living the wild life

Glamp­ing on Moyo Is­land

hellobali - - CONTENTS -

Sub­limely beau­ti­ful and tran­quil Moyo Is­land ( Pu­lau Moyo) is a na­ture lovers’ and ad­ven­ture­seek­ers’ idyll, hid­den deep in In­done­sia’s Nusa Teng­gara ar­chi­pel­ago. Eight de­grees north of the Equa­tor and 15 kilo­me­tres off Sum­bawa Is­land, Moyo is ridicu­lously off-the-radar and seem­ingly a mil­lion miles away from bustling Bali – far, far west­ward. One of In­done­sia’s worst kept se­crets, you may not know about Moyo Is­land. And that’s pre­cisely Moyo’s at­trac­tion – well, a minis­cule part of it. Thanks to its long-stand­ing na­ture re­serve sta­tus, this 350-square-kilo­me­tre is­land is vir­tu­ally un­touched, with heav­ily forested hills fringed with coral white beaches and crys­tal­clear azure wa­ter. There are just a hand­ful of vil­lages, a few dirt tracks, al­most no com­mer­cial devel­op­ment and just one “re­sort”. But this is more a wilder­ness camp (al­beit luxury). Fel­low res­i­dents in­clude wild boars, macaque mon­keys and in­dige­nous rusa or deer – Moyo is a pro­tected deer sanc­tu­ary – while vi­brant bird life cov­ers os­preys and en­dan­gered species such as yel­low-crested cock­a­toos. Here, the rhythm of life is at one with na­ture, where time­lines are set by sun­rise, sun­set and stargaz­ing. Be­sides wild beauty and splen­did iso­la­tion, Moyo’s main draw card is its un­der­wa­ter world, of­fer­ing some of In­done­sia’s – and Asia’s – pre­mium div­ing. A

pro­tected marine park cov­er­ing much of the is­land and ringed by reefs, Moyo is home to more than thirty dif­fer­ent nudi­branchs, slugs and huge beds of stag horn and plate coral, while the sur­round­ing Flores Sea pro­vides one of the world’s rich­est marine en­vi­ron­ments, an un­der­wa­ter par­adise with pris­tine iri­des­cent coral reefs and im­mense coral va­ri­eties. Around 3,000 species of marine life in­clud­ing sur­geon and par­rot fish, mo­ray eels, blue spot­ted rays, tur­tles, dol­phins, and gi­ant manta rays and other mi­grat­ing sea life are oc­ca­sion­ally spot­ted.

NAT­U­RAL HABI­TAT

There is a price to pay for the ul­ti­mate is­land hide­away, but the all-in­clu­sive rate of ap­prox­i­mately USD917 per night is well worth it. Se­cluded on the is­land’s west­ern side, Moyo’s sole re­sort, Aman­wana, is part of the ex­clu­sive Aman brand’s port­fo­lio. Re­spect­ing its na­ture re­serve sur­round­ings, this low-key Aman re­sort comes with a strong eco-com­mit­ment, and has just 20 tent pavil­ions spaced well-apart along Aman­wana Bay’s crunchy coral beach, sub­tly blend­ing in with the trop­i­cal rain­for­est back­drop. Although repli­cat­ing the “Out of

"Ex­cept for an ope­nair 'Mu­sic Pav­il­ion', through­out the prop­erty,

there are no mu­sic sys­tems and TVs, just the sounds of the ocean,

wildlife and jun­gle."

Africa” colo­nial era, mod­ern com­forts are not for­saken. Un­der wa­ter­proofed can­vas roofs, air­con­di­tioned ac­com­mo­da­tion fea­tures tim­bered floors, vin­tage wood fur­nish­ings and canopied beds, with a hard­wood pri­vate ve­randa fac­ing the beach. Don’t ex­pect any ul­tra-mod­ern bath­rooms or ap­pli­ances though. Ex­cept for an open-air “Mu­sic Pav­il­ion” (pro­vid­ing iPods with mu­sic li­brary) through­out the prop­erty, there are no mu­sic sys­tems and TVs, just the sounds of the ocean, wildlife and jun­gle. Fa­cil­i­ties merely stretch to a bou­tique, a li­brary, a dive and ac­tiv­ity cen­tre and a dining room­bar housed in a soar­ing tra­di­tional open-air pav­il­ion. Much of the nat­u­ral, fresh and or­ganic pro­duce is sourced from nearby is­lands, Moyo and Aman­wana’s own or­ganic gar­dens. There is how­ever a cliff-top he­li­pad for VIPs who wish to fly in, as did the late H.R.H. Princess Diana, a guest here in 1996.

THE WILD SIDE

The true star here though is Moyo’s nat­u­ral trea­sures, with Aman­wana a mere base-camp al­low­ing guests to leisurely in­dulge in backto-na­ture ad­ven­tures and other won­drous ex­pe­ri­ences. You don’t have to go far to in­ter­act with na­ture. The deer wan­der around freely in the bor­der­less camp and macaque mon­keys scam­per along the beach early in the morn­ing. From Novem­ber to April, Green and Hawks­bill tur­tles lay their eggs around Moyo’s shores; Aman­wana’s beach pro­vides a des­ig­nated zone for res­cued tur­tle nests and a rare spot for peo­ple to ob­serve them hatch and scram­ble down into the wa­ter. The na­ture re­serve hik­ing trails, as­cend­ing to rugged cliff-top tracks high above the bay, or along jun­gle coastal paths par­al­lel to daz­zling white sand coves, get you up-close to Moyo’s birds, na­tive trees and odd rustic stilt-houses. By speed­boat ride and

vin­tage Ja­panese jeep, the half-day Wa­ter­fall Ex­cur­sion trans­ports you deep into Moyo’s in­te­rior to a forested wa­ter­fall cas­cad­ing into mul­ti­ple lime­stone ter­raced pools – strip-off for a re­fresh­ing swim au

na­turel.

Aman­wana’s ex­cel­lent dive and ac­tiv­ity cen­tre pro­vides wind­surf­ing boards, ocean kayaks, along with speed­boats, cata­ma­rans, 16-me­tre tra­di­tional outrig­gers and two im­pres­sive cus­tom-made, tra­di­tional Phin­i­sistyle overnight ves­sels – the largest at 52-me­tres – equipped with lux­u­ri­ous ameni­ties. All are suit­able to char­ter for is­land­hop­ping, beach­comb­ing armed

with pic­nic lunches, deep-sea fish­ing (reel­ing in a black mar­lin for din­ner), and, most of all, spec­tac­u­lar div­ing and snorkelling. Moyo’s marine park and the sur­round­ing Flores Sea of­fer a mind-blow­ing ar­ray of dive sites rarely vis­ited by other boats, with some of the pre­mium spots no more than a ten-minute boat ride away. Even off Aman­wana’s jetty, the “house reef” ver­ti­cal wall de­scends 40 me­tres, re­veal­ing schools of reef fish and gor­gonian fans aplenty, while pro­tected dive sites nearby in­clude “Tur­tle Street’’, with its res­i­dent tur­tles and black-tip reef sharks. Strictly for cer­ti­fied divers, a 15-minute boat ride off the is­land takes you to the mag­nif­i­cent outer reefs and mul­ti­ple dive sites, with a shore wall drop­ping 100 me­tres plus. Coral at the Tan­jung Menangis site dates back more than a cen­tury, boasting some of the planet’s most im­mac­u­late reef con­di­tions.

What­ever you choose to do (and that may in­clude laz­ing at the spring-fed rock pool or Jun­gle Cove Spa), be sure to stroll in the late af­ter­noon to Crocodile Head, a rocky head­land, for un­ob­structed views of the sun sink­ing into the Flores Sea. Af­ter the scar­let glow fi­nally di­min­ishes around dis­tant Mount Rin­jani – In­done­sia’s third tallest vol­cano – the is­land ac­tion con­tin­ues with night div­ing and snorkelling. Here, reefs change shape and colour, and come vividly alive as feed­ing and spawn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties get un­der­way in the dark­ness – your torch­light may pick out sleep­ing tur­tles, daz­zling reef fish and baby oc­to­puses. Set aside time later for gaz­ing up at the ar­chi­pel­ago’s inky black sky and glit­ter­ing galaxy of stars – even bet­ter from the deck of a Stargaz­ing Cruise – be­fore be­ing lulled to sleep by the sounds of the sea lap­ping on the shore. Re­ally, who needs TV? Af­ter a few bliss­ful days holed-up here, I al­most have to be dragged out to the await­ing sea­plane, such is my re­luc­tance to leave. Awe­some mem­o­ries and Moyo’s is­land-grown spe­cial­i­ties, cashew nuts and wild or­ganic honey, are a small com­pen­sa­tion.

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