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UWT Trip Report AUG 2013 on board of the MSY – Damai II

October 15, 2013


split shot Gili Banta can see part of the underwater and the top of the island

The ISland of Gili Banta, located between Komodo amd the volcano of Sangeang

Underwater Tribe Komodo Liveaboard Trip 2013 [Report and Review]

A couple of months has passed since we disembarked from our incredible trip to Komodo National Park on board of the Damai II luxury vessel.

It was a very special trip for us for many different reasons:

First of all, it was during the planning of this trip that Mike and Luca decided to join forces to create the Underwater Tribe!

In November 2011, we were discussing ideas and plans for our future in Bali as well as Indonesia, as we were both looking to achieve the same goals, we decided to work together and this Damai trip became our first ever joint venture; who knew it would become such a resounding success!

After nearly two years of planning, it culminated with trip leader Luca and our group of intrepid guests boarding the Damai II on the 6th of August 2013 in Benoa harbour, Bali for an 11 night adventure to Komodo National Park.

Our journey started in Bali and included diving in the following locations: Sumbawa and Moyo, the volcanic island of Sangeang, the island of Gili Banta, Gili Lawa Laut and surrounding sites such as Castle and Crystal Rock, and of course the amazing diversity found in Horseshoe Bay, south Rinca.

As with any Underwater Tribe trip, Luca conducted several informal photo classes along with answering any photography based questions.  He also presented several evening presentations about wildlife and underwater photography in general.

The diving itself was outstanding, here are a few of the highlights:

coral reef with many small fish and the sunrays

The coral Reef of Angel Reef in Moyo , Sumbawa

We started with a very beautiful dive in Moyo island called Angel Reef and experienced clear blue water, huge sponges, plenty of soft corals and colorful crinoids as well as a plethora of schooling fish.

Cowrie feeding on the black coral .

Cowrie feeding on the black coral .

The black sand of Sangeang Volcano presented a great mix of black sand “critter diving” along with two amazingly varied sites in Bubble Reef and Deep Purple.

At Gili Banta we enjoyed at least 40 metros of visibility everywhere with “Roller Coaster” being a particularly memorable dive showcasing a sleeping shark, frogfish, rainbow runners and a lot more!

Castle Rock and Crystal Rock were packed with the usual suspects: schooling fish and loads of white tip sharks.  “Shotgun” was at it’s incredible best as we had perfect conditions with a mild current pushing us through the channel past snappers, batfish, corals, and a few trevally out hunting. These sites were rocking, so we did them all at least twice!

Down south in Horseshoe Bay, we definitely felt the water temperature drop to a chilly  22.C – 23.C but this seemed to bring out even more marine life.   Cannibal Rock was impressive as usual with big schools of fusiliers, bannerfish, snappers, and glass fish attempting to avoid the hunting trevally which were blasting across the reef in search of prey.  If that wasn’t enough, for those with an eye on the bottom they were rewarded with three giant frogfish, feeding sea apples, and of course the tiny “Ladybugs” which are a constant in the area.  As an interesting surface interval we also visited a few Komodo dragons that were basking in the sun alone the beach in front of Cannibal Rock.

A Giant frogfish in the soft corals.

A Giant frogfish in the soft corals.

Feeding Sea Apple

Feeding Sea Apple

Batu Bolong and Golden Passage were two more favorites among the guests featuring lots of schooling fish such as bumphead parrotfish, barracudas, and big eye jacks.

School of Rainbow Runners from Batu Bolung, Komodo

School of Rainbow Runners from Batu Bolung, Komodo

Soft Corals from the wall of Batu Bolung, Komodo

Soft Corals from the wall of Batu Bolung, Komodo

Hawksbill Turtle in Tatawa Besar, Komodo

Hawksbill Turtle in Tatawa Besar, Komodo

White Tip Shark and Soft Corals from Crystal Rock, Komodo

White Tip Shark and Soft Corals from Crystal Rock, Komodo

For those with itchy feet, we also did a few hill climbs when not diving; the hike to the top of Gili Lawa Darat, with Luca, Roger, Nathalie and Bartus, was a memorable one as after enjoying a beautiful sunset the trip back down ended up getting rather dark! (luckily they had a few torches to light the way)  The second hike was to the hills of Rinca near the ranger station and featured a bit of a show as we stumbled upon a pair of dragons mating!

In conclusion, it was a successful trip on all counts: the boat and service was fantastic and of course the diving was as amazing as it always is in Komodo.  However, the best thing of all was the camaraderie and friendships that were created between everyone on board.  We really enjoyed each others company and are proud to say that everyone is now a member of the Underwater Tribe!

We will be back in Komodo soon for another fantastic experience, (perhaps in 2014?) but for now we hope to see you all for our Underwater Photo Spectacular in May 2014 in North Sulawesi or in March 2015 in Raja Ampat aboard the Mermaid II liveaboard trip.  You can also join us on our home island of Bali where we conduct exclusive dive safaris and regular underwater photography workshops throughout the year.

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Underwater Tribe - Diving, Underwater Photography, and Adventure Travel in Bali and Beyond

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