Cruising from the North Sulawesi port of Bitung and heading south to finish in Flores, we will explore the many islands and atolls of this spectacular region, with the opportunity to visit remote villages and cultures, go trekking and birdwatching, see conservation work in action with local NGOs, do ample snorkelling on coral reefs, swim with manta rays and swarms of stingless freshwater jellyfish, see rare and fascinating endemic maleo birds and colonies of nesting seabirds, and also encounter the fearsome Komodo dragons in their natural island habitat.
There will also be ample time for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddle-boarding, as well as we enjoy the pleasure of cruising across the tropical seas on our splendid traditional pinisi ships, Ombak Putih
Today is a day of firsts as we welcome you aboard the boat, meet the crew and our fellow passengers, settle into our seaborne home for the next two weeks and set sail on our 14-day adventure. Our first stop will be the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre, about a one-hour cruise to the south. We will go ashore by tender and have a guided tour of the centre, where we will learn of their conservation efforts and meet some of the wildlife that reside here including tarsiers, monkeys, hornbills and orangutans. In the afternoon we will snorkel on the nearby reef, and later in the afternoon set sail on our journey south.
This morning is our first chance to meet some Sulawesi locals as we head ashore to a traditional village, where they will invite us into their home to share with us their way of life. In the afternoon, we will have a long snorkel on a local reef and spend time on the beach swimming, paddling, kayaking and relaxing. Back on the boat, we will set course for the southwest for the overnight passage to the Togean Archipelago, one of Indonesia’s wonderful national parks.
Some great wildlife experiences await us today both in the water and the air, with birds, fish and invertebrates as the main features. We will enjoy a fantastic snorkel on the reefs near the island of Malenge, before taking our snorkels and masks to experience a rare opportunity to swim with stingless jellyfish in nearby Lake Mariona, one of only 20 lakes in the world that are home to these amazing creatures. We will visit a local village and meet the people, and enjoy a late afternoon walk in the local forest before being witness to a most amazing show of nature as flocks of hornbills come flying in to roost in the trees – a once in a lifetime sight only accessible with SeaTrek.
Today will be your first encounter with the Bajau sea gypsies of Southeast Asia, a people with a very unique way of living with the sea. About 2500 people live in Kabalutan village, and we will be welcomed into their world to meet and talk with them about their lives. We will head to the southernmost tip of the park and have a long snorkel near the before setting sail to the southeast for a most unique wildlife encounter the following morning.
A very unique experience awaits you today, one you will very likely have never had before – an encounter with a Maleo bird. One of Sulawesi’s most interesting birds, the Maleo is a flightless fowl with some very unusual characteristics and behaviours, and also the symbol of the province within which it lives. We visit a conservation project on the mainland where scores of Maleo live and breed. Entering in twos, we can watch them at their sandy nesting sites from a camouflagued hide as they go about their business. Later that morning we will cruise south and snorkel in the afternoon on a beautifully rich reef in front or Pulau Dua, or ‘two islands’ in the Indonesian language.
A trio of unique experiences await us today involving culture, conservation and wildlife. We will visit the bustling Indonesian island port town of Bangaii, a place filled with activity and commerce. Here on Banggai Island we will visit the local market, explore the neighbourhoods, the sultan’s palace and the maleo bird egg ‘museum’, and all from our fleet of brightly-coloured motor rickshaws, which will be on the dock awaiting our arrival. The last of the day’s highlights will be a snorkel on a local reef where we will see the most elegant, but very threatened, Banggai Cardinal Fish – a darling of saltwater aquarium lovers worldwide.
The Bokan Islands are an area of unsurpassed beauty and today will a day of marine exploration and relaxation as we snorkel, swim, paddle and kayak around the glorious reefs, beaches and islands with many caves and snorkelling spots. We also have the rare privilege to swim once again in another stingless jellyfish lake, the exotically named Danau Piasu Botangan.
A visit to another Bajau ‘sea gypsy’ community awaits us today, as we get to once again meet and experience one of Southeast Asia’s famous nomadic cultures. After our visit with the sea gypsies on Padai Kecil Island, we will snorkel on one of the local reefs, and then set sail later in the afternoon, heading south to the wonderful Wakatobi National Park.
This is day one of two in the Wakatobi National Park, a very hard to reach archipelago filled with fascinating culture and also one of Indonesia’s best national parks, with outstanding underwater life natural beauty. As well as snorkelling in the morning and afternoon, you will enjoy a personalised tour of the island of Wangi Wangi, with highlights that include a seaweed farm, meeting with a traditional weaving community, and the ruins of a centuries’ old Dutch fort, a relic of the ancient Spice Trade.
More fascinating culture and snorkelling awaits us today, as we visit a famous local blacksmiths and do a drift snorkel on the Wakatobi Resort’s magnificent house reef. Snorkelling comes first in the morning, and then during lunch we will cruise to nearby Binongko Island, where the local craftsmen use hand-operated bellows on the furnace in the blacksmith shop to produce machetes and knives for that are highly sought-after right across Indonesia.
When you awake today the sky will be filled with the sight of Brown- and Red-Footed Boobies and Lesser Frigate birds, many of which will be circling the boat and trying to land on the stays and masts. The island where we will be is Kakabia, an uninhabited sea mount in the middle of the Flores Sea, rich in upwelling nutrients and a perfect habitat for fishing and raising their young. We will spend the day here snorkelling and exploring and we will make an attempt to go ashore (tide depending) for an afternoon of swimming, kayaking, paddling and fun. In the evening (also tide depending) we will have a bbq beach party with our crew providing the entertainment.
Today we will walk amongst the hulls and hulks of a huge unlaunched flotilla of pinisi ships being built on a remote island archipelago. We will meet the shipwrights and discover their age-old traditions of shipbuilding that they have practiced for centuries in this forgotten corner of the world, using basic plans, wood, and a collection of simple tools and age-old techniques. Bonerate is rarely visited by tourists outside of SeaTrek, and seeing this open-air boatyard is an experience to be savoured. As we walk through the village and along the beaches and meet the locals, you will gain a new appreciation for island life and for the kind of boat you have been cruising with for the past twelve days.
Giants will loom large in your day today: Komodo dragons, flying foxes and manta rays, three of the biggest and most impressive animals in Indonesia. Rising early in the Komodo National Park, we will take you for a privately arranged, ranger-led walk around the island of Rinca, where we will see not only Komodo dragons, but also their preferred menu of prey – monkeys, deer, pigs and buffaloes. After lunch on board we will go in search of manta rays as they glide by as they feed in the current at their local cleaning stations. This evening, as the sun starts to set, we will gather on the deck and be witness to a most spectacular event as thousands of flying foxes leave their mangrove forest homes en masse on their nightly fruit-foraging missions. Tonight the crew will prepare a beach BBQ for us all as we feast, sing and dance the night away by a roaring fire under the stars.
Our final day will be one of snorkelling and culture. After an optional morning swim and snorkel, we will take you on a private tour to a local village high up on a mountain plateau where we will be welcomed in by the elders and offered betel nut and arak, a potent local alcoholic brew. We will be witness to the traditional ‘caci’ whip dance, and the ‘bamboo’ dance, performed by the villagers for generations. After a final Indonesian lunch on the boat we will say farewell to our crew, who have looked after us so well for the past two weeks, and transfer to Komodo airport for our flight back to Bali and our onward journey.
The route and dives are always organized according to the weather conditions, the currents and tides.