Arrive in Bandar Seri Begawan and transfer to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and briefing, overnight at the hotel.
Today tour the sultanate of Brunei, a small monarchy encompassing both the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan and villages. Visit the Brunei Museum with its displays of tribal artifacts and Islamic art and the Royal Regalia Building which highlights the history and memorabilia of the Sultan’s family legacy. Make a photo stop at one of Brunei’s most magnificent mosques and the Sultan’s Palace. After lunch board boats for a tour of a “water village” where you will visit a traditional Malay home. Continue to the port of Muara to embark the Odyssey.
Visit the highlights of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, including the iconic Tun Mustapha Tower, Sabah State Mosque, and the Sahah Museum. The Heritage Village displays replicas of traditional houses and the colorful costumes of the people of North Borneo. Or, travel to the countryside for a cultural tour of traditional Batangan Village followed by a mangrove cruise. Return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon at sea, as your lecture series begins.
This morning drive through the modern city of Sandakan, set on a beautiful natural harbor. Pass colorful markets and a water village on your way to an area of lowland rain forest, home to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. Here, beneath a cathedral-like canopy, watch young orangutans as they swing through the trees to a feeding platform. These gentle arboreal apes, often orphans, are rehabilitated and taught to live in the wild before eventual release into their natural habitat.
Arrive in the oil-producing city of Tarakan this afternoon and board local boats for the journey up the Kayan river to visit a traditional Dayak village. The Dayak are native to Borneo, and includes over 200 river- and hill-dwelling ethnic sub-groups, each with its own dialect, customs, and culture. On arrival enjoy a warm greeting by decorated villagers in beaded ceremonial attire and elaborate headwear who perform songs and dances.
On beautiful Kakaban Island, have the unique opportunity to snorkel in a crater lake filled with stingless jellyfish. Explore the waters surrounding this uninhabited island paradise, where snorkelers and divers find iridescent reefs covered with gorgonian sea fans and barrel sponges, beautiful nudibranchs, giant clams, and the unusual ghost pipefish.
Attend lectures where your naturalists and historians add insight to cultural and natural encounters.
From Pare Pare, drive into Sulawesi for a two-day exploration of Toraja. As you ascend, the terrain turns into rugged mountains towering over valleys lush with terraced rice paddies, bamboo groves, and grazing water buffalos. The Toraja bury their dead in graves chiseled into vertical cliffsides; beside these honeycombed graves 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 descend 4,000 feet to the east coast where you will reboard your ship in Papolo in the evening.
Your lecture series continues as you sail toward the Tiger Islands. Spend the afternoon snorkeling and diving among colorful coral reefs.
Komodo National Park is a sanctuary for the fabled prehistoric giant monitor lizard, the Komodo dragon. Walk along a forested pathway to a viewing area for a close inspection of these reptiles which grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds. The surrounding forest is home to Javan rusa deer, the favorite prey of the Komodo dragons, as well as elegant yellow-crested cockatoos. In the afternoon enjoy snorkeling, diving, or a glass-bottom boat ride over the undersea spectacle off splendid “pink beach.”
Sumba is known for its unique high-peaked architecture, colorful dyed batiks, and elegant woven ikats. At Wanokaredi Village be greeted with a merapu, welcome ceremony, and enjoy a cultural performance of singing and drumming. Then attend one of Indonesia’s most unusual traditions — the pasola. This show of horsemanship includes elaborate mock battle scenes, hurling long spears while riding bareback astride galloping horses. Spend the afternoon snorkeling or diving over the fringing reefs.
This morning stop at deserted Satonda, a small circular island that is the ancient cone of a volcano. Snorkel over enchanting reefs that boast more than 64 species of coral, or ascend the ridge to view the island’s interior sacred lake. Return to the ship for lunch as your captain positions to Sumbawa Island.
Soaring above the landscape on Sumbawa’s north coast, is the massive Tambora Volcano whose 1815 eruption was the largest in recorded history. Zodiacs take you ashore to the small village of Kenanga, home to about 500 traditional Muslim fishermen and their families. You will be greeted with drumming, dancing, and a pole-climbing competition.
For centuries, Bali has captivated the imagination of artists, writers, and travelers with its landscapes of emerald terraced rice fields backdropped by the sacred volcano of Mt. Batur. Disembark in the port of Benoa and drive to Ubud, surrounded by the sacred Monkey Forest, where a large artisan community displays their talents in painting, sculpture, silver-working, and batik. After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy time at leisure for strolling among the countless galleries, small museums, and artisans’ workshops. Transfer to your hotel in the late afternoon for dinner and overnight.
Transfer to the airport for independent flights home.