The Rise of the Yacht Safari

The Rise of the Yacht Safari

The word 'safari' typically conjures up visions of dusty Land Rovers, dirt roads, lions, elephants and herds of antelopes. But imagine the Land Rover was actually a luxury yacht, the dirt roads were turquoise seas, and the wildlife included Komodo dragons, birds-of-paradise, schools of manta rays and pods of dolphins. Welcome to one of Indo Yachts' yacht safaris.

"A yacht safari is all about reaching remote places in Indonesia that are only accessible by boat, immersing yourself in nature, experiencing an untouched world, and then leaving without a trace," says Nikko Karki, who founded Indo Yachts, Indonesia's only full-service yacht charter broker, and has cultivated the concept based on client and travel trends over the past few years. "Your itinerary will be framed around the best places to see Indonesia's diverse array of wildlife and, with every tailored activity, you will be able to see something new. Enjoy up-close encounters from the yacht, on land or under the water, and then sail to the next secret spot. Total privacy and exclusivity guaranteed. All you take with you is incredible memories."

As the demand for experiential travel shows no sign of slowing among high end travellers, luxury safaris have become ever more appealing. Combining a sense of adventure, exotic locales and an environmental focus, safaris offer guests an unparalleled chance for a meaningful, unforgettable holiday. A safari on a yacht takes the experience to a new level. With 17,000 islands, many unexplored, and a spectacular array of wildlife above and below the waves, Indonesia is an infinite source of adventure and a luxury yacht safari is the perfect way to immerse yourself in its epic beauty.

So, what can you see? Africa may be well known for its Big Five, but Indonesia has its own Big Five in the Big Blue: whale sharks, manta rays, mola mola, hammerhead sharks and pygmy seahorses. You don't have to be a diver to see them either: "You'll never forget jumping off the boat to swim with whale sharks or mantas," says Karki. On land, seek out the famous dragons in Komodo as well as wild pigs, buffalo and deer. "Head to the south of Komodo island to catch a truly wild glimpse of the dragons on the beach: they'll run towards you and try and swim out to the tender."

Bird watchers will also be in their element here, scanning the jungle-fringed coastline and the blue skies with binoculars for 'bucket list' birds, like the often-elusive Wilson's bird-of-paradise and greater bird-of-paradise. Rainforest hikes in Raja Ampat offer another chance to surrounding yourself with the sights and sounds of the jungle before stopping at hidden waterfalls for a refreshing dip.

While exploring Indonesia by boat is nothing new – liveaboard dive boats have been taking tourists off the beaten track here for decades – the quality and number of luxury yachts available in the region has never been better and Indo Yachts works with only the best. With 21 crewed yachts in its fleet, Indo Yachts has the perfect vessel for everyone.

"From adventures for two on board S/Y Alexa to multigenerational family trips on board 51m S/Y Dunia Baru, every yacht safari is a curated expedition to the most breathtaking sites of a region tailored entirely to guest requests," says Karki. "Our clients are discerning travellers, searching for unique experiences, adventure and authenticity but they want to do it style. A yacht provides the ultimate accommodation for going in search of wildlife and adventure in the archipelago. The up-close encounters you'll have will stay with you forever. Having a giant oceanic manta ray swim right up and over you, getting right up close with a pygmy seahorse, seeing Komodo dragons run from the beach and swim towards your tender, swimming with dolphins; these kind of experiences are at the core of a yacht safari."

Based in beautiful Bali, Indo Yachts is Indonesia's only full-service yacht charter broker, working with private clients, global yacht brokers and high end travel companies to facilitate flawless charters in the region. Our services cover contract negotiations, itinerary planning, full travel support, and additional requirements as necessary, in order to execute what our clients consistently refer to as the perfect holidays.

Every yacht safari itinerary is completely tailored to guest wishes, taking into account the time of year, what they are hoping to see and how they would like to fill their hours. These two sample itineraries for Dunia Baru are intended as an inspirational jumping off point for your perfect, bespoke yacht vacation.

Home to the most diverse marine eco systems on the planet, Raja Ampat is a remote archipelago in the heart of the Coral Triangle that combines deserted sandy beaches, lush, life-filled jungle and pristine coral reefs in the ultimate tropical paradise.

What you can see: Whale sharks, manta rays, mola mola, hammerhead sharks, pygmy seahorses, turtles, mantis shrimp, batfish, groupers, barracudas, fusiliers, pale-tailed surgeonfish and various sharks. On land, look out for exotic birds including the red and Wilson's bird-of-paradise, bats, lizards, and opossums.

When to go: Year round, but for the calmest waters, best visibility and least rain, aim to visit between November and March.

Day 1 - Board Dunia Baru in the morning and depart from Sorong north to Wayag.

Day 2 - Enter Wayag at sunrise. Explore the area, hike to take in the view of the natural formations. and enjoy afternoon watersports, before the crew set up a cocktail party on a pristine beach.

Day 3 - Visit the Wayag ranger station in morning for another hike followed by a swim at the beach below.

Day 4 - Hike to see the waterfall on the west side of Kawe Island in the morning and snorkel across the equator in the afternoon. Beach BBQ in the evening.

Day 5 - West Waigeo and Wofoh. Take the kayaks for an excursion or relax on beach in the morning. Visit Manyaifun village in the afternoon.

Day 6 - Kabui Bay and The Passage. Watersports in bay and RIB ride through The Passage and around the north west side of Waigeo in the morning. Boat tour of rock islands, jungle trek, hike through rainforest to look out for birds-of-paradise in the afternoon.

Day 7 - Rise before dawn to trek through Sapokren village, Waigeo to see birds-of-paradise, snorkel with manta rays at Manta Sandy and visit Arborek village in the afternoon.

Day 8 - Morning island trek to see birds from Arefi village on the north coast of Batanta island. Walk along riverbed to a jungle waterfall. Afternoon spent relaxing at anchor by the rainforest.

Day 9 - In the Misool Eco Reserve, visit Lenmolas village and see nearby caves in the afternoon.

Day 10 - Visit Misool's Tomolol Bay and cave, followed by a RIB adventure and last meal on board.

Day 11 - Arrive in Sorong, disembark after lunch for flight home.

Revel in the otherworldly landscapes of Komodo, where dragons roam, dolphins play and coral cities bustle with marine life just below the surface.

What you can see: Komodo dragons are the big draw but there is so much more! Scan shorelines for wild pigs, deer and buffalo, and look to the skies for bats, frigatebirds, sea eagles, yellow-crested cockatoos and sunbirds. Beneath the waves? Dolphins, manta rays, turtles, reef sharks, cuttlefish and incredible macrolife.

When to go: Year round, but it is at its best between May and September during the dry season.

Day 1 – Board in Labuan Bajo, Flores and set sail to a protected bay at Gili Lawa Darat, ready for a short hike for your first Komodo sunset.

Day 2 – Have a lazy morning at Gili Lawa Darat’s beach, then in the afternoon head to Komodo Bay by Makassar Reef to snorkel with manta rays. At sunset, marvel as thousands of bats take flight over the jungle canopy.

Day 3 – Today will be the first glimpse of Komodo dragons in the wild. Start with a morning hike through Loh Liang with a park ranger, where dragons and wildlife, including deer and buffalo, will be pointed out by an experienced specialist. Relax the rest of the day at Pink Beach where soft pink sand filters into the clear seas.

Day 4 – Cruise to Padar Island, the third largest island in the national park from where the most iconic photos can be taken. Trek to the peak to see the three bays and spend the rest of the day doing water sports in the bay capped off with a beach BBQ and bonfire at night.

Day 5 – Cruise south to Nusa Kode, the less visited region of the park where the dragons congregate on a beach. Take the RIB for a closer view and photos. The large coral-encrusted boulders in the bay attract some of the largest reef fishes in the park for amazing snorkelling with potato cod, malabar grouper and red snappers.

Day 6 – The tiny secluded island of Pulau Muang is blissfully remote and boasts pristine beaches, ideal for exploring with the RIB and water sports.

Day 7 – After an early nature hike to spot dragons in the nature reserve on Rinca Island with a local ranger, cruise to Tatawa Besar for snorkelling and, wind permitting, a final the sail to reflect on the week’s activities. Soak in the breathtaking sunset with Sangean volcano in the background.

Day 8 – Arrive back in Labuan Bajo harbour in the morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and prepare for final departure, with farewells and airport transfer.