Nature Travel Specialists

nature tours & travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Australia, Southeast Asia, South America and Alaska



January 15 to 28, 2009

komodo dragon

led by Judy Brzoska

Day 1– Thursday, January 15: Home City/In Flight
here are several air options for your flight to Bali. The shortest flight is on China Airlines departing SFO at 12.15am on Jan 16, with a flight time of 22 hours including a connection of 2.5 hours in Taipei for an arrival into Bali at 2.25pm. There is a similar flight departing LAX at 11.10pm on the 15th. For those with this option, China Airlines is part of the American Express Platinum Card 2 for 1 program, meaning that a business class ticket is very affordable for this itinerary.There are also suitable flights on Korean from Chicago, and also from JFK. However, if possible it's wiser in January to avoid these latter airports, given the weather they experience. We will arrange your flight according to the most suitable for you, and depending on your preferences. (*M)

Day 2 - Friday, January 16: In Fight
Today is spent in flight, or missed due to the Dateline, depending on your flight.

bali statueDay 3 - Saturday, January 17: Bali
Arrive in Bali this afternoon, and after passing through customs and immigration you are met and transferred to Puri Santrian Hotel, Sanur Beach. The hotel is right on the beach, and there are many small shops nearby, some with older fabrics, sarongs new and antique crafts, and even carvings from West Papua. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner with traditional Balinese food. Wildlife lovers should take a walk around the corridor and stairwell near the rooms, as small House and large Tokay Geckoes can often be seen foraging for insects on the walls. Expect also to see weaver birds, sunbirds and bulbuls around the hotel.         (*B,*L,D)


Day 4– Sunday, January 18: Sanur/Jimbaran area
Today we explore southern Bali. Those interested can begin with an early start to visit a few close-by birding areas with our specialist birding guide, Sumadi. After we return to our hotel for a late breakfast, we then continue to experience this gentle and beautiful island. Bali is a sensory overload, famous for its culture, crafts and intricately carved temples, and our first full day in Bali will highlight these. The Denpasar Central Market will allow us to share normal Balinese life, while enabling us to offering boxbuy sarongs, cloth, temple items and similar goods at normal, not tourist, prices. Many of the items at the market are not seen at the normal tourist shops. At the royal city of Mengwi we visit Pura Taman Ayun, when of Bali’s best know temples. This evening we visit Ulu Watu, perched on top of a cliff, as the sun sets, then enjoy a seafood dinner on the beach.         (B,L,D)

Day 5 - Monday, January 19: Denpasar / Labuan Bajo
After breakfast this morning we transfer back to the airport for our 10am flight to Labuan Bajo on the island of Flfeliana komodo national parkores, arriving at 11loh liang sign komodo national park.30pm. As we leave Bali we fly over Lombok, with the often steaming volcano Mt
Rinjani. The next island is Sumbawa, and if it is clear the volcano Tambora can be seen in the central north of the island; when it erupted in 1815 it was responsible for the “year without summer” due to its ash blocking the sun across Europe and North America. This event led to the worst famine recorded in the northern hemisphere. On arrival at Labaun Bajo we transfer to the jetty and our boat, then set sail for Komodo Island. Depending on the tides we may stop at on of the many beaches in the area for swimming and snorkeling. We overnight at Komodo, near Loh Liang, in preparation for our dragon search tomorrow.         (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Tuesday, January 20: Komodo / Rinca
Wkomodo dragone make an early start this morning to take advantage of the cooler morning air when the dragons tend to be more lethargic. We walk to inland through sparse forest and island scrub, looking for lurking komodos – ora ikomodo signn Indonesian - and other wildlife, including cockatoos, friarbirds and other species more representative of Australia. This reminds us that we flew from Bali to Lombok we crossed the Wallace Line, the demarcation separating the faunas of Asia and Australia. We may also see Timor cattle, water buffalo and long-tailed macaques. After about 2km we arrive at Bangungguling, where a wter drip provides incentive for dragons, birds and other wildlife to congregate. In the past dragons were fed goats here, but this practice ceased years ago. However, the long-lived lizards still visit, and a viewing area, complete with fence and shade, makes relaxed observation and photography easier. We return to Loh Liang, and visit the small shop where souvenirs on of our visit can be purchased. Returning to our boat we sail to Pantai Merah - Pink Beach – for snorkeling and swimming; there is excellent coral with attendant tropical fish immediately off the beach. We then continue to Crocodile Bay, Rinca Island, where we overnight. In the evening dragons may be seen foraging on the beach, and long-tailed macaques may be seen accounting for their alternative name of crab-eating macaque as they too forage for a late snack. This evening the loud “tok-ay” call of the appropriately named ten-inch long Tokay gecko can often be heard.        (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Wednesday, January 21: Rinca / Labuan Bajokomodo dragon

Another early start to explore Rinca. The first part of the track takes us through mangroves and other denser vegetation, and is a good place to see monkeys and birds, as well as dragons, which tend to be a little wilder here than some of the more habituated ones on Komodo. There is no “destination: for this morning’s walk, but a walk to the top of the hill gives excellent views of the islands of Komodo National Park, and the turquoise waters surrounding them. After our walk we continue to explore the area while heading back to Labuan Bajo for the night, where we overnight at a small ecolodge on the outskirts of Labuan Bajo.          (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Thursday, January 22: Labuan Bajo / Denpasar / Pemuteran
bali beach This morning we take a river cruise to look for birds and other wildlife, then transfer to airport for our noon flight back to Bali, arriving at 1.30pm. We are met once again by our Bali guides and head to the north coast, and the village of Pemuteran. With its broad swathe of beach and quieter lifestyle, Pemuteran presents a different picture to the busy life of southern Bali, and the dry remote islands of Komodo.         (B,*L)

Day 9 – Friday, January 23: Pemuteran

Some optional early morning birding in nearby mangrove and forest is available, followed by a drive into adjacent Bali Barat National Park to visit the breeding and release sites for the critically endangered Bali Starling. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy this beautiful area at your own pace. There is n Island, one of Bali’s best. For those inclined toexcellent snorkeling offshore, and divers can be taken to several dive sites, including near Menjanga less active pursuits Balinese massages and spa treatment are also available. Your guide will be able to advise of and assist with any activities. Sunset is best enjoyed on the beach, watching the fishing boat lights flicker on as the evening darkens.         (B)

flying foxDay 10 – Saturday, January 24: Pemuteran / Ubud
Late this morning we depart our beachside hotel and head south towards Ubud, in Bali’s uplands.Along the way we stop at Alas Kedaton to see the flying foxes, and Bedugul, where the Bali Botanical Gardens are located. This is an excellent birding site, as well as a highly regarded gardens. Nearby at Candi Kuning a fruit, flower and spice market presents sights and smells not seen back home. Here also is Lake Bratan, formed in the inactive caldera of Gunung Catur, and the temple of Ulun Danu in its waters. We continue on to Taman Ayun, the Royal Palace temple and gardens. Our Bali-style hotel for the next two nights is in Ubud, with views across a river valley in one direction and surround be rice paddies elsewhere.           (B,L,D)

Day 11 – Sunday, January 25: Ubud
macaques at monkey jungle bali Today is largely free to explore Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali. Ubud is famous for its arts and crafts, and the continuous activities of its temple. Although not open to the public, it is very common to see processions of colorfully clad women bearing carefully created baskets of fruit and flowers walking to the temple, to make the daily offerings. The intricately carved entrance gate, in typical Balinese split-gate design, allows glimpses into this cultural world. You can also take a walk in Monkey Jungle, where macaqueskecak dance bali live around thekecak dance bali temple; this one, older and not as oprnate as the main temple, can be entered. Late this afternoon we’ll visit Goa Gajah, a cave temple dedicated to Ganesha, the Hindu etemple processionlephant-headed god and son of Shiva consort Parvati. We’ll also stop to watch herons of several species return to their rookery in the village of Petulu. Tonight is a special treat; a private performance of the stunning and fiery Kecak Dance, performed for us in a nearby temple. This is a story from the Ramayana, where a battle if fought between the monkey god Hanuman and a prince who has taken Rama's wife. This spectacular event includes about 100 chanting men, plus the main performers in a very active and exciting performance.        (B,L)

Day 12 – Monday, January 26: Ubud
The majority of Balinese are Hindu, and Bali remains final repository of the great Hindu culture of Java, remaining there only in the small ruined temples dotted the island about and the great temple complex Prambanam near Yogyakarta. While ultimately derived from India, the arts and religion as practiced in Bali are noticeably different as they are a continuation of the distinct Javan Hinduism, brought to Bali when the remnants of the Majapahit court escaped from Java after the fall of that empire to Muslim invaders. Although even with short time here so far this influence on daily life and architecture will have been inescapable, today’s touring will expose us to this culture and its history in an indelible way. We first travel east through villages and terraced rice paddies to Klungkung, and its 17th Century Kerta Gosa (Hall of Justice). This ornate free-standing building is famous for its painted ceiling. Near the coast Goa Lawah is a cave temple, one of the important directional temples that protect Bali, in this case from the Southeast. Inside the cave, in addition to the temple decorations, are hundreds of bats (lawah). At the village of Tenganan we’ll see a demonstration of double ikat weaving; the geringsing cloth produced here is especially fine and thought by locals to have magical powers. Lunch will be enjoyed along the way as we head north to Gunung Agung, Bali’s holiest mountain (and an active but quiescent volcano which last erupted in 1963). Nestled on the slopes of Agung is the temple complex at Besakih, home of the Gods and the site of Bali’s holiest temple, the mother temple towards which all other temples, including home shrines, face. There are 22 separate temples in the Besakih complex. We return to Ubud this evening, still amazed by the rich and vibrant culture of this small island. As these temples (and all the temples visited) are sacred places we need to dress respectfully; a sarong is recommended to cover legs, a shirt or blouse reaching to the neck should be worn (a typical shirt of t-shirt is fine, but no tank tops or low cut shirts), and arms to the elbows mustn’t be exposed. A special sash can be hired outside the temple as they are required for entry, but buying one is recommended as we’ll be using it often and they make a good souvenir. Tonight is our last night on Bali, and we enjoy a farewell dinner with our friends, both American and Balinese.        (B,L,D)

Day 13 – Monday, January 27: Ubud / Denpasar / San Francisco / In Flight
This morning is free to relax, repack, pick up any last minute items, or arrange transport home of larger purchases. We transfer back to the airport for our 2.25pm flight home, arriving in San Francisco (or alternative city) a little after 6pm this same day. Finally we depart for home cities about 11pm, or alternatively stay overnight near the airport and fly home tomorrow morning.         (B,*D,*M,*B)

Day 14 -Wednesday, January 28: In Flight / Home City.
Depending on home cities and flights, arrive home during the morning today.

(B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner; M: Meal; * in flight meal)


Bali & Komodo 14-day all-inclusive tour led by Judy Brzoska (who we thank for the excellent komodo dragon, macaques, hotel & gamelan, lotus temple, barong dancer and possibly some other photos) and local English-speaking guides. Includes international air, internal air, all (4-4.5*) accommodation, private cabins on board the 6 cabin Pinisi boat in Komodo National Park, all transfers, guiding, entries, 26 meals. Does not include airline taxes, personal costs, visas, items of a personal nature, alcoholic or carbonated drinks, bottled water or tips to guides.

From Los Angeles/San Francisco/Chicago: $4500* From New York: $4700*
Single Supplement: $1350

Maximum 11 Guests

*subject to current air costs which cannot be not guaranteed until ticketed.

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