The world‘s finest diving

Malpelo silky shark shutterstock 178533530 optTHAT WHALE IS A PYGMY?
Dili Oct 29 to Nov 04, 2023
extension on Atauro Island for stunning reefs!


While sperm whales & smaller whales (such as short-finned pilot & melon-headed whales) plus, dolphins can be seen year-round at East Timor.  From October to December, the Wetar Strait becomes a passageway for countless migrating pygmy blues & humpbacks.  Catch a ride with a blue whale !


EAST TIMOR … ONE OF THE FINAL FRONTIERS


It’s entirely possible that you have never heard of Timor Leste (formerly known as East Timor) … the world’s youngest & perhaps poorest nation. Located southeast of Indonesia’s Flores Island … and due north of Darwin, Australia … it sits directly on an extraordinary channel used by migrating whales.

Until 2012, a bloody civil war & various uprisings, kept researchers & tourists alike, away from the rich waters surrounding this remote island nation.  Since then, the country has enjoyed peace but certainly not prosperity.  There is hope that “swimming with whales” and whale watching tourism, managed in a sustainable way, may bring much needed revenue to this nation.

TIMOR LESTE SMALLER

The island of Timor … lying as it does at the end of the archipelago made up largely of Indonesia …. features some of the more stellar aspects of that island chain’s glamor…. but without the infrastructure.  No 5-star Bali hotels here. No luxury liveaboards.  What you get is spectacular beauty with simple accommodation … and, at this time of year, you get whales, whales and more WHALES.


BLUES, HUMPBACKS, PILOTS & SPERMS


The Wetar Strait between Timor‐Leste and Ataúro Island has only recently been found by scientists to be a migration route for a vast variety of whales journeying between the Antarctic and the warmer waters in Indonesia.. These migratory populations are heading for waters in and around the Banda Sea (Indonesia) to mate and bear their young before heading back to Antarctica and their feeding grounds. 

It’s possible, when conditions are right, to see humpbacks, blue whales, sperm whales, beaked whales and also, possibly orcas. We all know there’s never a guarantee with Mother Nature ….  but, recent  history shows that between October and December the chances are excellent.  (The sperm whales, other smaller whale species and most of the dolphins seem to be resident pods, which means you may see them at most any time of the year.  Scientific studies are still in their infancy and more is being learned with each passing year.)

You can also add to your “wish list” at Timor multiple sightings of spectacular pods of dolphins and small whales, Including Fraser’s, dolphins, bottle-nose, spinner& spotted dolphins  … melon-headed, pygmy killer and pilot whales   You might also catch sight of a resident dugong.

SOCORRO liveaboards uw 15

In spite of the extreme diversity of marine mammals to be encountered, the blue whales are probably the Number One draw here, due to the fact that, of all the species, they are the most elusive and the most alluring thanks to their status as the largest species on the planet !  Also, interesting to note that the blue whales here are referred to by most as “pygmy blue whales” because they are smaller than other blues around the planet.  Don’t let that fool you !  They still reach lengths of up to 24 meters (nearly 79 feet … 26 yards !)


MASSIVE SPONGES … TOWERING FANS … FISH, CRITTERS & PELAGICS


Along with the huge sponges, beautiful coral gardens (hard & soft corals) and a variety of reef fish around Atauro Island, you’ll find macro critters at one end and, at the other end of the spectrum, the bigger stuff like hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, mola mola, mantas … and plenty of pelagic fish such as barracudas, trevallies, tuna & mackerel.  Visibility is always excellent and the abundance of fish life and coral is simply overwhelming.

You’ll find some deep wall dives – down to 70-80 meters – where the walls are covered with hard and soft corals.  Crevices in the walls are filled with crustaceans and juvenile fish.  

There are some good currents which make for super drift dives which require a good diving level to undertake. 


HOTEL TIMOR


We will be staying in Hotel Timor in Dili, the capital of Timor. lt’s one of the better places in town, nicely located close to the water.  Having said that, Timor is still extremely basic and one should not get their hopes up about luxury here. The rooms all have air-con and warm water in the private bathrooms and there is a pool … but the standards will be below what one might expect in neighboring Indonesia.


[widgetkit id=”354″]


TARGET SPECIES


Blue Whales live in all oceans. Always on the move they migrate to warmer waters to mate and calve and then return to colder waters.

The northern coast of Timor is one such migratory route and when the whales are on the move the chance of encounters is very high.  No guarantee but the main migration period is October to December so this is the ideal time to be there.  These Blue Whales are a smaller sub species called Pygmy Blue Whale. They “only” reach 24-25m of length rather than the 30m blue whale but we think its quite decent and still larger than any other whale species.


SNORKELING


During your week with us, you will spend 5 days out on the open ocean looking for pigmy blue whales and hopefully sperm whales and taking in the drop-dead beautiful scenery. This is a raw and real experience and one for the adventurous at heart. The blue whales are migrating and not resting, so in-water encounters are not always easy. But we will do our best to get you close to these 25m behemoths. Working with two boats and small groups of 5 persons per boat we maximize our chances.

Sperm whales, dolphins, pilot whales and melon­ headed whales can be encountered in large pods and we will try to get in the water with them as well. In 2019 we had a dolphin super pod of over 1000 animals, several blue whale encounters, dugongs and a breaching manta ray.

It is important to note that these encounters are special and cannot be predicted. We will get you the best possible chances for interaction but by no means can it be guaranteed.


EXTENSION ATAURO ISLAND


Around 2h offshore of mainland Timor Leste lies Atauro Island. lf Timor is not remote enough, this place will do the trick. lt is surrounded by some of the most diverse and colorful reefs in the world!  And they start right in front of the beach. A recent survey of 10 reefs on the island found an average of 253 reef fish species per site, besting the previous record held by Raja Ampat Island in Indonesia’s West Papua province.

Logistics and accommodation are very basic here. We will be staying in an eco-lodge with high romantic appeal but certainly not many luxuries. You will be in tented units with beds and a roof. There is currently one villa bungalow to upgrade to. We will do two to three dives a day so you will get rewarded with amazing underwater life.


 PROBABILITIES


The most common question for a trip like this is “How likely is it that will we see the whales?”.  It is a fair enough question but there is no straightforward answer as it is impossible to guarantee sightings with elusive animals like whales.  We can only work hard to improve our chances by going to the right place at the optimal time to achieve success. The blue whales season is the October-December, so you can see we have picked the best dates.

Conditions vary, that’s a certain fact of ocean activities. Winds can pick up, it can rain or storm. Swell can create big waves.  Animals can just not feel like showing up. There are many aspects that affect our ability to spot whales – for example with white caps on the waves a whale spout is so much harder to spot. October and November are the key dates for the migration so the chances are very good for great conditions. In 2021 our operator saw almost 100 blue whales in the week that we have for 2022. Weather-wise our previous trips were rain-free (Timor is dry) and never had to cancel a day of activities.


 GETTING THERE, WHAT’S INCLUDED, RATES & ITINERARY


{slider  Please note that this trip has a true “expedition character” and the resort is simple and basic.  You will be at the end of the world (from our perspective) where everything works on “island time”.  Activities are weather dependent and can be changed through group decisions or or by the authorities. ….. See trip details …|dest|closed}

Oct 29 – Nov 04, 2023: 6 nights 2023 for the whales in Dili

Nov 04 – 08, 2023: 4 nights optional extension on Atauro Island for diving, freediving & snorkelling (stunning reefs)

This 7D/6N with 5 activity days stay will cost you only USD 3,600 based on double share.

INCLUDED

OTHER ROOMS

Single room is possible for an extra USD 400

EXCLUDED

EXTENSION ATAURO ISLAND

SD/4N for snorkelers is USD 700 based on double share. Scuba is recommended.

INCLUDED

OTHERS

Scuba Diving 3 days USD 400

Upgrade to bungalow USD 250 (with AC)

EXCLUDED

We highly recommend DiveAssure insurance which also covers force majeure and single missed days of diving due to sickness. Feel free to ask us about it.. 

Further extensions in Bali or around Indonesia are always possible and we’re happy to assist!  {/sliders}


FIND AVAILABILITY … BOOK SPACES


 CHARTERS & SPECIAL EXPEDITIONS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *