With each of the villages visited embracing a different culture, immerse yourself in an educational rollercoaster. Marvel at the rich past of the Asmat people during an accompanied canoe ride. Expect first class diving in the Great Barrier Reef, dozens of species of bird — including the elusive Bird of Paradise — and enriching historical lectures.
Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Be accompanied by a canoe flotilla in the Asmat Region
Marvel at the famous Asmat woodcarvings and immerse yourself in the ancient Asmat culture
Visit Banda Naira, the original home of nutmeg
See the traditional Pasola, a ceremonial fight on horseback in Kodi
See how the famous ikat textiles are made –and purchase some from the weavers
DAY 1: Cairns, Australia
Embark Silver Discoverer for your adventure along the Australian coast into the Asmat Region and to the Banda Islands, the original home of nutmeg.
DAY 2: Lizard Island, Australia
A World Heritage Site since 1981, the Great Barrier Reef has more than 1,500 fish species, 400 coral species and 215 bird species. Found some 250 km north-east of Cairns, and as part of a group of six high islands, Lizard Island is located right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. The island belongs to the Dingaal people, the traditional Aboriginal owners.We will go ashore on the western side and can explore the island on foot or swim and snorkel. Mangroves and sandy beaches are found along the shore and there is a trek to Cooks Look offered. Lizard Island’s location promises some great snorkel and dive opportunities.
DAY 3: Little Boydong Reef, Australia
Off the coast of northern Queensland, just 100 kilometres short of Australia’s northernmost point, Little Boydong Island is located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Next to this secluded island is Little Boydong Reef where the sea teems with life. A perfect spot for snorkelling or diving, but you can also walk across the sandbanks at low tide with our Marine Biologist. Let them introduce you to some of the many inhabitants of the Great Barrier Reef in an interesting lecture during the morning. Apart from life under water, the area is also an important nesting site for Pied Imperial Pigeons.
DAY 4: Thursday Island, Australia
Silver Discoverer will arrive very early in the morning to have a look at this former pearling centre at the top of Australia. World War 2 arrived in Australia at the top end and for your tour today you will take a private ferry to Horn Island and walk in the forgotten footsteps of the indigenous and non-indigenous soldiers who served in the area to experience an unmatched personal interaction with your specialist guides. On your journey you visit the original gun emplacements, an underground command post, slit trenches, a WW2 aircraft wreck with an unbelievable story, WW2 airstrip, dispersal bays and taxiways and listen to the eerie sound affects the airstrip provides today. Apart from WW2 impressions, another aspect of Australia’s northernmost islands will be of interest: local artists will discuss their art and stories with you as morning tea is served and you visit the Torres Strait Museum before your ferry returns you to Thursday Island.
DAY 5: At Sea
DAYS 6-7: Asmat Region, Indonesia
The Asmat region, an area of lowland swamp and rainforest, has long sheltered the Asmat tribes from outsiders -and our visit is an expedition highlight. We will be escorted to the village of Agats, the capital of the Asmat region, where an enthusiastic welcome awaits. Once ashore, we will walk along elevated wooden boardwalks to a men’s longhouse. You will be invited to witness a local meeting and ceremony. During our visit Zodiacs will take us through this remote riverine, cruising along narrow waterways lined with the entwined branches of thick mangrove forests, home to dozens of species of parrots, lorikeets and other birds including the spectacular Bird of Paradise. As we make our way upstream, Asmat villagers—whooping and chanting in elaborate warrior gear and war paint—paddle vigorously toward us in dozens of intricately carved canoes. Asmat culture has remarkable ritual objects based on an intriguing interpretation of life and death. Asmat woodcarvings are known for their powerful lines and coarse, expressive motifs, and are widely considered to be among the world’s finest. We will have the opportunity to purchase carvings directly from village artisans or at one of the galleries in Agats.
DAY 8: Triton Bay, Indonesia
In 2008, the Kaimana Regency declared a 6000 km² Marine Protected Area around the waters of Triton Bay. The marine biodiversity is second to none and the area offers everything from the tiniest pygmy seahorses to large and graceful whale sharks. This is considered to be the epicentre of the Coral Triangle, containing more fish and coral species than anywhere else on the planet. Triton Bay is best known for its beautiful soft coral gardens as well as having nesting grounds for green turtles, a population of coastal Bryde’s whales, and whale sharks. We will look for a nice beach at which to relax and hope to be able to swim and snorkel with whale sharks.
DAY 9: Watubela Island
Silver Discoverer will be in the Watubela Group and during the morning we will be looking for good swimming and snorkelling sites. Some of the islands have small communities and we might visit one of the small villages. The raised coral islands have interesting cliffs and picturesque limestone islets located offshore. During the afternoon we will be cruising the Banda Sea and our lecturers will have interesting topics to prepare you for the island of nutmeg.
DAY 10: Banda Neira and Pulau Ai, Indonesia
When coming close to the channel separating Banda Neira and its neighbouring island Gunung Api, have a look at the lava flows on the northern side of Gunung Api –they are signs of a recent volcanic eruption and the volcano might still be steaming! We depart the ship for a morning walking tour of the historical and formerly quite rich city of Banda, the main town and administrative centre of the Banda Islands – a group of ten small volcanic islands. Our stops include a visit to the local market and a tour of the clove and nutmeg plantation - until the mid-19th century the Banda Islands were the world’s only source of nutmeg. During lunch the ship repositions a few miles to Pulau Ai, an isolated low lying island to the west of Banda Neira. Due to its isolation, walls, and deep waters, Pulau Ai is one of the top dive sites in the Banda Islands for shark encounters. Hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and silvertip sharks are occasionally sighted, while wahoo, giant trevally, Bluefin trevally, and chevron barracuda appear in good numbers.
DAY 11: At Sea
DAY 12: Kalabahi (for Takpala), Alor, Indonesia
This morning we arrive at Kalabahi, the capital and port for Alor Island. Set inside a peaceful bay of white sandy beaches, and overlooked by two old volcanoes, Kalabahi is our starting point for an excursion into the rugged interior and to meet the indigenous Abui. We will first have a look at a local market and Kalabahi’s museum, which houses interesting textile exhibits and drums, before we visit the traditional hilltop village of Takpala where we are welcomed by the Chief and enjoy a cultural performance of dancing and chanting. Afterwards you will be able to have a look at how the Abui live, get to see their homes and how food is prepared. You might want to taste some of the manioc or the freshly brewed local coffee.
DAY 13: Seba, Savu, Indonesia
Savu, a small island about halfway between Timor and Sumba, is one of the most interesting destinations in Nusa Tenggara. The Savunese derive their staple nutrition from the lontar palm, and the nutritious juice of this drought-resistant tree makes possible a relatively high population concentration on Savu’s 461 square kilometres. Although 80% of the Savunese claim to be Christian, animistic beliefs are still present. Today will be another good opportunity to not only see how the textiles are made, but also to buy some high-quality ikat. During the afternoon be on deck to watch the Lesser Sunda Islands passing by.
DAY 14: Kodi, Sumba, Indonesia
Known for its intricate ikat fabric, distinctive architecture and sculptured stone tombs, Sumba has resisted the advances of the modern age. It is therefore a fascinating island to explore, especially West Sumba where ancient tribal rites are best preserved. The local culture revolves around fortified villages where ancestors are worshipped by extended families living in enormous clan houses with high-pitched thatched roofs. The Sumbanese honour the dead by dragging massive stones a great distance to construct mausoleums for the departed. On our visit to a traditional village, we will witness a welcome ceremony, as well as a “pasola”, a fierce martial arts performance on horseback.
DAY 15: Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
After breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Pricing starts at $9,050 per person for double occupancy (cost will vary based on stateroom category selected)
Ship capacity: 120 passengers
Suite accommodations onboard
Onboard meals and entertainment
Onboard beverages, including selected wines, champagne and spirits
Enrichment lectures by the Expedition Team
Guided zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expedition Team
Accommodations are based on double occupancy. If you prefer single accommodations, and if such are available, you can pay a single supplement fee.