While Bali continues its conversation with the great God of the Underworld residing under Mt. Agung, we at SeaTrek Sailing Adventures want you all to have a better idea of what is going on here from our perspective. While some see disruption, we see opportunity, and we are moving mountains to ensure that there is minimal disruption to our operations in the coming months. The main point is that whatever Mt. Agung decides to do, SeaTrek has contingency plans in place to ensure that all our cruises will definitely go ahead, meaning there is no reason for guests not to book a holiday, or to even be afraid of coming to Indonesia.
BALI IS SAFE
First of all, let us tell you that Bali is as safe as it’s ever been. Despite what you might be seeing on the TV media about our lovely island home, the mountain is not doing much at all. Two weeks ago, there was a good-sized release of ash and steam from the crater, which closed the airport for three days, but apart from that, there have been a few puffs of smoke every other day. The government has implemented a 10km radius exclusion zone around the volcano, and many thousands of people have been evacuated and are being accommodated in camps with assistance from the government and NGOs.
Life in Bali outside the 10km exclusion zone is very safe is very much as it has always been, so we urge you not to be put off by the sensationalism of the TV news and to use your own judgment in deciding about your visit. The airport is more than 70km from the mountain and will only be affected by wandering ash clouds as and when they are present. Remember that the island’s lifeblood is tourism, and they need our help.
There is, of course, no room for complacency, as there is a lot of magma moving around under the mountain trying to make its way to the top, but even in the worst-case scenario of a big eruption, the main tourism areas of the south will not be in any grave danger. The worse that will happen is that the airport will be closed from time to time.
WHAT IS HAPPENING UNDER THE MOUNTAIN?
Mt Agung rose from a 54-year slumber in September of this year with a lot of magma moving up from the mantle looking for a way to escape. Indonesian and foreign experts including volcanologists and geologists are monitoring the situation closely, and the official word from them is based on probabilities. The options are: 1) that there will be a massive eruption that will release huge amounts of debris into the atmosphere causing significant damage to the northeast of the island. 2) That the magma will bubble to the top and simply spill over down the northern slopes away from the populated areas. 3) that it will do nothing and eventually stop and go back to sleep. The probabilities are higher for the first two options at some time in the near to middle future, but by their own admission, they still cannot be entirely certain of a major event.
While we wish we had a crystal ball to know what the mountain will do, we are relying on the latest information from multiple expert sources from Indonesia and Australia to guide us. We are providing the following links so you can have access to the best and most up-to-date information available regarding the fate of the Balinese people, your holiday plans, airport closures and the day-to-day effects Mt Agung is having on the Island of the Gods.
Airport Updates - http://ngurahrai.bali.bmkg.go.id/ -
Ash Cloud Advisory - http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/advisories.shtml
Seismic Activity - https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/
Live Feed YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNhJ6BO1a98
WHAT ARE THE THREATS?
The biggest threat to Bali is the lack of tourism to the island which is seeing many shops closing, hotels with no business and many thousands of Balinese being put out of work. Not to mention the many thousands of people living on the flanks of the mountain who have been evacuated. This is going to be a lean Christmas, and New Year high season for the Balinese people, so they need all the help, they can get from foreign tourists who are not put off by the volcano’s perceived threat. For a reality check on the hardships faced by the non-tourist world, please spare a thought for these Balinese people who are living on or around the mountain itself, who have been uprooted from their homes and are living in makeshift camps. Two wonderful Bali-based NGOs that are doing great and valuable work here are Kopernik and Rumah Sehat, so please visit their websites to see what they are doing on the ground and make a donation if you can.
THE POSITIVES – VOLCANOES ARE SO HOT RIGHT NOW!
One unintended positive consequence of Mt Agung’s rumblings is an increase in volcano tourism, with thousands of enthralled and excited tourists heading to the edge of the exclusion zones to witness what can only be described as a most awesome event of a lifetime. This is the kind of positive thinking the island needs right now. Volcanoes are nothing new to Indonesia, or indeed New Zealand, Italy, the US Northwest, etc., and are indeed a major attraction. Indeed, on many SeaTrek cruises we take you to climb upon them (Banda, Lombok, Sumbawa), swim and paddle board inside one (Satonda), snorkel around them amongst the gas bubbles and thermal waters (Sumbawa, Banda), and watch them erupt from the boat (Mt. Api and Mt. Komba). There’s nothing quite so awe-inspiring as a volcano; you just have to look positively at the experience and embrace the adventure. The other advantage of Bali right now, should you wish to visit, is that it is so quiet. It is like the Bali of 10 or 15 years ago, when you could wander the streets of Ubud in quiet contemplation, ride a scooter on empty roads across Uluwatu to surf alone on the breaks, or to watch an uncrowded sunset from Seminyak beach.
WHAT ARE SEATREK’S PLANS?
The threat of the volcano has certainly caused us some headaches here at SeaTrek, and we have taken steps to ensure a minimum of inconvenience to our guests.
Cruises between now and April 2018
Right now our boats are 2,000 kilometers away in Raja Ampat and Maluku, far from the wrath of the volcano, and our office staff is doing all they can to make sure that our guests can get to their intended destinations with a minimum of disruption.
Flying into Indonesia
Because of the uncertainty in getting to Bali direct we recommend that all guests fly to Indonesia via Jakarta and then route onwards to join the boats at their start points. While international airlines might cancel flights to Bali, Jakarta is hundreds of miles away from the volcano and an open airport and arrival guaranteed. From there it will be very easy to connect with one of the many direct domestic flights to either Bali, Lombok or Labuan Bajo in Flores. Indonesian airlines will be much less affected by airport closures and diversions that international carriers, making it much easier for us to get you to your start and end points.
Dances, Dragons, and Magical Lakes cruises
If Mt. Agung does erupt, or that the airport is closed as a result of volcanic ash rest assured that we have contingencies in place to deal with any disruptions.
Bali to Komodo Cruises
1) As our first precaution, we will move the Bali departure point to Padang Bai, a safe anchorage south of the mountain and well outside the exclusion zone.
2) If conditions in Bali are not optimum, we will move the departure point of the cruise to the Gili Islands on the northwest tip of Lombok, 30km from the volcano. Guests will fly direct to Lombok from Jakarta, Singapore, Surabaya and Day 1 of the itinerary will start as normal in a beachfront resort in the Senggigi tourist area.
Komodo to BaliCruises
1) Guests can fly directly from Jakarta to Labuanbajo to join the cruise.
2) We will end the cruise in either Padang Bai or the Gili Islands, where guests can fly direct to Jakarta or Singapore and then onwards to your final destinations.
Cruises after September 2018
For any of our eastern cruises taking place after September, there is absolutely no need to be using Bali as a transportation hub, so Bali’s situation need have no bearing. Simply fly through Singapore, Jakarta, Surabaya, and you know your cruise is guaranteed. Rest assured,all our cruises will be going ahead! We will take care of any re-routing requirements to get folks to where they need to be.
We remind you once again to check the links in this document above to keep an updated eye on proceedings.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly for further information either by phone or email. Or consult our Facebook pages or websites where we will post any new information.
+62 361 474 3902 / [email protected]
We hope this goes some way to alleviating fears, concerns, trepidations. It is indeed business as usual for us, as we want to share the pleasures of the archipelago with you all.
The SeaTrek Team