22 April 2014

A First for Silversea and Bahía Solano

Juan Carlos Restrepo (inset) and the pristine beach of Playa Blanca in the Ensenada
de Utría National Park.

We're pleased to share this special report from guest blogger Juan Carlos Restrepo, the Expedition Leader aboard Silver Explorer. A native of Colombia, he shares his thoughts on Silver Explorer's inaugural visit earlier this month to Ensenada de Utría National Park and Bahía Solano, located on the Pacific coast of Colombia in the department of Chocó.

Since I was a kid I have been fascinated by the Pacific coast of Colombia. I used to travel there with my family and then independently when I became older. Perhaps it is the remoteness, the rugged beauty, and its 'mega-diverse' character that make the Chocó region so special. It is one of the most isolated and difficult-to-get-to places I can think of. There are no roads in or out.

When the idea of offering an expedition cruise to this area came up more than two years ago, I enthusiastically became part of the project. I did the scouting then and have since worked with local tour operators to finalise this dream.

A Silver Explorer Zodiac takes guests ashore. (Photo courtesy of Proexport Colombia.)

Ensenada de Utría National Park is managed by a co-operative of local inhabitants, a pilot project in Colombia. They were our guides at Playa Blanca, where guests snorkeled, swam, kayaked and enjoyed the beach, and again, in the afternoon, when they escorted us along a brand new mangrove forest boardwalk. This one-kilometre raised walkway gave us an opportunity to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna of this ecologically important tidal forest without getting our feet wet.

Mangrove forest boardwalk.

The nature walk was followed by a cultural performance by the Cantadoras de Alabados, a ladies’ singing group. Their music and dances form part of a long-lived cultural tradition of the Afro-Pacific peoples of Colombia derived from ancestral African roots. The performances celebrate important lifetime events such as births and deaths. Local snacks and drinks accompanied the performance; a wonderful end to our day in Ensenada de Utría.

Cantadoras de Alabados. (Photo courtesy of Proexport Colombia.)

The next morning we called at Bahía Solano, a town of less than 10,000. The community had been anticipating and preparing for our arrival for months. It was a big event for the town, as well as us. It reminded me of Macondo, Gabriel García Marquez’s magical town where his book 100 Years of Solitude took place. We visited Bahía Solano’s school first, where we were greeted by hundreds of children singing and dancing. Local authorities and the media were also there. We presented the school principal with donations from our guests—mostly great quantities of school supplies and sports equipment. After that, we visited the church, the library, the fish market and finally a local handicraft market and fair especially arranged for our visit, where pretty much everyone in town showed up to meet us. We were treated to more Afro-Pacific singing and dancing and I was delighted to see the reactions of our guests at such a lovely display of warmth and kindness by my fellow Colombians. I have never been as proud of my motherland and my people as I was that day.

Bahía Solano extends a warm welcome to Silversea guests.

Guests go exploring. (Photo courtesy of Proexport Colombia.)

A picturesque church in Bahía Solano. (Photo courtesy of Proexport Colombia)

We made virtually every news broadcast and newspaper in the country. The first call of the Silver Explorer was a massive event for these communities in a region that needs and deserves the world’s attention and the benefits of ship-borne tourism.

We were the first cruise ship to ever visit Ensenada de Utría National Park, a park that many native Colombians couldn’t locate—it is that far off the beaten path. We were also first at Bahía Solano, a town which had never seen a cruise ship anchored off its shores before.


Silversea photography by Aliscia Young.

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02 April 2014

Silver Discoverer Embarks on Inaugural Voyage

Today Silver Discoverer welcomes her first guests, exactly 20 years to the day since Silversea launched its first ultra-luxury cruise ship.

Setting sail at 4:30 p.m. on her inaugural voyage from the port city of Broome, in northern Western Australia, the 120-guest, all-suite expedition ship will spend 10 days exploring the Kimberley Coast's jaw-dropping landscapes and ancient human history. A vast, rugged region, Kimberley is home to towering waterfalls, wildlife-rich wetlands, and fascinating Aboriginal rock art painted over 20,000 years ago. This remarkable maiden journey concludes in Darwin, following a visit to Indonesia's Leti Island.

King George Falls on north Kimberley Coast. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia.)

Silver Discoverer's inaugural season will encompass many of the Pacific Ocean's most isolated corners. In addition to several Kimberley Coast voyages, there will be visits to wild and rarely travelled lands in Southeast Asia, Micronesia, Melanesia, East Asia, the Russian Far East, New Zealand, and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. And in 2015, Polynesia will join the schedule, plus a host of other exciting new Pacific destinations, such as the remote Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati, which includes Nikumaroro, the island some believe to be the final resting place of famed aviator Amelia Earhart.

Palau, Micronesia

These exhilarating expedition cruises offer adventure travellers rare opportunities to discover unique cultures, such as the Māori people of New Zealand, with their rich history and timeless traditions; spot exotic wildlife in their natural habitat, such as the endangered orangutans, Asian elephants, and Sumatran rhinos of Borneo; or witness spectacular natural landscapes, including the massive volcanoes of the Alaska Peninsula and the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

Orangutan mother and baby.

Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan, Philippines.

These are the kinds of places that most travellers can only dream about. Aboard Silver Discoverer, not only will our guests visit these places, but they will be enriched by an onboard programme of destination lectures, photo presentations and daily recaps. And, the exploratory Zodiac excursions and interactive walks ashore, led by experts in their field -- marine biologists, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, historians, and anthropologists, are complimentary.

Over the past 20 years, our company has developed a reputation for exploring exotic locales. It seems only fitting that this latest addition to our fleet will be sailing to what are arguably some of the world's most remote, most pristine, and least explored regions.

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26 March 2014

A Gala Christening for Silver Discoverer

Pictured from left are: Steve Odell, President, Europe & Asia Pacific, Silver Discoverer
Captain Luksa Plecas, Godmother Elda Turco Bulgherini & Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio.

Break open the champagne! Our third expedition ship, Silver Discoverer, officially joined the Silversea Expeditions fleet during a christening ceremony held today at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore.

Lion dance performance.

Bhangra folk dancers.

A traditional Chinese lion dance performance and bhangra folk dancers provided colourful local entertainment for the quayside event. Silversea's senior executive team and company chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio were on hand to welcome a guest list that included local dignitaries and members of the trade and media from around the world.

Following a blessing, honorary godmother Elda Turco Bulgherini, professor of navigation law at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, officially welcomed Silver Discoverer to the Silversea Expeditions fleet by cutting a ceremonial ribbon.

Silver Discoverer is showered with celebratory champagne.

Fresh from a major refurbishment, Silver Discoverer has been updated with elegant carpets, upholstery, and photography.

New decorative photography inspires a sense of adventure throughout the ship.

Up to 120 guests are accommodated in 62 all ocean-view suites, each featuring an in-suite bar set-up, refrigerator, and a totally renovated bathroom, enhanced with rich marble detailing. Besides a new walk-in rainforest shower, each bathroom features a new vanity, shelving, mirrors, lighting fixtures, and wood flooring. Plus, all suites have been redecorated and outfitted with reupholstered furniture, new flat screen TVs, and new mattresses topped with luxurious Pratesi bed linens. Select suites benefit from a small private balcony.

Medallion Suite

Public areas include a restaurant, main lounge (and lecture room), The Discoverer Lounge (with seating for breakfast and lunch), The Grill (for outdoor dining), an outside bar, and a small swimming pool. An all-new sun deck area has also been added, along with a fitness, beauty and massage room. All public areas have been refitted with either new or reupholstered furniture to provide Silversea's guests an expedition cruising experience in the comfortable and intimate Silversea atmosphere.

The Restaurant

Discoverer Lounge

Main Lounge

Main Lounge

Fitness Centre

With expedition cruise itineraries encompassing some of the most fascinating and remote regions of the Pacific, Silver Discoverer will take our guests to places where few people have ever set foot. She embarks on her maiden voyage from Broome to Darwin on 2 April, exploring Australia's spectacular Kimberley Coast.


Photos courtesy of Ralph Grizzle, The Avid Cruiser.

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12 March 2014

The Incredible Zodiac: Key to Authentic Expeditions

Consider an expedition cruise without the Zodiac. In Antarctica, for example, exploration ashore would be impossible. “Without them [the Zodiacs], we could only do a scenic cruise and go back to Ushuaia [in South America] without ever landing,” said Expedition Team Leader Kara Weller during a recent voyage in Antarctica on Silver Explorer.

Silver Explorer often deploys its Zodiac crafts to ferry guests ashore and to take them on scenic cruises through ice-strewn channels, past towering icebergs and along the rugged faces of glaciers, with their turquoise-hued crevices.

Elsewhere, during landings, the flat-bottomed boats push through the surf right up on to the shore.

In other regions, Zodiacs might also be used to journey up a river to meet a remote village community.

Or for exploring deep inside a glistening cave.

The indispensable Zodiac allows for up-close encounters with wildlife, exotic cultures, and amazing scenery. Those who cruise the Earth's most secluded regions on ships without these remarkable inflatable watercraft are both literally — and figuratively — missing the boat.


Top photo credit: Ralph Grizzle

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08 February 2014

Should you pack a bikini for Antarctica?

Deception Island, Antarctica

If you're heading to Antarctica and you're the kind of intrepid traveller who enjoys entertaining friends and family with amazing travel tales, then you might actually consider packing swimwear along with your thermal underwear. Unbeknownst to all but the savviest of travellers -- and maybe a few volcanologists -- there are very warm waters to be found in Antarctica, but you have to know where to look.

In the South Shetland archipelago just off the Antarctic Peninsula sits what is arguably the most incredible island on Earth. It is an active volcano known as Deception Island, and while most of it lies submerged under water, its collapsed caldera forms a horseshoe-shaped harbour called Whaler's Bay, which has been providing sheltered anchorage for mariners for centuries.

Silver Explorer's expedition team has recorded temperatures of around 53 degrees Celsius (127° F) below the surface of the beach. So if you like super-steamy beaches, the black lava sands of Deception Island will not disappoint.

And for the hardiest of souls, a plunge directly into the freezing waters of Antarctica is something to consider. On a recent voyage, Silver Explorer's staff secured a Zodiac at the gangway to function as a floating platform for plungers. Wearing nothing more than swimsuits, one at a time, the plungers jumped into the sea, which registered a teeth-chattering -1 degree Celsius (30° F), with air temperatures hovering at 4 degrees Celsius (24° F).

Nearly half of the more than 100 guests on Silver Explorer donned swimsuits and braved the cold air to plunge into the Antarctic waters. They received a certificate -- along with bragging rights -- for their baptism in the frigid water. Even a large complement of the crew plunged. Silver Explorer’s chef dove in -- and swam, taking his time getting out of the water as guests applauded.

“Horrifyingly cold!” said one plunger, as he emerged from the sea and wrapped himself in a towel. “Like a thousand tiny bee stings,” said another. One Asian couple could say nothing at all -- in English or in their native language -- they only giggled at one another while shivering and cinching their bathrobes.

Far from a nightmare, the Polar Plunge is one of the highlights on a voyage to Antarctica. It is a symbolic badge of honor, something few can claim having done in a region where only around 23,000 visitors step ashore annually.

Dare you do the Polar Plunge? Silver Explorer's future Antarctica expedition cruises offer ample opportunities for you to find out.

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16 December 2013

Antarctica: When Words Fail

Silver Explorer in Antarctica

World traveller Ralph Grizzle, publisher of Avid Cruiser, is in Antarctica this week, sailing on an expedition cruise aboard Silver Explorer.

And he has just discovered something we've long known about Antarctica: words fall short in trying to describe this amazing corner of the world. Here's how Mr Grizzle describes his experience on Day 3 of his Live Voyage Report:

"I have been writing for many years. I studied journalism, won a few awards for writing, have written a few books even. In short, I’ve committed myself to words and to telling stories. My mission has been to inform and inspire travelers, and yet, I am unable to relate in words, photos or video what we saw today."

To follow along on this remarkable journey, read Mr Grizzle's daily postings at Live Voyage Reports.

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21 November 2013

Silver Explorer landing in South Georgia

Silver Explorer is on her first Antarctic expedition of the 2013/2014 season and made her first landing in South Georgia this morning.

Those aboard were delighted to see penguins and seals while exploring Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.


Penguins in Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

Conrad Combrink, Director of Expedition Planning & Strategic Development, in front of a sea of penguins.

Seal amongst penguins at Salisbury Plain.

Posing for a photo opp at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

Our very own 'March of the Penguins' at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

Penguin reflection.

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07 November 2013

Silversea Expeditions - Scouting Southeast Asia - Yogyakarta

By Daniil Elterman, Assistant Expedition Leader

Sitting at the airport of Surabaya and waiting for my flight to Yogyakarta, I scan through the photos of my last few days in East Java and still can not believe that only yesterday and the day before I stood on the edges of smoking craters of some of the most famous volcanoes in Indonesia – Ijen and Bromo. Looking down into the smoking pits, trying to spot a bottom through raising sulfur smoke….

Two days ago, after inspecting harbor of Banyuwangi – our access point to Ijen Volcano - my guide Kadek and I jumped into our Land Rover and set off for a ways up, towards the start of the trail that eventually will take us all the way to the crater that hosts the world’s largest acidic crater lake, known as Kawah Ijen.

The trail itself is not that long – only 3 kilometers - but it was a strenuous hike almost every step of the way, sloping at 20 and sometimes 40 degree angles and covered with loose volcanic sand that makes it rather slippery. The trail is winding it’s way up, hugging the slope like some endless gray snake… We forced our way up, and now and then (more and more often as we go) we stopped to catch our breath, scrambling for our cameras, so that it looked like we just stopped to take yet another snap of the breathtaking scenery around. Luckily, the photo opportunities are aplenty, as the view and angles change as the trail makes another bend.


We encountered local men rushing down with heavy loads of sulfur that they just excavated from the crater and then were carrying it back to the base where a local company buys the material. I am afraid to think of how many trips up und down the slope these men do every day and,about the slippery, treacherous trails they repeatedly have to take…



Ijen Volcano


Local man carrying sulfur to sell.


Stopping for a photo opp during the long hike.

But nothing could prepare me for the magnificence of the view that suddenly unfolded as I turned the last bend towards the crater. Only one turn of the trail, and I am on a different planet – a lifeless, steaming land of all shades of grey, brown, yellow, with deep cracks running on all sides or the crater threatening to swallow anyone who would dare to approach too close…

The wicked, otherworldly beauty has a hypnotic power that draws you closer and closer to the edge, inviting to take a glimpse into the poisonous green eye of the steaming lake deep below. It appears and disappears periodically as the density of the smoke constantly changes.



Kawah Ijen Crater Lake


Kawah Ijen Crater Lake


Walking along the edge.


One of my worries was that hiking two volcanoes two days in a row will be “too much of the same,” but In fact, the experience couldn’t be any more different.

Mount Bromo is certainly not the highest volcano in Indonesia, but no other volcano will match the scenery of it’s setting and the magnificence of the surrounding views.

We had to wake up at 03:00 AM to make sure that we caught the sunrise over the volcano – a sight that attracts thousands of “photo-pilgrims” to this spot year round.  The rush for the best view spots in such an early hour was something totally unexpected – a huge mixed crowd of people on foot and motorbikes were flowing through the narrow street between the souvenir and breakfast stalls. After having slept only a few hours, desperately trying not to lose my guide and not to get killed by one of “sepeda motor” (local moped), I thought to myself – It better be worth it…

This thought persisted as I stood in the darkness, shivering from pre-dawn chill that you kind of don’t expect in a tropical region, and staring into the black, with only a glimpse of a white smoke there to entertain the eye. Until…


As the first sunrays arrived to scout the worthiness of this world, craters appeared one by one, and suddenly all you hear around is only “click, click, click”… My frozen fingers reach for the camera, and my first (out of a thousand and one) capture is taken.

Mount Bromo


Mount Bromo


Mount Bromo

The second part of Bromo experience was driving down into the valley for a hike to the crater. They call the valley “Sand Sea”, as from above it looks like flat water surface, with “islands” of craters rising up from it.

Mount Bromo

Down below we discovered that Sand Sea is an absolutely flat plateau, carpeted with volcanic sand and savanna-like grasses. And when I saw horse riders galloping through the grasses, it mentally transferred me to Mongolia, but only for a moment, as we had just arrived to the parking spot.

Immediately we were surrounded by local people offering us a horse ride towards the crater. For those who are not so fit, it is definitely an option, as it is a one kilometer walk upon volcanic sand, with increasing elevation as you go further. Sitting on the horse surrounded by the volcanic craters makes a great holiday photo.


But horses only can go so far – eventually you reach the steps that lead up, all the way to the ridge of the crater. Everyone can choose their own pace to climb, though during rush hour you may get a bit of an encouragement from the back.

Ride your way up while enjoying the scenery.


Or walk through the sands if you wish.


But you cannot escape the steps - all 240 of them. (I counted!)

And once on top – bask in the smell of sulfur, try to spot the bottom of the crater, pose for photos, or climb even higher along the ridge to become a photo opportunity for the others.

Tourist photographing the crater at Mount Bromo.


Looking out into the crater at Mount Bromo.


Daniil Elterman, Assistant Expedition Leader


Two days – two smoking volcanoes… As you are reading this blog, someone in Silversea Expeditions is already raking their brain, figuring out how to bring YOU there in a near future. And the good thing is – that EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

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31 October 2013

Silversea Expeditions - Scouting Southeast Asia - Torajaland

By Daniil Elterman, Assistant Expedition Leader

Another day, another amazing destination…

This time my scouting trip took me to one of the most spectacular places in Indonesia – Tana Toraja, or Torajaland.

Torajaland is located in the highlands of Sothern Sulawesi and is home to majority of Toraja people, whose history dates back 5000 years. Some clans from Southern China escaping from the local war eventually made it all the way to Sulawesi where they settled down. They preserved their unique culture and way of living through all these centuries and only recently were discovered as “tourist attraction”.

It is not that easy to get there as the location is quiet remote – the nearest airport is 7 hours away in Makassar. Therefore, small local ports like Pare Pare and Palopo serve as easier access points.

Torajaland is famous for its traditional houses, shaped like a bull’s head and very exquisitely decorated. Some of them are used as granaries, but some of them have living rooms as well. 


Traditional homes in Torajaland.

It takes more than a year, sometimes two, to build a house like that, as each and every one of them is a masterpiece that requires a lot of exquisite carving, painting and carpentry. Toraja families see these ancestral houses as their heritage and status symbol. The peculiar shape of the house represents head of a water buffalo – the most sacred animal for Toraja people.

There are other things that put them apart from the rest of the world, and one of them is their Funeral Ceremony. Births and marriages do not matter for them as much as the funerals of their family members. Toraja people save money their entire lives to ensure a decent funeral for their spouses, parents and grandparents. Preparations can take as long as few months - the whole sites are being constructed where hundreds of visitors can be accommodated, sacrificial animals are being groomed and dresses made, all while the deceased await, embalmed in natural preservatives. When everything is ready and the announcement made, hundreds of visitors flow from different corners of Torajaland, most of them somehow related to the dead person. They bring sacrificial animals with them – pigs, cows and of course buffalos. No Toraja can be buried without his or her relatives slaughtering a buffalo – as it’s spirit will be transporting dead man’s soul to Paradise. The wealthier and more prominent citizens can have as many as 24 buffalos sacrificed at their funeral, plus countless number of pigs and poultry.  The meat would be eaten by relatives and visitors.

You will see no mourners there – it is a celebration - with singing, dancing, processions, bull fights and water fights among the visitors. I was “lucky” to visit such a ceremony (tourists are welcome!), and the deceased lady had a high status in her community, so the ceremony was as lavish as they get!


Coffin is carried through the village to give dead person the last glimpse of the area.

Then elevated, so the deceased one can have a better view.

Sometimes not without a challenge.

The graveyards are almost as unique as the funeral ceremony – many people are buried in caves, with their remains openly displayed. Others are confined within niches painstakingly chiseled in the rock face. There are even those whose rotting coffins perch high above ground, so empty sockets can gaze above the villages and rice paddies that once were their walking grounds.




Playing Indiana Jones.

But it’s not all about the death in Torajaland. As I drive from one village to another with my Toraja guide Andre, I see life happening all around – new houses are being built, artisans are at work, rice paddies are being tended to and water buffalos are fed and groomed by young children, whose education will be paid for after the buffalo is sold.


Child caring for water buffalo.


Water buffalo

It’s time to move on – other Indonesian islands are calling, but I’m already looking forward to visiting this incredible land of Water Buffalo again, this time together with Silversea guests onboard Silver Discoverer. I was told that May is the most beautiful month in Torajaland – when everything is lush and green after the rainy season and the farm works are in full swing.

Keep your watch, dead people of Toraja, so living ones can prosper… or so the living ones believe.


Daniil Elterman, Torajaland, October 2013

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24 October 2013

Silversea Expeditions - Scouting Southeast Asia - Malaysia

By Daniil Elterman, Assistant Expedition Leader 

It is truly a sad feeling to leave Malaysian Borneo behind – it had been a full week on the road, exploring our future ports of call. Minivans, airplanes and speedboats were delivering me to some most remote locations, and newly made friends - Anna Marie, Severino and June were bringing the scenery alive with their in-depth knowledge of local customs, traditions and nature. This was my first ever trip to Malaysia, but I am already looking forward to the next one – onboard the Silver Discoverer in May and September 2014, where my newly obtained knowledge of the destination will be put to a good use.

But let’s start from the beginning…

Modern Longhouse

The first place that I visited on this scouting trip was Kudat, a small town close to the Northernmost tip of Borneo. Kudat was the Sabah’s first capital and is still home of Rungus – the indigenous tribe on the Kudat peninsula.  Accessed primarily by sea until less than 50 years ago, when a road eventually linked Kudat with Kota Kinabalu, Kudat’s past isolation has insured that much of the original charm and traditions of the region remain relatively unchanged. Many Rungus still work as agriculturists and wear a modified version of their traditional dresses. Many of them still live in traditional longhouses – and I had a privilege to visit two of them, one longhouse-museum, built using only with traditional materials like bamboo and tree bark, and the modern one – where few hundreds people of all generations still live together and share common area of the house. Rungus women are renowned for their handicrafts, particularly by their woven fabrics, beadwork and basket ware. Those looking for a hand made souvenir will definitely find something to bring home.

Longhouse Museum

Being so close to the Northern tip of Borneo, it would be wrong not pay homage to this scenic place that offers spectacular views over the South China Sea.  Stormy weather visited the cape at the same time as me and just added another dimension (a wet one) to my experience.




To make a perfect expedition experience, culture had to be diluted with nature and my next stop offer everything that a true nature lover may wish for – Rainforest, Orangutans, Proboscis Monkeys, Sun bears and great bird watching from extensive canopy walks – I was in Sandakan, on the east coast of Borneo.

Sandakan is a gateway to some of the richest wildlife areas found anywhere in Southeast Asia.

On my first day I visited a Sun Bear Conservation center, which is currently under construction and will be open in January 2014, where I saw these rare animals climbing the trees. There are 28 Sun Bears roaming freely in an area of few hectares, so one must bring a pair of binoculars to ensure a good sighting, unless you are very lucky and a bear will come to the viewing platforms.

Conveniently, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation center is located right next door so you can have a great view of these forest acrobats. A few times a day they are fed on the special platforms and that makes them come out from the rainforest and “show off” in front of the visitors, jumping on the platform, hanging from the ropes with one hand and eating a banana with another, jumping from tree to tree and chasing each other around. A show not to be missed!

But the most charismatic primates I encountered at our next stop, Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.  This sanctuary is located on the edge of Palm Tree Plantation and the forest and offers very close-up views on these charming creatures, especially during feeding time. This is also a great place to see Pied Hornbills – they sit on the trees awaiting their chance to snatch a piece of banana.


Proboscis Monkeys

But my absolutel favorite stop of the day was Rainforest Discovery Center with its extensive canopy walk and numerous rainforest trails, where birders and botanists will have only one problem – how to leave! My hope was to see an endemic Bornean Bristlehead, common to this part of rainforest, but unfortunately my time there was limited and eventually I left with only Stork-Billed and Collared kingfishers, Asian Black Hornbill, White-breasted waterhen, Green leafbird and few others on my “tick” list.

Kinabatangan River – was a real expedition day. Together with our agent Anna Marie, we travelled 90 kilometers upriver in a speedboat, spotting numerous birds (added another 4 species of hornbills to my list), crocodiles, Orangutans and Long Tailed Macaques in the wild, and stopped at the remote Abai village, where community of few hundred people leave on a small island, men mostly fishing and growing rice and women looking after children and making handicrafts. We had a walk through the village with community elders, making plans how to make this visit possible for Silversea Expeditions guests as well. There is just so much to find along the sides of the river and our Silver Discoverer call here will be in true expedition style!


Typical house in Abai village

Who said that scouting the heart of Borneo can not include some luxury?

Two nights in Borneo Rainforest Lodge proved to be truly unforgettable. Situated in the middle of the Danum Valley rainforest (apparently the oldest on the planet, or so I was told) it offers 5 star comfort and services, from private outdoor baths to exquisite Asian and Western cuisine. Surrounded by the most pristine nature, it offers wildlife viewing drives, walks, hikes. And it was on my way to the canopy walk that I spotted an endemic Blue-headed Pitta – the highlight of my morning.

Sitting at night at the bar on a private veranda, I listened to the most unearthly (or most earthly, really) sounds coming from the dark rainforest on the other side of the river – nocturnal birds, frogs, owls, cicadas – were competing in some “Rainforest’s Got Talent” competition with the guests of the lodge being the judges…

This soul-healing experience of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge I can easily recommend to anyone who would like to receive a pure nature treatment before they embark on the cruise or after, before departing to our concrete jungles of the Western world.





Tun Sakaran Marine park, located off the coast not far from town of Semporna, was my last stop on this Borneo adventure.  I visited two islands: Boheydulang, which offers a hike to the peak of the island from where one can admire the views on the multiple islands around, access the Giant Clam Research facility (I never knew that they grow THIS big!) and good snorkeling in the vicinity of the jetty; and Sibuan island – a tiny sand spit with an even tinier community living on it – where I snorkeled above the uninterrupted carpet of  healthy, colorful coral with all its inhabitants thinking, “ Does this really have to end???”   Well, it’s doesn’t – three weeks in Indonesia are coming up, so – TO BE CONTINUED!





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