Dili, Timor Leste
  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 26 Aug 2015

Dili, Timor Leste, 8/26/2015, National Geographic Orion

  • Aboard the National Geographic Orion
  • Pacific Islands & Australia - OLD

After a pleasant night sailing through peaceful and calm seas, the National Geographic Orion arrived at Dili Harbour. Having endured 25 years of struggle for independence from Indonesia, East Timor's coastal capital has made remarkable strides toward reconstruction after innumerable damages and losses due to the country's tumultuous history. Dili is a city undergoing a rapid transformation, but its former Portuguese colonial flavor can still be found in remaining villas and churches along the waterfront.

Boarding the cheerful and colorful buses, it was time for an enlightening tour of some of the historical sites the city had to offer. We visited some important places detailing the country's political struggle. We also had a chance to visit a local market, where the vibrant handcrafted fabric and bags could be purchased. The influence of the predominantly Roman Catholic population could be recognized by the omnipresent statue of Cristo Rei, a 65-foot statue of Jesus overlooking the coast, perched on a high cliff at the eastside of the island. The most adventurous chose to climb up to the Cristo and were rewarded with spectacular views. 

Back on board, while National Geographic Orion set sail into the Flores Sea, we had the privilege to join guest speaker Dr. Lawrence Blair for an informative and interesting presentation and to be introduced to the fascinating subject of natural sciences. Then it was time for naturalist Adam Britton to share his extensive knowledge about the behaviour of crocodilians. After a delicious dinner, the intriguing video “Seas” by Dr. Blair was also featured. But the best was still to come.

Captain Lyubo skillfully maneuvered the National Geographic Orion close to the active Komba Volcano at the island of Batu Tara. Batu Taru is an uninhabited island in the Flores Sea. With a summit of 748 meters above sea level, it is the aerial part of a stratovolcano whose base is three kilometres below sea level and has a large central summit crater of 900 meters by 700 meters diameter open to the east. Indonesia is located at the junction of four tectonic plates, Australian, Philippine, Eurasia and Pacific and has more active volcanoes than any other country. Nearly 130 volcanoes are currently active. Batu Tara is frequently active, producing ash eruptions rising to hundreds or few kilometres. And it did not disappoint us! More to come in the next report!

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Kimberley Expedition: Northwest Australia & Indonesia

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