Komodo Manta Ray Research, Coral Triangle, Dragons & Photography

Komodo and its idyllic tropical waters off western Flores in Indonesia, are home to more than 1,000 identified Manta Rays. The area is also within the Coral Triangle with some spectacularly healthy and diverse corals reefs; and on home to the World's largest lizards, the Komodo Dragon.

Our Manta Ray Research and Photography experience enables you to join Aqua-Firma Marine Scientist and world leading experts from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) as they undertake research into these majestic Ocean Giants. You will also be able to scuba dive, snorkel and photograph some of the World's best coral reefs and step onto the Komodo Dragon sanctuary of Rincon Island where you can engage with these huge animals as close as is safe to do so.

Your journey starts in Bali where we will collect you from the airport and take you two nights into its cultural heart of Ubud. As you readjust your body clock, we will take you to see some of the island's cultural and scenic highlights, including some stunning paddy field scenery.

From Bali we will fly you to western Flores and our base at a comfortable hotel on a beach set within a calm bay. For all but one of our full days here, we will head out in traditional wooden boats amongst some beautiful islands in search of Manta Ray hotspots. Sea, current and wind conditions will dictate where we are best to search for Manta Rays, but our highly experienced team will be best placed to select the best cleaning stations and locations where manta rays will be busy gorging on plankton brought in on Komodo's legendary currents.

Photo IDs and behavioural observation will be something everyone can assist with, whilst one of MMF's key research aims for Komodo is to assess the risk that tiny fragments of plastic (microplastics) pose to filter feeders like Manta Rays.

In addition to sites where we hope to interact with Manta Rays, you will also have the chance to dive and snorkel at some simply stunning coral reef sites. Do not be surprised to come across areas where coral cover is 100% from shallows to 30 metres. Here we can often find lots of Green and Hawksbill Turtles, large schools of sweetlips and other fish, giant sea fans, beautifully coloured corals, sponges and more.

No trip to Komodo is complete without seeing the Komodo Dragons, so we will take an afternoon to land on Rincon Island and enjoy guided walks amongst them. We will be able to enjoy the savannah scenery here and see water buffalo and Timor rusa deer whose lives are continually under threat from the dragons. You might even see an apparently docile Dragon lunge from the shadows in a sprint towards one of these large mammals. Stick with us and you won't become a target yourself!

Principal Scientist from MMF, Dr Simon Pierce, is a professional photographer who will be able to provide photographic guidance and support throughout the trip. We can hope for some excellent photo opportunities with manta rays as well as coral reefs. Guidance will be available throughout on underwater and above water photography, plus use of software to edit your hard-earned images. We can also assist you in advance, with advice on kit, be that starter level waterproof cameras to advanced underwater camera systems.

Our team will also provide evening talks and day by day insights into Manta Ray Ecology and latest research findings from around the world. Your participation in this trip helps to fund Manta Ray research in Indonesia, in the same way that our Whale Shark Research experiences do at Mafia Island in Tanzania, northern Madagascar, the Galapagos Islands and Isla Mujeres in Mexico.

This trip starts and ends on the Indonesian island of Bali. If you are keen to see more of Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia, then we can make travel arrangements for you as needed, such as incorporating more time on Bali, Raja Ampat, Sulawesi, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Many airlines fly into and out of Bali, so there is a great deal of choice amongst airlines.

Photographs by Ralph Pannell & Dr Simon J Pierce

Itinerary

Komodo & Bali Itinerary (2018)

This trip starts and ends on the Indonesian island of Bali. If you are keen to see more of Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia, then we can make travel arrangements for you as needed, such as incorporating more time on Bali, Raja Ampat, Sulawesi, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Many airlines fly into and out of Bali, so there is a great deal of choice amongst airlines.

Day 1 (15 June)

Arrive on the island of Bali.

You will be met upon arrival and then be transferred overland to Bali's cultural heart of Ubud where we will stay in a boutique hotel for 2 nights. This will give you a chance to clock into the time zone and provides a buffer in case of any flight delays in reaching us.

Dinner is included tonight.

Depending upon everyone's flight schedules, our team will hold an initial briefing today or tomorrow into Manta Ray Research in Indonesia. There will be further talks during the week about marine life research in Indonesia as well as elsewhere in the world. Dr Simon Pierce will also be able to provide assistance with camera gear before we head out in search of marine life in earnest.

Day 2 (16 June)

You will be able to have a leisurely start today.

At 11am we will take you to see some of the highlights of central Bali including some of its stunning rice terraces. Lunch and dinner is included.

Day 3 (17 June)

Today we will take you back to the airport and fly from Bali to the town of Labuan Bajo in western Flores.

We will settle into our beach hotel base.

Days 4 - 8 (18 – 22 June)

This morning we will head to Labuan Bajo dock and board our research boats and out to sea amongst the islands. We will focus on three Manta Ray / coral reef sites, so up to 3 scuba dives / snorkels, except on one day when this will be 2 and we will take you on to Rincon Island to observe Komodo Dragons.

Day 9 (23 June)

Today we will take the opportunity to show you something of Western Flores, including its cave systems, waterfalls and canyons.

Day 10 (24 June)

Today we will fly you back to Bali where your journey will end, or you can continue to explore South East Asia.

Dates

11 - 20 Jun 2020 - £ 1,990
US$ 2,590

with Dr Simon Pierce, co-Founder Marine Megafauna Foundation & Aqua-Firma Marine Scientist, Charlotte Caffrey

Plus group return flights* Bali - Flores: £195/ US$255

Single supplement     £295 / $385 in a standard room

Price includes
All accommodation
All meals except lunches in flight transit
All diving and snorkelling
Return flights Bali - Flores*
All transportation by land and sea
All trips within itinerary
Contributions to funding the research
Water when out by boat
Series of evening talks about manta ray biology and latest research findings from around the World
Photography and photo software master classes as requested

Not included
International air fares
Travel insurance
Meals not specified
Drinks
Diving & snorkel kit rental

Array
View all