Cruise through the remote islands of the Philippines and Indonesia on a pioneering ship expedition as you discover the underwater world of the whale shark.
Lying like pearls scattered across the quator, the archipelagos of the Philippines and Indonesia's undiscovered islands are the postcard defintition of paradise where pristine blue waves gently lap at white sand beaches. Discover primordial jungles and untouched coral reefs, home to a plethora of wildlife as myriad adventures await above and below the surface. Learn about incredible history, heritage, and ancient cultures as you cruise on the luxurious 140-guest expedition ship, the Heritage Adventurer.
Explore the 'Galapagos of Asia', Sibuyan Island, visit the 'Whale Shark Capital of the World' and swim with these gentle giants before discovering the 'Eight wonder of the world' on Bohol Island. The Tojoman Lagoon proves to be an oasis for wildlife as you search for Crested Black Macaque, saucer-eyed Tarsier, and thousands of stingless jellyfish. Set sail where few have gone and join us on an authentic expedition as we cruise the untouched beauty of the Philippines and Indonesia
Visit the 'Whale Shark Capital of the World'
Look for the critically endangered Crested Black Macaque
Snorkel in pristine coral reefs and be surrounded by thousands of tropical fish
Explore Sibuyan, the 'Galapagos of Asia' and discover the fascinating history of the Spice Islands at Banda Neira
Day 1 - Manila - Philippines
Arrive in the Philippines' bustling capital Manila, a former port town, now a buzzing commercial hub, heritage centre and culinary hotspot. Transfer to your hotel where your group will spend the first night of the expedition. This evening, meet you fellow voyagers and expedition guides over dinner at the hotel.
Day 2 - Manila
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before exploring this fascinating city which mixes Spanish colonial architecture with modern skyscrapers before joining Heritage Adventurer this afternoon. The captain and expedition team will be waiting to greet you on arrival and show you to your cabin. You will have time to settle in and familiarise yourself with the ship; we will also take the opportunity to introduce your expedition team and our voyage plans. You are invited to join the expedition team in the Observation Lounge and up on the Observation Deck as we sail for Sibuyan Island.
Day 3 - Sibuyan Island
One of the three main islands and the second largest in the Romblon archipelago, Sibuyan Island offers a glimpse into primordial Philippines, due to its isolation from the mainland. With 50 percent of the island covered in what many consider the world’s densest rainforest, including large swathes of primary-growth woodland, it is little wonder Sibuyan has been dubbed ‘Galapagos of Asia’ with its more than 100 bird species, 15 types of bats, dozens of reptiles and amphibians, undiscovered insect species and an estimated 700 types of plant, including 54 species endemic to the island. Options today include an energetic hike for birders up Cantigas Mountain, or experience an authentic slice of village life.
Day 4 - Donsol & Ticao Island
Considered the ‘Whale Shark Capital of the World’, at the small fishing village of Donsol there will be the opportunity to enjoy the unforgettable experience of swimming and snorkelling with these gentle giants which are known to grow more than 12-metres in length. Joining local boats and guides we will venture into the bay where, during the months of November through June, large concentrations of plankton attract the world’s largest fish and, if we are lucky, Manta Rays may also be observed in the pellucid water. Our afternoon will be spent on the tropical paradise of Ticao Island where one of the Philippines best kept secrets, the towering Catandayagan Falls which tumble down sheer stone cliffs into the ocean in a dramatic display of unrestrained nature. There may also be the opportunity to visit a local village.
Day 5 - Bohol Island
An early rise with cameras at the ready is recommended this morning as the sun rises over Bohol Island’s famed Chocolate Hills this morning. Often dubbed the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World,’ during the dry season the grass covering the more than 1,200 conical karst hills scattered across an area of 50 square kilometres turns a chocolatey brown creating this incredible phenomena best enjoyed from a viewing station some 200 steps up, but absolutely worth the effort. During our time here we may explore the lush countryside cruising the Loboc River by local boats sampling local delicacies and traditional music from local musicians. Other highlights include a visit to a Tarsier Sanctuary to see the world’s second smallest primate the tiny Philippine Tarsier, the threatened species are protected in the Philippines but their numbers are declining due to logging, mining and the illegal pet trade, the coral stone Baclayon Church and National Cultural Treasure, and sampling The Pastry Capital of Bohol’s world famous Broa or Lady Fingers. This afternoon unwind on the pristine white sand beaches of Balicasag Island. Ringed by a reef and marine sanctuary enjoy an incredible underwater experience snorkelling impressive coral garden and underwater cliffs teeming with colourful marine life including, if we are lucky, sea turtles.
Day 6 - Bucas Grande Island
Emerging from the shadow of its popular neighbour surfing hot spot Siargao Island, Bucas Grande Island combines stunning white sand beaches, with waterfalls, emerald green waters, mangroves, expansive limestone cave systems, iron wood forests, inland lakes, elaborate coral gardens, exotic wildlife and rightly famous 60-kilometre Sohoton Cove and National Park. Look for Rufous Hornbill as we explore this pristine tropical island paradise Zodiac cruising the coastline where quiet coves and beaches await discovery both above and below the water. Highlights here include Tojoman Lagoon/Sohoton Jellyfish Sanctuary where thousands of stingless jellyfish thrive, the iconic Blue Lagoon with its labyrinthine waterways comprised of numerous limestone islets and incredible snorkelling, swimming and hiking opportunities. At nearby Cinnamon Island, named after its abundance of cinnamon trees, a cup of the local delicacy, cinnamon tea, has become the traditional welcome.
Day 7 - At Sea
Relax on board after our recent adventures, join a lecture or our naturalists on deck, update your photos/journal or watch the world go by in the Observation Lounge.
Day 8 - Bitung, Indonesia
Berthing at the bustling, cosmopolitan harbour of Bitung, Manado city, we head for the nearby wildlife-filled jungles of Tangkoko Nature Reserve one of Indonesia’s oldest reserves. Spanning some 8,800 hectares from beaches to the peak of Tangkoko Mountain the reserve is a haven for endemic flora and fauna. Exploring the lowland tropical rainforest with local guides, we’ll be looking for the critically endangered Crested Black Macaque, known for their distinctive pink rumps and jet-black mohawks, symbol of Bitung and smallest primate in the world the saucer-eyed Tarsier and Sulawesi Bear Cuscus. For birders there’s the Knobbed Hornbills, Kingfishers, Sulawesi Myna, Lorikeets and Maleo birds, other flying highlights include the brightly-coloured Forester Moth and the Draco Flying Lizard or Sulawesi Lined Gliding Lizard.
Day 9 - Ternate
This surprisingly busy island city and port, once a leading clove and nutmeg producer, sits perched alongside the dramatic cone of triple-peaked volcano Gamalama in the North Maluku Islands. Well off the tourist route and renowned for its incredible scenic beauty and fascinating history, today is a true expedition day with options including visiting the spice and cinnamon plantations, the palace of the Sultan of Ternate, numerous forts dating back to the colonial era, the stunning views over Ngade Lake and observing the bustling, anachronistic port in action.
Day 10 - Banggai Islands & Taliabu Island
Today we plan to explore the intricate archipelago of 123 Banggai Islands, of which 69 are inhabited, sitting just below the arm of Central Sulawesi, at the convergence of the Banda and Maluku Seas. Home to astounding coral reefs including “the mother of all living coral reefs” according to British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace who embarked on a famed field trip in the 19th Century, which led him to devise the theory of evolution through natural selection independently of Charles Darwin. An astounding variety of marine life awaits below the surface including Ribbon Eels, anglerfish, the Zebra-striped endemic Banggai Cardinal and Dugong among others, while verdant jungles are home to incredible wildlife and villages where life is still hacked out of the jungle and taken from the sea. Such is their remoteness that in 2020 scientists discovered 3 new bird species on nearby birding hotspot Taliabu Island including the Taliabu Grasshopper-warbler, Taliabu Myzomela and the Taliabu Leaf-warbler, and three new subspecies the Taliabu Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Taliabu Island Thrush and Sula Mountain Leaftoiler.
Day 11 - Buru Island
Fascinating and seldom visited, Buru Island is located at the boundary between the biogeographic zones of Australia and Asia. A high proportion of the species of birds and mammals here are found nowhere else with 10 endemic bird species and 4 endemic mammals as well as a number of near-endemic species. This morning we will explore these remote shores together with our expert naturalists and guides. Enjoy opportunities to explore the forests in search of wildlife and many of the endemic species including the Blue-fronted Lorikeet and experience the hospitality of local communities during village visits.
Day 12 - Banda Neira
Under consideration as a World Heritage Site due to its fascinating history as the centre of the Spice Islands trade and incredible biodiversity, Banda Neira is the main island in the archipelago of 10 tiny volcanic Banda Islands. Once the world’s sole source of nutmeg due to the islands’ native Myristica trees, the principal town of Banda Neira offers a glimpse into bygone days with its charming 17th century European relics including the five-sided Fort Belgica overlooking the harbour. Built in 1611 by the first Governor General of the Dutch East Indies and refurbished in the 90s it was designed to guard against sea threats and to protect the colonialists from any uprising locals. Across a narrow strait lies 640-metre cone of active volcano Gunung Banda Api which sits on its own island and is home to a variety of wildlife and bird species. Below the sparkling sapphire water the islands’ location near the centre of the Coral Triangle is evident with sprawling coral fields where myriad fish species including Scorpion, Ghost Pipefish, Napoleon Wrasse, Mandarin Fish, Hammerhead Sharks and more can be observed. Village visits and cultural immersions round out our time here including observing Banda’s famous Kora Kora canoes in action.
Day 13 - Tanimbar Islands
Discover paradise on our last stop before we arrive in Darwin, as we enjoy another expedition day well off the typical tourist route exploring the powdery white sand shores and crystal-clear waters of the Tanimbar Archipelago. This group of about 65 islands separating the Banda and Arafura Seas, is fringed by unspoiled beaches and reefs home to abundant coral gardens and teeming with marine life, the islands are a snorkellers paradise, while birders can look out for the Tanimbar Starling, poorly known Moluccan or Lesser Masked Owl, Fawn-breasted thrush and Blue-streaked Lory. We also plan to experience the unique culture and traditional crafts like Ikat cloth and carved wooden statues the islands are known for.
Day 14 - At Sea
Take the time to relax and reflect on an amazing experience as we recap the highlights and enjoy a farewell dinner this evening.
Day 15 - Darwin, Australia
This morning we arrive in Darwin, Australia’s ‘northern gateway’ famous for its glittering harbour, World War II history and enviable tropical outdoor lifestyle. After breakfast there will be a complimentary coach to a central hotel or to Darwin International Airport. For those disembarking, to allow time for disembarkation procedures and travel from Darwin, we do not recommend booking flights departing before 1500 hours.
Heritage Adventurer - Heritage Adventurer (formerly known as MS Hanseatic) is often referred to as the ‘Grande Dame of Polar Exploration’ due to her celebrated history and refined design. She was purpose-built for adventure in 1991 at Finland’s Rauma shipyard and specifically designed for Polar exploration with a 1A Super Ice Class. She has held records for the most northern and southern Arctic and Antarctic navigations, and for traversing both the Northwest and Northeast Passages.
Accommodating 140 passengers (originally designed for 184 guests), the Heritage Adventurer offers a spacious stylish, and comfortable home for your expedition.
|Jun 27 - Jul 11 2023