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In the Wake of the Makassans (Darwin to Makassar), 14 Nights


In the Wake of the Makassans: Australia to Sulawesi

14 Nights | Departing Darwin 27 February 2020 | Arriving Makassar 12 March 2020

From the 16th century, and possibly even earlier, Makassan trepangers began to venture down from their homeland in South Sulawesi. Travelling through the Flores and Savu seas, they arrived at the shores of the Kimberley and Arnhem Land.  Fishing for sea cucumber, the Makassans encountered the peoples of northern Australia and left an impact on the cultures that survive to this day. The Yolngu people of Arnhem Land in particular recount stories of the Makassan visitors and images of their boats are recorded in rock art.

Coral Adventurer will make her own journey from Darwin up through the straits of the Indonesian archipelago on her way to Makassar and will return the same way. These two voyages explore 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, Sagori, Torajaland and Tana Beru.  Experience the dramatic beauty of Indonesia at Flores, Komodo, and Takabonerate.  This journey through the archipelago is a feast for the senses.

Related Cruises: Reverse voyage Makassar to Darwin | Sulawesi Circumnavigation

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Bridge Deck Suite $20,990 n/a
Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom $14,990 n/a
Explorer Deck $13,990 $20,985     $13,990
Promenade Deck $12,790 $19,185      $12,790
Coral Deck $11,990 $17,985      $11,990

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. 

Solo Travellers Offer: Enjoy a double room with no single supplement on this voyage. T&Cs Apply. Learn More.
First Time Guests Offer: Save $1,400 per person when you travel with us for the first time. T&Cs apply. Learn more.
Xplorers Club Members: If you have travelled with us before, you will receive an Xplorers Club saving. Learn More.
Optional Charter flight: $850 per person.  Limited seats available, call our reservations team to confirm your booking.


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.

Torajans lived in isolation until the beginning of last century, and their age-old beliefs, rituals, and tradition live on. The noble people of Toraja are believed to be ancestors of those who came down a heavenly stairway to live here on earth. 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 believed 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 one’s 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.


Embark: Board at Darwin at 09:30am for 11:00am departure
Disembark: Arrive and disembark at Makassar at 8:30am

Charter Flight to Darwin (additional cost)

The below itinerary is indicative. No two cruises with Coral Expeditions will be the same, with each expedition crafted by our experienced Masters and Expedition Leaders. 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. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling.


Included in your cruise is one night accommodation in Darwin, a welcome event, and coach transfers to board your cruise.

Day 1: Darwin

Spend the afternoon relaxing as you are welcomed on board Coral Adventurer in Darwin 09:30am for 11:00am departure. Join our expedition staff as they introduce you to the journey and the many experiences you will enjoy.

Day 2: At Sea

Cruise across the Arafura Sea, enjoying presentations by our guest lecturers. This evening join your fellow travellers for the Captain’s welcome drinks.

Day 3: Kupang

Welcome to Indonesia! We clear into Indonesia and visit Tablolong Beach for swimming and snorkelling. A highlight is hearing the traditional ‘sasando‘ being played and enjoying the cultural performances and refreshments.

Day 4: Pulau Alor

This very rugged island is home to around 50 different language or dialect groups. The traditional villages are very intriguing, and we will visit Kadelang Market and Takpala village. Enjoy cultural shows and the the famous handwoven Ikat textiles. Snorkelling and water activities may be offered in the afternoon, time permitting.

Day 5: Lamalera

Lamalera is one of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia. Although slowly dying out, the ancient tradition of whaling is still the principal economic activity here – as the many whale bones in the village prove. Whaling boats are made entirely of wood with wooden pegs instead of nails, and sails are made of palm leaves. The patterns of the whale and the boats are often seen in Lamalera’s handwoven ikat textiles.

Be welcomed by the villagers on the beach, enter the village and see traditional activities and dances. Depending on the sea conditions, there may be an opportunity to actually go on a “mock” whale hunt in the local boats, otherwise the villagers will bring their boats close to Coral Adventurer and will demonstrate how they hunt large marine creatures. The women will give a weaving/dyeing demonstration and textiles are available for purchase.

Day 6: Ende, Flores

Go ashore at the city of Ende in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara.  We journey to the Kelimutu National Park, stopping along the way at an orphanage. After refreshments, we continue our journey into the mountains, enjoying the spectacular views of the valley below. A hike to the extraordinary tri-coloured crater lakes of Kelimutu is not complete without throwing a stone for good luck. Enjoy lunch at the Eco Lodge.

Day 7: Komodo Island & Pink Beach,

Enjoy a day encountering Komodo Dragons on Komodo Island. Time will be spent exploring the island with both short and medium-length walks on offer and crafts available to purchase from locals who bring their boats ashore. After lunch, enjoy relaxing, snorkelling and diving off the famous Pink Beach on Komodo Island.

Day 8: Padar Island

Join a sunrise hike up to one of the most spectacular view or an Xplorer cruise around the island. After lunch the vessel will have an expedition style stop at Kode island near by.

Day 9: Taka Bonerate National Park

Arrive at Jampea Island in Taka Bonerate National Park. Enjoy the opportunity to snorkel, dive or kayak in these beautiful waters.

Day 10: Tinabo Islands

Moving to Tinabo Island, guests are invited to join conservationist activities such as planting a tree or coral transplantation, assisted by National Park staff. Each guest will have his or her name on it as foster parents of the plants! The biodiversity of the reef is very high, offering attractive spot dives, including drop off dives in some places. The waters inside the atoll are magnificently turquoise, surrounded by the deepest blue imaginable.

Day 11: Sogori Island

Sogori Island is one of the small islands located around Kabaena Island in Southwest Sulawesi. This island is populated by the Bajonese and Buginese people. The surrounding white sandy beaches as well as several shipwrecks make it good for water activities. Explore underwater with expedition style diving.

Day 12: Torajaland

Disembark at Palopo for our overland trip to Tana Toraja. The drive is through an enchanting landscape of rice fields and local villages. As you climb into the highland enjoy marvellous views of pine trees, rainforests and plantations.

During your time in Toraja, you will see the local lifestyle and traditional houses at Marante, visit the stone grave with Tau-tau effigies at Lemo, and visit the famous traditional stone and hanging burial sites of Bori Parinding. We will also visit a Torajan market, where buffalo and pigs are for sale to those who will purchase them for funerals or other ceremonies. We will also visit Kete Kesu, a quaint traditional village concealed in the mountains. The village is over 400 years old and functions as a living museum, where one can experience first-hand the culture and tradition of the ancient Torajan people.

Overnight at the best hotel in the area, Misiliana Hotel, and enjoy a buffet dinner accompanied by local music and dancing.

Day 13: Torajaland

Continue your time in Tana Toraja before making the overland trip back to the Coral Adventurer.

Day 14: Tana Beru

This is is the famous place where Phinisi boats have been crafted by the Bugis boat builders since the 14th century. There are ceremonies involved in each stage of the boat building, and the boats are scattered along the coast in various stages of construction. Learn about the traditional construction methods, unchanged for centuries, and climb into a boat to explore its size and the craftsmanship of the boat-builders. Phinisi boats were used by the Makassans to travel as far as Australia and Madagascar.

Day 15: Makassar

Arrive in Makassar to disembark at 8:30am. Dependent on charter flights, a city tour may be included.

February 2020

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
27 February 2020 27 Feb 2020 12 March 2020 12 Mar 2020 $11,990 to $14,990 $11,990 to $14,990 Coral Adventurer Available Book

March 2020

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
27 February 2020 27 Feb 2020 12 March 2020 12 Mar 2020 $11,990 to $14,990 $11,990 to $14,990 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 and post-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.

Our friendly reservations specialists are on hand to assist with your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible. Contact our team on 1800 079 545 during business hours in Australia or email


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.