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View Full Version : Testimonial: Komodo-Flores-Alor/East Timor Liveaboard



erajest
12-04-2007, 12:45 PM
I just got back from 4 weeks of diving in Indonesia and thought I'd share my experiences with anyone who is interested.

We started off in Tulamben, north of Bali where we dove around the area of the U.S.A.T Liberty wreck. The wreck itself was not all that exciting, but there were lots of pretty fish, and a nice school of Trevally that would let you "swim along" with them.

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Being a fan of nudibranchs though I must say that Tulamben really amazed me with its variety of species. This alone was worth the trip. :D This part of our journey was managed by Aqua Marine (http://www.aquamarinediving.com/) who I can really recommend. Not only was our guide excellent in finding small stuff, but the entire organization was always very flexible and helpful and went out of their way to get a memorable journey. I also experienced that they were respectful towards the environment and the creatures of the ocean which is of great importance to me. The "no touching, no taking, no teasing" was really followed, and they also promoted a marine awareness project. Great!


A one-day dive trip to Nusa Penida rewarded us with MolaMola!

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A week later we flew to Flores to go on a 2 week liveaboard with Dive Komodo (http://www.divekomodo.com). There was some huzzle with our equipment rental (longy, BCD and reg), and they phoned us several times to see what sizes we needed. Finally we got it right, but then it turned out that we would have to carry the equipment onboard the flight our selves. Which meant that we would have to leave some of our luggage behind in order not to exceed the 20kg maximum luggage weight. A bit annoying, but you don't really need all that much on a boat anyway, and most of the camera equipment could go in the hand luggage.

The boat, KLM Tarata, is a great boat and the staff was helpful and friendly; 11 people I think it was, tending to our every need. The cabins were nice and tidy with our own WC and shower, the food was good (perhaps a bit one-sided with fresh fish, fried chicken and rice about 80% of the times) and the sun deck was comfortable.

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The staff prepared everything for us and the boatmen helpt everyone get on and off the dinghy, and made sure everyone had their fins and cameras onboard. As soon as you were done diving you could simply pop up to the surface and the dinghy would come pick you up in a sec - no need to lie waiting in the water - and take you back to the boat befor returning to pick up other surfacers. And you cuold always be sure that the cook had something prepared when you got back; breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner. I don't think I've ever had so many meals in one day. :)

The only downside to the Komodo Divers would be the dive guide's lack of respect for the ocean creatures. Not only did they not tell the Japanese travellers off when they would break corals with their fins, chase eagle rays off into the blue, kick nudibranchs off their rock, hit pygmy seahorses with their pointer stick or use the same tool to bounce a tiny frogfish between them to get a "good" picture. :eek: And they didn't tell the frenchman when he pulled a shark out by its tail, or touched the pygmy seahorse with his fingers with the excuse that he "knew what he was doing" - and yet he had never seen a pygmy before. :confused: The dive guides would also themselves forse spanish dancers to "dance", make puffers inflate, move around nudibranchs to help the Japanese girls get "better pictures", break off coral to reveal creatures underneath and chase Manta Rays away from their cleaning Station. No matter how many times I pleeded to them to stop harassing the animals, they didn't care. "These Mantas don't care if we swim with them - they like it". Unfortunatley all of this became a thorn in my side all through the liveaboard trip...

Nevertheless we got to see a lot of cool big things; we saw lots of Manta Rays (8 at the same time in Komodo) and lots of sharks - especially during one "explorer dive" in a new site in Flores (I think it was), we thought to name is Shark Valley or Shark Castle - lots of Napoleon Wrasse, gigantic Humphead Parrotfish, Trevally, Spanish Mackerel, Dogtooth Tuna, Eagle Ray etc.

But mainly this trip was for small stuff (don't be fooled to think Alor is for big stuff - it's not!) ; we saw about 20 pygmy seahorses, 100 nudibranch species new to me, 10 ghost pipefish (both ornate and robust), several frogfishes, leaf fishes, scorpion fishes, various crabs and juveniles of all kinds of fish. Amazing!

Along side of the boat we also saw several Dolphins and Marlin. Lovely!

All in all we did about 60 dives (3-4 dives per day); 48 on the boat trip alone. I think I would say that the south was better than the north, i.e. more marine life. The temperature was in general between 24-28 degrees centigrade except in Nusa Penida where it was only 22 (brrr!!!!). Visibility was OK; the north was better with around 15-20m compared to the south which at occation had less than 10m visibility.
On occation there were really strong currents, and sometimes it was a fight getting up to safety stop even. But mainly the dives were calm and nice with a mixture of drift dives and completley still waters, walls and slopes. Sadly there are lots of dead and broken corals due to dynamite fishing, but there's also lots of really beautiful hard and soft coral.

Let's see if I remember this right: We started in north of Flores (Maumere), continued east along the coastline to north of Alor (East Timor), back west to north of Komodo and went down to south of Komodo (where we also went ashore to look at the "Komodo Dragons") and then up to Sumbawa for our flight back to Bali.

Back again in Bali we felt a bit "fed up" with diving ;) , so we just had a nice relaxing stay at the Hard Rock hotel in Kuta for some shopping and pool time (and some nice BBQ ribs!). Loads of tourists, but we thought it was a nice change from the tranquility of the boat trip. :)

All in all I can really recommend the trip, the organizers and the diving, but the next time I will make sure that the organizers provide us with dive guides with some ocean awareness. :rolleyes:

Cheers!
Jennifer

The Publisher
12-04-2007, 02:16 PM
That was an incredible trip report Jennifer, we're impressed! Well done!

Sarah
12-04-2007, 02:31 PM
Nice travel writing & report Jennifer!