This is an exciting new tour of the many islands, atolls and villages along the eastern seaboard of Sulawesi and across the Flores Sea to the Komodo National Park. We invite you to be a pioneer traveller on this very special exploratory cruise.
Cruising between the North Sulawesi city of Gorontalo and heading south to Labuan Bajo in Flores, the cruise will follow a pre-planned and optimised route, yet will offer the freedom and flexibility to investigate anything of particular interest that comes across our path. En route we will explore the various islands and atolls of eastern Sulawesi and engage in a host of activities that include visiting remote villages and meeting local people, ample snorkelling on beautiful coral reefs, trekking, encounters with whale sharks and manta rays (fingers crossed), nesting seabirds and Komodo dragons, trekking, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddling, as well as simply enjoying the pleasure of cruising across the tropical seas on our beautiful and traditional pinisi ship.Guests will depart from Bali on a morning flight, changing in Makassar (South Sulawesi) and arriving in Gorontalo at around 1pm, where they will be taken directly to the awaiting boat. At the end of the trip, it’s just a 90-minute direct flight back to Bali. The cruise is all-inclusive (except for alcohol, which is charged close to cost price) and all activities are optional leaving guests the freedom to do what they wish.
Note: The operator will do their utmost to ensure that everyone on board has a fantastic experience and that we see all that we hope to, but being an exploratory cruise we ask that guests bring an open mind to slight deviations and diversions that may occur due to tides, unforseen adventures and new interesting distractions that may raise their heads along the way.
Guests will fly from Bali to Gorantalo and upon arrival will be taken directly to the vessel which will be waiting in the harbour. After some welcome drinks the boat will head off to the area of Botubarani (approx. two hours away) where a group of whale sharks are often in residence, giving us a very good chance to get in the water and snorkel and swim with them. After dinner we will set sail for the Tongean Island group for an overnight crossing.
Days 2 & 3
We will wake up in the Tonian Islands and will two days exploring this beautiful archipelago visiting various islands and anchorages, villages, talking lots of time for snorkelling, kayaking, trekking and swimming. After dinner on day three we will set for an overnight voyage to Balanta Island.
We wake up at anchor off Pulau Besar and Pulau Poson islands and spend the day visiting the local village market, snorkelling, swimming, water sports, trekking and time on the beach. After dinner set sail for Banggai Island.
We wake up at Banggai, home to the endemic Banggai cardinal fish, which we will endeavour to track down. We will visit the local village of Lokotai, snorkel, swim and spend time on the beach, and maybe visit a nearby resort. The local area is ringed with atolls and beautiful reefs with great snorkelling, so later afternoon we will cruise to a nearby island and spend the night at anchor. This night we will have a BBQ on the beach, and later in the evening we will cruise south to Manui Island.
In the morning we will do some exploring and snorkelling near Manui Island, where we will visit a Kampung Bajo (a village of the Bugis Bajo people, built on stilts above the water), before exploring the local islands for beaches and snorkelling. Overnight sail to Wakitobi archipelago.
Days 7 & 8
We will spend two days exploring the beautiful Wakatobi National Park area, famous for its colourful coral spots and nature. We will stop for some water sports and snorkelling and a possible scuba dive with the local resort for interested guests. We will visit the Operation Wallacea project. Then late morning on the second day we will cruise to Moromaho Island, a haven for pan-tropical seabirds. We will then cruise overnight to the island of Batuata.
Today we will wake up at Batuata Island and will spend the day exploring, beaching, snorkelling, visiting a local village and swimming. We will set off late afternoon to cruise to the Bonerate Archipelago.
We wake up at Kalao Island in the Takabonerate area and visit the village of Beru. After that we will spend the day swimming and snorkelling and doing water sports, before setting off later afternoon for an overnight cruise to Rinca Island in the Komodo National Park.
Today we will set off for an early morning trek on Rinca Island, in search of the famous Komodo dragons. After breakfast we will spend some time at the beautiful Pantai Merah (red sand beach) and then search for and snorkel with manta rays. Evening time we will anchor off Kalong Island to watch the many tens of thousands of flying foxes fly off to the mainland to feed, before we have our own farewell beach BBQ.
Today we spend our final morning on the boat with time for a last snorkel and swim, before we cruise into Labuan Bajo harbour, have lunch and disembark for transfer to the airport for the return flight to Bali.
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
Komodo National Park covers around 170,000 hectares of sea and land. It consists of Komodo, Rinca, Padar and other smaller islands. The rough, hilly, deserted, dry islands are situated between Sumbawa and Flores and surrounded by waters with ferocious currents, riptides and whirlpools. The islands were formed partly by volcanic eruptions and partly by old coral reefs. The climate is very dry with an annual rainfall of about 800 millimetres between November and April. About 70 percent of the land surface is savanna. On the dry hills grow Lontar palms and long tough grass. On Komodo Island there is one village with around 700 inhabitants, most of them fishermen; they are descendants of exiles from Bima in the past century. On Rinca there are two fishing villages. The Komodo National Park boasts more than 150 different species of birds, while its rich waters support amazing reefs and a huge variety of marine life, some coming from the Indian Ocean to pass through the straits, including whales and dolphins.
In 1980 Komodo and other surrounding islands were declared a National Park. In 1991 it became a World Heritage Site. The largest dragon ever measured was three metres long. The mating season is in July-August and the eggs hatch nine months later. Adult Komodo dragons are fearsome predators. The bulk of their diet is made up of large mammals: goats, deer, pigs, horses and water buffalo; these prey are often caught by ambush or surprise. According to the last census in 1999, 1,700 dragons live on Komodo and 2,000 more dragons live on Rinca. The Komodo probably owes its survival to the isolated location of the islands and the forbidding currents between them. The other reason, of course, is that Komodo dragons cannot be eaten and their skin doesn’t make good handbags.