Dances, Dragons & Magical Lakes Photography SeaJourn (2020)

    Tour duration: 8 days. Optional Bali Retreat: 6 days (Ubud to Sidemen)
    Date: Main tour departs from Flores Island (short flight from Bali) Dates: TBA April 2020.
    • Main tour: AUD$5,545 Please inquire about single supplement.
    • Number of guests: Minimum 8; Maximum 10 for SeaJourn.
      Guided by: Seng Mah and Lynn Gail
      (* Please note: price may be subject to change in the event of substantial shifts in the AUD to USD exchange rate)

    Board a luxury handmade phinisi schooner and sail through Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands to explore one of the world's most stunning archipelagos from an intimate perspective. We'll cruise through a panorama of islands and encounter new wonders on a daily basis. This adventurous, eight-day, all inclusive voyage of discovery aboard the 12-berth Katharina offers a cross-section of remote beaches, quiet coastal villages, jungle-clad mountain ranges, towering volcanoes, waterfalls, tribal rituals, a mysterious lake, and the legendary Komodo dragons.

    During our days at sea you'll witness local strongmen perform the Caci, a ritual whip-fight between two rivals on Flores Island. We will sail to Kukusan Island to meet the sea gypsies - the Bajao people who build their homes on stilts over the sea. On Rinca and Komodo Island we will go ashore to photograph the notorious Komodo dragon where we'll learn about its unique habitat. Among the many islands we visit, we'll also go ashore Satonda island, home to a sunken crater lake filled with saltwater surrounded by wishing trees laden with years of trinkets people have placed over branches. In north Lombok we'll explore the village of Senaru, and spend time with the indigenous Sasak people and gain an insight into their lives and how their community thrives. Back on board there will be photo sessions, one-on-one critiques, and photo tuition throughout the cruise. For those who like to experience life below the surface, you'll go snorkelling in one of the world's most pristine and vibrant archipelagos before returning to our schooner to enjoy a smorgasbord of tasty Indonesian and Europian fare as we set sail and watch the world go by.

    This partner-friendly cruise will appeal to photographers longing to get away from mainstream travel brochure destinations. While chartering rarely visited waters you'll land ashore islands only reachable by boat, where friendly villagers welcome you onto their land. It's a journey that refreshes your mind with memories you'll long remember after our last port of call. Both Seng and Lynn will be on hand throughout the tour to assist you in all areas of your photography.

    Main Tour Itinerary

    Day 1:

    You will be transported to a beachside resort just outside of the port town of Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the Komodo National Park. You will have the afternoon free to relax and unwind with a swim or a snorkel, or join us for a photo walk around the town. It’s also an opportunity for those unfamiliar with snorkelling to have a lesson with our tour leader. In the evening, we will enjoy a sunset shoot and drinks on the beach before dinner with our fellow guests as you get better acquainted for the voyage ahead.

    Day 2:

    After breakfast at the resort, we leave the resort for a trip 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 your splendid pinisi boat before we head to the island of Kelor. We will also have the option of visiting the adjacent island of Kukusan where we will meet a settlement of ‘sea-gypsies,’ the Bajao people who build their homes on stilts over the sea. At around sunset we will be able to witness and photograph the departure of thousands of flying foxes departing their roosts to feed, and later that evening we will cruise to Komodo dragon country.

    Day 3:

    Today we will visit the ranger station of Loh Buaya on Rinca Island where we'll enjoy a ranger-led nature trek in search of the legendary Komodo dragons, which are indigenous to this small group of islands. 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 panorama is breathtaking. In the afternoon, we explore the rich waters of Siaba Island and later head to the gorgeous Pantai Merah ‘red-beach,’ which takes its name from the particles of red coral mingled with the sand. Here, you can choose to snorkel or photograph the breathtaking scenery. The region has many varieties of coral and marine life and with over 1000 species of fish in the waters of the national park, there is much more to this wildlife reserve than just dragons.

    Day 4:

    When we wake up, the boat will be anchored off 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 an early morning ranger-led trek through the park searching for Komodo dragons. In this savannah-like setting of dry, rugged landscape, we will encounter, at a safe distance, these awe-inspiring, giant lizards – Indonesia’s living dinosaurs. We may spot deer, wild boar, sulphur-crested cockatoos, butterflies, rare orchids, and jungle chickens among the strangle-fig trees and the distinctive lontar palms. During lunch, we will head to Makassar Reef, where we will look for manta rays, and if we are lucky enough to spot them, the snorkellers among us will be able to swim with these gentle giants. Late afternoon we head to Gili Lawa Darat and photograph a magical hill-top sunset before feeling the sand between our toes as we enjoy a beach barbeque by a bonfire and great food whilst dancing to acoustic guitars under the stars.

    Day 5:

    Today we visit Banta Island where pinkish-white beaches edge the shores. We will catch the early morning light before we proceed to Pulau Sangean, an active volcano that towers 1,800 metres above sea level. Here we go ashore to a small and very simple village, which, because of the active nature of the volcano, is only inhabited for short periods during the year when the local people come to tend their crops and small herds of buffaloes. We can see the buffaloes on the beach and sometimes even swimming in the sea. We will be able to spend time and photograph the welcoming villagers. At sunset we set sail for Satonda Island.

    Day 6:

    Today we reach the strange and mystical volcanic island of Satonda with its beautiful coral gardens along the coastline. Satonda has a sunken crater lake in its centre that was filled with saltwater when the nearby Mt Tambora erupted in 1815, causing a tsunami that flowed into the crater. The eruption was the biggest volcanic explosion in the collective memory of mankind; it had roughly four times the energy of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, and gave rise to the ‘year without a summer’ because of the effect on North American and European weather. Local people believe Satonda to be magical, and with this in mind, we will walk to the lip of the caldera to view the mysterious lake, alongside which are trees believed to be ‘wishing trees.’ Visitors to the island tie a small stone to a tree and make a wish. If your wish comes true, you are bound to return to the island to offer thanks. From Satonda we will cruise to the island of Moyo where we will moor off Labuan Aji village and walk to Diwu Mba'i waterfall. We will later relax under the stars aboard our schooner as we will continue our westward voyage to Lombok.

    Day 7:

    Moored off the coast of North Lombok, we will have breakfast before going ashore where we will head off by bus or car into the interior of the northern side of the island to the traditional village of Senaru. Here, we will be taken on an exclusive tour, by one of the local women-guides, of the simple thatched houses and gardens of fruits and spices, which will give us an insight into the culture of the indigenous Sasak people. Our adventure will then lead us down a well-trodden flight of steps through the tropical forest to Sindang Gila, a roaring 40-metre tiered waterfall. The small gravel beach and flat rocks at the base of the falls are a meeting place for the local people. Our walk will continue alongside an old irrigation canal offering panoramic vistas of rice fields stretching towards the sea. The area around Senaru and Bayan was the birthplace of Lombok’s unique Wektu Telu belief system in which ancient animist practices are combined with Islam. If we have time, we will visit Bayan Beleq, a grass-roofed mosque with woven bamboo walls. Said to have been founded in the 16th century, this is the oldest mosque in Lombok. We may see some weavers and spinners demonstrating their age-old skills. After lunch we will set off west in the direction of Gili Air, where we'll enjoy a celebration of our intrepid sea journey as we set sail for our final destination.

    Day 8:

    Today we will wake up off the coast of Bali under the majestic gaze of Mt Agung, Bali’s mother mountain. Here we will go for a final snorkel and swim before heading south along the coast to our disembarkation point of Amuk Bay. Here we say farewell to our crew and will join a bus for the 90-minute trip back to south Bali.


    Main Tour inclusions:
    • Arrival airport transfers in Flores Island on first day of cruise.
    • All accommodation during the tour.
    • All meals during the main tour.
    • Entry into monuments and sites
    • Land transport in a private air-conditioned vehicle with a driver.
    • English-speaking tour escort/director.
    • Photographic guidance/critique and mentoring from Seng Mah and Lynn Gail.

    • Flights to Bali and Flores Island. We have an agent in Bali to book your one-way short flight to Flores.
    • Comprehensive travel insurance. All participants are required to take comprehensive travel insurance for this tour. You will need to show proof of travel insurance as a condition of participating in this tour.
    • Photographic equipment. You will need to bring/supply your own cameras, lenses, tripods, batteries, filters, memory cards and so on.
    • Insurance for your photographic equipment while on tour.
    • Alcoholic drinks.
    • Tips.
    • All personal expenses and fees, medication, incidental snacks.
    • Any transport and fees outside of the tour itinerary.

    Join us

    A deposit of AUD$950 will secure your place on this tour with the final balance paid by 15 February 2020. Note that deposits are fully refunded if the tour is cancelled due to not attaining minimum numbers.

    Bookings and deposits can be paid to Lynn Gail (Lynn Anne Gail, ABN 17 208 964 786). Contact Lynn to secure your booking for this tour. To contact Lynn, you can telephone 0422 427 161 (Australia) or +61 422 427 161 (International) or use the form below. Lynn can also be contacted via email at hello [at] culturalconnectionstours.com

    For more information about tour terms and conditions, please refer to: Photography Tours Terms and Conditions

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