|Share on :|
The diverse Lesser Sunda Islands, stretching eastwards from Bali, offer the most amazing landscapes and a glorious cornucopia of weaving for textile lovers. Here women not only continue to make their traditional cloth on back-tension looms but continue to wear it as well. There is kaleidoscopic variety of patterns and designs – every region of every island has its own unique textile culture, its own style of dress, and its own motifs. Together we will explore the extraordinary ancestral traditions of these islands where textiles are the predominant form of artistic expression, still playing a central role in every significant stage of life, especially marriage and death. Some islanders tell us, “Without cloth we cannot marry.” However, change is underway in even the remotest villages, and weavers are no longer passing on their skills to the next generation. With this cruise, we will be given a unique opportunity to witness a dying art form before it is gone forever.
We will enjoy the luxury of cruising effortlessly from island to island, crossing a rugged, isolated region where travel by land can be difficult. Our graceful pinisi schooner, the Ombak Putih, offers us access to villages and beaches that would otherwise be almost impossible to reach. Along the way there will be time to enjoy the amazing volcanic scenery, meet the villagers, visit traditional markets, buy local textiles, swim and snorkel over psychedelic coral reefs, relax and have fun. This is a fantastic, adventurous way to travel, providing memories that guests will treasure for the rest of their lives. Our British expert textile guides, David and Sue Richardson, look forward to introducing guests to each island, its people and its culture, while sharing their knowledge on the day-to-day excursions as well as through a series of evening talks.
In conjunction with this cruise, we are offering an exclusive, optional, three-day, pre-cruise tour, which travels by land through remote parts of Flores to visit Lio weavers and the three, colour-changing volcanic crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu. This includes a stay at the lovely Kelimutu EcoLodge.
Note: The price of this cruise does not include any domestic airfares to and from our start and end points, however, our reservations specialists in Bali are more than happy to help arrange domestic flights on your behalf and advise on scheduling. We book hundreds of flights each year on behalf of our guests and we only book with IATA-approved airlines that have met with international standards of safety and dependability. If you are booking by yourself, please check with us first to find out the best routes to take, and to ensure that you arrive at your destination with plenty of time to spare. Except for Bali, transfers to and from local airports to the boat are also included.
We will disembark at Maumere for a short drive to the busy Wairkoja Friday market, where the vendors sell local ikat and a variety of weaving supplies. We will then drive up into the scenic Iwang Geté highlands to visit a small village where we will be welcomed with music and dancing. After gaining our first insights into the local techniques of spinning, binding, dyeing and weaving, we will have the opportunity to purchase some of the finished textiles. The adventurous among us will be able to try betel nut, tobacco and locally distilled liquor. After lunch on board we will head out to Ledalero for a brief visit to the oldest museum on Flores, the Blikon Blewut Museum, established by Father Verhoeven, a Catholic SVD missionary. Our final stop will be at a second Sikka village where we will see a different style of ikat, typical of the central Krowé region.
This morning we will pass Larantuka, situated at the foot of the imposing Ile Mandiri volcano, before mooring in a quiet bay for breakfast. As we go ashore we will be welcomed by local Lamaholot villagers who will show us in detail how they produce their fantastic earthy-brown ikats decorated with small white seashells. We will then be guided around this colourful well-kept village before returning to the Ombak Putih for lunch. After lunch we will sail to some small islands close to the northeast coast of Adonara Island for swimming, snorkelling and beachcombing. We will moor nearby overnight.
Today we will arrive in Lembata and drop anchor on the north coast below the towering active volcano of Ile Api. We will go ashore to see some of the superb ikat textiles produced in this region, while meeting weavers from at least three neighbouring villages. After a formal welcome and demonstration of local weaving techniques there will be a selling exhibition of textiles, giving you the chance to add a fabulous bridewealth cloth to your collection. Later, during lunch, the boat will cruise across Waienga Bay to another small rarely visited weaving village and a nearby location for a refreshing swim or snorkel.
Day 5 & 6
After arriving in Kalabahi Bay on Alor Island we will make an early start, first making a short stop at a local market. We will then head east before driving up into the forest to the remarkably situated village of Takpala, occupied by Papuan people belonging to the local Abui tribe. Dressed in colourful local textiles the villagers will entertain us with their hypnotic ‘lego-lego’ circle dance, used to celebrate weddings and other lifecycle events. Afterwards we will explore the village market for textiles, baskets and jewellery, and take a look inside the villagers’ two-storey thatched houses, which showcase an interesting architecture. Alor is ethnically diverse, so we will return via the Kalabahi Museum to see their fine display of textiles and moko drums from across the island. As we enjoy our lunch on deck we will sail out of Kalabahi Bay into the Pantar Strait, heading for the small weaving village of Uma Pura on Ternate Island. This will be a new adventure, as SeaTrek have never visited this small volcanic island before.
This morning we will cruise into Labala Bay on the southern side of Lembata and go ashore at one of our favourite places, the unique whaling village of Lamalera, with its row of thatched boathouses lining the beach. The resident weavers will be waiting for us in the village square to show us how they produce their stunning kewatek ikat sarongs, dyed with multiple immersions in indigo and morinda to produce an outstanding depth of colour. Later we will go up the hill to the upper half of the village to see the church and the view over the lower village. After visiting a local school we board the Ombak Putih to watch the whale hunters demonstrate the hazardous techniques they use to harpoon the sperm whales from their small outriggers. After making our farewells we stop for a short swim before cruising due south across the Savu Sea towards Kupang in West Timor.
We will disembark at the colourful old harbour where Captain Bligh landed in 1789, after navigating 3600 nautical miles in a small open boat following the Mutiny on the Bounty. We will then drive a short distance to the Museum of Nusa Tenggara Timur, which has a fine collection of textiles and other artefacts from across the Lesser Sunda Islands. After this we will head south through stunning scenery into the territory of the Amarasi tribe, to be escorted to a reception by the King and Queen of the Amarasi in their Royal Pavilion. An accomplished artist himself, the King is justifiably proud of the culture and textiles of his people and, after a dance performance, we will be shown examples of local weavings, which will be available for purchase. One of the Princesses will also demonstrate how she makes paper from local plants. Next we will visit a small weaving cooperative that uses a wide variety of natural dyes, before returning to the boat for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit a nearby village occupied by members of the Helong tribe who will give us an excellent demonstration of indigo and morinda dyeing before offering us a selection of their ikats to buy. In the evening we will cruise towards the tiny remote island of Savu.
This morning we will go ashore at Napae Bay where, in 1770, Captain Cook moored HMS Endeavour in 1770 on his way home from his famous expedition in search of Terra Incognita, the great unknown southern continent. A very scenic drive in trucks will bring us to our next group of weavers who live in a small hilltop village with wonderful views down to the coast. These master dyers and weavers will demonstrate how they spin, bind and dye their cotton before weaving their distinctive ikat tube-skirts, locally referred to as ‘ei.’ Designs differ depending on the tribal affiliation of the weaver. After exploring the village, including the ritual clan house where the heirloom baskets for textiles are kept, there will be time to select from a colourful selling exhibition of textiles. The men will show us how they climb the tall lontar palms to tap their delicious juice. After lunch on board we will go ashore again – this time to be welcomed on the beach by local dancers and ikat-clad horsemen. This afternoon’s destination will be the ritual village of Namata, where priests of the ancestral ‘Jingi Tiu’ religion use megalithic stone platforms to conduct rituals and sacrifices.
Today we will explore the small, rarely visited island of Raijua. After landing on a sandy beach we will visit a local weaving village to look at the differences between the textiles of Raijua and neighbouring Savu. After a performance of traditional dancing we will walk to a traditional fenced village, formally the seat of the Rajas of Raijua. Returning to the boat for lunch we can enjoy a relaxing afternoon swimming or snorkelling and, weather permitting, a memorable evening beach barbeque. Overnight we make a short crossing over the Savu Sea for the first of our two days in East Sumba, one of the most important weaving regions in the Lesser Sunda Islands.
Arriving on the eastern coast of Sumba we will land on the sandy beach at Melolo where local buses will take us to the village of Umabara, with its tall thatched houses and megalithic carved tombs, and the nearby Royal hamlet of Pau. This area is famous for its exquisite supplementary warp weaving, known locally as ‘pahikung.’ Some of the finest practitioners are two local princesses who will show us examples of their work. Our next destination is the Royal village of Parai Yawangu, renowned for the quality of its warp ikat. With its traditional houses, and a magnificent line of tombs, it remains the seat of the Raja of Rindi, who we will visit provided he and his wife are in residence. Back on board we enjoy a late lunch while the Ombak Putih cruises north towards Waingapu.
We will leave the harbour to visit a small workshop, which produces some of the highest quality ikat hinggi to be found on the island. Here we will see how the designs are created and transferred onto the warps and we will begin to comprehend the laborious process of binding that is necessary to produce such complex and intricately patterned cloths. A superb collection of ikat will be available to buy before we explore the neighbouring royal village of Prailiu on foot. We will no doubt be accosted by eager textile sellers at every turn. On our way back to the harbour, we will stop at the cathedral to see the statue of Christ dressed in Sumbanese ikat. After lunch we will drive out of town through paddy fields to a rarely visited weaving village to be greeted by ikat-clad warriors on horseback. Sitting in the shade on the veranda of a traditional house we will be entertained with traditional dances before attempting to make our selection from a magnificent display of ikat, baskets and beads. After departing for Rinca our guests are invited to dress lavishly in their finest ikat cloths for tonight’s farewell dinner party with the captain and crew, who will entertain us on deck with traditional Indonesian songs and dances.
On our final morning we will moor close to the starkly beautiful island of Rinca for an early breakfast followed by a short trek in the Komodo National Park led by a park ranger. No textiles here, just amazing three-metre-long Komodo Dragons – Indonesia’s living dinosaurs! Back on board we will cruise to a small island for our final snorkel before heading for Labuan Bajo where we will have lunch before transferring to the nearby airport for our late afternoon flight back to Bali.
Our award winning expert-led cruises program provides recognised explorers, scientists and writers a platform for research and for the design of exceptional expeditions, exclusively available to our guests. Browse Our Expert-Led Cruises.
David and Sue Richardson
David and Sue are passionate researchers and collectors of Asian textiles and since first visiting Indonesia in 1980, David and Sue have systematically visited every part of the archipelago, both overland and by sea using a variety of local vessels. Over the years David and Sue have assembled one of the finest and most comprehensive private collections of Indonesian and other Asian textiles, many of museum quality. They are members of the Textile Society of America as well as the Oxford Asian Textile Group, which is affiliated to the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers Museums of the University of Oxford. The Oxford Asian Textile Group was until recently chaired by Dr Ruth Barnes, a leading academic expert on the textiles of Eastern Indonesia.
David has a doctorate in quantum physics from Cambridge University and in his early career he spent several years working with the Ministry of Education in Jakarta on two major government aid projects to completely re-equip the universities of Indonesia with scientific equipment. Sue is an English graduate who spent her career in training and human resources for a leading chain of British department stores. They live in Nottingham with their two cats, Treacle and Truffle.