Choose Your Own Adventure: 14 Fab Itineraries for 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen! (drum roll please…) Sea Trek is proud to present  a most spectacular line up of adventures for 2014.  Across the board, all of  this year’s  itineraries  share the unforgettable experiences that Sea Trek is famous for : spectacular beaches, pristine coral reefs, remote villages, volcanoes and treks through the jungle.   However,  each trip on our new list of itineraries has something special that sets it apart from the rest. Here’s my short list for the distinctive destinations and activities that make each and  every  Sea Trek cruise the “Trip of a Lifetime.”

Satonda LakeDances, Dragons, & Magical Lakes

Cruise Summary:

These sister cruises embark from either Bali or Flores and explore the interior of east-Lombok, the magical crater lake of Satonda in Sumbawa and include a visit to the Komodo National Park.  These adventurous cruises offer a cross-section of uninhabited islands, quiet coastal villages, towering active volcanoes, tribal rituals and a world of kaleidoscopic beauty underwater.

What makes these trips the creme of the crop?

This trip has it all, but  Satonda Lake is particularly unique.  The eruption of  Mt. Tambora on nearby Sumbawa was the largest volcanic explosion ever recorded in human history, and the resulting tsunami sent a tidal wave  filled the dormant Satonda volcanic crater.  The result is a divinely refreshing salt water crater lake.   Some snorkel, hike or kayak on this visit to this sacred island. Me?   I always follow local custom by tying a rock in a tree at the water’s edge to make a wish before soaking up the peace and quiet, floating along on the mystical lake.  It’s not every day you  get a spa treatment in a magic volcanic crater, after all!

Dragons and Tribes

Cruise Summary:

This expedition explores the interior of west Flores and continues to the Komodo area for an encounter with the prehistoric Komodo Dragons. Entering the remote island of Sumba  gives an opportunity to visit spectacular megalithic villages known for their extraordinary ikat weavings. Tribal rituals, stunning wildlife and unique cultures will saturate your senses in this unique expedition.

What makes this trip the pick of the bunch?

Sumba and Komodo in one trip?   Heck yeah. Sign me up!   Komodo’s jaw-dropping beauty and Sumba megalithic  culture will make your vacation photo album the envy of all your family and friends.   They might forgive you, however,  when you hand out those gorgeous  souvenirs  from the Sumba markets, if you can bear to part with your treasures, that is.

Raja AmpatRaja Ampat Snorkeling & Paddling Tour

Cruise Summary:

This cruise we will take you on an exploration of what is without a doubt one of the least visited but most memorable adventure destinations on our planet. The Raja Ampat archipelago consists of some 600 Islands and islets off the coast of Papua, and is quickly  becoming one of  the top travel destinations in the world, on par with  noteworthy ecological niches like the Great Barrier Reef or the  Galapagos Islands. You do not need to be a diver to be able to experience that this is the global epicenter of marine diversity. Nor need you be  a seasoned birdwatcher to see the bird life that brought Alfred Russel Wallace to this region over a century ago.

What makes this the  crème de la crème?

Raja Ampat  is a slice of heaven on earth. It’s a snorkeler’s Utopia, a birder’s nirvana, a spelunker’s paradise, and a sea kayaker’s Elysian Fields.    Waterfalls, coral reefs, beaches, jungle, cliffs and caves: Raja Ampat has everything a nature -lover could dream of – and more! And for  those who want to learn more about life under the sea,  your trip will be enhanced by riveting  talks  by Master Scuba Instructor and Marine Life Enthusiast (that’s just me.)  I can’t recommend this trip enough. This should be the  number one choice on any nature lovers list. This is the best trip ever.  Have I said that already?  No problem. I’ll say it again.  Best. Trip. Ever.

Tribal Weaving of the Lesser Sunda Islands

Cruise Summary:

The diverse Lesser Sunda Islands, stretching eastwards from Bali, offer the most amazing landscapes and a glorious variety of weaving for textile lovers.  Island-hop through some of Indonesia’s most exciting destinations, like Flores, Alor, West Timor, Savu and Sumba. British expert textile guides, David and Sue Richardson, look forward to introducing guests to each island, its people and its culture, sharing their knowledge of their knowledge of local textiles through a series of evening talks.

What makes this trip a stitch above the rest?

If you think this trip is just about textiles – you’re missing the big picture!   Our very search for these unique textiles brings us deep into remote areas that other travelers could only dream of visiting.  Ask anyone who has done any traveling in the archipelago what islands are  on their Indo  bucket-list, and undoubtedly the intriguing, yet inaccessible islands of  Flores, Alor, Savu, Sumba, West Timor will cross their lips. To top it all off you have the extremely knowledgable and incredibly passionate David and Sue Richardson as your guides.  You don’t have to be crazy about textiles to be over-the moon with this trip, but if you are, this is your journey to mecca baby! Better bring that extra suitcase along for all of those exquisite woven masterpieces you are sure to collect along the way.

Bali and Beyond: Exotic Islands

Cruise Summary:

This is a round-trip expedition, which embarks from Bali and lets you experience the cultural and natural diversity of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Explore the cultural variety of the Sasak traditions of Lombok, Bugis boatbuilding in Sumbawa, an energetic whip-dance in Flores and a visit to the Komodo National Park.

 What makes this trip take first prize?

This itinerary is a sampling of Indonesia on steroids, making all the best stops from Bali to Flores and back again, with the added bonus of flight-free travel plans.  One of the more unique stops on this voyage is a visit to the Sea Gypsy village of Bungin on the very Western edge of Sumbawa.  The friendly Bajo people were once a strictly nomadic tribe, but when forced to settle  they made their homes as close to the sea as possible by building over a shallow shoal. Nothing illustrates Indonesia’s dependance on the sea for it’s livelihood better than a village built over the water.  If you want to get out of Bali and see the “real” Indonesia, you’d be hard pressed to find a better way than this.

Dragons, Volcanoes and Coral

Cruise Summary:

This trip begins with an encounter with the formidable Komodo Dragons before entering the Flores Highlands where we visit remote villages, witness the process of ‘ikat’ weaving, and enjoy unsurpassed scenery of Kelimutu’s three -colored crater lakes. Impressive volcanoes, megalithic cultures, colorful market places and tribal rituals highlight this trip.

What makes this trip number uno?

Indonesia is a stunningly beautiful archipelago,  and it’s the island of Flores that reigns as it’s Queen. Kelimutu’s tri-colored volcanic lakes are simply the jewels in her crown.  A short trek to the crater rim is a surprise every time,  as the color of lakes can change overnight. Rounded out with a visit to Komodo, traditional villages and remote island get-aways, this trip will undoubtedly become the  “happy place” you go to the next time  you want to chase away those winter blues.

Wonderful Komodo – Dragons and Sea Gypsies

Cruise Summary:

This expedition focuses on the Komodo area for a few glorious days of snorkeling, beach combing and hiking through one of the most beautiful National Parks of Indonesia.   This Unesco World Heritage site is not only known as the home of the Komodo dragon, but also home to incredibly diverse marine life.  Enjoy the best of the park’s unique tropical savannah landscape, world-class snorkeling and an unforgettable encounter with the world’s largest lizard.

What makes this trip out of this world?

Forget Hollywood, this Jurassic park is the real deal!  Sure, there are those flesh-eating dragons to contend with.  But what really makes the park out-of-this-world is the scenery.  With just a short hike up though the tropical savanna, you are rewarded with staggering views of a land lost in time.  I never tire of this place.  Never, ever, ever.  What makes this trip stand out from the rest?  Komodo. Just Komodo.

Spice Routes and Spice Wars

Cruise Summary:

Our voyage through the history of the Spice trade departs from Ambon before visiting the remote Banda islands, originally the world’s only source of nutmeg and mace. From there we retrace the marine spice route north through the Moluccan islands to the clove plantations of the sultanate of Ternate.  This itinerary will be enhanced by lectures from Ian Burnet, author of the historical books “Spice Islands” and “East Indies.”  Majestic chains of volcanoes, crumbling fortresses, and vibrant reefs are unforgettable features of these fascinating islands that changed the course of world history.

What makes this trip ‘da bomb?

You don’t have to be a history buff for the tales of the spice trade and their impact on world history to blow your mind!  Amazing vistas, coral reefs, volcanos,villages and beaches… sure, thats all there in spades.  But the history?  No other trip comes close.  Author Ian Burnet makes it all  come alive for us as we climb fortresses, and comb through relics of these beautiful,peaceful islands with the bloodiest of  histories.    Whether it’s imagining the cannon fire from the harbor, gazing at a chain of  volcanoes ready to blow their  top, or coming to understand how these seemingly insignificant spice islands changed the course of world history … Boom!  Consider yourself blown away!

Here’s the proof.  We caught it on tape!

Spice Traders to Bugis Shipbuilders

Cruise Summary: 

This cruise will bring us to some of the most remote islands of the archipelago, making stopovers on a leisurely passage from Ambon to the east coast of the spider like island of Sulawesi. We follow the island bridging ancient sailing routes of the wind driven trading schooners as they sold and traded their goods across the Archipelago. Next to that we indulge in the diverse local culture on the most secluded islands of Maluku. We disembark in Kendari on the island of Sulawesi, home to the famous Buginese shipbuilders.

What makes this trip A-1?

Aaaaaaahhhhr.  Pirates. Really!  Sulawesi is home to the Bugis people, a tribe of shipbuilders and sailors with a fierce reputation.  They made such an impression on early European sailors unfortunate enough to cross their paths, that upon returning home they told campfire tales of the frightening “Bogey Man.” Whether fierce or friendly, these men of the sea possessed incredible knowledge of the waters in a time before navigational instruments and tools.  The shipyards of Sulawesi are a testament to the maritime genius of these sailors , where  without plans or drawings,the practice of handcrafting these traditional vessels is passed down from generation to generation.  To complete your buccaneer escapades, don’t forget you’ll be cruising through the Spice Islands on a  Pirate Boat Phinisi  (eye patches and peg legs optional.)

Dragons, Ring of Fire, and the Spice Empire

Cruise Summary:

This cruise begins with an encounter with the dragons of Komodo, stopping in southen Sulawesi’s most spectacular islands, including Wakatobi stopping at many isolated islands and volcanos along the way, before making the crossing to the Banda Islands, steeped in historical spice intrigue. While having a couple of long sailing legs, your encounters will mostly consist of crystal clear water, magnificent coral gardens, white sands, plentiful sea life and quiet spaces.

What makes this trip the bees knees?

Komodo, Sulawesi and the Spice islands?  Heck-ya!  The draw-card on what is already an incredible trip is Wakatobi. Waka-what? Only Sulawesi’s most remote southernly islands and best coral reefs, that’s what!   This is a trip those with exploration and adventure in mind.  If you enjoy seeing wildlife at the zoo, historical sites with throngs of  megaphone -shouting tour guides, or  crowded beaches jammed with shops and vendors as far as the eye can see… then book a cabin on a cruise boat!  If you like your nature unspoiled,  history that comes alive and wildlife that’s still wild… well, well, welcome aboard!

Wallace Trails and Sails: Naturalist Expedition

Cruise Summary:

This special Seatrek itinerary honours Alfred Russel Wallace, the prominent naturalist and evolutionary theorist. Together with Flora and Fauna international and expert Tony Whitten, we will revisit some of the regencies that Wallace found so fascinating and hopefully experience the magic of seeing the bird of paradise in full glory in its natural habitat.  From the Sultanates of Ternate to the wild jungles of Papua, enjoy the trip that National Geographic Traveler has chosen in their list of “50 Tours of a Lifetime,”

What makes this the trip of a lifetime?

Cuz National Geographic says so. Would you argue with best travel mag around?  True, it doesn’t get much better than following in the footsteps of Wallace, the “David Attenborough of the Victorian Era?” brought to life by Tony Whitten, “The David Attenborough of Indonesia.”  Okay, I confess I made that last title up, but seriously, following Tony, hot on the trail of the famous naturalist , as he turns over rocks, explores every cave’s crevice, scans the tree tops, and rolls up his sleeves to show you nature’s wonders like you have never seen them before is an experience like no other.   This trip certainly deserves it’s well-earned accolades.  A Tour of a Lifetime  indeed!

Papua and Central Maluku Expedition

Cruise summary:

This cruise, beginning in West Papua, carries us through what is yet today some of the most secluded corners of the archipelago.  Following a tiny chain of islands we hop from one tropical outpost to the next.  Cruising Northwest the remote east edge of the Seram Island before  traveling further to the Southern reaches of the renowned Raja Ampat region and Misool Island where a brilliant underwater wonderland unfolds.  Our then Westward journey takes us back to the North coast of Seram where the unique waterborne lifestyles of the sea gypsies are observed.  Our onward journey to Ambon finds us enjoying the pleasures a lovely group of small islands…a signature of the Archipelago highlighting another voyage into remote and hidden places.

What makes this trip the cat’s meow?

Hats off to the itinerary team once again for lining up another great trip, mixing the best of Papua’s marine parks (Triton Bay and Raja Ampat) with a sampling of the historically rich spice islands.   A particularly unique stop  is the mysterious island of Seram, also known as “Nusa Ina” or the “mother island.”  It’s rumored that some of Seram’s indigenous tribes possess magical powers, and can even fly around the jungle.  Although it’s highly unlikely you will see bandana-clad tribesmen flying high over the tree-tops, your soul might do some soaring on it’s own as you sail the seas from powerful Papua to the magical Malukus on this idealic itinerary.

Papua and the Birds of Paradise

Cruise Summary:

Follow in Wallace’s wake through some of the remotest parts of Indonesia searching for Birds of Paradise.  Our path of discovery navigates the most beautiful areas of Indonesia, along the coast of Papua from Raja Ampat to Triton Bay.  This itinerary will be enhanced by stories and lectures from Dutch Author Alexander Reeuwijk, an expert in the field of the history of evolutionary theory, he co-wrote the book “Darwin, Wallace and others’ in which the contributions of Darwin and Wallace on evolution are compared.

What makes this trip the Cadillac of cruises?

It’s Evolutionary, my Dear Watson.  Following in the footsteps of Alfred Wallace is always a pleasure, especially when accompanied with the expertise of Alexander Reeuwijk.  Wallace not only sought out the most beautiful birds on earth but he always seemed to find them amongst them most spectacular scenery on the planet, Raja Ampat and Triton Bay.  On this trip, Alex and I will team up to combine our knowledge of the seas and skies  to point out  evolution in action.  Whether fish or foul, we will discover and discuss  bizarre mating rituals, symbiotic relationships, masterful mimicry, and spectacular camouflage that bring the evolutionary theories of Darwin and Wallace to life. (If only high school biology class had been this awesome.)  Whether it’s a thirst for knowledge, or simply a hunger to explore the phenomenal coast of Papua, this trip can’t be beat. I pinky -swear it!

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen!  The best of the best!  Forgive me for my excited nature and colorful phrases, and abundance of exclamation points (!!!) it’s just that my enthusiasm is genuine.  How could you not get fired up thinking about the upcoming travel opportunities out there this year?    And now that I’ve whetted your whistle with a just a sample of what we have in store this year, the hardest part for you is choosing your own adventure from a list of 14 “Trips of a Lifetime.”