A six-night charter with Dunia Baru can be packed with all sorts of adventures, one family from the USA discovered during September. Here’s an account of the week, by cruise director Clive White:
Our guests were looking for adventure – and Komodo National Park was a perfect destination for them. They arrived in Labuan Bajo on a midday flight and by early evening they were enjoying sundowners off the coast of Rinca, planning exciting activities for the coming days.
After a light breakfast we headed to the ranger station at Rinca, from where we went trekking. It was an awesome start to the trip! Our first encounter was with a huge buffalo that was lying in the long grass; a great experience to be so close to the animal. We also saw many monkeys and deer – and about halfway through the trail our guide spotted a large Komodo dragon moving along the path. It was unfazed by us – and of course we moved out of its way as the ranger stood between us and the huge reptile. That was the first of five encounters with dragons on that trek!
Back onboard Dunia Baru the guests enjoyed a full breakfast – an opportunity to fuel up for what would be a busy afternoon of diving and snorkelling. We did our check dive at the plateau called Makassar reef where, after only a few minutes on the water, the guests were amazed to see a manta ray cruise past us; we saw turtles and an eagle ray on that dive, too. It was a fantastic day and the guests were thrilled with their wildlife encounters.
We headed down to Padar to dive the sloping reefs that fringe this island, and we saw colorful nudibranches and beautiful reef dwellers. Some guests went on a kayak safari around the island while a highlight for those who did some bird watching was watching a very large sea eagle that was out hunting. Such a special experience to see it swoop down to take a fish from the surface.
After a light lunch we trekked to the top of Padar, from where the views are spectacular, and then headed back to sea level to enjoy a beach barbecue under a full moon.
We upped anchor early and sailed to the southern tip of Rinca, to an island called Nusa Kode. We saw many reef sharks on our early morning dive, as well as an octopus that was out foraging for its food.
After an Indonesian-themed lunch we approached the beach in Dunia Baru’s two high-speed RIBs. We’d hoped to see some of the Komodo dragons that live here, and we weren’t disappointed. As we approached, five dragons came down to the beach and entered the water, so we backed off to give them some space… an incredible photo opportunity, as the dragons came within 10 feet of the RIBs.
From Nusa Kode we made passage across to the southern tip of Komodo island, to a famous dive site called Manta Alley – and as we kitted up, dolphins cruised by. The currents here cause an upwelling that brings in food for the mantas, and we had so many encounters with these graceful creatures. The snorkelers loved diving down to swim alongside the huge rays – it was a fantastic experience, a very special interaction.
Yesterday evening we took a sunset cruise to Komodo’s Pink Beach, where we’d moored for the night. Waking here meant we had the perfect opportunity to take an early morning walk along the beach, which is slightly pink in colour because of the corals that have been ground down into sand. Guests snorkelled and scuba dived the vibrant reef just off this beach, where we were lucky to find a couple of frog fish and some very colorful nudibranches.
Our guests enjoyed lunch as we cruised through the afternoon to an island called Gili Lawa Darat, from where there are phenomenal views of Komodo.
The guests decided they wanted today’s activities to be water-based, so we planned to do snorkelling and diving trips throughout the day. Some guests did three dives, and had encounters with turtles, white-tip reef sharks and grey reef sharks. The snorkelers also had good experiences with a friendly turtle, and were amazed at the diversity of the reef life here in the north.
Late in the afternoon we trekked to the summit of Gili Lawadarat, from where we watched the sunset. Absolutely spectacular!
Our final evening meal was particularly special: there was Balinese music and food, and the crew did a great job of decorating the dining area with traditional Balinese items.
Our guests couldn’t get enough of Komodo’s underwater delights, as they had one night booked in a resort before flying out of Labuan Bajo, we managed to get in one more dive before sailing back to port. Early on the last morning we weighed anchor and headed for the beautiful reef of Sabolan island. There is so much soft coral here, and a huge selection of marine critters including the rare Barramundi, or Asian sea bass.
This trip was absolutely fantastic, and the guests were delighted with the encounters they’d had with the very special wildlife of the region. It was a week packed with special moments, and memories to last a lifetime.