If you’re lucky enough to be flying from Bali to Labuan Bajo for the start of SeaTrek’s ‘Dances, Dragons & Magical Lakes’ cruise, make sure you get a window seat and don’t even think about reading a book. Instead, sit back and relish one of the world’s prettiest flights. If it’s a clear day you’re in for a treat, and – if you’re on the left-hand side of the plane – you’ll see a string of volcanoes, beginning with Mt Agung in Bali followed by Mt Rinjani in Lombok. Flying over the elongated island of Sumbawa, you will then see Mt Tambora, which exploded so violently in April 1815 that it literally blew its top, losing more than one-third of its height and leaving a smoking six-kilometre-wide and 1100-metre-deep caldera. After Tambora, look out for the 1800-metre-high volcanic island of Pulau Sangeang, which erupted as recently as May 2014. You’ll need to be on the right hand side of the plane to see Komodo and Rinca, which appear next, their coastlines peppered with inlets and crescent-shaped bays dressed with ribbons of white sand. This is followed by atoll after atoll, coral reefs, lagoons and circular volcanic lakes. In fact, by the time the aircraft descends into Bandar Komodo, the airport at Labuan Bajo, you will be hungry to explore more of these fascinating Lesser Sunda Islands, many of which you will set foot upon during your SeaTrek cruise back to Bali.
NB: If you do the ‘Dances, Dragons & Magical Lakes’ cruise the other way round from Bali to Labuan Bajo, you’ll still get to enjoy the flight as described above but in reverse and on your way home, with Komodo on left-hand side of the plane and Tambora on the right.