Live-Aboards Provide Safe Adventures
Indonesia includes some of the largest and most exotic islands in the world, including Bali, Borneo, Java, Komodo, New Guinea, Sulawesi and Sumatra. Its 17,500 islands compose the largest and most varied archipelago on earth–spanning more than 3,100 miles from Asia to Australia.
Indonesia forms a massive dotted line that separates the Indian Ocean from the Pacific Ocean. The country is more than 80 percent water, which includes more coastline and more coral reefs than any other place in the world.
For these reasons and many more, custom boat tours and cruises have been rising in popularity across Indonesia for several years. The custom tour industry was developed to serve international divers seeking access to Indonesia’s world-class scuba diving destinations.
Today, tour operators will customize trips for almost any island and activity.
As the nation emerges from the coronavirus epidemic, custom, personal cruises will likely become more popular than ever. They offer travelers more control, while offering a portable bubble for safety. It’s a pleasant way to bypass airports and airplanes.
There are four world-class ports within the country that attract the majority of the international sailors and divers, including Bali, Raja Empat (means four kings), Komodo and Sulawesi. My wife and I took a tour on the S.S. Adelaar. It departed Bali and hit ports of call on the way to Komodo. It was the highlight of my life as we saw Komodo dragons, snorkeled and mingled with locals. We met several fascinating travelers from around the world on the ship (a restored gem with all of the comforts of home).
The seas surrounding the Indonesian archipelago are considered an integral part of the nation, as evidenced in the country’s patriotic phrase Tanah Air Kita, which literally means our “home, water, and land.” The seas have been a unifying force between the diverse cultures and peoples throughout the archipelago, since many Indonesians are dependent on the bounty of the seas.
These islands hold about 10 to 15 percent of the world’s coral reefs, many of which are still unknown. There are more than 500 species of coral throughout these islands, including some of the most colorful species on the planet. These waters are home to 3,000 species of fish and 30 species of whales and dolphins. The Sulawesi Sea is the equivalent of a highway for sperm whales, dolphins, and other large marine life, such as sea turtles and manta rays. There are more species of fish, coral, and other marine life found in Indonesian waters than in any other country. Indonesia has an astounding array of marine life and some of the most spectacular diving in the world.
For those seeking jungles and volcanoes, special itineraries are available (contact us). The level of comfort and service on all boats in Indonesia are very high. Indonesians are among the best sailors in the world and the services are impeccable. In addition to custom itineraries, and you can usually dictate the menu of your choice in advance.
Mahakam River (Borneo)
The Mahakam River is like a freeway to the interior of this rugged and remote island. It’s the busiest river in Borneo. Boats of all sizes can be hired in Samarinda to travel up the river and its many tributaries. It takes about three days (18 hours of boat time) to reach the village of Long Bagun. The return trip only takes about six or seven hours. If your boat isn’t big enough to sleep on, budget hotels and homestay opportunities are available along the river.
If you go far enough up the river, you may see freshwater dolphins, crocodiles, proboscis monkeys, and giant monitor lizards. Sun bears, orangutans, and clouded leopards also inhabit the region and you can see most wildlife from the boat. Mornings provide the best viewing opportunities, before the rising temperatures send the animals for cover.
Further up the river, you’ll encounter people from the Dayak tribes. This culture moved inland to avoid the Islamic influences that arrived hundreds of years ago. This culture values the looks of tattoos and stretched ear lobes.
The best way to get to the Mahakam River is from the town of Samarinda. You can fly into Balikpapan and then catch a connecting flight to Samarinda. Or you can hire a driver in Balikpapan. Buy plenty of food before going up the river. Brace yourself for spartan accommodations and high adventure.
Sekonyer River (Borneo)
If you hope to see orangutans in the jungle, Tanjung Puting is your best opportunity. This trip requires an interesting boat ride through swamp forests that are full of life. The boat trip itself offers abundant opportunities to see the proboscis monkeys, so-called because of the male’s large nose. These and other creatures sit in the trees along the river in the mornings and evenings watching the boats on the river.
Camp Leakey is located inside the park and serves as a rehabilitation station and study site for orangutans. Visitors can walk freely and experience close encounters with these fascinating creatures.
To find the right boat ride, search for “liveaboard” or “live-aboard” and your preferred destination. Otherwise, contact us or your favorite travel agent. Selamat jalan!
Indonesia is the fourth-largest nation in the world with more than 267 million people. The country is comprised of more than 17,500 islands, including Bali, Borneo, Java, Lombok, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Learn more about Indonesia.