NEW TRIP

SPECIAL EVENT

Total Solar Eclipse of 2016: Darwin to Kota Kinabalu

A Voyage from Australia to Borneo on Le Soleal

Total Solar Eclipse of 2016: Darwin to Kota Kinabalu route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7495  
Length: 12 days
Arrive: Darwin, Australia
Depart: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Lodging: 11 nights on board Le Soleal
Meals: All meals from dinner on March 4 through breakfast on March 15
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Wildlife & Natural History, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level: Optional excursions including snorkeling, nature walks, and cultural exploration
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Highlights

  • Dramatic total solar eclipse at sea with more than three minutes of totality!
  • The best weather prospects in the Indonesian region, with the reliability, comfort, and maneuverability of the sophisticated yet friendly yacht Le Soleal
  • Fascinating presentations, stargazing, and eclipse day commentary from outstanding astronomer Rick Fienberg, PhD
  • The best snorkeling in the world in the heart of the "Coral Triangle," plus orangutans and the fascinating culture of Indonesia and Malaysia


Observations along the Indonesian eclipse path show that the best viewing sites are in Sulawesi and the Moluccas. Not only do these easterly locations have 10 to 15 percent less cloud on average than those in the west near Sumatra, but the higher sun at eclipse time also helps to improve viewing chances in the event of broken clouds. Twenty years of satellite observations show that cloud systems are smaller and patchier over the Molucca Sea than elsewhere in Indonesia, a characteristic that can be exploited by a ship’s mobility to further increase the chances of a successful expedition.Jay Anderson, NASA Eclipse Meteorologist

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Please note: The itinerary has changed slightly since publication of our Eclipse Brochure. To improve the trip itinerary and provide a better experience for our participants, the isolated and little-visited Saronde Islands, offering wonderful snorkeling and swimming, have replaced Pulau Mantanani.

To witness a total solar eclipse is an unforgettable experience—and combined with this unique cruise, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime travel adventure! Our journey offers the best weather prospects on the Indonesian eclipse path and more than three minutes of totality, observed from the safety and comfort of a sophisticated yet friendly yacht. The maneuverability of the 132-cabin Le Soleal further enhances our prospects on Eclipse Day, the centerpiece of our fascinating voyage that brings us from Darwin, Australia, to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Fantastic experiences along the way include snorkeling amid the astounding reefs of the Coral Triangle, exploring the rich culture of the islands, and a special opportunity to see orangutans. Astronomer Rick Fienberg, PhD, will join us to share his expert knowledge in a series of presentations and on eclipse day.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

March 4-8, 2016
Embarkation at Darwin, Australia / Banda Neira, Indonesia / Ternate / Tidore

Arriving in Darwin, Australia’s northernmost tropical capital, we embark on Le Soleal in the late afternoon and begin our voyage, with Day 2 at sea as we begin our astronomy and other presentations. On Day 3, join us on deck as we sail into the harbor of Banda Neira, one of the ten volcanic islands of the Banda Archipelago and the center of the nutmeg and mace trade for centuries. We’ll enjoy a walking tour of the town, where many relics of the colonial era remain, including the Dutch Fort Belgica, and we enjoy good snorkeling on the fringing coral reef of the nearby isle of Gunung Api. From Banda Neira we head farther north, with Day 4 at sea, and visit the Spice Islands of Ternate and Tidore, with their dramatic volcanic landscapes and turquoise seas. These islands, ancient sultanates with a historical bitter rivalry, were once the center of all clove production on the planet, and empires rose and fell for control of the lucrative spice trade. Our explorations include Fort Oranje, built by the Dutch in 1607, the 16th century Portuguese fort of Kayumerah, Kedaton Museum, and the Sultan’s palace.

March 9
Eclipse / At Sea

We position our ship in the early morning at an ideal location in the Molucca Sea, recommended by NASA eclipse meteorologist Jay Anderson as offering the best weather prospects in the Indonesian region. The eclipse begins with first contact at approximately 8:34 am, with totality lasting 3 minutes and 12.5 seconds, from 9:48 to 9:51 am. Our ship’s mobility increases our viewing prospects considerably, and Dr. Fienberg’s expert knowledge guides us through this spectacular phenomenon. After sharing the experience, we sail at midday and spend the afternoon at sea.

Local Contact Times for our planned viewing position at 0° 06.0438 ’ N 126° 19.84016’ E:
1st contact: (eclipse begins) 08:34:20 altitude: 27°
2nd contact: (totality begins) 09:48:43 altitude: 46°
3rd contact: (totality ends) 09:51:55 altitude: 47°
4th contact: (eclipse ends) 11:17:15 altitude: 68°
Duration of totality: 3 minutes and 12.5 seconds

March 10
Tangkoko National Park, North Sulawesi / Bunaken Marine Park

Some of the best examples of Sulawesi’s remaining forests can be found at Tangkoko National Park, and on our walks here we’ll have the chance to encounter the crested black macaque, numerous endemic bird species, and, with luck, the spectral tarsier. At Bunaken National Marine Park, located near the center of the famed Coral Triangle, we’ll enjoy snorkeling amid its rich coral ecosystem—some 390 coral species—and hope to spot colorful fish including emperor angelfish, bluestripe snapper, yellow-tailed fusiliers, and pinkish basslet.

March 11-12
Saronde Islands / At Sea

The isolated and little-visited Saronde Islands enjoy a perfect picture-postcard setting of white-sand beaches and warm, clear waters offering wonderful snorkeling and swimming (and the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular!). With a number of islands to choose from, our exact destination for the day will be determined by the weather and tides. The following day is at sea as we cruise to Sandakan.

March 13-14
Sandakan, Malaysia / Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary / Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Reserve

Sandakan, the former capital of British North Borneo, is steeped in history and contains a cosmopolitan mix of people, lifestyles, cultures and faiths. While here we have many options for exploring, including a history and cultural tour of the town. We can also visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, located within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. The sanctuary was established in 1964 for the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned baby orangutans from logging sites, plantations, and illegal hunting. The orphaned orangutans are trained in the essential skills required for them to survive in the wild. While in Sandakan, we also have the opportunity to visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Reserve. Proboscis monkeys are the acrobats of the jungle, leaping from tree to tree, and they share this reserve with long tailed macaques, silvery lutungs, and many bird species. You will have the option to take any or all of the above mentioned tours. One is complimentary, and the other two are at additional cost. A special optional two-day excursion brings us to the Kinabatangan River, whose lowland forests and coastal mangrove swamps sustain one of the world's richest ecosystems. Here we may see a large range of birdlife and wildlife, including proboscis monkeys, macaques, and wild orangutans, with an overnight in a rainforest lodge right on the river.

March 15
Kota Kinabalu / Disembark and Depart

We arrive in Kota Kinabalu and disembark for flights home.


Sailing Schedule*

Day Port Arrive Depart
 1  Fri, Mar 4, 2016 DARWIN, AUSTRALIA   17:00
 2  Sat, Mar 5, 2016 AT SEA    
 3  Sun, Mar 6, 2016 BANDA NEIRA, INDONESIA 08:00 18:00
 4  Mon, Mar 7, 2016 AT SEA    
 5  Tues, Mar 8, 2016 TERNATE / TIDORE 06:00 19:00 
 6  Wed, Mar 9, 2016 ECLIPSE / AT SEA 06:00 11:00
 7  Thurs, Mar 10, 2016 TANGKOKO NATIONAL PARK / BUNAKEN MARINE PARK 05:30 19:00
 8  Fri, Mar 11, 2016 SARONDE ISLANDS 07:00 12:30
 9  Sat, Mar 12, 2016 AT SEA    
10 Sun, Mar 13, 2016 SANDAKAN, MALAYASIA 06:30  
11 Mon, Mar 14, 2016 SANDAKAN   12:30
12 Tues, Mar 15, 2016 KOTA KINABALU 08:30  

*Sailing schedule is subject to change

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

What Is a Solar Eclipse?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the earth, moon, and sun are perfectly aligned so that the umbra (the complete shadow of the moon) sweeps across the earth. A total eclipse can only be seen within the narrow path of totality, which covers about one percent of the earth’s surface. When the moon completely blocks the sun, one experiences the awesome drama of darkness during the day—stars and planets become visible in the sky, the temperature drops by several degrees, and plants, animals, and birds react as if night had fallen. The central feature of a total eclipse is the breathtaking view of the magnificent solar corona. The sun’s outer atmosphere is usually invisible because it shines much more faintly than the sun itself, but with the bright sunlight obscured for a few magical minutes, we can see the pearly white corona as a pale halo around the eclipsed body of the sun.

Weather Along the Eclipse Path

Astride the equator and in a region notable for its humid, tropical weather and dense jungles, the Indonesian archipelago is a challenging location in which to view an eclipse. We have consulted closely with expert Jay Anderson to select the very best observing location within the country. That site is in the Molucca Sea, where historical cloudiness is at a minimum and mobility can be put to its best use. Most of the cloudiness in Indonesia is convective in nature, made up of showers and thundershowers that form during the heat of the day. In addition, Indonesia is also affected by a cloud-producing, low-pressure zone known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which straddles much of the morning track. Our site was picked to be north of the ITCZ and over the ocean in a region where the air is drier, skies are sunnier, and convection less likely because of cooler ocean temperatures. Climate data shows that this part of Indonesia has the highest frequency of sunny hours in March.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2016
Mar 4-15, 2016  Dr. Rick Fienberg

Program Cost

Prices are for 2016

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise Price
Superior Stateroom $7,495
Deluxe Stateroom $8,648
Prestige (Deck 4) Stateroom $9,061
Prestige (Deck 5) Stateroom $9,465
Prestige (Deck 6) Stateroom $9,947
Deluxe Suite $11,194
Prestige Suite (Deck 5) $11,822
Prestige Suite (Deck 6) $12,450
Owner's Suite $21,173
  • See below for rates for single, triples and shared cabins

  • Shore excursions are included, with the exception of certain excursions at Sandakan, where one excursion will be included and others can be purchased, including the overnight Kinabatangan River expedition.

  • Fuel and other maritime surcharges may apply.

more on pricing

Deck Plan

 

Cabin Descriptions

Owner’s Suite
484 sq. ft. plus 97 sq. ft. balcony
Sliding glass door onto private balcony, large bathtub and shower, queen or twin beds

Prestige Suite
398 sq. ft. plus 86 sq. ft. balcony
Sliding glass door onto private balcony, shower and/or bath, some suites have only queen beds

 

Deluxe Suite
290 sq. ft. plus 54 sq. ft. balcony
Sliding glass door onto private balcony with partial wall, shower, queen or twin beds

Prestige Stateroom
200 sq. ft. plus 43 sq. ft. balcony
Sliding glass door onto private balcony with partial wall, shower, queen or twin beds

 

Deluxe Stateroom
200 sq. ft. plus 43 sq. ft. balcony
Large window and door onto private balcony with partial wall, shower, queen or twin beds

Superior Stateroom
226 sq. ft.
Porthole, no balcony, shower, queen or twin beds

 

Singles/Triples: A very limited number of guaranteed single cabins are available in Deluxe and Prestige (Deck 4) cabins at 130% of the double occupancy rate. Singles in all other categories are 200% of the double occupancy rate. Triple or quad occupancy cabins may be available on a request basis. Call for availability and specific pricing.

Shared Cabins: Participants traveling by themselves and wishing to share a cabin at double occupancy rates may request a roommate. We will do our best to match you with another single traveler. If this is not possible, a single supplement rate of 130% of the per person rate for that cabin category will apply. Single travelers matched up by Wilderness Travel may be assigned to a Deluxe or Prestige (Deck 4) cabin, and before confirming a reservation such travelers must understand they will have to pay 130% of the per person rate for their cabin category, in the event we cannot match them with a roommate.

Shore Excursions: A program of shore excursions will be offered at each port of call, most of which are included in the cruise price. At Sandakan, one shore excursion will be included, but other activities are at additional cost, including the overnight visit to the Kinabatangan River. Off-ship activities mentioned in the itinerary are presented as examples and may vary from the descriptions in this brochure.

 

Trip Cost Includes:

  • 11 nights accommodations aboard Le Soleal
  • All meals from dinner on March 4 through breakfast on March 15
  • Mineral water, tea, coffee, and wines served with meals
  • Open bar except for premium brands
  • Enrichment program of lectures by Guest Astronomer Rick Fienberg and other experts
  • Group shore excursions (one half-day excursion included at Sandakan)
  • Onboard gratuities
  • Port taxes and government fees

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

Air travel to Darwin, Australia and back from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; departure taxes; pre- and post-cruise arrangements including additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule changes and other factors; certain optional shore excursions; beverages aboard ship not specified above, including specialty coffee drinks; airport transfers and luggage handling; expenses of a personal nature, such as passports and visa fees, medical immunizations, laundry services, etc; and trip cancellation/medical insurance (highly recommended).

Terms & Conditions

Reservation and Cancellation Policy

To reserve your place, please complete and mail a Wilderness Travel trip application along with a deposit of $2500 per person. For immediate confirmation, call us at 1-800-368-2794 and charge the deposit to your Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card.

Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $2500
Due 7 months prior to departure (Aug 4, 2015): 40% of trip cost
Due 4 months prior to departure (Nov 4, 2015): Balance

Cancellation Policy

Minimum cancellation fee: $1500
From 12 months prior to departure (Mar 4, 2015): $2500 non-refundable
From 7 months prior to departure (Aug 4, 2015): All payments to date non-refundable
From 4 months prior to departure (Nov 4, 2015): 100% of payments non-refundable

If we are able to resell your cancelled cabin by four months prior to departure (Nov 4, 2015), your deposits will be refunded less the minimum cancellation fee of $1500 per person. Cancellations must be in writing by email, fax, or mail. We reserve the right to treat the reservation as cancelled if payments are not received when due.

Note: Payment Schedule, Cancellation Policy, and Single Supplement Policy for this program differs from the policy for regular trips stated in our annual catalog and on this web site.

Notes on Pricing

Singles/Triples: A very limited number of guaranteed single cabins are available in Deluxe and Prestige (Deck 4) cabins at 130% of the double occupancy rate. Singles in all other categories are 200% of the double occupancy rate. Triple or quad occupancy cabins may be available on a request basis. Call for availability and specific pricing.

Shared Cabins: Participants traveling by themselves and wishing to share a cabin at double occupancy rates may request a roommate. We will do our best to match you with another single traveler. If this is not possible a single supplement rate of 130% of the per person rate for that cabin category will apply. Single travelers matched up by Wilderness Travel may be assigned to a Deluxe or Prestige (Deck 4) cabin, and before confirming a reservation such travelers must understand that they will have to pay 130% of the per person rate for their cabin category, in the event we cannot match them with a roommate.

Air Travel

International air travel is not included in this program. Information about booking your flights will be provided approximately one year before departure.

Travel Insurance

Due to the remoteness of many of the locations visited on this trip, we strongly recommend that participants purchase full medical, emergency evacuation, and repatriation insurance that covers you for at least $50,000. We also recommend that you have coverage for Trip Cancellation. Due to limited medical facilities, you may need to be evacuated to a larger Asian city or even back to the US in case of serious illness or injury. Evacuation by air may or may not be possible, depending on the location. If you require evacuation from a trip, you are responsible for payment of all evacuation costs. You will need to contact your insurance company for procedures and reimbursement policy.

You can take advantage of a comprehensive Travel Protection Plan designed for Wilderness Travel by Trip Mate, which includes $75,000 in emergency evacuation coverage, or purchase other insurance on your own. The Trip Mate policy can only be viewed online at: http://www.tripmate.com/wpA470W. When you get to the Trip Mate site, click on the blue hyperlink that says “Click Here for Details.” Then choose "Certificate/Policy" from the menu across the top of the page. You will be asked for your state of residence before accessing the plan. To enroll, please submit the green application form enclosed in your confirmation packet. For specific questions about the plan, please contact Trip Mate directly at 800-888-7292. If you purchase your own insurance elsewhere, you must provide us with proof of coverage, policy number, and the contact phone number for your insurance carrier.

Special Notes

Wilderness Travel and Compagnie du Ponant have signed an agreement for a block of cabins on Le Soleal. In the unlikely event that this program cannot be operated for any reason, the refund of all payments received shall release Wilderness Travel, Inc. from any liability.

All astronomers and other guest experts named in this brochure are confirmed at the time of publication. If any speaker must cancel, Wilderness Travel will attempt to provide, but cannot guarantee, a suitable replacement.

In these uncertain times, it is difficult to predict fuel and other maritime costs over the long term, and more specifically, at the time of the voyage. Our prices are based upon the prevailing fuel and maritime rates at the time of the brochure printing, which is well in advance of departure. While we will do everything possible to maintain our prices, if fuel and maritime prices increase significantly prior to the time of the voyage, it may be necessary to institute a surcharge.

Le Soleal

With its sleek classy lines, welcoming yacht-like atmosphere, and superb French-style cuisine, you’ll enjoy an unforgettable cruising experience aboard the elegant Le Soleal. She features 132 outside-facing staterooms (most with balconies) that offer private bathrooms, individually-controlled air-conditioning, flat screen satellite TV, minibar, desk, safe, hairdryer, iPod™ docks, bathrobes, telephone, internet access, and 24-hour room service. Public areas include two restaurants (one with outdoor seating available), three lounges, spa and fitness facility, and three bars including an open-air one on the pool deck. In addition to the swimming pool, you can swim or snorkel from the drop-down deck on the back of the ship. Le Soleal sails under the French flag, carries a crew of 139, and meets the international “Cleanship” label for its eco-friendly features. She had her maiden voyage in 2013.

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Dr. Rick Fienberg

Rick Fienberg, PhD, is the American Astronomical Society’s Press Officer and Education & Outreach Coordinator. He previously spent 22 years at Sky & Telescope magazine, the last eight as Editor in Chief. He’s a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Astronomical Union has named asteroid 9983 Rickfienberg in his honor. Before joining S&T, Rick earned his BA in physics at Rice University and his MA and PhD in astronomy at Harvard University. He has done research on the aurora borealis, planetary nebulas, active galaxies, and the center of the Milky Way. An inveterate traveler and eclipse-chaser, he has visited all seven continents and the North and South Poles. Eclipse 2016 will be his 12th voyage to totality.

Upcoming Trips:

Total Solar Eclipse of 2016: Darwin to Kota Kinabalu, March 4-15, 2016

Client Testimonials:


He did an excellent of job of presenting, particularly given the very mixed levels of understanding among the audience. Myra M., Ashland, OR
Total Solar Eclipse in the South Pacific
Rick made learning about the eclipse fun as well as informative. Cheryl I., Alhambra, CA
Total Solar Eclipse in the South Pacific