Travelogue Indonesia

in March/April 2019

This year's dive trip to Indonesia (booked with WiroDive) started with the obligatory flight from Frankfurt to Manado (North Sulawesi). Since Singapore Airlines had raised the prices for the Premium Economy outrageously, we forced ourselves once again into the wooden class, the permitted 60 kg luggage plus hand luggage we had only slightly exceeded. The flight was relatively unspectacular, apart from the screaming of the small children travelling with us, you somehow have the feeling that there are more and more..... Fortunately, there are headphones and a relatively interesting entertainment program, movies like "Bohemian Rapsody" helped with the distraction and at some point the 12 hours to Singapore were over, also the onward flight with Silk Air went without any peculiarities.

And then we were there again, in Manado the taxi to the hotel was already waiting. We had booked the Kungkungan Bay Resort again and saw many familiar faces. The hotel was hardly booked (good for us) and so we were on the dive boat with maximum 4 divers on the way to the known dive sites in the Lembeh Strait. But there was a lot of wind and under water even strange currents, so the trips were limited to the closer surroundings of the hotel.


Our guide this time was Jeff, he found with us the well-known critter - nudibranchs, shrimps, seahorses, frogfishes, ghost pipefish and and and. For us, the diversity of species in the Lembeh Strait is always incredibly exciting. Many thanks to Jeff and the rest of the Kungkungan Bay Resort team!

On day 6 we were picked up in the morning by a Zodiac of MSV Amira, the ship had been anchoring for 2 days in front of Bitung. Short time later the remaining guests came from Manado, the ship was almost fully booked, the guests came exclusively from Germany and Switzerland. This time we had cabin 14 in the lower deck, quite generously cut with enough storage space, we had to get used to the noises first, that was not so disturbing in 2016 in the upper deck. But the distances to the diving deck and the camera room were not so large....


On the same afternoon there was the first dive, we went again to "Bianca", where among other things the rather lazy Mandarin fish waited for us. Due to the strong wind the departure was postponed to the north and on day 2 we did 4 more dives in the Lembeh Strait. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next days was still very unfavourable, the actually announced destinations Bangka Island & Sangihe Archipelago (active underwater volcano) had to be cancelled and we headed directly south.

The Togian Islands are located between North and Central Sulawesi, the 56 islands were declared a National Park in 2004. Since then, nature, which had previously suffered greatly from dynamite fishing, has been regenerating again. For years, the bayos (sea gypsies) living in large numbers on the islands in pile villages were notorious for their ruthless use of explosives, some of which they produced themselves. Unfortunately we also experienced at least 4 heavy detonations under water, the problem is apparently not solved yet, although offences are now strictly punished by the government.

In addition, this area also suffers from coral bleaching, at the latest since the last El Nino event in 2016/2017. Especially the shallower dive sites in the range up to 20 m are heavily marked. In addition, the crown of thorns spreads very strongly on some reefs. The climate change has also arrived at this part of the Indo-Pacific.

But there were reefs, especially steep walls with a lot of life, for example the dive sites "Apollo" and "Fishomania", which belong to the island Una Una. Here we had "fish soup" to the best, but also here remarkably few big fish, only sporadically reef sharks, only 2 x a single turtle, little tuna, but a really huge barracuda swarm, as we last saw it almost 20 years ago before at Sipadan island.
In general, the biomass and species diversity off this island is much greater than otherwise on the Togian Islands. The volcanic eruption in 1983 certainly contributed to this. In the following years the island remained deserted and only in the last few years the slow repopulation has begun. Also the fishermen avoided the volcano for years, so that the fish population could develop unhindered.




In the north in front of Gorontalo, but also in the west of the Tomini bay near Parigi, one finds the Salvador Dali sponges with their typical drawings in depths of approximately 30 m.


The programme also included smaller visits to viewpoints on the islands, snorkeling in a jellyfish lake and visits to the pile villages of the Bajos. We were warmly (and curiously) welcomed everywhere, it was a nice alternative to the diving program.


As always the tour was over much too fast, on the last day we were woken up at 4.30 a.m. (!), packed onto the Zodiacs and drove to the airport in Gorontalo, where our very long return journey began with time-consuming interruptions in Manado and Singapore. Travelling in Southeast Asia is really an experience again and again!

Last but not least a big thank you to the crew of the Amira, it was a pleasure to be back on board with you! Terima-Kasih!