Bali- Komodo National Park Cruise 8 Days/7 Nights
In the morning we will all meet at a café in South Bali for a quick breakfast before boarding our minibus for our destination of Amed in the eastern regency of Karangasem – an exotic royal Balinese kingdom of forests and mighty mountains, emerald rice terraces, mystical water palaces and pretty beaches. With our tour leader providing information along the way, we will stop Tenganan Village, a community that still holds to the ancient ‘Bali Aga’ culture with its original traditions, ceremonies and rules of ancient Bali, and its unique village layout and architecture. We’ll also visit the royal water palace of Tirta Gangga, a fabled maze of spine-tinglingy, cold water pools and basins, spouts, tiered pagoda fountains, stone carvings and lush gardens. The final part of our scenic the journey takes us through a magnificent terrain of sculptured rice terraces followed by spectacular views of a fertile plain extending all the way to the coast.
Guarded by the mighty volcano, Gunung Agung, your charming beachside hotel welcomes you with warm Balinese hospitality and traditional architecture, rich with hand-carved ornamentation. After checking in, you can relax and unwind with a swim in the pool or in the calm, clear waters lapping the shore just footsteps from your room. Or you may prefer a gentle walk, in the surrounding village and hillsides. This will also be an opportunity for those unfamiliar with snorkeling to have a lesson with our tour leader. In the evening, take time to get better acquainted with your fellow guests in preparation for our voyage ahead with sunset drinks in the seaside bar and a Balinese-style welcome dinner.
We will wake in the morning at the resort, have a leisurely breakfast and maybe an early morning swim before being transported the short distance to the boat, which will be waiting at anchor in the bay. Getting up early to see the sun come up with the boat in the background is something rather special. After we board the vessel you will have a chance to settle in before we head off for a snorkel on the lovely reefs that the local area is famous for. Back on the boat, the captain will give the order to raise the anchor and we will head east in the direction of Sumbawa across the Lombok Strait. This deep trench of water between Bali and Lombok marks part of a very important ecological boundary called the Wallace Line, which was first described by Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, the renowned Victorian naturalist. Wallace noticed that the flora and fauna of the islands to the west are home to Asiatic animal and plant species, whereas the islands to the east of the invisible line have a greater similarity to species found in Australia. As we head east we will enjoy lunch along the way and have plenty of time to relax and settle in to our new ocean going home for the next seven days. Sunset drinks on the back deck will be a highlight.
We will wake off the beautiful white sands of Kanawa Island in West Sumbawa, where after breakfast we will snorkel, paddle board, swim and explore the island’s beaches, grasslands and corals throughout the morning. After lunch on the boat we will set a course 10 miles further east to Bungin Island, home to a group of Bajau ‘Sea Gypsies’, famous for living in stilt houses above the water and living entirely off the sea. It is the second largest Bajau settlement in Indonesia and will provide you with an amazing and rare opportunity to experience a part of Indonesian culture that is a huge part of the country’s seafaring tradition. Later in the afternoon we will set sail for Moyo Island.
This morning we will moor off Labuan Aji village on the island of Moyo, visit the village and then walk to Diwu Mba’i waterfall, where can swing on a rope and jump into the deep clear river pool below, or simply bathe in the refreshing cool water. Our next stop will be Satonda, a strange and mystical volcanic island with a sunken crater lake in its centre that was filled with saltwater when the nearby Mt Tambora erupted in 1815, causing a tsunami that flowed into the crater. The eruption was the biggest volcanic explosion in the collective memory of mankind; it had roughly four times the energy of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, and gave rise to the ‘year without a summer’ because of the effect on North American and European weather. Local people believe Satonda to be magical, and with this in mind, we will walk to the lip of the caldera to view the mysterious lake, alongside which are trees believed to be ‘wishing trees.’ Visitors to the island tie a small stone to a tree and make a wish. If your wish comes true, you are bound to return to the island to offer thanks. The seas surrounding the island are rich with soft and hard corals and colorful tropical fish, so we will spend the afternoon swimming and snorkeling. Another highlight of our visit to Satonda will be the sight of thousands of flying foxes that commute at dusk from the island to feed on the mainland, returning before first light the next day. Immediately after sunset, we leave for an overnight passage on a course due east.
We will wake up off the coast of Pulau Sangean, an active volcano that towers 1,800 metres above sea level. After breakfast, we will go ashore to a small hamlet, which, because of the active nature of the volcano, is only inhabited for short periods during the year when the local people come to tend their crops and small herds of buffaloes, which we can see swimming in the sea. Luckily for us, the local community of boatbuilders on the mainland has started construction of a brand new and very large phinisi boat on the beach at Sangean village. We will have the opportunity to see the process that built both the Ombak Putih and Katharina in action; truly an impressive sight and a marvel of engineering. We will then snorkel on both a nearby reef and a location on the north of the island where volcanic gasses escape in the form of bubbles from the sea floor among the corals, a most interesting sight. We will then proceed to the island of Banta and its pure white sand beach, for an afternoon of swimming, snorkeling and hill climbing for the fit. Later that evening we proceed on to Komodo dragon country.
This morning, the boat will be anchored off the famous Komodo Island, one of approximately 80 islands that make up the Komodo National Park. We will go ashore at the ranger station in Loh Liang for an early morning ranger-led trek through the park searching for Komodo dragons. In this savannah-like setting of dry, rugged landscape, we will encounter, at a safe distance, these awe-inspiring, giant lizards – Indonesia’s living dinosaurs. We may spot deer, wild boar, sulphur-crested cockatoos, butterflies, rare orchids, and jungle chickens among the strangle-fig trees and the distinctive lontar palms. After returning to the onboard we will cruise around the coast and visit Komodo village, where we can buy some local handicrafts. Later we may head to Pantai Merah ‘red-beach,’ which takes its name from the particles of red coral mingled with the sand. Here we will swim and snorkel over one of the richest reefs in Eastern Indonesia, relishing the unforgettable spectacle of the region’s many varieties of coral and marine life. Later, we will head to Makassar Reef, where we will look for manta rays, and if we spot them, we will go snorkeling with these gentle giants. We will then head to Gili Lawa Darat for some more snorkeling and a hill climb to watch a magical sunset.
Today we will visit the ranger station of Loh Buaya on Rinca Island where we will have another ranger-led nature trek in search of more Komodo dragons, which are indigenous to this small group of islands. Rinca is also well known for its diverse wildlife, so we may spot monkeys, wild buffaloes and deer as well. From the top of the hills, the scenery is breathtaking. In the afternoon, we can go snorkeling on the beautiful Siaba Island, before perhaps visiting the lovely Kelor Island. We will also have the option of visiting the adjacent island of Kukusan where we will meet a settlement of ‘sea-gypsies,’ the Bajao people who build their homes on stilts over the sea. That evening we will go ashore to an uninhabited island and get our toes in the sand for a final night’s beach barbeque. With a raging bonfire, great food, dancing and the crew singing and playing guitars, this end-of-cruise celebration under the stars is a quintessential SeaTrek experience.
For those early risers, we will have time for one last swim and snorkel, before cruising into Labuan Bajo harbour. At about 9am we will leave the boat for a trip to the village of Melo. Here, local ‘strongmen’ will perform the ‘Caci,’ a ritual whip-fight between two rivals in which the players, each armed with a rattan shield and a whip, will try to hit each other while dancing to the rhythm of traditional acoustic instruments. The men of Western Flores are famous for this test of daring and skill, requiring lightning quick moves to dodge the infliction of a wound. The winner is loudly applauded and cheered by the village. Besides this, the cultural group will also showcase other traditional dances. After the performance, we will have lunch on the boat before transferring you to the airport for your flight back to Bali.