Only 6 weeks to go before we head off. 17 days sailing on Amandira from Mayo Island near Bali, finishing 1200 nautical miles later in Sorong, West Papua. After sailing through the Komodo National Park, we head eastward towards Maumere and Alor to start some world-class diving in warm 30 degree, crystal clear waters abundant with marine life.
From there we hit the volcanic region near Maumere, on the east end of Flores island. It’s supposed to be quite the experience with a trek up Kelimutu volcano to see the multi-coloured crater lakes then through to the remote island of Komba with a rare opportunity to watch an active volcano in all its glory.
From there to Alor – more than 100 tribes live there, where a traditional way of life continues in many of its villages, with thatched tree houses, tribal dancing and ikat weaving. At the end of the Nusa Tenggara Island chain we transit across the Banda Sea to the less known Spice Islands. Up to 7000 metres deep during the crossing, this is where if we are lucky, we’ll be diving with blue and sperm whales.
Four and a half degrees south of the Equator, the seven volcanic islands of the Banda archipelago were for centuries the world’s only source of nutmeg; earning the Moluccan their nickname – the ‘Spice Islands’.
Each tropical paradise is covered in dense forests, and the water surrounding the islands is teeming with sea life – the diving is apparently, unbeatable. Historic villages can be found on five of the islands, with traces of Dutch forts on Banda Neira, Banda Besar and Run. At 666 metres high, Gunung Api – Banda’s Fire Mountain – dominates the landscape.
After we have explored the Spice Islands we sail across the north eastern Banda Sea to a group of islands on the border of the Ceram Sea, one of the richest seas on the planet for marine bio diversity. Pelagic fish patrol the deep water with blackjacks and dogtooth tuna, schooling bannerfish bide their time behind sea fans to catch plankton wafting in the current, fusiliers, surgeonfish and barracuda are abundant.
We continue our journey to South Raja Ampat and the islands around Misool before sailing to mainland Papua and the port of Sorong to end this epic expedition.
Blue whales, sperm whales, hammerhead sharks, remote island villages, active volcanos, spear fishing for dinner – I can’t wait. The countdown is on.