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Ternate - Halmahera - Bacan - Obi - Banda Islands - Ambon (12D11N)






TERNATE - HALMAHERA - BACAN - OBI - BANDA ISLANDS - AMBON

Spice Routes / Spice Wars 2018 with Jeffrey Mellefont




Ternate - Halmahera - Bacan - Obi - Banda Islands - Ambon




Day 1




You’ll be met at the airport and escorted to our handsome ship Ombak Putih at anchor off Ternate’s mighty volcanic cone, Mt Gamalama (1715 metres). You’ll settle in, meet other passengers and crew, and then we’ll enjoy our first al-fresco lunch beneath the awnings. The tour director and dive master will brief you on our programmes, equipment and safety. Then we go ashore to Ternate, one of four historically powerful Moluccan spice sultanates. Its warehouses are still filled with fragrant piles of clove and nutmeg. We will visit what is believed to have been the house of the great English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, where he penned his famous 1858 ‘Letter From Ternate’ to Charles Darwin on the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Nearby is the splendid 17th century, pagoda-style royal mosque, and the Sultan’s Palace with its rich collection of heirlooms. There’s a choice of forts to visit, introducing the turbulent colonial era, such as well-restored Fort Tolukko (Portuguese, 1540). Back on board, our evening routine begins: scenic sundowners on the upper deck, then Jeffrey Mellefont’s daily, pre-dinner, illustrated talk in the saloon.

                     

Day 2



Today we’ll be in Tidore, another perfect volcanic-cone island rising from the tropical seas. Kiematabu (1730 metres) is extinct, but its slopes feature plantations of the graceful clove trees that were once found only upon this and a few adjacent islands. On our way around this scenic island of gaily painted village houses and tropical blooms, we will visit a blacksmith working an ancient design of piston-bellows to forge knives and machetes. Picturesque port Soa Siu is dominated by two strongholds: the Portuguese Fort Torre built in the 1570s, and Fort Tahula, established by the Spanish in 1610 to menace their Dutch rivals across the strait. They overlook the modern palace of the Sultan of Tidore, a one-time rival to Ternate’s sultan. A seashore monument marks the 1521 visit of Magellan’s battered fleet on the first circumnavigation of the world.


Day 3



Sunrise finds us in Indonesia’s most stunning seascape. Four perfect, brilliant-green volcanic-cone islands emerge from the sea in a straight line stretching south to north, parallel to the rugged, forested spine of the big island called Halmahera. They are Makian, Moti, Tidore and Ternate. Makian is dominated by volcanic Mount Kiebesi (1357 metres) towering over its palm-fringed, white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. There are interesting expeditions ashore and good places to snorkel, and natural hot springs. Later we cruise towards Payahe Bay on the mainland of Halmahera, which was another of the Spice Sultanates, formerly called Gilolo. Our landfall is a remote beach full of outrigger fishing craft, for an easy afternoon trek towards a forest waterfall. Tonight we cross the Equator.


Day 4



Our first Southern Hemisphere anchorage is off the north shore of Bacan, another seat of Indonesia’s historic spice sultanates.We go exploring ashore at the isolated village of Geti or its neighbour Goro-Goro, walking up a rainforest-clad river valley. Bacan is where Alfred Russel Wallace discovered the golden birdwing butterfly and the giant mason bee, Chalicodoma pluto. We’ll keep a close watch for these and a host of species, some of them endemic, including parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, hornbills, the elusive cuscus or a rare black macaque – the only monkey in Maluku. It’s the wrong side of the Wallace Line for monkeys; these ones were introduced from North Sulawesi.


Day 5


By today you will have lost track of time and place, but your crew won’t have. They will have delivered you on schedule to the Patinti Strait and Doworalamo, where we visit a village of the famous sea gypsies, known in Eastern Indonesia as Sama-Bajo. Scattered widely through South-East Asia, sea gypsies spent their entire lives from birth to death on their small sailboats called lipa-lipa. Now the modern world has pushed them ashore. Landless, their homes are always built on stilts over coral reefs or the tidal margins of remote islands such as this one. We will also have opportunities for swimming, snorkelling and beach-combing before our ship takes a southerly course on an overnight passage across the Ceram Sea.

 

Day 6



Deserted, white-sand Belang-Belang is a real beachcomber’s paradise, where we can launch our full flotilla of watercraft, kayaks and paddle boards. At Obi Latu, mountains clad in forest and clove plantations plunge spectacularly into the sea. We will visit isolated Manatahan, a village of migrant Butungese from Sulawesi hundreds of miles to the west. Migration is not unusual in this island world where people are accustomed to moving by boat, and islands are sparsely populated or uninhabited. In past times the picturesque channels around Obi were dotted with the sails of local spice traders, Portuguese caravels, Spanish galleons, Dutch jachts and English pinnaces. Now we encounter friendly fishers and their outrigger dugouts, colourful timber island-trading craft and sometimes little lambo sloops still trading under sail.

 

Day 7



Manipa Island is said to have magical powers, because none of the Portuguese, Dutch or WW2-Japanese who occupied the surrounding islands ever landed here.The spell doesn’t apply to Indonesian ships, so we land at Uwe township for lessons in village technology. Its gardens produce cashews, while the leaves of forest Melaleuca cajuputi are pot-distilled to make a volatile oil called kayu putihor cajeput. It’s famed throughout Indonesia as a universal panacea: cosmetic, antiseptic, insecticide, decongestant, analgesic, expectorant, anti-spasmodic, stimulant and tonic! We also view production of the traditional Moluccan food staple, sago, a nutritious flour washed from the fibrous trunk of the cycad-like sago palm. Sago can be baked into easily transportable cakes, while the palm also provides building timber and thatch. After an afternoon snorkelling, we will cruise on towards the Lease group (pronounced ‘Lay-ah-say’).

 

Day 8



On Saparua we land beside Dutch Fort Duurstede (1691), stormed in 1817 in a revolt led by Ambonese Kapitan Pattimura, a national hero and martyr. His story is told by vivid museum dioramas. Brightly painted bemo mini-buses will take us to a morning market before we sail to nearby Nusalaut. Rarely visited by outsiders, this island is home to a Christian community after early missionaries planted their faith here at the same time that Islam was spreading through the archipelago. We will visit the Eben-Haezer church founded in 1719. Nearby is the restored Dutch Fort Beverwyck, built from 1657 in a distinctive architectural style we’ve not yet encountered. A highlight here is a lunchtime feast of wonderful local dishes – freshly prepared by villager hosts from forest, garden and sea produce. It’s your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try papeda, the most famous and unusual of the many sago dishes.

 

Day 9



Overnight we have sailed south-east into the Banda Sea, to reach the renowned, remote Banda archipelago. Famous for natural beauty and cultural heritage, and their well-preserved remnants of an extraordinary history of imperialist rivalry, these islands are quite simply one of Indonesia’s highlights. Banda was originally the world’s only source of nutmeg and mace, valued for their rarity and high cost by aristocrats and elites. Today Banda’s quiet and charming ambiance belies a dramatic and often tragic history, including war, massacre, earthquake and eruption. This is a very special destination. Since conditions of wind and tide will determine the order in which we visit various Banda islands, our activities here can’t be assigned to a particular day. Here’s what we aim to cover. In the capital Bandaneira, on the biggest island, Neira, we land near the elegant arches of Hotel Maulana – a little slice of Somerset Maugham. It’s a pleasant stroll through the quaint colonial outpost’s characterful streets, inspecting notable residences, a museum, churches and a waterfront market. Brooding over all is the mediaeval-looking Fort Belgica, its five crumbling bastions now solidly rebuilt. The population is a handsome mix of Malay, Arab, Dutch and Melanesian. Just across the harbour is Banda’s perfect, jungle-clad volcanic cone Gunung Api (‘Fire Mountain’ – 640 metres). The fit and ambitious might make an early morning ascent up a challenging track to the top for stunning views. Or we can snorkel over the black lava stream of its last eruption.

 

Day 10 & 11



Overnight we have sailed south-east into the Banda Sea, to reach the renowned, remote Banda archipelago. Famous for natural beauty and cultural heritage, and their well-preserved remnants of an extraordinary history of imperialist rivalry, these islands are quite simply one of Indonesia’s highlights. Banda was originally the world’s only source of nutmeg and mace, valued for their rarity and high cost by aristocrats and elites. Today Banda’s quiet and charming ambiance belies a dramatic and often tragic history, including war, massacre, earthquake and eruption. This is a very special destination. Since conditions of wind and tide will determine the order in which we visit various Banda islands, our activities here can’t be assigned to a particular day. Here’s what we aim to cover. In the capital Bandaneira, on the biggest island, Neira, we land near the elegant arches of Hotel Maulana – a little slice of Somerset Maugham. It’s a pleasant stroll through the quaint colonial outpost’s characterful streets, inspecting notable residences, a museum, churches and a waterfront market. Brooding over all is the mediaeval-looking Fort Belgica, its five crumbling bastions now solidly rebuilt. The population is a handsome mix of Malay, Arab, Dutch and Melanesian. Just across the harbour is Banda’s perfect, jungle-clad volcanic cone Gunung Api (‘Fire Mountain’ – 640 metres). The fit and ambitious might make an early morning ascent up a challenging track to the top for stunning views. Or we can snorkel over the black lava stream of its last eruption.

 

Day 12


Our final anchorage is Ambon’s splendid, sheltered harbour. The Portuguese arrived in 1513, but never managed to control the trade in spices. In 1605 they were driven out by the Dutch, who remained for nearly 350 years except for a brief period of British rule after the Napoleonic wars, and the Japanese occupation of World War 2. Thus Ambon has a deep history to explore, for those who wish to stay an extra day or two. Depending upon flight times, we may have a chance to show you parts of Ambon city such as its truly beautiful Commonwealth War Cemetery, the resting place of Australian, New Zealand and British forces who fell during World War 2. You will then be transferred either to the airport to meet your flights, or to your hotel for those wishing to take the extra time to further explore the natural beauty and built heritage of Ambon Island.











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TERNATE - HALMAHERA - BACAN - OBI - BANDA ISLANDS - AMBON



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