After arriving at Labuan Bajo Airport, 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 and we will head off out into the beautiful waters of the Komodo National Park, stopping along the way for some snorkelling at a small island of Pulau Pempe, before settling in for sunset with a cocktail as thousands of flying foxes head out from their mangrove forest homes to head to the mainland to feed. We will then head off to Rinca Island for a quiet night at anchor.
Today we will wake up before dawn and 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 a fantastic snorkelling spot at Turtle Point at Siaba Besar Island – with over 1,000 species of fish in the waters of the national park, there is much more to this wildlife reserve than just dragons. We will head to the famous Pink beach for more snorkelling, and after dinner will head to Loh Liang, 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 strangler-fig trees and the distinctive lontar palms. Back aboard Katharina we will crossing over to Makassar reef where we hope to find a school of manta rays and go snorkelling with these mighty beasts. Back on Katharina we will have lunch as we head to the island of Gili Lawa Darat for an afternoon of snorkelling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and at sunset we can climb to the top of the island to enjoy the day’s end. We will then move to Mesa Island.
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 off Biddadari Island, 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.