Come Explore Indonesia with Cathy Church, the ORIGINAL and still the best photo coach ever!
aboard the M/V Pindito diving from Bali to the famous Komodo National Park,
August 28 - Sept 9, 2019 (Spots still open!)
Then continue on a second adventure from Maumere to Alor September 11 - 22, 2019 (Two spots left!)
These two connecting trips cover the best of Indonesia with reduced air travel. We leave from Bali, continue to Komodo and then on to Maumere when some guests will leave and fly back to Bali while others will fly in to meet us and some will simply stay put.
From Maumere the second trip will continue eastward north of Flores and make a large loop through Alor and return to Maumere for our flight back to Bali.
This is a new and exciting itinerary to give us the best of Komodo, along with new sites away from the crowded park and with less current, and then onward on the second trip to the exciting diving in this newly explored area of Alor.
The boat and the staterooms
I chose the Pindito for this adventure because the Pindito is the only boat with over 20 years of continuous operation in Indonesia. The crew is more experienced than any other crews and THAT is a valuable commodity that no new boat in the area can compete with.
The boat is not as efficient as some of the huge new boats, but it is comfortable and reliable. There are eight teakwood-paneled cabins, 10' x 10'. Two are set as upper/lower twin beds, and six have a spacious double bed, some also with a single upper bunk. All have ensuite bathrooms and individually controlled AC.
Most importantly, every single review applauds the incredible fine service the crew provides. They are attentive and experienced and know what you need done. And they know their way around Indonesia!
Diving is made easy
After the detailed briefing the crew will transfer your gear to the three Zodiacs that take a maximum of 6 divers each. Just climb into the Zodiac and your gear will be waiting for you there. Show the guides how to handle your camera and they will make sure that it is delivered to your Zodiac with care and consideration.
August is in the middle of the dry season. Usually the northern shores are warmer (80-86F), with clearer waters, and the southern waters are cooler (70-75F). For the northern shores a 3mm suit is fine.
For the southern waters around Komodo and Rinca, and around Alor, a 5 or 7mm is the norm, some guests dive with a hooded vest in this cooler water. There are a lot of advanced products available to help keep you warm, so it will be good to explore those products and bring more than you think you may need.
As with most live-aboards today, the food is well thought out. They can adjust to accommodate special needs (Cathy and Herb are vegan, and the boat will accommodate them perfectly!) If you have any dietary restrictions, let the boat know in advance and you will be well accommodated. You never go hungry, there are snacks between dives, and the buffets are abundant.
The day starts with a continental breakfast before the first dive, and a full breakfast buffet after the dive.
Lunch and dinner often include Indonesian (or Asian) dishes and serve meat, fish and a variety of side dishes.
Trip 1, Bali to Komodo/Maumere (Spots still open!)
We will depart from Bali August 28 at 8am. We will have all day on the boat to assemble our cameras and get photo questions answered, relax and prepare for our diving. This is a better way to get to Komodo than spending the day flying to a closer airport.
We will cross the Lombok Channel and start diving on the 29th at the island of Moyo, a sparsely inhabited National Park surrounded by a Marine Reserve. A visit here is an unforgettable blend of man and nature. Next stop Sangeang with loads of pygmy seahorses and where the hot underwater springs makes a unique dive. This will give us a chance to dive with little current to get ourselves acclimated to the diving.
The next two days we will explore the wondrous and rich life of the Gili islands just north of Komodo. The sites will start to get more crowded, so we will have to plan accordingly. There will also be dives with more current, so we will need our reef hooks and be prepared with our cameras.
After some mild currents, we will be ready for the big time: Current City and Batu Bolong are top sites for lush reef covered with huge schools of red Anthias. It is difficult to choose just which amazing reef scenic to shoot next as every photo is filled to the brim with life and action lush in the strong currents. But we will strive to dive during slack times to photograph in more comfort.
During the next three days at Horseshoe Bay we will see frog fish, ghost pipe fish, and then on to Pulau Raja before sailing on to Maumere where we disembark on September 10.
Those leaving after trip 1 will return to Bali in time for a LATE flight home. Those staying on can leave their gear on board but will stay on land in Maumere September 10 and enjoy a tour and a break from diving for a day.
Trip 2: Maumere/Flores/Alor (Two spots left!)
You need to arrive in Bali in time to be picked up very early Sept 11 for your flight at 7:30 am to Maumere where you will board the M/V Pindito at noon. The stay over group will be diving on the pier during this transition day, and it is possible for the guests just arriving to dive by 4 pm, although many prefer to get settled in on arrival day.
The archipelago of Alor includes 6 islands with Pantar and Alor being the largest. There are more than 60 impressive and mostly untouched dive sites around Alor. Most of these lie in the nutrient-rich Pantar Straits between Alor and Pantar.
We all start diving in Alors September 12, at sites like Beangabang, on a village slope with lots of critters and a fantastic 10-foot night dive that even Cathy may go on!! There will be frog fish for everyone. Since Cathy has not yet been on this particular itinerary, and because the Pindito has it all on their web site, click here to see this incredible location!! It is amazing. The trip will be filled with so many opportunities we will all want to stay another week.
This is a relatively new area for diving, so the area is not crowded like Komodo and Raja Ampat, but it is lush with all the incredible biodiversity known in the golden triangle. Nutrient rich upwelling waters bring in pelagics: thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks, humpback whales, and even marlin and sailfish. The many protected pristine reefs provide a perfect home for smaller colorful creatures and up to 1,000 species of coral reef fishes! That should be enough for everyone. We will dive on walls, bommies and patch reef formations as well as black sand areas which provide perfect habitat for muck diving and all kinds of curious looking cryptic critters.
Alor & Kumba
On the island of Kumba there is a spectacular volcano that contributes to some of the most gorgeous sunsets. The surrounding waters harbor food-rich currents and cool waters (70-75 degrees), fantastic conditions for encounters with larger marine animals. White-tip and grey reef sharks, giant groupers, mantas, mola-mola, and whale sharks can be spotted around Kumba Island. Cathy is so looking forward to this trip! But make sure that you have a good way to keep warm in the water.
We return to Maumere on the evening of Sept. 20, and fly back to Bali on the 21st and leave Bali late that night or stay over to extend your holiday.
Coleman shrimp are found only on fire urchins.
Photography trips with Cathy Church
Why are you paying extra to travel with Cathy?
1. Mostly, she is there to make sure that you are getting the care you need, the dives you want, and the services above and underwater that you are expecting. You are not just one person among strangers, Cathy offers the strength of the entire group behind you. For example, when the guide says that you have to keep up with him, Cathy suggests that he goes slower while the group takes photos.
2. She is also there in case another guest is making you feel uncomfortable or is disrupting your ability to enjoy the trip. Fortunately, she has been called upon to do this only about three times in her more than 50 trips, but she has nipped several issues in the bud without most people even knowing about it and she has saved a few trips for the individuals.
3. Cathy will be available throughout this trip to answer photo questions, help with camera problems, critique as needed to troubleshoot or just to admire your photos. If you have photo topics in particular that you would like her to do a presentation on, she is quite happy to do that on the boat. She will have about 8 short presentations available by request.
4. AND -- Because she is better than any camera insurance you can buy. If you break, flood or lose your camera all the insurance company will do is help you buy a new one when you get home AFTER your trip. Cathy, however, brings entire extra camera systems for guests to use in case theirs fails. On two trips she even had to hand over her own housed SLR, but she is willing to do that because you are paying her enough for her to give up her own chance to take photos. She used a very small back-up camera instead, which, of course, was not like her own SLR. Now, however, even the back-up cameras, including a fine mirrorless camera, take excellent photos and are quite suitable for guests as a back-up.
She will work with each of you in advance to make sure that she knows what you are bringing and to offer any suggestions for improving your system. She then knows better what types of camera systems she should bring to improve the back-up suitabilities. She still, however, encourages everyone to bring as much of their own back-up systems as possible so the odds of success for everyone improve. While 100% is not possible, you just want to raise the odds however you all can.
Cost for trip #1 to Bali to Komodo ending is Maumere, 11 nights, August 28 - September 9, 2019 is $6236.00. (Spots still available!)
(The Komodo trip costs a little more as there is much more distance to cover, but we save on the airfare and inconvenience of flying an extra leg.)
Cost for trip #2 from Maumere to Alor ending in Maumere, 11 nights, September 11 - 22, 2019 is $5765.00. (Two spots left!)
Total for both trips is only $11,401.00.
Cancellation Policy -- coming soon
• cancel by August 1, 2018 full refund, less $400 cancellation fee
• cancel by Sept. 31, 2018, 60% refund* plus a $400 cancellation fee
• after November 30, 2018, no refund
* unless we can find a person to take your place from our approved list. (Cancellation fee still applies.)
We STRONGLY purchasing trip insurance such as Travelguard or DAN travel insurance. Credits for future trips will not be given if you need to cancel.
How to reserve your spot!
Deposit: $2500.00 per person, per trip, due at the time of booking
Balance due to be determined.