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 a village inhabited by refugees from the island of Palu’e off the coast of Flores, who fled there following a series of volcanic eruptions.
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.
After arriving in the Pantar Strait we will make an early start, first visiting the village of Uma Pura on Ternate Island. On this small volcanic island we will discover how dyes are obtained from sea sponges and the ink of sea hares. Back on board we will have lunch while sailing into Kalabahi Bay before docking at the harbour of the capital of Alor Island. 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.
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 take a short truck ride to a traditional fenced village, formerly the seat of the Rajas of Raijua. After a performance of traditional dancing we will visit a local weaving village to look at the differences between the textiles of Raijua and neighbouring Savu. Returning to the boat for lunch we can enjoy a relaxing afternoon swimming or snorkelling. 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.