Bugs, Butterflies, Bats & Dragons

Bugs, Butterflies, Bats & Dragons

Call for Price


The great evolutionary scientist, J B Haldane was once asked what he had learned from his study of nature and all of its wonders. He replied that if indeed a Creator existed then he had “an inordinate fondness for beetles”.

How right he was, for there are over 350,000 species of beetle and counting, and it is because of this that Ray and Angela Hale, both highly experienced and well-travelled naturalists, are leading a cruise with us for the second time to explore and share the richness of this often-unnoticed cornucopia of bugs, beetles and beasties.

The nature of Indonesia is indeed unique. Whether your interest is in beetles, butterflies, or just natural history in general, then this is the cruise for you. This world holds many beautiful surprises, all of which are waiting to be discovered. On this eight-day inclusive voyage of discovery aboard our 12-passenger-boat, Katharina, you can immerse yourself in the Komodo National Park and walk side by side with the mighty Komodo Dragon.

We will explore the Lesser Sunda Islands from an intimate perspective, and visit remote beaches, quiet coastal villages, rivers, waterfalls, volcanic islands and a mysterious crater lake, all awash with amazing creatures waiting to be found. In addition to all of this, we will spend time snorkelling on some of the most beautiful coral reefs on Earth. Swim with sea turtles and marvel at the giant and gentle Manta Rays as they effortlessly “fly” beneath you. Unlimited use of the stand-up paddleboards and sea kayaks onboard will add yet another dimension to your nature explorations.

Note: The airfare is not included in the cruise price. In order to ensure that you are able to enjoy the full programme, please do not book any return flights that are scheduled to leave before midday on Day 8.

Trip Name
Bugs, Butterflies, Bats & Dragons
Vessel Type: Yacht Length: 40 metres Passenger Capacity: 14 Built / Refurbished: 1995 / 2014 The Katharina is a traditional Indonesian pinisi, built in 1995 in Kalimantan using only the very best grades of ironwood. Her slim hull was originally being planned for commercial sailing carrying freight before we spotted her in the making. We bought her and fitted her out as a cruising vessel, and then again in January 2014, the Katharina was the subject of a major interior refit. Working with the unique heritage this vessel represents, her transformation is a conservation exercise back to authenticity, using only the best traditional materials, shaped by highly skilled Indonesian craftsmen. Yet, what goes on behind the scenes is the use of the most up-to-date technology and she is now equipped with a super yacht grade AC station and we are optimizing our systems to the latest safety standards. Not only is the Katharina very elegant on the water, she is also fast becoming a classic yacht, as very few of these original designs remain. Katharina’s overall length is 40 metres, providing comfortable accommodation for up to 14 guests in six cabins located below decks. All cabins offer creature comforts and necessary amenities including double beds or twins, private en-suite bathrooms, natural light, safety boxes, individually controlled air-conditioning and storage space including a safe. Led by Captain Iwan, the Katharina is catered to by an all-Indonesian crew of 12, with each member dedicated to making your stay aboard truly memorable.


Day 1 - Day 1 Bali
We will meet at a café in South Bali for a quick breakfast before boarding our minibus for the beginning of our adventure. Our destination is Amed in the eastern regency of Karangasem – an exotic royal Balinese kingdom of forests and mighty mountains, emerald rice terraces, mystical water palaces and pretty beaches. With our tour leader providing information along the way, we will stop at Goa Lawah Bat Cave Temple. This large temple complex is built around the entrance to a cave that’s home to thousands of bats. We’ll also visit the royal water palace of Tirta Gangga, a fabled maze of spine-tinglingy, cold water pools and basins, spouts, tiered pagoda fountains, stone carvings and lush gardens. The final part of our scenic journey takes us through a magnificent terrain of sculptured rice terraces followed by spectacular views of a fertile plain extending all the way to the coast. Guarded by the mighty volcano, Gunung Agung, your charming beachside hotel welcomes you with warm Balinese hospitality and traditional architecture, rich with hand-carved ornamentation. After checking in, you can relax and unwind with a swim in the pool or in the calm, clear waters lapping the shore just footsteps from your room. Or you may prefer a gentle walk through the surrounding village and hillsides. This will also be an opportunity for those unfamiliar with snorkelling to have a lesson with our tour leader. Here you will meet Ray and Angela, our on-board naturalists who will consult with you individually to personalise your needs and expectations.
Day 2 - Day 2 Lombok
After waking up early at the resort, we can enjoy our first sight of the beautiful Katharina as she makes her grand entrance, cruising into view in Jemeluk Bay. We will then have a leisurely breakfast and maybe a swim before being transported the short distance to the boat, which will be waiting at anchor. After we board the vessel, we will have a chance to settle in before the captain gives the order for the anchor to be raised prior to crossing the Lombok Strait. This deep trench of water between Bali and Lombok marks part of a very important ecological boundary, which was first described by Alfred Russel Wallace, the British naturalist and entomologist who spent eight years in what is now known as the Indonesian Archipelago. Wallace noticed that the flora and fauna of the islands to the west are home to Asiatic animal and plant species, whereas the islands to the east of the invisible ‘Wallace Line’ have a greater similarity to species found in Australia. In the evening, as we cross the Wallace Line, Ray will introduce us to the world of this remarkable man, who also had an “inordinate fondness for beetles!” During his time here, Wallace collected over 126,000 specimens, many of which were unknown to scientists, and many of which were beetles. We’ll be meeting some of them during this adventure. In the afternoon, we will enjoy our first snorkel to the east of the Wallace Line, and in the evening, Ray will tell us about the different species of animals that have evolved either side of this invisible barrier. Species found only on the Asian side include tigers and rhinos, whilst marsupials and monotremes are only found on the eastern side of the Line. Such anomalies stretch to insects, and every island has its own endemic species that differ from those of their neighbours. It can reasonably be concluded that it was an ocean barrier that prevented the migration of species, as the physical aspects of the separate islands are very similar.
Day 3 - Day 3 West Sumbawa
We will wake off the beautiful white sands of Kanawa Island in West Sumbawa, where after breakfast we will snorkel, paddle board, swim and explore the island’s beaches, grasslands and corals. Here will discover the amazing underwater world and swim with beautiful tropical fish. Despite its small size, Kanawa holds some surprises. In 2018 Ray may just have discovered a new species of spider found only on this isolated paradise. After lunch on the boat we will set a course 10 miles further east to Bungin Island, home to a group of Bajau ‘Sea Gypsies’, famous for living entirely off the sea in stilt houses above the water. This is the second largest Bajau settlement in the country, providing an amazing and rare opportunity to experience part of Indonesia’s seafaring tradition. Later in the afternoon we will set out for Moyo Island.
Day 4 - Day 4 Moyo, Satonda
This morning we will moor off Labuan Aji village on the island of Moyo, visit the village and then walk to Diwu Mba'i Waterfall, where can swing on a rope and jump into the deep clear river pool below, or simply bathe in the refreshingly cool water. During this walk there will be more opportunities to spot bugs, butterflies and spiders. Geckos and Flying Lizards scurry along the branches high above our heads, occasionally gliding from tree to tree in the midday heat. Our next stop will be Satonda, a strange and mystical volcanic island with a sunken crater lake in its centre, which filled with saltwater when the nearby Mt Tambora erupted in 1815, causing a tsunami that flowed into the crater. Local people believe Satonda to be magical, and with this in mind, we will walk to the lip of the caldera to view the mysterious lake, alongside which are trees believed to be ‘wishing trees.’ Visitors to the island tie a small stone to a tree and make a wish. At certain times the island becomes awash with hundreds of the most beautiful butterflies of the region. Here, we can still find a natural phenomenon with its own unique species. The seas surrounding Satonda are rich with soft and hard corals and colourful tropical fish, so we will spend the afternoon swimming and snorkelling. Island fauna has evolved independently and that of the enigmatic Satonda is no exception. The flying foxes that make Satonda their home differ from other island species. Unlike their smaller cave-dwelling cousins, these large fruit bats hang out in camps high above the rainforest floor, keeping cool by fanning themselves with their huge wings, which can measure up to 1.7 meters from tip to tip. Immediately after sunset, we can marvel at the sight of thousands of these flying foxes commuting from the island to feed on the mainland. The Katharina will then leave for an overnight passage on a course due east.
Day 5 - Day 5 Pulau Sangean, Banta
We will wake up off the coast of Pulau Sangean, an active volcano that towers 1,800 metres above sea level. After breakfast, we will go ashore to a small hamlet, which, because of the active nature of the volcano, is only inhabited for short periods during the year when the local people come to tend their crops and small herds of buffaloes. Ray and Angela will lead us into the surrounding forests where we will discover many species of insects. The island has its own endemic species of harmless scorpion and who knows what we will find as we turn over rocks and witness a whole new world beneath our feet. We can then snorkel on both a nearby reef and a location on the north of the island where volcanic gasses escape in the form of bubbles from the sea floor among the corals, a most interesting sight. Later, we will cruise to the island of Banta and its pinkish-white sand beach, for an afternoon of swimming, snorkelling and hill climbing for the fit. In the evening Ray will tell us about the giant lizards that inhabit the area and we will proceed overnight to Komodo dragon country.
Day 6 - Day 6 Komodo Island
When we wake up, the boat will be anchored off the famous Komodo Island, one of approximately 80 islands that make up the Komodo National Park. We will go ashore for an early morning ranger-led trek. Islands are natural laboratories where we can study evolution in situ. The fact that islands are isolated from the mainland by the sea makes their ecology present spectacular adaptations, sometimes resulting in giant or dwarf species in comparison with their mainland relatives. One of the most famous examples of island gigantism is the Komodo dragon where evolution – without apparent predators or competitors – has triggered the appearance of larger species. Similarly, insects with few predators can evolve to larger sizes whilst larger mammals with limited food resources begin to decrease in size. Within a savannah-like setting of dry, rugged landscape, we will encounter, at a safe distance, Komodo’s awe-inspiring, giant lizards – Indonesia’s living dinosaurs. Komodo is also home to many unique species of bird including the Wallacean Drongo and the Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. In addition to birds, deer and wild boar, we will see butterflies, rare orchids and jungle chickens among the strangle-figs and lontar palms. Endemic to the island are a number of Nephila species of the giant golden orb-weaving spider. Their webs can measure two metres across but don’t panic these guys are friendly. Later, we will swim and snorkel over one of Komodo’s rich reefs.
Day 7 - Day 7 Rinca Island
Today we will visit the ranger station of Loh Buaya on Rinca Island where we will have another ranger-led nature trek in search of more Komodo dragons. Rinca is also well known for its diverse wildlife, so we may spot monkeys, wild buffaloes and the giant swarms of honeybees that inhabit this beautiful place. From the top of the hills, the scenery is breathtaking. In the afternoon we can go snorkelling off Siaba or Kelor, where both on the land and in the sea, we may be fortunate to identify yet more of the remarkable residents of this far flung paradise. In the evening we will go ashore to an island where you can enjoy a quintessential SeaTrek experience and a highlight for many guests. With your feet in the sand and the stars rising in the vast Indonesian sky, the crew will build a bonfire and prepare a beach barbecue as a final celebration of our memorable voyage.
Day 8 - Day 8 Labuan Bajo
Today’s early risers will have time for one last swim and snorkel before we cruise into Labuan Bajo Harbour. At about 9am, we will leave the boat for a trip to the village of Melo. Here, local ‘strongmen’ will perform the ‘Caci,’ a ritual whip-fight between two rivals in which the players, each armed with a rattan shield and a whip, will try to hit each other whilst dancing to the rhythm of traditional acoustic instruments. The men of Western Flores are famous for this test of daring and skill, requiring lightning quick moves to dodge the infliction of a wound. The winner is loudly applauded and cheered by the village. Besides this, the cultural group will also showcase other traditional dances. After the performance, we will have lunch on the boat before transferring you to the airport for your onward journey.
Day 9 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type


    • Travel with Ray & Angela Hale. Ray and Angela Hale have travelled the length and breadth of both Indonesia and Malaysia in search of endangered species. They have discovered and photographed hundreds of species from the endearing Orangutans to the tiniest of insects. Over the last 20 years, Ray has delivered many lectures around the world and is passionate about reconnecting people with nature and conserving the Earth’s endangered animals. His aim on this trip is to ensure that the guests, be they entomologists, wildlife photographers, experienced explorers or simply nature lovers visiting the islands of Indonesia for the first time, are given the best possible chance of success.
    • Ports of Call
    • Bali, Sumbawa, Komodo