A Voyage from Australia to Borneo on Le Soleal

This trip is currently sold out, but we recommend calling to put your name on the waitlist. Space may also become available on our Bali to Borneo eclipse trip—call to be waitlisted on that trip.
Total Solar Eclipse of 2016: From Bali to Borneo

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.

Overview

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.

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

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5
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.

 View Lodging
Day 6
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

 View Lodging
Day 7
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.

 View Lodging
Days 8-9
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.

 View Lodging
Days 10-11
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.

 View Lodging
Day 12
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

Highlights

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

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $7495  
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