Upon arrival, transfer to your included hotel for dinner and overnight.
For centuries Bali has captivated the imagination of artists, writers, and travelers with its landscapes of emerald terraced rice fields, lush forests, and exquisite Hindu temples. Today drive to Ubud where artisans display their expertise in painting, sculpture, silver-working, and batik. Enjoy time to visit some of the countless galleries and artisan workshops. This evening continue to Benoa and embark the Odyssey.
Zodiacs bring you to the shores of uninhabited Satonda, a small circular island that is an ancient volcanic cone. Enjoy your first snorkeling or diving excursion over enchanting reefs here. Or, join your naturalists on a hike to view the island’s interior sacred lake. After lunch on board visit Sumbawa Island. Local villagers greet you with traditional drumming, dances, and a mock wedding ceremony. You will also watch a pole-climbing competition where agile young boys climb up a tall coconut palm pole in a race to see who can reach the prize at the top.
Komodo Island National Park is a sanctuary for the fabled giant monitor lizard, the Komodo dragon. A guided walk along a forested pathway leads you to a viewing area for a close inspection of these enormous reptiles which grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds. The surrounding forest is home to Javan rusa deer, as well as yellow-crested cockatoos, friarbirds, and megapodes. In the afternoon enjoy snorkeling or diving off lovely Pink Beach, often likened to “swimming in an aquarium.”
Beautiful, warm waters encircle the Tiger Islands where you make a morning stop to snorkel or dive over kaleidoscopic reefs, home to angelfish, fairy basslets, and butterflyfish among hundreds of other species.
A full-day overland excursion takes you 4,000 feet into the cool highlands of South Sulawesi to fascinating Toraja. Legends say that the early Toraja 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 life-like wooden effigies, providing a receptacle for their souls to guard the gravesites. Walk through several villages and investigate the gravesites, markets, and ornate rice barns of the region. Meals and overnight are at your hotel. The following day, tour more traditional villages as you return to Palopo, reuniting with the Odyssey in the evening.
Dangling off the southeast coast of Sulawesi, Buton is part of the Wakatobi Island group. Your snorkel or dive excursions today reveal an incredible array of marine reef inhabitants and underwater photographers discover a bizarre macro world among corals as shallow as 20 feet. Highlights include colorful frogfish, octopus, marbled snake eels, cockatoo waspfish, flying gurnards, multitudes of crab species, and dazzling anemones.
Colorful reefs and atolls offer further underwater landscapes to explore today. If the opportunity presents itself, you may go ashore to visit a local village.
Just below the arm of Central Sulawesi, at the convergence of the Banda and Maluku Seas, sit the 120 Banggai Islands whose waters harbor “the mother of all living coral reefs” according to Alfred Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin. An astounding variety of marine life inhabits the walls, caves, overhangs, and shallow reefs of this archipelago and snorkelers and divers have several opportunities to witness such species as ribbon eels, blue-ring octopus, anglerfish, and the endemic Banggai cardinal fish.
Explore the remote and picturesque Togeans, a 56-island archipelago surrounded by an ancient coral reef and the clear warm waters of Tomini Bay. Volcanic and covered in lush foliage, the islands harbor a variety of endangered wildlife, including Togean macaques, babirusa, and hanging parrots. Their beaches are the breeding grounds of the hawksbill turtles and the rare dugong, and diving and snorkeling forays reveal spectacular corals teeming with colorful fish. Several ethnic groups reside in 37 villages throughout the Togeans and during your visit you will meet the delightful locals and enjoy guided walks to search for the amazing variety of birds and wildlife that reside here.
Spend the morning snorkeling from the lovely beach of Lahaga Island. Continue to Bitung, a bustling center of shops, markets, and maritime business. Visit 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 possum. 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 pitas, and the finch-billed myna.
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. Spend the day here, exploring the reefs and drop-off walls adorned with myriad soft corals. Dense schools of blue-striped and yellow-tailed fusiliers are just one of the 100 species of fish you may spot here.
Disembark the Odyssey after breakfast and enjoy a brief tour of Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi, visiting the open air produce market and the North Sulawesi Provincial Museum. Following lunch at a local restaurant, transfer to the airport for an early afternoon flight to Singapore. Dinner and final overnight at your included airport hotel.
Depart on your independent homeward flight.