We will enjoy the luxury of cruising effortlessly from island to island, crossing a rugged, isolated region where travel by land can be difficult. Our graceful pinisi schooner, the Ombak Putih, offers us access to villages and beaches that would otherwise be almost impossible to reach. Along the way there will be time to enjoy the amazing volcanic scenery, meet the villagers, visit traditional markets, buy local textiles, swim and snorkel over psychedelic coral reefs, relax and have fun. This is a fantastic, adventurous way to travel, providing memories that guests will treasure for the rest of their lives. Our British expert textile guides, David and Sue Richardson, look forward to introducing guests to each island, its people and its culture, while sharing their knowledge on the day-to-day excursions as well as through a series of evening talks.
After arriving on the morning flight from Denpasar to Maumere via Waingapu, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the Ombak Putih in time for a delicious welcome lunch on deck. We will be moored in the beautiful Bay of Maumere against the backdrop of the extinct volcano of Ile Kimang. After everyone has settled into their cabin we will visit a nearby fishing village, built over the water on stilts, where we will witness the lifestyles of the local Bugis and Bajao sea gypsies. In the evening we will relax over cocktails while David and Sue give an introductory talk about the culture and textiles of the local Sikka region before enjoying dinner on deck.
We will disembark at Maumere for a short drive to a busy market, where the vendors sell local ikat and a variety of weaving supplies. We will then drive up into the scenic Iwang Geté highlands to visit a small village where we will be welcomed with music and dancing. After gaining our first insights into the local techniques of spinning, binding, dyeing and weaving, we will have the opportunity to purchase some of the finished textiles. The adventurous among us will be able to try betel nut, tobacco and locally distilled liquor. After lunch on board we will head out to a village inhabited by refugees from the island of Palu’e off the coast of Flores, who were forced to leave their island following a series of volcanic eruptions. We will have a demonstration of how they produce their distinctive textiles.
This morning we will pass Larantuka, situated at the foot of the imposing Ile Mandiri volcano, before mooring in a quiet bay for breakfast. As we go ashore, we will be welcomed by local Lamaholot villagers who will show us in detail how they produce their fantastic earthy-brown ikats decorated with small white seashells. We will then be guided around this colourful well-kept village before returning to the Ombak Putih for lunch. After lunch we will sail to some small islands close to the northeast coast of Adonara Island for swimming, snorkelling and beachcombing. We will moor nearby overnight.
Today we will arrive in Lembata and drop anchor on the north coast below the towering active volcano of Ile Api. We will go ashore to see some of the superb ikat textiles produced in this region, while meeting weavers from at least three neighbouring villages. After a formal welcome and demonstration of local weaving techniques there will be a selling exhibition of textiles, giving you the chance to add a fabulous bridewealth cloth to your collection. Guests will also be invited to see an ancient anthropomorphic rock painting in a nearby village. Later, during lunch, the boat will cruise across Waienga Bay to another small rarely visited weaving village and a nearby location for a refreshing swim or snorkel.
After arriving in the Pantar Strait we will make an early start, first visiting the village of Uma Pura on Ternate Island. On this small volcanic island we will discover how they make around 200 different natural dyes, using ingredients such as sea sponges, sea anemones and the ink of sea hares. There will be displays of textiles everywhere and we will also be shown how they weave huge fish traps from bamboo. Back on board we will have lunch while sailing into Kalabahi Bay before docking at the harbour of the capital of Alor Island. A short drive takes us to a village inhabited by the colourful Abui – Melanesian people who speak a Papuan language. We will be invited to join in the hypnotic lego-lego dance before shopping for textiles, baskets and jewellery at a small pop-up market. Alor is ethnically diverse, so we will return via the Kalabahi Museum to see their fine display of textiles and moko drums from across the island.
Over breakfast we sail around the western tip of Alor to a long sandy beach overlooking Tereweng and Pantar Islands. Here we can swim and snorkel from the beach or relax and beachcomb. Back on the Ombak Putih for lunch as we cross over to a small Christian coastal village on Pantar Island, where we will receive a rapturous welcome and will be entertained with music and dancing, including of course the important lego-lego dance.
As we wake we will be approaching the fascinating whaling village of Lamalera, on the southern side of Lembata, watching some of the boats heading out to sea. We land on the beach in front of a row of 30 whaleboat sheds and are escorted into the village clearing by local schoolchildren. After a welcome by the kepala desa, we will be entertained by dance performances and shown demonstrations of local dyeing and weaving. Many textiles and other artefacts will be available to buy. We then go to the upper village to visit the school and the massive Catholic church, getting excellent views of the boatsheds as we descend. After we return to the ship, the local whalers will put on a demonstration of how they harpoon whales from their tiny sailboats. Lunch will be served as we begin our long overnight sail to the beautiful non-volcanic island of Savu.
After breakfast we go ashore at Napae Bay, following in the footsteps of Captain Cook who landed HMS Endeavour on the same beach in 1770. We will witness a cleansing ceremony before being welcomed by ikat-clad horsemen showing us their riding skills. A short drive takes us to Namata, the most important ritual centre on Savu, where we will visit the sacred enclosure of priests of the ‘Jingi Tiu’ religion, containing the largest grouping of megaliths on the island. After lunch on board the Ombak Putih we will return ashore. A very scenic drive in the school bus takes us to Mesara in west Savu to visit the spectacular hamlet of Ledetadu, where local weavers will welcome us and show us how they still make their beautifully traditional naturally dyed cloths. The men will show us how they climb the tall lontar palms to tap their delicious juice. We are usually accompanied by Geneviève Duggan, the world expert on Savunese culture and textiles, who gives us many insights into why textiles lie at the heart of Savunese culture.
Weather permitting we will approach the small neighbouring island of Raijua under sail. After disembarking at the harbour we will take a short drive to the fenced enclosure of Udju Dima, the residence of the Rajas of Raijua since at least the early nineteenth century. After a formal welcome we will be entertained by local dancers clad in traditional costume and be shown the range of textiles used on the island. From there we visit the home of one of the island’s top indigo dyers, who will show us how her family make a range of indigo textiles unique to this island. After lunch back on board the Ombak Putih there will be an opportunity to swim or snorkel from one of the island’s pristine sandy beaches.
We sail overnight to Sumba Island and after breakfast land on the sandy beach at Melolo. Our colourful bus will take us to two amazing but quite different royal villages, each with megalithic graves surrounded by tall traditional thatched houses. We will meet members of the two local royal families and see how they make some of the finest textiles to be found on the island, using the techniques of supplementary warp and warp ikat – sometimes even combining both techniques in one textile! We return to the Ombak Putih for lunch while we sail north, stopping at a local beach for a late afternoon swim and snorkel.
After lunch we will drive out of town through paddy fields to a rarely visited weaving village to be greeted by ikat-clad warriors on horseback. Sitting in the shade on the veranda of a traditional house we will be welcomed by the entire village and entertained with traditional dances that are still used to welcome important visitors and were used in the past to welcome the warriors back from their headhunting expeditions Textiles will be hanging everywhere and we will be offered a huge array of jewellery, statues, boxes, baskets and other crafts. After departing for Rinca, our guests are invited to dress lavishly in their finest ikat cloths for tonight’s farewell dinner party with the captain and crew, who will entertain us on deck with traditional Indonesian songs and dances.
On our final morning we will moor close to the starkly beautiful island of Rinca for an early breakfast followed by a short trek in the Komodo National Park led by a park ranger. No textiles here, just amazing, three-metre-long Komodo Dragons – Indonesia’s living dinosaurs! Back on board we will hopefully have time to cruise to a small island for our final snorkel before heading for Labuan Bajo where we will have lunch and then transfer to the nearby airport for our late afternoon flight back to Bali.
The route and dives are always organized according to the weather conditions, the currents and tides.