Arrive in Singapore and transfer to the Crowne Plaza Changi for an afternoon at your leisure. Gather the evening for a welcome dinner and briefing.
Board your flight to Manado and enjoy a short tour of this port city. Embark the Caledonian Sky in the early afternoon.
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 morning exploring the reefs and drop-off walls which are adorned with myriad soft corals. Dense schools of blue-striped and yellow-tailed fusiliers are some of the 100 species of fish you may spot here. After lunch, visit Siladeng Island for additional snorkeling and diving opportunities.
Spend the morning snorkeling or diving off the lovely beach of Lahaga Island. Return to the ship for lunch and continue to 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 pita, and the finch-billed myna.
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 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. Meet the delightful locals and enjoy guided walks to search for the amazing birds and wildlife that reside in the area.
Just below the arm of Central Sulawesi, at the convergence of the Banda and Maluku Seas, sit the 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.
Colorful reefs and atolls offer further underwater landscapes to explore. If the opportunity presents itself, you may go ashore to visit a local village.
Dangling off the southeast coast of Sulawesi, Buton is part of the Wakatobi Island group. Snorkel or dive the area to reveal an incredible array of marine reef inhabitants; underwater photographers will appreciate 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.
An overnight 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 our hotel in the highlands. The following day, tour more traditional villages and return to Palopo to board the Caledonian Sky in the evening.
Beautiful, warm waters encircle Selayar Island, where you will spend the afternoon snorkeling or diving over kaleidoscopic reefs, home to angelfish, fairy basslets, and butterflyfish among hundreds of other species.
Komodo National Park is a sanctuary for the fabled giant monitor lizard, the Komodo dragon. Walk along a forested pathway to a viewing area for a close inspection of these prehistoric 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 dragons, as well as elegant yellow-crested cockatoos. In the afternoon, enjoy snorkeling or diving, off splendid Pink Beach, often described as “swimming in an aquarium.”
In the morning, visit Wera Island to observe locals building wooden fishing boats according to ancient tradition. Except for the keel, these large seagoing vessels are constructed entirely of wood. Attend a welcome ceremony and cultural performance by the villagers. Return to the ship for lunch as you cruise toward Pulau Ular, also known as Snake Island due to the large number of sea snakes or “kraits” that populate the shores and surrounding waters.
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, 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 to stroll among the countless galleries, small museums, and artisans’ workshops. Or, choose to visit a local farm to learn more about the ancient art of rice cultivation. Return to the ship for dinner and overnight.
Enjoy the morning at your leisure before disembarking the ship and transferring to the airport for your independent flights home.