Day 1 – Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
After your arrival in Benoa, embark Silver Discoverer during the early afternoon. After settling in you will attend a mandatory safety drill and Zodiac briefing. After sail-away cocktails on the aft deck, important crew members and the Expedition Staff will be introduced to you. This evening, enjoy the first of many memorable culinary highlights in The Restaurant.
Day 2 – Probolingo, Indonesia
Arriving in Probolingo around noon, we will disembark for a hike to Mount Bromo. From Probolingo we travel southwest to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Semeru and Bromo are active volcanos. Semeru is active on a periodical and fairly reliable schedule with activity 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. In a somewhat more humane way, the people here appease the Gods once a year during the annual Kasada festival where offerings of vegetables, chickens and money are thrown into the crater of the volcano.
At 2392 meters high, Mt Bromo is not among Indonesia’s tallest mountains, but its beauty lies in its incredible setting. Mt Bromo sits in the Tengger caldera, surrounded by the “Sea of Sand.” 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.
Before returning to Silver Discoverer, a snack will be served at the Bromo Restaurant. From here you will enjoy a last look at Mount Bromo in the distance.
Day 3 – Sumenep, Madura, Indonesia
A special dance will be performed to welcome us to Sumenep on the island of Madura. It is known as the Muangsangkal which literally translates to, “throwing unhappiness away.” Located slightly northeast of Surabaya, Sumenep has some interesting sites. Besides historical places such as the Keraton (Palace) and its tiny Museum, there is also the Great Mosque built in 1763. The Keraton Sumenep consists of 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 the Javanese style and usually boasts clear, strong colours such as red, green and yellow with birds, flowers and dragons as motifs. Madura is also known for its bull racing, which is usually done on an annual basis. Originating with the ploughing of fields, a competition started to see who had the strongest animals. Today these bulls are kept for prestige and are extremely well looked after. A variety of special fodder is prepared including corn, beans, soybean leafs, grass, a mixture of traditional spices, eggs and even beer. All are believed to strengthen the bulls.
Day 4 – Cruising the Java Sea
On our way to our next destination we will navigate along Java’s north coast, eventually leaving Jakarta on portside. While we cruise the Java Sea, our expedition team, comprised of experts in their fields will bring their subjects to life with presentations representing a wealth of experience. More entertaining and relevant than most university lectures, the choice of presentations on offer through the day will stimulate both thought and conversation aboard the ship.
Day 5 – Anak Krakatoa, Indonesia
During the morning, our little ship will reach the southwest tip of Java and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ujung Kulon National Park. 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 –which we will see in the afternoon.
Over lunch, Silver Discoverer heads into the Sunda Strait to reach the area of one of the most dramatic volcanic eruptions in history. 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. As it is an active volcano, any landing today depends on the volcano’s activity levels, which also determine where we can step foot onto the black sand beaches littered with pumice. The dynamic fumaroles, old and new lava flows, subtly coloured rocks, and the volcano itself are stunning from shore or from the sea.
Day 6 – At Sea
Silver Discoverer will be heading along the south-eastern end of Sumatra. After a leisurely breakfast, attend a seminar, perhaps take time to edit your photographs or learn to make some Indonesian food from the chef and his/her team. You may want to exercise in the Gym, visit the Spa, or simply relax on the outer decks where our naturalists will be scanning the horizon for seabirds and marine mammals.
Day 7 – 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. Homes, rice paddies and the like pass from mother to daughter in this, the world’s largest matrilineal society.
Visiting the village we will see a rumah gadang, or “big house,” known to be a traditional Minangkabau home intended to hold the extended family. Made of local Surian wood, it has an arched, buffalo-horn shaped roof and walls woven of bamboo, icons of the Minangkabau building style. 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 other traditional dances. A cooking demonstration will take place and you can learn how to prepare rendang. 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 8 – Batu Islands, Indonesia
We will visit the Batu Islands, a group of roughly 50 islands that have a close connection to the famous Nias Islands. The islands are generally low and forested, mostly with coconut palms for copra production, and some forest products. The Batu (or Telos) Islands are located on the equator and are known worldwide to surfers for the special waves found along their shores. There are many other things to do here and we plan to stopover at one of the villages to gain an insight into local life. Bird-watching, hikes, and a Zodiac cruise might also be on offer at this expeditionary stop.
Day 9 – Bawomataluo, Nias Islands, Indonesia
The original Nias Islanders were said to be fierce, and different ceremonies recognizing stages throughout life required that animals 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. It was basically part of warrior training, which led to the young boy becoming an adult if he jumped a specific height in warriors clothing.
Still today, Nias boys start preparing for their stone jump from the age of ten. They symbolically become men by jumping over the stone tower, signifying that they are ready to assume the responsibilities of adulthood. Reaching the local village of Bawomataluo – a complex that is on the UNESCO World Heritage site tentative list – we will be met by the king of the village and enjoy a cultural performance including the War Dance. This is performed to enhance the spirit of the ancestors before war and we hope to see the local young men perform the traditional stone jumping. In addition to the cultural segment of the visit, birders will be looking for the Stork-billed Kingfisher and other birds.
Day 10 – Simeulue Islands, Sumatra, Indonesia
Silver Discoverer will be at anchor today in the Simeulue Islands, a group of 57 islands. More than 80,000 inhabitants live in the islands (the largest, Big Simeulue, being 100 kms long) and make a living largely from farming and fishing. The islands are covered in forest, have beaches, caves, two 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, or traditional dancing. Magic is performed on stage in which the performers use sharp objects to cut or stab themselves without getting hurt. The islands are also famous for their dragon boat teams.
Day 11 – Pulau We and Banda Aceh, Indonesia
Located above the very northern tip of Sumatra, the island of Pulau We and its main port of Sabang used to be an important coaling station in former days. During the morning we will visit Sabang, walking through town to see some of the old Dutch Colonial buildings and the trees imported from Suriname by the Dutch. Continue to We’s south to see the geothermal and volcanic Valley of Jaboi where we will spend some time at the fumaroles in quiet isolation while admiring the panoramic views of the island.
During lunch, Silver Discoverer will reposition to Banda Aceh. Banda Aceh, the capital of Banda Province, was severely hit by a 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 in a park that interprets the tsunami damage. Here there is an old DC-3 representing Indonesia’s struggle for independence and a Tsunami Museum.
After the tsunami certain cultural traits which formerly were only allowed to be performed by men were taught to women as well, among them special dances. One of the dances popularly practiced in Aceh province is the Saman. Dancers sit in a row and perform elaborative movements with their hands, heads and torsos, and the choreography includes clapping and hitting the body with the hands, resulting in percussive sounds that add to the performance. These movements symbolize the daily lives of the Gayo people and their natural environment. The Saman is performed to celebrate national and religious holidays, cementing relationships between village groups. We hope to see a presentation with male Sufi dancers in colorful costumes dancing just for us.
Day 12 – At Sea and Belawan (for Gunung Leuser NP), Indonesia
Heading down the northeast coast of Sumatra, our lecturers will provide presentations on various fascinating topics and will prepare you for our encounter with Sumatra’s wildlife.
In the evening, Silver Discoverer will go alongside in Belawan, Sumatra’s busiest port. Built originally to export tobacco, rubber and later palm oil, Belawan today is an important port for container ships exporting coffee and tea along with a slew of other locally produced goods.
Day 13 – Belawan (for Gunung Leuser NP), Indonesia
For us Belawan is the gate to Gunung Leuser National Park. Located in the interior of Sumatra, running along the Barisan mountain-ridge, the park covers an area of some 9000 square kilometers. It is likely one of Indonesia’s oldest (and possibly least visited) parks, and is part of the endangered UNESCO World Heritage site “Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra.”
Before visiting the Bukit Lawang Visitor Centre 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 center has closed, but you can still see orangutans in the wild. Apart from the Sumatran orangutan there are eight other primate species present in the park. We hope to see several during our forest walk.
After our walk, lunch awaits us at Rindu Alam before returning to Silver Discoverer in the late afternoon.
Day 14 – Crossing the Malacca Strait and Phuket, Thailand
After a leisurely breakfast, attend the last of our lectures preparing you for Phuket and Thailand.
Otherwise spend time on the outer decks, keep an eye out for wildlife or watch the ships that have to use the Malacca Strait to get into the Indian Ocean or are heading for Singapore. During the afternoon, our onboard Videographer will present the Voyage-DVD, showing the many interesting and captivating moments of the voyage.
Day 15 – Phuket, Thailand
After breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Please Note: Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
360 DEGREES OF GIVING
They say it’s better to give than to receive, luckily we have the opportunity to do both. The friendly villagers we visit throughout our expedition welcome us with such warm hearts, and we receive so much from them, that we want to make sure we’re giving right back.
In the spirit of goodwill, we greatly encourage you to help us support the local communities we will be visiting. Gifts may consist of second-hand children’s clothing, school supplies (pencils, pens, and writing tablets), and medical supplies (Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, and first aid items). Supplies received will be collected on board by the Expedition Team and evenly distributed throughout the villages as we visit.
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