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Maumere via Tanimbar and Kai to Ambon 1250 miles 14 days
Top Indonesia sea voyages are meant as suggestions for the interesting courses that ships may follow through the archipelago. The routes are for planning purposes only and one must keep in mind that the itinerary and program may have to be modified as a result of unfavorable winds or other circumstances. This voyage from Maumere to Ambon follows the long route of about 1250 miles through the Southeastern part of Maluku and would require regular overnight passages. This route is likely to take a minimum of 15 days but depending on your personal interests and preferences it could of course be amended in different ways.
This voyage departs from the harbor of Maumere in Flores and on the first day it briefly takes you on a Westerly course to Palu’e. This island is an active volcano that last erupted in august 2013. It has a population of just under ten thousand people, who speak their own language. There are eight villages on the island but no roads or vehicles. The island rises to about 900 meters and the slopes are covered by jungle with only little arable land for farming. We suggest to anchor at Punga Beach and trek up the hill to a site that goes by the name of Ko’a, where the villagers preserve a proud heritage, in which ancestor worship remains a key ingredient. After your first encounter with people on an out of the way island rarely visited by outsiders we suggest you raise the anchor in the course of the afternoon for the next leg of 125 miles that follows an easterly course to the island of Lembata.
Day two will offer you the first chance to witness the sun rising while being at sea and in the morning you enter Waienga Bay on the North side of the island. This area at the foot of the majestic Ile Api volcano is the most traditional part of Lembata and offers a stunningly beautiful landscape. The women make the nicest ikats of the island and in all villages along the coast women are working behind their looms. Go ashore near Jontona, catch a ride on one of the trucks to the old traditional village and then hike back down to the coast. After spending the best part of the morning ashore, depart around midday and continue your voyage eastward passing north of the Islands in the Alor archipelago.
On the third day you will reach the west coast of Wetar Island. The biggest island of southeast Maluku, it is one of the least populated, with an interior thick with jungle said to still be populated by hunter-gatherers. If you anchor off the small islet of Reong off the extreme Northeastern cape you can go ashore for a walk to the hot springs and a small settlement. Afterwards do continue sailing east and perhaps make a second stop on one of the beaches on the north coast of the island.
On the fourth day you reach the small rocky island of Kisar. Go ashore at the town of Wonreli, which used to be a Dutch fortification in the 19th century. This island remains very interesting from an ethnologic point of view. The population is partly Eurasian since at one point in the 17th century a contingent of Dutch soldiers were half forgotten by the VOC and intermarried with the local population. Around midday we depart for the crossing to the Babar archipelago.
On the fifth day you should spend the afternoon on Dai island, a towering limestone outcrop north-east of Babar. We suggest you make a trek from village to village, into the mountainous interior, where some locals still hunt with bows and arrows. You will be passing old burial grounds, high up on vertical cliffs. Spend the night at anchor.
On the sixth day you reach Dawera and Dawelor on the north eastern side of the Babar archipelago. These are spectacularly beautiful, uplifted coral islands, with friendly villages, pure white-sand beaches and great vistas. There is exceptional snorkeling on vertical reefs. In the late afternoon you should start the overnight crossing to the Tanimbars.
On the seventh day you arrive early in the morning in the Bay of Saumlaki. From Tanimbar’s capital town it would be worthwhile to make your way to the traditional village of Sanglia Dol where you find some of the area’s most important megalithic remains. In the village square there is huge stone platform in the shape of a boat. Do continue the voyage around sunset, now on a northerly course.
On the eighth day at sunrise you arrive at the islands of Fordate and Larat, off the north coast of Tanimbar. Spend the day exploring the coastal villages or make a trek into a forest that is full of birds and wild orchids.
On the ninth day you reach the Kai archipelago, well known for the beauty of its beaches. Drop the anchor between Kei Kecil and Dullah to explore its capital Tual, which is the administrative center of the south east Moluccas and has a wonderfully mixed population of different ethnic backgrounds and religions.
For the tenth day we suggest that you go ashore on the sister island of Kai Besar. This long mountainous island has no roads and only some small fishing communities on the coast. Around noon it would be time to leave the Kai archipelago and go on a northwesterly course toward the North Moluccas.
On the eleventh day you reach Manawoka, one of the Gorong islands. As a visitor from a faraway country the gracious thing to do would be to first go and pay your respects to the raja of Manawoka. On the eastern tip of the island there are two lakes with a small tunnel connected with the sea. It's a very special experience to swim and snorkel in these lakes.
On the twelfth day you reach the south coast of Seram where you can go ashore at the small town of Haya. Seram is the largest and main island of Maluku province and covered with dense rain forests but only sparsely populated.
On the thirteenth day continue to make your way West by following the coast. You will certainly be tempted to occasionally drop anchor off this mysterious island that receives only very few visitors. Literally the word 'seram' in Bahasa Indonesia means ‘eerie, ghostlike’ and in Indonesian folklore Seram is replete with magic, with many anecdotes of men who can fly, kill at a distance and change their shape at will… Seram has been traditionally associated with the animism of the indigenous Nuaulu people who reputedly retained a custom of headhunting until the middle of the last century. Also: do watch out for saltwater crocodiles!
After this truly epic island hopping voyage through the South Eastern Moluccas you reach Ambon, the capital of the Province of Maluku on the fourteenth day. Here you say goodbye to the captain and crew. Yet, before you travel on, you may want to spend a few days to experience this historic island. Top Indonesia will assist you with all further arrangements.