Join us for a rare event, a circumnavigation of the world’s sixth largest island. Opportunities to visit this land of history and mystery are scarce and are usually limited to one region of the island. Our visit in the autumn of 2013 will be all encompassing and include opportunities to walk in the forest with orangutans, to snorkel over coral reefs, to visit remote islands where native stone-age indigenous people still live in isolation, free to practice their timeless tribal lore and to explore where few have been before.
Known in ancient times as the ‘Island of Gold’, Sumatra was an early arrival point for trade and new religions. Gold and other natural resources made it a land of wealthy chiefs and princes between the 7th and 13th centuries. Today, the island is home to twelve ethnic groups speaking more than 25 languages and the cross cultural exchanges of past centuries have created a unique and diverse land.
However, for many the greatest draw is the island’s incomparable natural history and stunning mountain and jungle landscapes. Larger than life in all respects it is one of the world’s last untouched frontiers. The beauty of Sumatra is well complemented by the natural charm and warmth of its people. For those genuine travellers who wish to immerse themselves in the culture and mystery of this little known corner of Indonesia, a circumnavigation of Sumatra is truly one of the great journeys of the world.
The privilege of exploring this remarkable land from a small ship and in the company of knowledgeable speakers, expedition team members and local guides is an opportunity not to be missed.
Please note price includes return flights to/from London. For non-use of these flights there is a reduction in price. Contact us for more information.
Circumnavigation of Sumatra itinerary:
Day 1 - LONDON HEATHROW TO SINGAPORE
Fly by scheduled flight.
Day 2 - SINGAPORE
Arrive today and drive to your first class hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 3 - SINGAPORE
Enjoy a leisurely morning in the luxurious setting of your hotel. After an early lunch enjoy an afternoon excursion in Singapore will include the National Orchid Garden, Chinatown and the Sultan Mosque. Embark the MS Caledonian Sky in the late afternoon and sail. Welcome drinks and dinner will be served as we sail the Malacca Strait, named after the Malacca Sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1414 and 1511. It is from here that early traders from Arabia, Africa and Persia would trade glassware, camphor, ivory, sandal wood and perfumes and today the Strait is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.
Day 4 - MALACCA, MALAYSIA
Before setting off for Sumatra we spend the morning in the historic port of Malacca. With more than its fair share of colonisers from Malaysian princes, the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese this strategically placed city has a fascinating history brought vividly to life in the excellent Ethnographical Museum. Other places will include the 16th century Portuguese fortress, the former Dutch Governors house and the impressive Christ Church. We return to our vessel for lunch and continue up the Strait of Malacca to Belawan.
Day 5 - BELAWAN FOR BERASTAGI, SUMATRA
Today will be a long but rewarding day as we drive up into the Karo Highlands. Here, the volcanoes, Gunung Sinabung and the smoking Gunung Sibayak, rise dramatically from the lush, fruit growing countryside. In Peceren, a Batak tribal village with beautifully carved traditional houses we can experience the daily life and wander around the local market. Return to Belawan in the late afternoon and moor overnight.
Day 6 - BELAWAN FOR GUNUNG LEUSER NATIONAL PARK
We drive inland again to the eastern side of the Gunung Leuser National Park to visit the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which is now one of the world’s most important conservation projects. Orphaned orangutans are brought here to learn how to live in the wild again. We can watch them at play and feeding and learn how the 6 month programme works.
Day 7 - AT SEA
Permission is being sought for a landing at Lhokseumawe where local guides lead us through the jungle looking for endemic birds and wildlife.
Day 8 - BANDA ACEH
Many will recall the destruction caused to this port on the northern tip of Sumatra by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. Enormous effort has been made to rebuild since the fateful day but the power of the Tsunami is still evident as we see a 250 foot vessel perched several miles inland where it was deposited after riding a huge wave. This morning we will visit the Tsunami Museum and enjoy a cultural ceremony by the Achenese people. Return to the vessel for lunch and sail during the afternoon around the northern shores of Sumatra.
Day 9 - GUNUNG LEUSER NATIONAL PARK
Today, we approach this vast national park from the western side of the island. Gunung Leuser together with Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site of over 15,000 square miles of tropical rain forest. Zodiacs will take us up river in search of the abundant bird species. Look out for the red billed malkoha and rhinoceros hornbill.
Day 10 - NIAS ISLAND
Heading out into the Indian Ocean we land on the island of Nias some 70 miles from the west coast of Sumatra. Its very isolation has protected its cultural heritage. We will see some wonderful examples of tribal art and unique architecture. After an island drive we will witness a stone jumping demonstration in a traditional village. Here, talented local villagers leap over six foot tall stone megaliths in a rite of passage. The higher they jump, the better chance they have of acquiring a wife. However, the tradition originated to train them for warfare and defence. This colourful culture developed separately to Sumatra and the island has a history of head hunting, warfare, slaves and gold.
Day 11 - SIBERUT ISLAND, MENTAWAI ISLANDS
Tonight we cross the Equator as we continue south to the Mentawai archipelago. Like Nias, these islands have a unique culture. Zodiacs take us upriver to a small village for a walking tour followed by a cultural performance. The island is rich in wildlife and along the river almost 140 bird species and rare monkeys can be found. Look out for the Kloss gibbon, pig-tailed langur and the Mentawi langur. After lunch on board there will be the opportunity to snorkel over the island’s fringing coral reefs.
Day 12 - PADANG FOR SOLOK
Today, we return back to Sumatra and from Padang’s port of Telukbayur we drive into the highlands. This is the Minankabau country where society is run along matrilineal traditions. The women own all the property and the rice paddies and this region of Sumatra is recognised as one of the most efficient parts of the island. The Minang people are very strong in their Islam faith, are fierce business people, but are considered among the warmest and friendliest people in Indonesia.
Day 13 - BENGKULU
We now reach the southern half of the island and the city of Bengkulu. The British East India Company established a garrison here in 1685 and stayed until 1824 when the Dutch took over. After a drive around the city whose original wealth was based on pepper we drive up into the hills above the city in search of the world’s largest flower, the raffesias.
Day 14 - UJUNG KULON NATIONAL PARK & KRAKATOA ISLAND
Just a few miles separates Sumatra from the island of Java. We will land at the far western tip of Java for a morning of exploration in the Ujung Kulon National Park which is a World Heritage Site. It is a stunningly beautiful area and contains the largest remaining area of lowland rain forest on the Java Plain. It is a wonderful area for bird watching. We return to our vessel for lunch as we sail towards the Sunda Strait and the infamous island of Krakatoa.
Day 15 - WAY KAMBAS NATIONAL PARK
Back on Sumatra we land on the south east coast for a visit to the Way Kambas National Park. Much of the exploration will be by Zodiac as we navigate the river. Look out for the rare white-winged duck, the blue-rumped parrot and whiskered treesswift. Here also are pockets of elephants thought to represent the highest density of numbers found anywhere in the world.
Day 16 - AT SEA
Relax as we sail along the east coast of Sumatra bound for Singapore.
Day 17 - SINGAPORE TO LONDON
Disembark this morning and return to London by scheduled flight.
Day 18 - LONDON
Arrive this morning.
The MS Caledonian Sky accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites. Many have walk-in wardrobes and some feature tub baths. There will be seven categories of suites and sixteen suites will have private balconies. For those familiar with the MS Island Sky she will feel like a second home, although there are some differences. The dining room, lounge, Lido Deck and bar are all similar. However, the ‘Club’ on the MS Caledonian Sky has been transported to the very top deck. Here, there is a library and bar which leads out on to a lovely forward deck. The ‘Club’ has wonderful views with ceiling to floor windows.
If you like the MS Island Sky, we are sure you will also approve of her sister. And, of course it is important that we offer the very best of facilities. However, equally as important are the staff on board whether they are the vessel’s crew or our own expedition staff. Noble Caledonia’s reputation has been built on providing the very best in all areas. Their crew of 74 not only offer an excellent service they are also noted for their kindness and attention to detail. A well run ship with a warm atmosphere is what we are known for, and it is because most of our crew have been with us for many years that we are able to engender such an atmosphere.
Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. The passenger accommodation is arranged over four decks and all suites have outside views. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring a country style wash basin, hot towel rack and vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower and/or bath tub.
Facilities in the suites also include walk-in or spacious wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool or desk, mini-fridge, flat screen television, telephone, programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries, air-conditioning and heating. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort.
The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. In addition there is the Club Lounge on the Panoramic Deck which features a bar. The onboard travel library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. Outside there is a rear Lido deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. On the top deck there is a further observation and sun deck with bar service and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. There is also a small gymnasium onboard and hairdressers with appointments made on request.
With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the quality of cuisine will be of a consistent superior quality. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, our accomplished chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order and lunch and dinner is à la carte. When weather permits, breakfast, a buffet-style lunch and dinner are also served on deck. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and tea and coffee are available 24 hours. With sufficient notice, most diets can be catered for on board.
For your comfort, safety and security
The vessel is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilisers to minimise the ship’s motion. The Captain and officers operate an open-bridge policy that allows passengers onto the bridge at most times with the exception of arrival and departure from port and during times of complicated navigation. Here you can check the ship’s progress by charts and learn more from the officers about your journey. There is also a dedicated channel on your television in your suite showing the routing of the vessel along with technical information and estimated times of arrival and departure from port. On board you will also find a clinic and doctor and a lift that serves all decks. Smoking on board is restricted to outside decks only.
Unlike many other cruise vessels, onboard the MS Caledonian Sky you do not need to worry about tipping staff as we have included them in your holiday price. In addition we tip all their guides and drivers along the way, thereby taking away the hassle of always having to remember to have some small change with you.