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Next August I'll be traveling with some friends in Indonesia (4 to 6 people). One of our destinations is Labuan Bajo (Flores island). We want to visit Komodo National Park and some islands in our route from Flores to Gili islands or Lombok. We have found that there is a company that has a small cruise (2 nights/2 days) that does exactly this. The problem with that is the price (a bit high), the restricted schedule (you may be stuck in Luang Bajo for 3 or 4 days) and the crowds (I've read that the boat is full of tourists in high season).

Given this, I'd like to ask if it's possible to hire a ship, boat or similar when we arrive to Labuan Bajo and make this trip on our own. Something similar but as a private tour and if that's possible, what's a good price for this?

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I see you've already found Perama, which is the largest cruise/ferry operator around Lombok, and they're quoting Rp 1.3 million for a deck fare, which sounds about right (~US$110). There are other operators, but I doubt you're going to find anything substantially cheaper, and if you do it'll be cheap for a reason (unseaworthy boat etc). Even Perama is kind of dodgy, but hey, Indonesia 'gitulah, it's either that or fly and Merpati isn't much better.

What you can do, though, is negotiate your own package where you just combine the dates/bits you're interested in -- since there are 4 to 6 of you, you'll have a fair amount of bargaining power. I wouldn't even bother trying to sort this out beforehand, just show up at the Perama shop in Labuanbajo and see what they can do.

  • So if I understood well, your advice is try to negotiate the price of the Perama tour once in Labuan Bajo, right? It's a bit risky because if the cruise is full we have to wait some extra days or flights... – Ivan Jun 4 '14 at 16:26
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    I don't think the price will be negotiable, but you should be able to sort out eg. a transfer from Flores to Komodo and then a transfer from Komodo to Lombok. And did you know how many people can fit into an Indonesian ferry? "One more!" – lambshaanxy Jun 4 '14 at 23:44
  • "One more" six times.. I hope.. ;) – Ivan Jun 5 '14 at 13:08
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As pointed out by jpatokal, those sailing boats are rather unsafe. Now if you still decide to continue with this decision, please find details about it below.


There are actually different sailing options:

  • 2 days & 2 nights: offered by Perama tours
  • 3 days & 2 nights: offered by all companies
  • 4 days & 3 nights: offered by all companies

Price for all those options is between 1.3 & 2 million IDR, depending on the company & your negotiating skills. Do shop around.

Departure dates:

Sailing boats leave almost every day, but each company usually have only a couple leaving each week. So do shop around to have the most options for departure dates.

When booking:

Finally, do not expect anything contractually written regarding the journey, it's all very informal & it does not look like it's about to change. Try to speak with an employee who actually knows what he is talking about, most have never been on this trip & would sell you anything. Ask questions such as: number of passengers on board, all planned stops and activities, food included, drinks included, arrival points, & so on.


Sailing companies I came across

Dangers and insurances:

If anything goes wrong, none of the companies will refund you. They will however take you to the end destination whichever way they can for the rest of the journey, most likely by a combination of bus and ferry as described in Go from Lombok to Labuan Bajo by bus & ferry, how to? . There are accidents regularly, whether it's a boat hitting a rocky reef, an engine exploding, or else. So be warned, this can happen to you, this risk is part of the trip. Welcome to Indonesia!

Usual path for 4 days & 3 nights:

  1. Rinca island
  2. Komodo island
  3. Kalong island: see the flying foxes
  4. Pink beach: snorkle
  5. Manta point: snorkle with Mantas if lucky
  6. Gili Laba: snorkle & then hike to top of this small island
  7. Satonda island: go to salt lake, then snorkle
  8. Moyo island: go to the waterfall, then snorkle
  9. Gili Bola: sleep when anchored next to this island
  10. Labuan Lombok: from there you will be put into a bus taking you to Mataram or Senggigi

If the trip is shorter (whether 3D2N or 2D2N), then they just remove some of those stops/activities.


Other transportation options

You can also go by plane, or bus+ferries.

Read more about those options on What is the safest and cheapest way to see Komodo island, leaving from and returning to Bali?


Resources

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