After arriving at Labuan Bajo Airport and making arrangements for our luggage to be transferred to the boat, we will travel by private bus into the interior of the island, taking a winding road uphill 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 our beautiful boat, Katharina will cruise towards the legendary island of Komodo.
Today we will visit the ranger station of Loh Buaya on Rinca Island from where we will head off on a ranger-led nature trek in search of Komodo dragons, which are indigenous to this small group of islands. Hopefully the ranger will be able to show us the dens and nests of the dragons. Rinca is also well known for its diverse wildlife, so we may spot monkeys, wild buffaloes and deer as well. From the top of the hills, the scenery is breathtaking. After our trek, we will move on to an absolutely unbeatable snorkelling spot on an atoll – with over 1000 species of fish in the waters of the national park, there is much more to this wildlife reserve than just dragons. Fingers crossed for a fortuitous ‘fever’ of manta rays! In the late afternoon, where we will spend the night at anchor, floating beneath the Milky Way.
Today we will visit the famous Komodo Island, one of approximately 80 islands that make up the Komodo National Park. We will go ashore at the ranger station in Loh Liang for another early morning ranger-led trek through the park searching for yet more Komodo dragons. In this savannah-like setting of dry, rugged landscape, we will encounter, at a safe distance, these awe-inspiring dragons – Indonesia’s living dinosaurs and the largest species of lizard on Earth – in their natural habitat. We may also spot deer, wild boar, sulphur-crested cockatoos, butterflies, rare orchids and jungle chickens among the strangle-fig trees and the distinctive lontar palms. We will then have lunch aboard Katharina while crossing over to a nearby island and another spectacular beach location for more snorkelling. At the end of the day we will arrive at the island of Gili Lawa Darat Katharina. We will have plenty of time to settle in and get acquainted with the crew and fellow passengers 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 pristine waters in a sea kayak, or have a little bit of fun on a paddleboard. From here, we will head west towards Rinca Island.
While The Katharina is anchored in the serene bay of Gili Lawa Darat, early risers can go ashore to hike to the summit of a hill where the horizon opens up to a complete vista overlooking all 80 islands within the Komodo Archipelago and the mainland of Flores. The sight of the long white sandy beaches with clearly visible coral formations, the savannah-like landscape of Komodo Island and volcanic island silhouettes in the background is a unique photo opportunity and a cherished memory for many guests. During lunch onboard, and if the conditions are favourable, we will hoist the sails and enjoy a quiet sail through the wonders of the Komodo National Park. If you happen to spy a tantalising untouched beach or a truly spectacular reef, we can make a stop or two to snorkel and explore.
This morning we will visit the island of Mesa to meet a settlement of ‘sea-gypsies,’ the Bajao people. Originally from Sulawesi and formerly fully nomadic, living on their boats, the Bajao nowadays often occupy more permanent settlements, building their homes on stilts over the sea. At Mesa we will get a glimpse of how the Bajao have adapted to life in a static village. Nevertheless, still being so close to the water, the tribe’s dependence on the sea is not lost. Their children are introduced to the sea at a young age and grow accustomed to living and playing within the ocean environment. After a stroll through the village we will cruise onwards to the island of Sabalon, where you will be treated to a quintessential SeaTrek experience and a highlight for many guests. On this deserted island with your feet in the sand, under the breathtaking expanse of an Indonesian star-studded night sky, the crew will build a bonfire and prepare a beach barbecue as a final celebration of our memorable voyage. Late in the evening Katharina will cruise back towards Labuan Bajo and anchor off Biddadari Island.
After a final early morning dip, we will bid our sad farewells to the crew of The Katharina, disembarking the boat at the end of our wonderful waterborne experience. Time permitting we will visit the market or wander around the centre of Labuan Bajo before seeing everyone off to their next destination. It will be hard to believe that it’s all over but please rest assured, the gentle sway of the ocean currents may stay with you for quite a while yet.