spends months each year in the area and have been doing so for over a dozen years. It is one of our favorite locations on the planet and one we are proud to help preserve and protect for years to come.