Trip report, video and photos by Tommy Schultz.
Before the invention of electricity, our ancestors had a daily reminder of just how small they (and our little blue planet) really are.
Staring into the night sky, they created complex tales to describe the mythical heroes and creatures they imagined as the back stories behind the constellations.
Looking up at the stars from the deck of the Seven Seas on our first night of twelve in Komodo National Park, I can’t help but feel that we lost something when the artificial lights turned on and overwhelmed the magical glow of distant galaxies.
We’ve barely left the port at Labuan Bajo and already we can see the pinpricks of distant stars across the diamond sky.
The conditions tonight are about as good as it gets for stargazing – a cloudless night, tiny sliver of a moon, and we’re miles and miles away from the nearest big city.
Erwin, one of our adventurous group of divers from the Netherlands, is interested in learning a bit about astrophotography so with the captain’s permission and the Seven Seas securely anchored, we head in to a nearby beach.
As our eyes adjust to the inky blackness of this moonless night, the brilliant band of glowing stars that is the Milky Way appears as a luminous crescent – just above the anchorage of the boat.
We’re both shocked at the clarity of the stars visible even from the small LCD panel at the back of my camera. These are only test shots, but we can already clearly see the beauty of this spectacular galaxy even with the naked eye.
We spend an hour on the beach, trying out different angles with the boat and the night sky as the constellations make their steady march towards dawn.
Back at the Seven Seas, we’re the last to make it to our bunks, but losing a little sleep was well worth it to see something this beautiful.
And it turns out we’re even luckier – over the course of our twelve day cruise, the skies stay perfectly clear almost every night, giving us many more opportunities to observe and photograph the constellations. One night we’ve even turned out the lights at dinner on the top deck so everyone could see the stars clearly as we had one of the most memorable meals I’ve enjoyed for a while.
Beyond our nightly adventures as amateur astronomers, our days were filled with the best diving, island exploring, and wildlife encounters you can imagine.
From the chance to get up close and personal with Komodo dragons – planet Earth’s last dinosaurs, to scuba diving spectacular sea mounts sea mounts and coral gardens, to hiking the rugged peaks of Komodo National Park’s distant islands, to several unforgettable snorkels with manta rays, every day was a different adventure for our energetic group.
This was my second dive trip to Komodo, but under the expert guidance of the Seven Seas crew, everything felt totally new. It’s impossible to overstate the impact an experienced captain, cruise director, and crew will have on your experience in Komodo. At every change in the weather or twist of the tides, we were able to always be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.
As a professional travel and adventure photographer, I’ve been lucky to see some of the most amazing places on earth. But as I’m looking through the best of more than 12,000 photo and video clips that were created on this trip, it’s amazing to think about just how much we did in less than two weeks of exploring this magical place.
Really looking forward to the next adventure with the best live aboard I’ve seen anywhere in the world!