The great evolutionary scientist, J B Haldane was once asked what he had learned from his study of nature and all of its wonders. He replied that if indeed a Creator existed then he had “an inordinate fondness for beetles”.
How right he was, for there are over 350,000 species of beetle and counting, and it is because of this that Ray and Angela Hale, both highly experienced and well-travelled naturalists, are leading a cruise with us as guest experts for the second time to explore and share the richness of this often-unnoticed cornucopia of bugs, beetles and beasties
The nature of Indonesia is indeed unique. Whether your interest is in beetles, butterflies, or just natural history in general, then this is the cruise for you. This world holds many beautiful surprises, all of which are waiting to be discovered. On this eight-day inclusive voyage of discovery aboard our 12-passenger-boat, Katharina, you can immerse yourself in the Komodo National Park and walk side by side with the mighty Komodo Dragon.
We will explore the Lesser Sunda Islands from an intimate perspective, and visit remote beaches, quiet coastal villages, rivers, waterfalls, volcanic islands and a mysterious crater lake, all awash with amazing creatures waiting to be found. In addition to all of this, we will spend time snorkelling on some of the most beautiful coral reefs on Earth. Swim with sea turtles and marvel at the giant and gentle Manta Rays as they effortlessly “fly” beneath you. Unlimited use of the stand-up paddleboards and sea kayaks onboard will add yet another dimension to your nature explorations.
Note: ‘Dragons, Bats, Butterfies and Bugs’ travels outbound from Bali to Flores; guests meet the ship in Bali and later return to Bali by air from Labuan Bajo in Flores. The airfare is not included in the cruise price. In order to ensure that you are able to enjoy the full programme, please do not book any return flights that are scheduled to leave before midday on Day 8.
After flying from Bali in the early afternoon, you will be transported to a beachside resort just outside of the port town of Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the Komodo National Park. You will have the afternoon free to relax and unwind with a swim or a snorkel, or even a walk around the town. It’s also an opportunity for those unfamiliar with snorkelling to have a lesson with our tour leader. In the evening, we can enjoy sunset drinks on the beach before dinner with our fellow guests as you get better acquainted for the voyage ahead. Here you will meet Ray and Angela, our on-board naturalists who will consult with you individually to personalise your needs and expectations.
After breakfast at the resort, we will leave at about 9am for a trip to the village of Melo. Here, local ‘strongmen’ will perform the ‘Caci,’ a ritual whip-fight between two rivals in which the players, each armed with a rattan shield and a whip, will try to hit each other while dancing to the rhythm of traditional acoustic instruments. The men of Western Flores are famous for this test of daring and skill, requiring lightning quick moves to dodge the infliction of a wound. The winner is loudly applauded and cheered by the village. Besides this, the cultural group will also showcase other traditional dances. After our visit to Melo we will return to Labuan Bajo where you will get your first glimpse of the splendid Katharina at her mooring in the harbour. We will have plenty of time to settle in and get acquainted with the crew as we cruise to the island of Kelor. Once there, we can enjoy a swim or a snorkel in the bright blue sea, ply the waters in a sea kayak, or have a little bit of fun on a paddleboard. Another highlight of our visit to Kelor will be the sight of thousands of flying foxes that commute at dusk from the island to feed on the mainland, returning before first light the next day. In the evening Ray will tell us about the giant lizards that inhabit the area and we will proceed overnight to Komodo dragon country.
Today will begin with an early breakfast as we need to be ashore by 7am at the ranger station of Loh Buaya on Rinca Island. Here, we will have a ranger-led nature trek in search of the fearsome Komodo dragons, which are indigenous to this small group of islands. Rinca is also well known for its diverse wildlife, so we may spot monkeys, wild buffaloes and the giant swarms of honeybees that inhabit this beautiful place. From the top of the hills, the scenery is breathtaking. In the afternoon we can go snorkelling off Siaba, where both on the land and in the sea, we may be fortunate to identify yet more of the remarkable residents of this far flung paradise.
When we wake up, the boat will be anchored off the famous Komodo Island, one of approximately 80 islands that make up the Komodo National Park. We will go ashore for an early morning ranger-led trek. Islands are natural laboratories where we can study evolution in situ. The fact that islands are isolated from the mainland by the sea makes their ecology present spectacular adaptations, sometimes resulting in giant or dwarf species in comparison with their mainland relatives. One of the most famous examples of island gigantism is the Komodo dragon where evolution – without apparent predators or competitors – has triggered the appearance of larger species. Similarly, insects with few predators can evolve to larger sizes whilst larger mammals with limited food resources begin to decrease in size. Within a savannah-like setting of dry, rugged landscape, we will encounter, at a safe distance, Komodo’s awe-inspiring, giant lizards – Indonesia’s living dinosaurs. Komodo is also home to many unique species of bird including the Wallacean Drongo and the Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. In addition to birds, deer and wild boar, we will see butterflies, rare orchids and jungle chickens among the strangle-figs and lontar palms. Endemic to the island are a number of Nephila species of the giant golden orb-weaving spider. Their webs can measure two metres across but don’t panic these guys are friendly. Later, we will swim and snorkel over one of Komodo’s rich reefs.
Our day begins off the coast of Banta Island, with its pinkish-white sand beach, for a morning of swimming, snorkelling and hill climbing for the fit. We will then proceed to Pulau Sangean, an active volcano that towers 1,800 metres above sea level. We will go ashore to a small hamlet, which, because of the active nature of the volcano, is only inhabited for short periods during the year when the local people come to tend their crops and small herds of buffaloes. Ray and Angela will lead us into the surrounding forests where we will discover many species of insects. The island has its own endemic species of harmless scorpion and who knows what we might find as we turn over rocks and witness a whole new world beneath our feet. We can then snorkel on both a nearby reef and at a location on the north of the island where volcanic gasses escape in the form of bubbles from the sea floor among the corals, a most interesting sight.
This morning will find us off the coast of Satonda, a strange and mystical volcanic island with a sunken crater lake in its centre that was filled with saltwater when the nearby Mt Tambora erupted in 1815, causing a tsunami that flowed into the crater. Local people believe Satonda to be magical, and with this in mind, we will walk to the lip of the caldera to view the mysterious lake, alongside which are trees believed to be ‘wishing trees.’ Visitors to the island tie a small stone to a tree and make a wish. At certain times, the island becomes awash with hundreds of the most beautiful butterflies of the region. Here, we can still find a natural phenomenon with its own unique species. The seas surrounding the island are rich with soft and hard corals and colourful tropical fish, so we will spend some time swimming and snorkelling off the beach. Later, we will move to Labuan Aji village on the island of Moyo, and walk to Diwu Mba’i waterfall, where can swing on a rope and jump into the deep clear river pool below, or simply bathe in the refreshing cool water. During this walk there will be more opportunities to spot bugs, butterflies and spiders. Geckos and Flying Lizards scurry along the branches high above our heads, occasionally gliding from tree to tree in the midday heat.
Bungin Island is home to a group of Bajau ‘Sea Gypsies’, famous for living entirely off the sea in stilt houses above the water. This is the second largest Bajau settlement in the country and it provides an amazing and rare opportunity to experience part of Indonesia’s seafaring tradition. After lunch on the boat we will set a course 10 miles further west to the beautiful white sands of Kanawa Island in West Sumbawa, where we will snorkel, paddle board, swim and explore the island’s beaches, grasslands and corals. Despite its small size, Kanawa holds some surprises. In 2018, Ray discovered a new species of spider found only on this isolated paradise. Our day will finish on this island with a quintessential SeaTrek experience and a highlight for many guests. With your feet in the sand and the stars rising in the vast Indonesian sky, the crew will build a bonfire and prepare a beach barbecue as a final celebration of our memorable voyage. Overnight, the boat will cross the invisible Wallace Line en route to Bali.
Waking up under the majestic gaze of Mt Agung, Bali’s mother mountain, we will go for a final snorkel and swim before heading south along the coast to our disembarkation point of Amuk Bay. Here we say farewell to our crew and join a bus for our trip back to to South Bali with a few stops along the way to see more of the unknown world with Ray and Angela as well as to experience some of Bali's amazing culture.
Itineraries are subject to change.
Spacious twin shared cabins with twin bunk beds or double bed (on request). Each cabin has a wardrobe, a built-in mini safe, individually controlled cooling systems and soft lightning. All cabins have their own private bathroom with (warm & cold water) shower and toilet.
Vessel Type: Yacht
Length: 40 metres
Passenger Capacity: 14
Built / Refurbished: 1995 / 2014
The Katharina is a traditional Indonesian pinisi, built in 1995 in Kalimantan using only the very best grades of ironwood. Her slim hull was originally being planned for commercial sailing carrying freight before we spotted her in the making. We bought her and fitted her out as a cruising vessel, and then again in January 2014, the Katharina was the subject of a major interior refit. Working with the unique heritage this vessel represents, her transformation is a conservation exercise back to authenticity, using only the best traditional materials, shaped by highly skilled Indonesian craftsmen. Yet, what goes on behind the scenes is the use of the most up-to-date technology and she is now equipped with a super yacht grade AC station and we are optimizing our systems to the latest safety standards.
Not only is the Katharina very elegant on the water, she is also fast becoming a classic yacht, as very few of these original designs remain. Katharina’s overall length is 40 metres, providing comfortable accommodation for up to 14 guests in six cabins located below decks. All cabins offer creature comforts and necessary amenities including double beds or twins, private en-suite bathrooms, natural light, safety boxes, individually controlled air-conditioning and storage space including a safe.
Led by Captain Iwan, the Katharina is catered to by an all-Indonesian crew of 12, with each member dedicated to making your stay aboard truly memorable.