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In the Wake of the Makassans | Makassar - Darwin | 14 Nights

In the Wake of the Makassans

14 Nights | Departs Makassar 08 April 2021 | Onboard Coral Adventurer

Discover Sulawesi while cruising the exotic Indonesian islands from Makassar to Darwin on our In the Wake of the Makassans over 14 nights onboard Coral Adventurer.  Follow the ancient Makassan trading routes and witness the confluence of cultural heritage and natural beauty from Sulawesi to the Lesser Sunda Islands on our Islands of Indonesia Sulawesi expeditions.

From the 16th century, and possibly even earlier, Makassan trepanger fishermen began to venture southwards from their homeland in South Sulawesi through the Flores and Savu seas towards Australia. Following in the wake of the Makassans, Coral Adventurer voyages from Makassar to Darwin through the Indonesian archipelago, exploring the undiscovered paradise of Indonesia’s less-visited islands. Traditional lifestyles continue in regions of astounding beauty, and this journey takes you into the heart of it all. Encounter traditional cultures from Pulau Alor, to Lamalera, Sogori, Torajaland and Tana Beru. Experience the dramatic beauty of Indonesia at Padar Island, Kelimutu Crater and Takabonerate and discover magnificent underwater world on pristine coral reefs.

Related Cruises: Sulawesi Circumnavigation

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Expedition Highlights

  • Explore historic turtle-shaped Fort Rotterdam in Makassar, the former regional headquarters of the Dutch East Indies, and wander through the 17th century buildings, now housing museums and cultural wonders.
  • Visit the beachside boatbuilders of Tana Beru to hear seafaring tales and admire the traditional construction of the wooden Phinisi ships, built without nails.
  • Meet the people of Torajaland, high up in the mountains of Sulawesi, and encounter their astonishing cultural traditions and funeral rituals
  • Explore the turquoise waters and tiny islands of Takabonerate Marine Park
  • Walk in the tracks of the endangered Komodo Dragon and spot the iconic monitor lizard in the wild with local guides
  • On Padar Island, hike to the summit to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views
  • See the famed tri-coloured crater lakes of Kelimutu National Park
  • Meet the Abui tribe of Pulau Alor and watch the Lego Lego dance in their traditional village
  • Hear the ceremonial Sasando music at a welcome in Tablolong Bay



Optional Charter flight: Fare TBA. Limited seats available, call our reservations team for more information.

Bridge Deck Suite $21,600 n/a
Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom $16,600 n/a
Explorer Deck $15,000 $22,500*
Promenade Deck $12,600 $18,900*
Coral Deck $10,600 $15,900*

Prices are listed in Australian dollars. Please note, for online bookings, special offers are not automatically calculated but will be applied once we receive your reservation.  Alternatively, you can book via phone call or email. * Limited sole use occupancy available. 



Tana Toraja – the Land of the Heavenly Kings

Toraja, the highland people of south Sulawesi, live in an area of steep mountains, fast-flowing rivers, and lush pastoral landscapes. The natural scenery is breathtaking, however the biggest appeal of Torajaland is its traditional ceremonies.. The colourful funeral rites and sacrificial feasts are held against a backdrop of striking traditional architecture.

In Toraja, the nobility are believe to be descended from heavenly beings that came down from heaven. Torajans lived in isolation until the beginning of last century, and their age-old beliefs, rituals, and tradition live on. While Christianity has greatly influenced the Toraja people, the local animistic religion called Aluk Todolo “Way of the Ancestors” is recognised as the religion of the Torajans. This religion is marked by close familial ties and ancestor worship, and ancestors are believed to be in contact with their descendants lives. This belief in a unique afterlife gives them a reason to work and gain wealth and status to have a better afterlife.

In order to survive and understand the eternal cycle of life and death, Torajans sustain the energy of the land and its people through rituals that celebrate life and death. Life rituals and death rituals are kept strictly separate, linked to the agricultural seasons. The elaborate funeral ceremonies last for days and involve whole villages. These times are not just to mourn the dead but to strengthen the unity of family and community. Death ceremonies are only held after the last rice harvest, between July and September. This is possible because the dead are not buried immediately but are kept for months, sometimes years, in the ancestral house until time and funds allow for a proper funeral. At these times, when the gate to heaven is believe to be open, the bodies of family members are moved from the house to the burial site. These processions, known as Rambu Solo, are uproarious events, celebrating death as the peak of ones life. They can last for days or even weeks. Effigies of the family member are carved and placed in front of the grave to represent the continued life of the ancestors. These death rites and ceremonies reinforce the eternal bond between the living and the dead.


Charter Flight to Makassar (additional cost)

Embark: Board at Makassar at 4:30pm for 6:00pm departure
Disembark: Arrive at Darwin at 9:30am, and disembark at 11:30 am after clearing customs & immigration.


Optional Addition: One-nights accommodation in Darwin, a welcome event, and coach transfers to your charter flight to Makassar.

Day 1: Depart Makassar

Arrive on a charter flight from Darwin to enjoy the ancient seafaring city of Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi and heart of the golden era of the spice trade up until the 19th century. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before taking a guided tour of the museum housed in Dutch-built 17th century Fort Rotterdam. Board Coral Adventurer at 4:30pm where there is time to settle into your cabin before our 6:00pm departure.

As the sun sets meet your fellow explorers and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.

Tana Beru

Timber Phinisi boats have been crafted by the Bugis boat-builders on the beach at Tana Beru since the 14th century and were used by the Makassans to travel as far as Australia and Madagascar. There are ceremonies involved in each stage of the boat building, and the boats are positioned along the coast in various stages of construction. We learn about the traditional construction methods, unchanged for centuries, and climb into a boat to admire its size and the craftsmanship of boat-builders.


Journey overland for an overnight expedition into the Sulawesi highlands of Torajaland. The drive passes through a scenic landscape of rice fields, and villages, rainforests and plantations from Palopo to Tana Toraja.

During our time in Toraja, we will be immersed in the local lifestyle and see traditional houses at Marante, visit the stone graves with Tau-tau effigies at Lemo, and the famed traditional stone and hanging burial sites of Bori Parinding. Visit a Torajan market, where buffalo and pigs are purchased for funerals and other traditional ceremonies, and explore Kete Kesu, a 400-year-old village high in the mountains. Kete Kesu village is a living museum, where you will witness first-hand the ancient culture and traditions of the Torajan people.

We will spend the night at the best hotel in the area and enjoy a buffet dinner accompanied by local music and dancing. On our second day at Torajaland we continue to explore this intriguing high country before returning to Coral Adventurer.

Sogori Island

Sogori Island is one of the small islands located around Kabaena Island in Southwest Sulawesi and is home to the Bajau and Bugis people. The surrounding white sandy beaches as well as several shipwrecks make it appealing for beach walking, swimming and snorkelling or for scuba diving.


Takabonarate Marine Park is located on the small teardrop-shaped island of Tinabo Besar with island visitors encouraged to help with island conservation programs through tree planting or coral transplanting under the guidance of National Park staff.

At Jinato Island we enjoy a welcome ceremony and dance performance by the local people and take a guided tour through the village with its homes built on raised platforms. Villagers provide musical and craft demonstrations along with an insight to cottage industries such as making traditional dishes, coconut oil and fishing nets along with boat building.

There are opportunities to enjoy the pristine waters of the marine park with snorkeling and swimming activities.


The best time to see the famed Komodo Dragons is in the morning when they are most active, so our day starts bright and early. We take a guided walk with local rangers to maximise opportunities for seeing the Komodo Dragons as well as visiting a small village where Dragons are also likely to be viewed.

Later, we go ashore on Pink Beach where there is time to relax on the dusky pink sands and swim or snorkel in the sea. Local traders may come by in their boats to set up impromptu souvenir stands.


Padar Island Indonesia

Padar Island offers a chance to stretch our legs with an energetic hike to a hilltop lookout where hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of picturesque islands and sweeping beaches.


We travel by vehicle along a scenic route from the coastal town of Ende to the multi-coloured crater lakes of Kelimutu, stopping on the way at a Convent where we will meet the orphans and enjoy refreshments. At Kelimutu Crater, there is a short walk to the crater viewpoint where we may toss stones into the lake for good luck. Before returning to Coral Adventurer we enjoy lunch at Kelimutu Crater Eco Lodge accompanied by local musicians, then visit a traditional village and learn about cultural rituals.


Lamalera is one of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia, as the ancient tradition of whaling remains the principal economic activity here. Whaling boats are made entirely of timber with wooden pegs used in place of nails and sails made from palm leaves. The patterns of the whale and the boats are often seen in Lamalera’s hand-woven ikat textiles.

Depending on weather conditions, we may have the rare opportunity to go on a ‘mock’ whale hunt with villagers in their whaling boats. Alternatively, they will bring their boats close to Coral Adventurer and demonstrate how they hunt large marine creatures and whales using traditional methods.

We are welcomed by the villagers on the beach and are guided into the village to see traditional activities and dances. The women demonstrate weaving and dyeing crafts and there is an opportunity to purchase unique Ikat textiles.

Pulau Alor

The entrance to Kalabahi Port and Alor Island is quite spectacular through a fjord-like channel with mountains on either side. This very rugged island is home to around 50 different language or dialect groups who are geographically isolated from each other. We have the option to visit either the traditional villages of Takpala or Latafui where villagers from the Abui tribe perform the lego lego dances accompanied by famed moko drums. Pulau Alor islanders are well-known for their handcrafted Ikat textiles, which are on display. We visit the open-air Kadelang Market, a favourite with locals, and the Moko Drum Museum before returning to Coral Adventurer.

Later, we enjoy snorkelling and swimming in the afternoon.


We arrive early at Tablolong Bay at Palau Timor and enjoy a cultural performance on the beach with traditional Sasando music accompanying traditional dancing. Later, there is an opportunity to swim or snorkel before we bid farewell to Indonesia.

At Sea

Enjoy a relaxing sea day at leisure as we cruise across the Timor Sea towards Darwin, enjoying the continuation of our expedition program of activities and informative presentations. On your final evening onboard Coral Adventurer, reminisce about your Sulawesi expedition with new-found friends at the Captain’s Farewell Drinks.

Day 15: Arrive Darwin

Coral Adventurer arrives into Darwin at 9:30 am. Farewell your Master, crew and fellow guests with disembarkation at 11:30 am.

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition, we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.

April 2021

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
08 April 2021 08 Apr 2021 22 April 2021 22 Apr 2021 $10,600 to $16,600 $10,600 to $16,600 Coral Adventurer Available Book

Your cruise price includes:

  • Accommodation in selected room grade for the number of nights as listed in each itinerary
  • One night accommodation pre-cruise, with welcome event
  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • All meals
  • House beer and wine during lunch and dinner service
  • 24 hour tea and coffee
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks
  • Access to islands, marine and national parks
  • Guided tours in tender vessels
  • Touring as described in each itinerary
  • Services of expedition staff and lecturers including briefings and knowledge-sharing sessions
  • Port taxes and government charges imposed by government authorities

Your cruise price does not include:

  • Charter flights
  • Post-cruise accommodation
  • Entry visas/travel permits
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted), laundry charges and souvenir purchases

Tipping not required:

Other cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. On Coral Adventurer, our crew has no other agenda than your delight.

Now that you’ve chosen your cruise, our reservations specialists are on hand to assist with all of your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible.

To speak to our reservations specialists contact us during business hours on freecall 1800 079 545 (within Australia), or by email

Don’t forget, we strongly recommend the purchase of Travel Insurance with any cruise purchase. See below for further details.


Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation or interruption of your holiday and should be purchased at the same time as you purchase your cruise. It should also include emergency evacuation and repatriation cover.

We recommend Travel Insurance by SureSave.

SureSave, is an Australian company who specialise in travel insurance designed for travellers. SureSave provides world assistance through a customer support team, a claims team and an in-house 24/7 Emergency Assistance division. Underwritten by Lloyds of London, you get peace of mind knowing your security is guaranteed.

Please note: SureSave Travel Insurance policies may only be purchased by Australian residents. For international travellers, please discuss your policy requirements with your local insurance provider.