One of the only things we’d planned to do in Indonesia was a boat trip from Lombok to Flores, the trip takes 4 days and 3 nights, we had looked at doing the trip with a company called Perama but after discovering one of their boats capsized last year we decided to go with one called Kencana which we’d read about online and was quite a bit cheaper.
A word of warning for anyone thinking about doing this tip – it is not a luxury cruise as a couple of posh Austrian girls discovered – we knew what we were in for, we slept on mats either on the sleeping level or on the deck, the toilet emptied straight into the sea and there was no shower facility or fresh water apart from bottled stuff to drink so at the end we were quite salty!
We travelled from Senggigi to the port at Labuan Lombok which took around 3 hours, we travelled with our fellow passengers, a group of 9 Indonesian friends, a French lady and the aforementioned soon to be disappointed Austrians. We boarded around 2.30pm and headed for our first stop where we’d settle for the night and witness hundreds of flying foxes heading out at sunset, we decided to sleep on the deck that night as there was more room and a bit of a breeze. We were woken at 2am when the engines started up to take us to our next destination which made sleeping a bit difficult due to the vibration, we slept a little though before waking early to watch the beautiful sunrise.
After breakfast (7AM!) we swam to shore to head off for a short hike to the island’s fresh waterfall and our only chance for a proper wash fro the next few days. There were a couple fo pools at the falls – we didn’t risk one of them as it was quite a steep climb but it was nice to freshen up – there’s nothing like washing your hair in a waterfall like in a Timotei advert – certainly wakes you up.
Our next stop was the Salt Water Lake at Satonda Island, it was formed in the caldera of a volcano after a tsunami, the views were spectacular the lake beautiful to swim in and extremely deep. We snorkelled off the beach there too, the water was really clear and the coral was amongst we’ve seen on our trip.
We then set sail for our next destination, Komodo, I think the booking people may have skirted around the fact that this would take 16 hours with the engines at full throttle, so from around 2 pm we couldn’t hear ourselves think – luckily we had reading material however it soon got too dark to read, one thing we noticed was that the sun seems to disappear within minutes here, soon after 6 pm it was pitch black, normally there would be lights but as the captain needed to see where he was going.
The sea was a bit choppy and steadily got worse until we were rocking all over the place, we decided we’d be safer in bed so at 7pm we tried to get some sleep, not easy when you’re being tipped by 4 foot waves with spray in your face! We spent a long,scary night trying to sleep with little success before waking up in calm waters safe and well and thankful!
The first activity of the day was hiking up a big hill at 8 am, we really couldn’t face it after a **** night’s sleep so I (Ed) had a nap and Sharlie caught some rays while the more energetic of us trooped off.
We then headed for Pinky Beach for some great snorkelling, the beach is aptly named as the sand has a pink sheen.
Next stop was Komodo Island where we trekked and saw lots of wildlife including deer, wild pig and of course, Komodo dragons!
Our guide, Vick, then gave us the option of having a BBQ later that day at a nearby deserted beach which we all agreed was a fantastic idea, it also meant we got the added bonus of a visit to the local village to buy fresh fish – we all put the equivalent of £1 in the kitty and we set off to buy some grub.
The local village was really interesting to visit, Vick mentioned that there were lots of kids there – he was right! There were hundreds running around mostly in Premier League football shirts, playing football or watching the big volleyball game that was going on. They all know how to say “hello mister” and “hello miss” along with “where you from?” and a few even knew “money”! We managed to bag a huge fish for our BBQ and we even managed to find some extra illicit beers!
When we got to the beach we had to find fire wood first and despite almost causing an incident by nearly burning some wood the locals had claimed we got a fire going and got the fish cooking – there was another group with us from the other boat and we kindly cooked their fish too minus our special chilly marinade. The crew served the food we were due to have for dinner on the beach too so we ate well, sweet and sour chicken (which we brought with in a little coup) rice and veg and of course, BBQ mystery fish – we didn’t find out what it was – despite being a little bit raw in the middle it was lovely – well worth a quid.
Some local kids came over in a little boat and helped us get to and from our boat in return for biscuits and sweets – they were really cute.
It was a great evening, really good fun, it was difficult to get back on the boat but I gave everyone a good old fashioned British “leg up” to save the day then promptly slipped and landed flat on my back when I got hauled aboard – by this time we’d had a few beers so I didn’t feel a thing!
Before bed Vick showed us something amazing which, unfortunately, we couldn’t photograph, he kicked his feet in the water which triggered a reaction in the plankton which made them glow like stars, it’s something that’s really hard to describe but will stay with us for a long time.
We moored up for the night in a sheltered bay and we slept like babies even after the engines kicked in at 5 am to get us to Rinca where we arrived shortly after a nice brekkie of banana pancakes and tea.
Day 4 was spent at Rinca trekking and seeing more animals although our guide wasn’t so good this time and we sped through the 8kms or so and didn’t see too much although there were some spectacular views. We saw plenty of Komodo and monkeys near the visitor centre though.
Our last stop before Labuan Bajo was at a snorkelling sight, despite Vick telling us it wasn’t so great we saw lots of fish and coral, we could see our final destination from the beach and after a couple of hours in the water we headed to Labuan Bajo and and a hotel, proper bed and a shower!
Overall the trip was fantastic and we have some great memories of the few days, yes it was scary at times, the food was OK considering what the have to work with but we’d say bring snacks, and again it’s not a luxury cruise but if you embrace it and just go with it you can have the time of your life!