Summary : Explore Southeast Asia’s lesser-known islands en route to Micronesia. Experience the rich culture and history of Western Papua’s Asmat region. See flying fish emerge from the rich blue of the Banda Sea, snorkel the brilliant reefs of Raja Ampat and keep an eye out for Black-naped terns and Red-footed boobies on Palau’s remote Sonsorol Island.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
$9,050 to $20,850
Embark the ship and meet your Expedition Team. Enjoy time to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, and meet fellow travelers.
On your way north enjoy a day at sea and use it to prepare for your time in Indonesia. The marine biologist will want to talk about the wonders found underwater, while the ornithologist will most likely present the emblematic birds of Indonesia. Another interesting topic will be ‘ikat’ and the art of weaving in Indonesia.
In the evening the Captain will invite you to the Captain’s Welcome cocktail party.
Approach Alor Island and see that every island of the Sundas has at least one volcano. During the late morning enter the deep bay on Alor’s western side.
Clear into Indonesia at Kalabahi, the capital and port of Alor Island. Drive to the small village of Takpala located in the rugged interior. Be welcomed by the local dignitaries and – apart from having a look at the traditional homes- will be able to enjoy a cultural performance of dancing and chanting. At the end of the performance see how the Abui live, taste some of their staple food like manioc (if you so wish) and will taste their local coffee.
Lamalera is one of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia. Although slowly dying out, the ancient tradition of whaling is still the principal economic activity here as the many types of whalebone in the village prove. Whaling boats are made entirely of wood with wooden pegs (there is not a nail to be found!) and sails are made of palm leaves. The patterns of the whale and the boats are often seen in Lamalera’s hand-woven ikat textiles.
Be welcomed by the villagers on the beach, head up into the village and see traditional activities and dances. The women will give a weaving demonstration and ikat textiles will be available for purchase.
Depending on the sea conditions there might be the opportunity to actually go on a “mock” whale hunt in the local boats, otherwise the villagers will bring their boats close to Silver Discoverer’s anchorage and show how they hunt large marine creatures and whales.
During lunch Silver Discoverer will re-position to Lomblem Reef for an afternoon of diving, swimming and snorkeling.
Although Buton Island seems to be small compared to its neighbor Sulawesi. With slightly more than 4,400 square kilometers, it is the world’s 129th largest island (and Indonesia’s 19th largest). Much of the lowland consists of uplifted karst and other limestone formations. Due to its hilly topography it still has a considerable amount of forest; most of it is seasonal tropical lowland forest with mangroves in coastal areas.
Arriving in Bau Bau you will most likely be welcomed with a mangaru, a welcoming dance by three men to respect guests and to ward off enemies. Overlooking Bau Bau, the capital, is Benteng Keraton Buton, the seat of the sultan. Claiming to be the biggest fort in Indonesia with a 3 kilometer long wall (up to 8 meters high) encircling a small town, this fort is unusual, as it was built by a local sultan and not by Europeans. Made of coral blocks it commands an excellent view over the city and port and the sea beyond. Inside the fort, the house of the former sultan is a small private museum.
Two hours north of Bau Bau is the Sambusango Forest Reserve, a tropical monsoon forest, home to the anoa (a wild small water buffalo) of which 10% of the world’s population is found on Buton, phalanger possums and tarsiers. During a jungle hike, see some of the 80 bird species that have been recorded, 37 of them endemic to Wallacea. Among the more common ones are the Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker and White-rumped Cuckooshrike.
For those wanting to relax at the sea, Nirwana Beach with its white sand south of Bau Bau is the perfect choice. For divers, this area is good for macro diving and underwater photography. Apart from the smaller creatures frogfish, scorpion fish, turtles, sea horses, ghost pipefish, moray eels, and occasionally reef sharks are seen here.
During the morning Silver Discoverer will be in the Gulf of Boni, heading north for Palopo.
From Palopo Harbour drive 1-½ hours into the interior of Sulawesi where you’ll spend the later part of the afternoon exploring the area around Rantepao, the capital of Tana Toraja. Overnight in a local hotel.
After an early breakfast have a full day exploring the land of the Toraja. See Palawa, an ancient village inhabited by residents who adorn their homes with the horns of buffalo killed in funeral ceremonies. Continue to Bori Parinding— “the Stonehenge of Indonesia” — to see an ancient field, or rante (the field of the funeral ceremony). Here are more than 100 tall menhir stones, many of them have a height of several meters, representing feast of merit given in the past, while human remains have been placed in stone chambers of other boulders found there. At Lemo see the cliff side burials with galleries of ancestors. At Londa see burial caves high in the cliffs and burials in hanging coffins in natural caves at the base. In the traditional village of Kete Kesu id the most complete settlement with Tongkonan houses and granaries. Finally, visit Nanggala to see original rice barns that belonged to the area’s royal family. Most of these sites have been grouped together as a proposed UNESCO World Heritage site.
Deaths and funerals play an important part in the Torajan culture and the elaborate funeral ceremonies can go on for days. Therefore this itinerary is subject to change depending if there is a funeral ceremony.
In the afternoon drive south to Palopo to re-join Silver Discoverer.
During the morning continue to head south and around the southeastern end of Sulawesi to reach the Wakatobi Marine Park.
Listen to lecturers during their talks, attend a food or wine tasting seminar, relax on the Pool Deck or help our Naturalists look for birds and marine mammals. Enjoy the amenities Silver Discoverer has to offer.
Anano is part of the Wakatobi Island group with the Wakatobi Marine Park considered as having one of the highest counts of reefs and fishes in the world. Pulau Anano’s reefs do not only have coral and fish, but have walls with huge gorgonian fans and large sponges.
Your snorkel or dive excursions today will reveal an incredible array of marine reef inhabitants, and underwater photographers will appreciate a bizarre macro world among corals even in the shallow areas. You might see mackerels, rainbow runners, but highlights include colorful frogfish, octopus, marbled snake eels, flying gurnards, multitudes of crab species, and dazzling anemones. Whether you are a diver or a snorkeler you will surely enjoy the underwater creatures.
Northwest of Pulau Anano is Pulau Kokoila. Kokoila and the surrounding islands have dozens of reefs and atolls. Dive, snorkel and relax on a beach and swim.
Most of the islands surrounding Kokoila are uninhabited, but if the opportunity arises, you might get to go ashore to visit a local village.
Enjoy a day at sea and use it to prepare for time in Indonesia’s most famous diving area: Raja Ampat. The marine biologist will want to talk about the incredible coral diversity and the high numbers of different fish species seen during dives and snorkel explorations. The on-board Ornithologist will no doubt talk about the 677 species of birds seen in West Papua, with 25 species of bird of paradise, mentioning those we are most likely to see.
Located in the Halmahera Sea, Alyui is the westernmost bay of Waigeo, one of the four major islands in the Rajah Ampat National Park. The remote Alyui Bay site offers secure and sheltered waters located on the equator outside the cyclone belt, relatively stable water temperatures and pollution?free and nutrient?rich waters ideally suited to the Pinctada maxima oyster. This pristine marine area of Raja Ampat has three major pearl growing sites set in the most stunning scenery.
On the way to the interior of Alyui Bay pass a pearl farm and hope to either have some of the Indonesian/Australian staff come on board to explain how pearls are grown or even perhaps a visit to the farm for a closer look at the work done to produce beautiful pearls.
Another activity will be a Zodiac cruise along the shores of Alyui Bay, looking for Blyth’s Hornbills, Brahminy Kites and White-bellied Sea Eagles and perhaps dugong, which are known from eastern Waigeo and have been seen on several occasions in Alyui.
During lunch Silver Discoverer will reposition slightly north to Wayag. Located on the border of the Pacific Ocean (to its north) and the Halmahera Sea (to its west and south) Wayag has many secluded beaches and colorful underwater life. For the intrepid there is the opportunity to climb one of the steep coral hills for a breath-taking view of the many mushroom-shaped islands surrounded by white sandy beaches and turquoise colored waters wait. Pulau Wayag has a wonderful intact coral reef accessible from the beach where snorkeling will offer underwater scenes of thousands of fish, colorful corals, sea stars and much more. If you do not want to swim, snorkel or dive you might want to explore the area by Zodiac.
Since Wayag is north of the Equator, Neptune might want to pay Silver Discoverer a visit.
Enjoy a late breakfast and relax next to the Pool, finish that book you always wanted to read. Today you will have time to go through your pictures and edit them while the memories are still fresh. Attend a lecture recapturing different aspects of the many places we have visited and seen. Sample some of the culinary specialties the Executive Chef and Galley Team will prepare for you.
Today the Captain will invite you to his Farewell Cocktail Party and Dinner!
On this small outpost of Palau you can see for yourself how easy or difficult it would be for you to survive on a small island in the Pacific. Just a handful of residents are here as guardians of the island. Diving, swimming and snorkeling should be feasible, but shortly after lunch continue on your way to Koror.
In the afternoon watch the Photographer/Videographer’s presentation of the voyage on DVD. Enjoy those marvelous takes and moments.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
The program is complimentary; however, space is limited and thus booking early is recommended. Dives are dependent upon the conditions. Divers must have a current Advanced Open Water Dive License or equivalent from an accredited Certification Agency which will need to be provided before embarking the vessel. Certification must be active and logbooks must show evidence that each guest has been diving within 12 months prior to the voyage. Medical Dive Travel Insurance for evacuation, medical treatment and repatriation is required. Guests must bring their own BCD vests and regulators. Weight belts, tanks, masks and fins will be provided free of charge onboard Silver Discoverer.
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; snorkeling gear; diving; butler service; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee); 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Explorer and View Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Vista, Veranda, and Medallion Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Bruno Cazarini (houses)