Join us for a unique Indonesian voyage in partnership with the Ubud Food Festival with a cruise devoted to the flavours and spices of the archipelago in the company of Ubud Food Festival Founder and Director, Janet DeNeefe, renowned Australian food photographer, Petrina Tinslay, and Indonesian cult-chef Rahung Nasution as they share their skills both in the kitchen and behind the lens with demonstrations and presentations.
On our journey you will experience the Komodo National Park and Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands from an intimate perspective, cruising through a diverse landscape of islands and discovering new wonders with each new day. This adventurous, 7-day inclusive voyage aboard the 24-passenger ‘Ombak Putih’ offers an unrivalled experience of remote beaches, quiet coastal villages, jungle-clad mountain ranges, towering volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls, tribal rituals, a mysterious lake, and the legendary Komodo Dragons.
There will be ample opportunity to snorkel and view the kaleidoscopic beauty of the underwater world. Unlimited use of the stand-up paddleboards and sea kayaks onboard will add yet another dimension to your explorations.
Note: This cruise travels from Flores to Bali; guests will meet the ship in Labuan Bajo, Flores, and will disembark in Bali. The airfare is not included in the cruise price but we will be happy to assist you with any information and local flight reservations.
- Enjoy outstanding cuisines, live cooking demonstrations, and learn about the world of food photography
- See the famous Komodo dragons in real life
- Explore some of Indonesia’s most beautiful deserted beaches and snorkel pristine coral reefs teeming with underwater life
- Make a wish at the stunning saltwater lake in Satonda
We start from the airport in Bali with an early morning flight to Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. Upon arrival we will take a private bus to the inland 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 our visit to Melo we will return to Labuan Bajo where you will get your first glimpse of the ship. We will have plenty of time to settle in and get acquainted with the crew and fellow passengers as we cruise to the island of Kelor. Once there, we can enjoy a swim or a snorkel in the bright blue sea, ply the waters in a sea kayak, or have a little bit of fun on a paddleboard. 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. Historically, Indonesia has had many nomadic tribes often referred to as ‘sea-gypsies’ due to the fact that they mainly travelled and lived in boats. On Kukusan we get a glimpse of how the formerly nomadic Bajao have adapted to life in a static village. Nevertheless, still being so close to the water, the tribe’s dependence on the sea is not lost. Their children are introduced to the sea at a young age and grow accustomed to living and playing within the ocean environment.
Today we will visit the ranger station of Loh Buaya on Rinca Island from where we will head off on a ranger-led nature trek in search of 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. After returning to the Ombak Putih, we will cruise to the gorgeous 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. With over 1000 species of fish in the waters of the national park, there is much more to this wildlife reserve than just dragons.
When we wake up, 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 another early morning ranger-led trek through the park searching for more 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. During lunch, we will cruise past Makassar Reef towards Gili Lawa Darat, the northernmost island in the park. Guests who’d like to go ashore can hike to the summit of one of the islands’ hills where the horizon opens up to a complete vista overlooking all 80 islands within the Komodo Archipelago and the mainland of Flores. The sight of the long white sandy beaches with clearly visible coral formations, the savannah-like landscape of Komodo Island and volcanic island silhouettes in the background is a unique photo opportunity and a cherished memory for many guests.
In the morning we will have our breakfast off the beach at Gili Banta, an uninhabited island that is perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Following this daily excursion among the denizens of the reef, we will proceed to Wera, a Buginese settlement on the northeast coast of Sumbawa, opposite the active, 1800-metre, volcanic island of Sangean. Here, at Wera, the men build wooden boats along the black-sand shores and the village women spend days weaving brightly coloured cloth. We will visit the village and have a look at the hand-built boats in various stages of construction. Some of these boats are colossal in size, and it is fascinating to see how they are constructed. Tonight we will relax on the deck as we continue west toward Satonda.
Today we reach the strange and mystical volcanic island of Satonda with its beautiful coral gardens along the coastline. Satonda has 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. From Satonda we will cruise to the island of Moyo where we will moor off Labuan Aji village and walk to Diwu Mba’i waterfall. Here, we can swing on a rope and jump into the deep clear river pool below, or simply bathe in the refreshing cool water. Returning to the sea, we will find time for snorkelling on the reef, and later relax under the stars aboard as we will continue our westward voyage to Lombok.
Moored off the coast of North Lombok, we will enjoy a hearty breakfast before going ashore and boarding a private bus for a trip into the interior of the northern side of the island and the traditional village of Senaru. Here, we will be taken on a tour, by one of the local women-guides, of the simple thatched houses and gardens of fruits and spices, which will give us an insight into the culture of the indigenous Sasak people. We will re-embark in the west of Lombok, and cruise towards the island of Tangkong where, in the late afternoon, you will be treated to a highlight for many guests. On this deserted island with your feet in the sand and the stars rising in the vast Indonesian sky, the crew will build a bonfire and prepare a beach barbecue as a final celebration of our memorable voyage. While you sleep, we will cruise further west.
Depending on the weather conditions, we will either visit the island of Nusa Penida, the island of Nusa Lembongan, or Amuk Bay in Bali. We will then have a final swim and a snorkel before cruising to a mooring in either east or southeast Bali. Finally, we will say goodbye to the crew, and disembark before seeing everyone off to their next destination.
Meet the experts – Janet DeNeefe, Petrina Tinslay & Rahung Nasution
Adding extra flavour to this extraordinary adventure will be Ubud Writers & Readers Festival Founder & Director, Janet DeNeefe. Melbourne raised, Janet has made Bali her home since 1984. Her love of Indonesian culture and cuisine led to her opening two Ubud restaurants: Casa Luna, and Indus, as well as inspiring two cookbooks: Fragrant Rice, and Bali: the Food of My Island Home; in addition to a food festival: Ubud Food Festival.
Australian food and travel photographer, Petrina Tinslay, has been travelling the world for international magazines, high-end brands and ad agencies in a career spanning 25 years. She has been a contributor to many international magazine titles, including The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Gourmet and Conde Nast, as well as creating over 35 cook books for the likes of Nigella Lawson, Bill Granger and Donna Hay.
Born and raised in Mandailing, North Sumatra, cult cooking hero, food activist and ‘chaos-maker’ for the tongue, Rahung Nasution is one of Indonesia’s most well loved celebrity chefs. As a youngster he would cook dinner for his siblings daily while his parents worked in the rice fields. He now resides in Jakarta, where he transforms his homesickness for comforting Mandailing food into a passion for documenting Indonesian’s finest culinary heritage, nationally and around the world.