A Voyage on the Caledonian Sky Featuring award-winning Astronomer Dr. Alex Filippenko

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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 small expedition ship. The maneuverability of the 114-guest Caledonian Sky further enhances our prospects on Eclipse Day, the centerpiece of our fascinating voyage that brings us from Bali to Borneo. Fantastic experiences along the way include seeing both Komodo dragons and orangutans, snorkeling amid the astounding reefs of the Coral Triangle, and exploring the tropical islands of Sulawesi. Astronomer Alex Filippenko, PhD, one of UC Berkeley’s most popular professors, will join us to share his expert knowledge in a series of presentations and on eclipse day—this is his 11th eclipse with us!

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. Satellite images suggest 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 1-3
Embarkation at Benoa, Bali / Moyo & Satonda Islands / Komodo National Park

Embark on the Caledonian Sky in the late afternoon and depart Bali. The next morning finds us anchored off the lovely island of Moyo, just to the north of Sumbawa. Moyo is a nature reserve with wild oxen, deer, wild boars, and a great variety of bird species. However, its greatest attraction lies below the water, with amazingly beautiful coral reefs inhabited by countless brightly colored fish. If conditions allow there will be the opportunity to snorkel and explore by Zodiac. Later we sail to Satonda Island, the tip of an ancient volcano. Close to the beach is a small mystical crater lake where the trees are decorated with "wishing" stones, shells, and pieces of coral. This is also a snorkeler’s paradise with pristine reefs and abundant fish.

The highlight of our visit to Komodo National Park is the opportunity to see the distant cousins of the dinosaurs, the Komodo dragons. These huge rare lizards grow to twelve feet in length and only became known to the western world in 1910 when a Dutch lieutenant first laid eyes on them. Escorted by the island’s national park wardens, we walk to the dragons' old feeding station, seeing them in the wild, and also hope to see frigate birds, white buffalo, and long-tailed monkeys. Later, we spend some time on Pink Beach relaxing, swimming, or snorkeling.

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Days 4-7
Taka Bonerate National Park / Wakatobi National Park / Padea Besar Island / Togean Islands

Stretching south from the main island of Sulawesi into the Flores Sea is Taka Bonerate National Park. Spread out over 220,000 hectares, this is the largest coral reef in Indonesia and rich in marine life and a variety of bird species. Using our small ship to navigate and our Zodiacs to land, we find a suitable spot among the 21 islands of the park to spend the day. The crystal-clear waters offer snorkelers a chance to explore the reefs, home to 242 species of coral and 295 species of colorful reef fish, as well as dolphins and turtles. Alternatively, we can enjoy a walk in the sand dunes where we find many land, coastal, and sea birds.

Legendary underwater explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau is said to have called the Wakatobi Islands—then known as the Tukangbesi Islands—an “Underwater Nirvana." Now a National Marine Park, it comprises a total of 1.4 million hectares, of which 900,000 hectares are decorated with different colorful species of tropical coral reefs. Wakatobi is widely recognized as having the highest number of reef and fish species in the world. The islands are also famed as the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, with atolls and fringing and barrier reefs that are the habitat of large and small fish species and the playground of dolphins, turtles, and even whales. Meanwhile on land, we meet the local Bajo sea nomads, explore mangrove forests, and see the historical ruins, cannons, and fortresses that are spread over the main islands.

As we continue our journey around the island of Sulawesi, we make a call at Kokoila, where we have the chance to talk with the local fishermen or enjoy a snorkel over the soft corals among angelfish, parrotfish, and anemonefish. Continuing our journey north, we arrive in the Togean Islands. This remote and picturesque archipelago of 56 islands is surrounded by an ancient coral reef, while on land the volcanic islands harbor a variety of endangered wildlife. This afternoon you may wish to join a guided walk looking for macaques, babirusa (a wild pig with large, upturned tusks), and parrots, or enjoy a swim over spectacular corals teeming with colorful fish.

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Days 8-9
At Sea / Eclipse Day!

The excitement builds as we enjoy a day at sea sailing toward our eclipse viewing position, with presentations by our guest astronomer and preparation of our viewing equipment. 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 8:32 am, with totality lasting 3 minutes and 7.4 seconds, from 9:46 to 9:49 am. Our ship's mobility increases our viewing prospects considerably, and Dr. Filippenko's expert knowledge guides us through this spectacular phenomenon. After sharing our experiences, we sail in the afternoon and arrive in Bitung after dinner for an overnight mooring.

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Days 10-12
Tangkoko Nature Reserve / Bunaken National Park / Toli Toli

From our berth at Bitung, we travel inland for a full day tour to the Tangkoko Nature Reserve. This 8,800-hectare park ranges from the sea to the top of Tangkoko Mountain and is a haven for endemic flora and fauna. On a guided walk we search for black macaque monkey and tarsiers, the smallest primates in the world, for whom the Tangkoko Reserve is their last refuge, while birders seek out hornbills and cuscus. The next day we arrive at Bunaken National Park, a treasure trove of biodiversity situated near the center of the Coral Triangle. The park was established in 1991 as one of the first of Indonesia’s growing system of marine parks. Here we find 300 types of coral and over 3,000 species of fish. We use our Zodiacs to land on a local beach and set up snorkeling platforms to explore the underwater world, or enjoy free time in the local village. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at sea.

Having sailed along the length of the Sulawesi north coast we reach the charming village of Toli Toli. This idyllic, sleepy little town is surrounded by lush green mountains. On arrival we will be welcomed by the locals before visiting their traditional houses and enjoying time in the village. We pass by the tombs of the Toli Toli kings, then proceed to the Old Mosque, Immanuel Church, and a traditional market. We end our excursion at a coastal fishermen's village to learn about the daily life of village folk living on houses built on stilts. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at sea.

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Days 13-15
Pulau Mataking / Sandakan / Disembark and Depart

Today we leave the islands of Indonesia and arrive in the Malaysian state of Sabah. At Pulau Mataking, we find two islands connected by a sand bar, the surrounding waters an undersea paradise. We have time to snorkel among the stunningly beautiful reefs and stroll along the white powdery sand.

The next morning we learn about the rehabilitation of orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and hear about the threats to their survival. We visit the Sepilok Forest Reserve feeding platform and see orangutans in the third stage of the rehabilitation program, where the orphaned and injured orangutans are brought to Sepilok to be rehabituated to forest life. Sepilok is a primary lowland forest, one of the few remaining rainforests in Sabah, and is the nearest place to visit a virgin jungle of Borneo. Here we can observe the fascinating diversity of plants, trees, and wildlife as Sepilok is known to have more 450 species of trees and more than 250 species of birds. We also have a good chance of sighting macaques, leaf monkeys, and other mammals.

After lunch on the ship, the afternoon is free to relax on board and prepare for departure, or join a city tour of Sandakan. This town was built in 1879 as a water village on stilts reachable by plank walkways. We visit the lively and active Sandakan Market and the old-fashioned stone building of St. Michael Church, one of the few surviving pre-war stone buildings, built in 1893. We also see the site where POWs spent the night after arriving from Singapore, and the Newlands, home to Agnes Newton Keith, an American author best known for her three autobiographical accounts of life in North Borneo before, during, and after World War II. We enjoy refreshments at the colonial English tea house before returning to the ship. Disembark the morning of March 15 and begin our journeys home.

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Sailing Schedule*
Day Port Arrive Depart
 1  Tues, Mar 1, 2016 BENOA, BALI   18:00
 2  Wed, Mar 2, 2016 MOYO ISLAND 07:00 12:00
 2  Wed, Mar 2, 2016 SATONDA ISLAND 14:30 19:00
 3  Thurs, Mar 3, 2016 RINCA ISLAND, KOMODO NATIONAL PARK 08:00 18:00
 4  Fri, Mar 4, 2016 KAUNA ISLAND, TAKA BONARATE NATIONAL PARK 07:30 14:00
 5  Sat, Mar 5, 2016 COWO COWO ISLAND, WAKATOBI NATIONAL PARK 08:00 18:00
 6  Sun, Mar 6, 2016  KOKOILA, PADEA BESAR ISLAND 07:30 13:00
 7  Mon, Mar 7, 2016 BOLILANGGA ISLAND, TOGEAN ISLANDS 13:30 23:59
 8  Tues, Mar 8, 2016 AT SEA    
 9  Wed, Mar 9, 2016 ECLIPSE VIEWING POSITION 05:00 12:00
 9  Wed, Mar 9, 2016 BITUNG 22:00 overnight
10 Thurs, Mar 10, 2016 BITUNG overnight 22:00
11 Fri, Mar 11, 2016 BUNAKEN NATIONAL PARK  05:00 12:30
12 Sat, Mar 12, 2016 TOLI TOLI 09:30 17:00
13 Sun, Mar 13, 2016 PULAU MATAKING 12:30 18:00
14 Mon, Mar 14, 2016 SANDAKAN 07:00 overnight
15 Tues, Mar 15, 2016 SANDAKAN 09:00  

*Sailing schedule is subject to change



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 intimate expedition ship Caledonian Sky
Fascinating presentations, stargazing, and eclipse day commentary from award-winning astronomer Alex Filippenko, PhD
The best snorkeling in the world in the heart of the "Coral Triangle," plus Komodo dragons, orangutans, and the island culture of Indonesia


Length: 15 days
Cost From: $10,495  
Arrive: Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
Depart: Sandakan, Malaysia
Lodging: 14 nights on board the all-suite Caledonian Sky
Meals: All meals from dinner on March 1 through breakfast on March 15
Activity: Small Ship Cruising, Snorkeling, Wildlife & Natural History, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Optional excursions including snorkeling, nature walks, and cultural exploration