This exciting semi-circumnavigation of Sumatra and Java is an explorer’s dream come true. Sample bona fide local delicacies, walk the sea of sand to reach Mt. Bromo, search for orangutan in Sumatra. Days at sea, inspiring landmarks, active volcanoes and eerie, yet spectacular landscapes are all just parts of this fascinating journey.
See the Sumatran orangutan at Bukit Lawang in the “Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra”
Witness the stone jumping of the Nias warriors
Walk on Anak Krakatoa, the new volcano that rose on the site of history’s worst volcanic eruption
Visit cultural, geological and biological UNESCO World Heritage sites and those on the tentative list
Walk the Sea of Sand to reach Mount Bromo
DAY 1: Phuket, Thailand
Embark Silver Discoverer in the early afternoon. Enjoy the first of many memorable culinary highlights in the restaurant.
DAY 2: Ko Rawi and Ko Adang, Thailand
Today we venture into areas seldom visited by cruise or expedition ship travellers. The Ko Tarutao Marine Park is off the beaten track and is made up of approximately 50 islands that are underdeveloped and covered in dense jungle. The name Tarutao is a Thai corruption of its original Malay name, Pulau Tertua (the island of old). Our destination for this morning, Ko Rawi offers excellent snorkelling and other aquatic opportunities. One of the points of interests on the island is the stripy pebbles found here. Legend has it that the stones are cursed and anyone who takes any away will experience bad luck until the stones are returned to their source. Our afternoon destination, Ko Adang Island, is the second biggest island within the Park and has an incredible offshore coral reef. Snorkelers and scuba divers will delight in the diversity of the marine life. Alternatively, if you wish, experience the rainforest with our Botanist. There is the opportunity for a rainforest walk to the Pirates Falls, rumoured to have been used by pirates in the area as a fresh water source.
DAY 3: Belawan (for Gunung Leuser NP), Indonesia
Belawan is the gate to Gunung Leuser National Park. Located in the interior of Sumatra, the park covers an area of some 9000 square kilometres and is one of Indonesia’s oldest (and possibly least visited) parks. The park is quite mountainous and home to more than 120 species of mammals, 190 species of reptiles and amphibians, as well as more than 350 species of birds. More than 4000 plant species, including such interesting plants as the corpse flower (Rafflesia arnoldii) and titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), can be found in the park. Before visiting the Bukit Lawang Visitor Center to learn about the flora and fauna of the park, we will have breakfast at the Rindu Alam Restaurant. We will be briefed by a ranger about our visit and hike for two hours in the park. The former Bohorok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre has released more than 200 of the Sumatran orangutan back into the wild. The centre has closed but you can still see the orangutans in the wild. Apart from Sumatran orangutan there are eight other primate species present in the park. After our walk lunch awaits us at Rindu Alam before returning to Silver Discoverer in the late afternoon.
DAY 4: At Sea
DAY 5: Pulau Weh and Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Located above the very northern tip of Sumatra, Pulau Weh and its main port of Sabang used to be an important coaling station in former days. Walking through town, we will see some of the old Dutch Colonial buildings and the trees imported from Suriname by the Dutch. We will continue to Weh’s south to see the geothermal-volcanic Valley of Jaboi where we will spend some time looking at the fumaroles and enjoy the quiet isolation of the area, admiring the panoramic views of the island. During lunch Silver Discoverer will reposition to Banda Aceh. Banda Aceh was severely hit by the tsunami in 2004 and we can see the power of nature through the PLTD Apung, a former floating power plant, which was moved by tsunami several kilometres inland –despite its weight of 780 tons. The structure now acts as a monument. We will see the Blang Padang Park, a memorial to all the nations that helped Aceh after the terrible earthquake and tsunami. After the tsunami, certain cultural traits which formerly were only allowed to be performed by men were taught to women as well, among them certain dances. One of the dance forms popularly practiced in Aceh province is the Saman dance – which is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The dancers sit in a row and perform elaborative and fast movements with their hands, heads, and torsos. The Saman is performed to celebrate national and religious holidays, cementing relationships between village groups.
DAYS 6: Simeulue Islands, Sumatra, Indonesia
Silver Discoverer will anchor in the Simeulue Islands, a group of 57 islands. More than 80,000 inhabitants live in the islands and make a living off farming and fishing. The islands are covered in forest, have beaches, caves, lakes and even a waterfall. The inhabitants live a traditional lifestyle and the local culture is still important. The Simeulue Islands are known for black magic, practiced by dukun –shaman or healers that can cause damage and heal. Cultural events include performances of nandong (poetry singing) and debus – traditional dancing and magic performed on stage where the performers use sharp objects to cut or stab themselves without getting hurt. The islands are also famous for their dragon boat teams.
DAY 7: Bawomataluo, Nias Islands, Indonesia
The Nias Islanders were said to be very fierce and different ceremonies or stages of growth of a child and juvenile needed animals to be slaughtered or enemies killed. Therefore young men prepared to become warriors at an early age. One of the preparations was stone jumping, a ritual where youngsters jumped over 1.5 to 2-meter stone towers. Still today, Nias boys start preparing for their stone jump from the age of 10. They become men by jumping over the stone tower, signifying that they are ready to assume the responsibilities of men. Going to the local village of Bawomataluo, we will be met by the king of the village and will have a cultural performance including the War Dance performed to enhance the spirit of the ancestors before war and will see the local young men performing the stone jumping. Apart from the cultural segment of the visit, birders will be looking for the Stork-billed Kingfisher and other birds.
DAY 8: Padang (for Cupek, Sumatra), Indonesia
We will drive from Padang to Cupek, a Minangkabau village in Sumatra’s interior. The ancestral homelands of the Minangkabau, devout Muslims, are centred in West Sumatra’s lush highlands and stretch as far as the seashore. The specialty among them is that ownership of a family’s property—their homes, rice paddies and the like—passes from mother to daughter. The Minangkabau are in fact the world’s largest matrilineal society. Visiting the village we will see a rumah gadang, or “big house” - a traditional Minangkabau home intended to hold the extended family. With its long hall-like main room, it is not only used as a residence, but also sometimes for meetings and ceremonies. During our visit we will not only see a traditional wedding ceremony but will be invited to join the parade of the Bride marching to the groom’s house accompanied by more than 100 women in traditional costume. A welcome dance will be performed and later you can enjoy some of the other traditional dances. A cooking demonstration will take place and you can learn how to prepare local food known asrendang. Crops like rice, cabbage, beans and the all-important chilies grow in abundance and the Minangnese are known for their spicy, sumptuous cuisine –which we will be able to savour during our local lunch ashore.
DAY 9: At Sea
DAY 10: Ujung Kulon NP and Anak Krakatoa, Indonesia
Very early in the morning we will reach the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ujung Kulon National Park, at the southwest tip of Java. The National Park includes the Ujung Kulon Peninsula containing the largest remaining lowland rain forest on the Java plain, as well as the Natural Reserve of Krakatoa. Ashore, a briefing will be given by the manager of the park rangers before taking off on a hike across Peucang Island. Birders will look for Asian Pied Hornbill, Caspian and Bridled Terns, as well as White-bellied Sea Eagles, Tiger Shrikes, Sunda Minivets, and Javan Kingfisher. In addition to the fantastic birding, hundreds of barking deer are found in the dense tropical forest, along with macaques, monitor lizards and wild boars. At the end of the walk there will be free time to swim or snorkel. Over lunch, Silver Discoverer heads into the Sunda Strait to reach the area of one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in historical times. During the afternoon we intend to land on Anak Krakatoa, a volcano that rose above sea level in 1930 where Krakatoa originally stood and has grown continuously since the 1950s. It is an active volcano so landings are not guaranteed. The active fumaroles, old and new lava flows, the beautifully coloured rocks and the volcano itself are stunning. To land on Anak Krakatoa and walk the beach will be unforgettable.
DAY 11: Cruising the Java Sea
DAY 12: Sumenep, Madura, Indonesia
A special dance will be performed to welcome us to Sumenep on the island of Madura: the Muangsangkal (literally “throwing unhappiness away”). Located slightly northeast of Surabaya, Sumenep has some interesting sites to visit.The Keraton (Palace) Sumenep consists of a Gate, the old and the new Palace and the adjacent Sare Park. The museum holds antique weapons, ceremonial tools, and jewellery, as well as some of the uniforms and furniture used by the different kings. Probably the most unusual object is the golden carriage the Queen of England gave the Sumenep King. Built one year later than the Palace, the Great Mosque shows the influence of Islamic, Chinese and European style, making this building unique, specifically with its beautiful gate. The island is also known and even famous for its carvings, kris production and textiles: Madura batik has different characteristics compared to Java’s -especially in its colour selection. Madura Batik has usually clear and strong colours (red, green and yellow) with birds, flowers and dragons as the motif. Madura is also known for its bull racing, which is usually done on an annual basis. Today these bulls are kept for prestige and are extremely well looked after. A variety of special fodder is prepared: apart from corn, bean and soybean leaves and grass, a mixture of traditional spices (crushed ginger, pepper, chilli, and honey), and even beer and eggs are believed to strengthen the bulls.
DAY 13: Probolingo, Indonesia
Arriving in Probolingo at night, we will disembark very early in the morning for a sunrise hike to Mount Bromo. From Probolingo we have to travel southwest to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Semeru and Bromo are active volcanos, with Semeru active on a periodical and reliable schedule (about every 20 minutes). The eerie landscape of the park has nurtured legends and myths and the Tengger people believe that a prince sacrificed his life for his family at Mount Bromo. At 2392 meters, Mt Bromo is not among Indonesia’s tallest mountains but its beauty lies in its incredible setting. Sulphurous smoke rises from Mount Bromo while Mt Semeru is smoking in the distance. Walking is the best way to experience Mount Bromo but you can take ponies across the Sea of Sand to the bottom of the steep stairs (200 steps) that lead to the crater. At the base of Mount Bromo and amidst the Sea of Sand is the Poten, a Tenggerese Hindu temple.
DAY 14: Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
After breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Pricing starts at $8,950 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.