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Dive Review of Kararu Dive Voyages in
Indonesia/Komodo

Kararu Dive Voyages, Nov, 2003,

by Kathleen Hedde, CA, USA . Report 892.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving California, Germany, Egypt, Maldives, Cozumel, Sea of Cortez, Palau, Belize, Saba, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, several areas in Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 75 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 35 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Surface with 500 psi, limit dives to 60-70 minutes (or so ;-))
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large rinse tanks on the boat, but not rinse facilities on the tender boats. Reasonable space for stowing photo gear, charging facilities crowded but enough outlets for everybody (110V and 220V).

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Our first trip on the Sea Safari/Kararu (www.kararu.com) had been in November 2001. It was such a great experience that we were always sure we would return some time. What prompted us to go on this specific trip was the Digital Photo Seminar that Kararu offered in November and December of 2003. Again, we enjoyed ourselves tremendously, and found that the boat and the operation had still improved over the last two years.

First off, some background on the boat and the diving operation:
The boat is a wooden Pinisi schooner. One of the main differences to other great live-aboards is the spacious layout in all common areas, everybody will be able to find enough space to stretch out. Everything is kept very clean and well maintained. As for miscellaneous services: Laundry is done for very reasonable prices. The chef, Didi, doubles as the massage therapist 1 hour for US $10. His thorough treatments received rave reviews!

There are a total of 5 meals/snacks a day, and again, Didi does an incredible job of creating a wide and tasty variety of dishes. A cold breakfast before the first dive, then a hot breakfast with a wide selection from eggs your style to Indonesian dishes. At lunch, there are several dishes to choose from, typically curries, sates, stir-fries, a salad, cold cuts and fruit. A snack after the third dive. Dinner has a different theme every night, e.g. Thai, Chinese or Greek. On two nights, we also had very nice barbecues outside on the bridge deck. Even with all the diving, weight-loss is definitely not an option here!
Another nice differentiator for the Sea Safari is the crew. Everybody has a great attitude, is friendly and genuinely interested in making the cruise a pleasant experience for the guests. No special request is too much, and is attended to in the fastest possible time.

The diving is done from two tender boats. The crew will take turns to help the guests suit up and carry cameras to the tender boats. The boat drivers are well trained in assisting divers into the water, as well as picking everybody quickly after the dive. They are really good spotters, I never had to wait for more than a minute until a boat came for me. Overall, the diving is run very efficiently and safely. Nitrox is now available on the boat. Cruise directors Linda and Carl were doing a great job of laying out the itinerary, adjusting it to accommodate special requests, and keeping the entire group organized throughout the cruise.

Through the entire cruise, we enjoyed all dive sites. The best diving is in Komodo National Park, with its healthy and diverse reef systems, and the full array of the exotic macro life that this area is famous for. Inside the park, the gem is Horseshoe Bay. Favorite dive sites are the Yellow Wall o Texas, Cannibal Rock and Grandma Bangs Bommies. The incredible bio-diversity is fuelled by the cool and nutrient-rich waters in this area. As a result, water temperatures are frequently in the mid-seventies, and visibility may be somewhat limited (40-50 feet is considered a really good day. But hey, for us California divers, thats a great day anytime!). The bottom line is that, no matter what the conditions, Komodo remains one of the most bio-diverse areas on the planet an doffers some of the best diving out there. The stay in the park also includes a guided land tour to see the Komodo Dragons with great photo opportunities.

Outside of the park, the water is generally warmer, and the visibility will improve. On this trip, several new dive sites had been added: Manta Alley really lived up to its name. On each dive there, we had encounters with multiple Mantas, sometimes up to 10 in the vincinity. On the island of Sangeang, the dive masters had scouted out several excellent macro sites. Black Magic and Small World are truly reminiscent of Lembeh Strait, both for the variety and critters, as well as for the black sand bottom.

The digital underwater photo seminar was taught by 3 instructors: Jim Watt, world-renowned underwater photographer with an extensive digital background (www.wattstock.com), Berkeley White from Backscatter UW Photo and Video (www.backscatter.com) and Dan Baldocchi from Light and Motion (www.uwimaging.com). Light & Motion also provided all seminar photo gear including full configurations of Tetra/Olympus housings, as well as the Titan/D100 housing and assorted lenses and dome ports. The seminar was an incredible value-add to the trip. The combination of seminars, nightly guest slide shows and individual photo critique provided a very efficient learning environment for beginners and more advanced shooters alike (personally, I had been shooting digital for 2 years prior to this trip). Jims, Berkeley's and Dan's experience with image pre- and post-processing and presentation was invaluable, and they were able to accommodate a broad range of topics. They did this either inside the seminars or 1:1, to cover special and more advanced requests. Amazingly, as full as the schedule was, they always found time to answer everybody's questions. Not only that, but Dan most always found a way to accommodate everybody's special gear requests, and then assisting everybody with their setups. In short, the guys worked their ... elbows ... off to make the experience as good as possible for everyone - and they certainly succeeded! The results speak for themselves. You can check them out at the photo gallery on Kararus website (www.kararu.com). In addition, quite a few of the images were taken by guests who had done no or a minimal amount of UW photography before. This just goes to show how much digital UW speeds up the learning curve, especially in combination with high-quality instruction, and ample dive opportunities. Since the digital seminars were such a success, Kararu plans to offer them again next year, on two cruises (Bali Alor, Alor Bali). We'll be back, because this will be too good a diving vacation too miss!!!
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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