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Best of Indonesia: Davao to Bali

Discover the Natural and Cultural Treasures of the World's Largest Archipelago
Days 1 & 2: Fly to Manila, Philippines
Board your independent flight to Manila. Lose a day crossing the International Date Line. Upon arrival, you're met by our representative and transferred to our hotel. This evening, gather for a welcome dinner and briefing.

Day 3: Fly to Davao, Philippines / Embark Caledonian Sky
Transfer to the airport this morning for our flight to Davao. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before embarking the Caledonian Sky. This evening we set sail for the enchanting islands of Indonesia.

Day 4: At Sea
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea as we cruise southward toward the Indonesian archipelago. Be sure to attend the lectures offered by our complement of onboard experts, which provide an essential introduction to the natural and cultural wonders of Indonesia. Joining us on this cruise will be guest lecturer Cassie O'Connor, a senior program officer with World Wildlife Fund who specializes in the Coral Triangle and other Asia-Pacific regions. Cassie has been involved in conservation and research projects in Indonesia for more than 15 years, including living in Dayak villages in logging concessions and co-managing a rain forest research station. She will discuss WWF’s work protecting coral reefs, conserving sea turtles and working with indigenous communities to preserve forests and adapt to climate change.

Day 5: Bunaken National Marine Park, Indonesia / Siladeng Island
The phenomenal biodiversity of Bunaken has been protected as a national park since 1991, and its crystal-clear waters offer some of the best snorkeling and diving in Indonesia. We spend the morning here, exploring the reefs and drop-off walls adorned with myriad soft corals. Dense schools of blue-striped and yellow-tailed fusiliers are some of the hundred species of fish you may spot here. After lunch, visit Siladeng Island for additional snorkeling and diving opportunities.

Day 6: Lahaga Island / Tangkoko Nature Reserve / Bitung
Spend the morning snorkeling or diving off the lovely beach at Lahaga Island. Return to the ship for lunch and continue to Tangkoko Nature Reserve, one of Indonesia’s most important conservation areas. Its 21,000 acres are among the last habitats for crested black macaques and cuscus, a lemur-like, slow-moving opossum. Or, tour Bitung and the private wildlife center to view tarsiers, the world’s smallest primate. The reserve is also a haven for an incredible variety of birds, including the endemic Sulawesi hornbill, varied lorikeet, blue-breasted pita and finch-billed myna. There will also be an opportunity to visit with the residents of Swangan.

Day 7: Togean Islands
Explore the remote and picturesque Togeans, a 56-island archipelago surrounded by an ancient coral reef and the warm, clear waters of Tomini Bay. Covered in lush foliage, these volcanic islands harbor a host of endangered wildlife, including Togean macaques, babirusa and hanging parrots. We enjoy guided walks to search for the fascinating birds and animals that reside here. The beaches are breeding grounds for hawksbill turtles and the rare dugong, while diving and snorkeling forays reveal spectacular corals teeming with colorful fish. Several ethnic groups reside in 37 villages throughout the Togeans, and we'll meet the delightful local people during our visit as well. 

Day 8: Banggai Islands
At the far eastern end of Central Sulawesi, at the convergence of the Banda and Maluku seas, lie the little-visited Banggai Islands. The waters surrounding this collection of two main islands and some 100 smaller outposts harbors “the mother of all living coral reefs,” according to Alfred Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin. An astounding variety of marine life inhabits the undersea walls, caves, overhangs and shallow reefs of the archipelago, and snorkelers and divers have several opportunities to witness species such as ribbon eels, blue-ring octopus, anglerfish and the endemic Banggai cardinal fish.

Day 9: Kokoila Island / Lunasualu Island
Colorful reefs around these small atolls offer further underwater landscapes to explore today. If the opportunity presents itself, we may also go ashore to visit a local village.

Day 10: Buton Island
Dangling off the southeast coast of Sulawesi, rainforest-covered Buton is part of the Wakatobi island group. Today’s snorkel or dive excursions reveal an incredible array of marine reef inhabitants; underwater photographers will appreciate a bizarre macro world among corals as shallow as 20 feet below the surface. Highlights include colorful frogfish, octopus, marbled snake eels, cockatoo waspfish, flying gurnards, a multitude of crab species, and dazzling anemones.

Days 11 & 12: Palopo / Toraja, Sulawesi Island
An overnight excursion takes us 4,000 feet into the cool highlands of South Sulawesi to fascinating Toraja. Legends say that the early Toraja people came from the north, possibly Indochina, and were blown off course by a storm. Their boat-shaped houses reflect this seafaring legacy, with a soaring “prow” that slopes skyward. The Toraja bury their dead in graves chiseled into vertical cliffsides, in keeping with the belief that ancestors repose halfway between heaven and earth. Beside these honeycombed graves, gazing out over the valleys, are lifelike wooden effigies, providing a receptacle for the souls to guard the gravesites. We'll walk through several villages and investigate the graves, markets and ornate rice barns of the region. Meals and overnight accommodations are at our hotel in the highlands. The following day, we'll tour more traditional villages and return to Palopo to board the Caledonian Sky in the evening.

Day 13: Selayar Island
Warm transparent waters encircle Selayar Island where we spend the afternoon snorkeling or diving over rich reefs, home to a kaleidoscope of marine life including angelfish, fairy basslets and butterflyfish, among hundreds of other species.

Day 14: Komodo Island
Komodo National Park is a sanctuary for the fabled giant monitor lizard, the Komodo dragon. Walk along a forested pathway to a viewing area for a close inspection of these prehistoric reptiles, the largest lizards on earth, which grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds. The Komodo dragon wasn't known to the outside world till just over a century ago, when stories from Dutch sailors based in the East Indies began circulating about a mysterious creature, allegedly a dragon that inhabited a small island in the Lesser Sunda Islands, with a large, long body and mouth that constantly spat fire. Eventually, one was captured and killed for study and determined to be a species of monitor lizard. The surrounding forest is home to Javan rusa deer, the favorite prey of the dragons, as well as elegant yellow-crested cockatoos. In the afternoon, enjoy snorkeling or diving off splendid Pink Beach, often described as “swimming in an aquarium.”

Day 15: Wera Island 
This morning we visit Wera Island to observe locals building wooden fishing boats according to ancient tradition. Except for the keel, these large seagoing vessels are constructed entirely of wood, including the nails. Next, we'll attend a welcome ceremony and cultural performance by the villagers. 

Day 16: Benoa, Bali / Ubud
For centuries, Bali has captivated the imaginations of artists, writers and travelers with its enchanting landscapes of emerald terraced rice fields backdropped by the sacred volcano of Mt. Batur. Lying just east of Java and home to most of Indonesia's Hindu minority, Bali is renowned for its cultural heritage, featuring traditional and modern dance, music sculpture and an array of artistic pursuits. We disembark in the port of Benoa and drive to Ubud, where a large artisan community displays their talents in painting, sculpture, leather work, silver-smithing and batik. After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy time at leisure to stroll among the countless galleries, small museums and artisans’ workshops. Or, choose to visit a local farm to learn more about the ancient art of rice cultivation. Return to the ship for dinner and overnight.

Day 17: Bali / Depart
After a morning at leisure, disembark the Caledonian Sky and transfer to the airport for independent flights, arriving in North America the same day.

Physical Rating: Moderate

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