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Indonesia Eclipse Trip Review

Earlier this month we took a team of eclipse chasers, travellers and trekkers to see the 2016 total solar eclipse in Indonesia. A varied group from the United States, Netherlands and the UK, several of the team were veteran eclipse chasers with years of experience viewing solar eclipses as well as working within the astrology industries. Their expertise was highly appreciated by the rest of the team who were less experienced eclipse chasers, or total novices!

Starting in Java, the group met in Yogyakarta to acclimatise to the tropics and to spend some time getting to know the rest of the group. After sampling some local cuisine and taking in some of the city's cultural sites, the group travelled to the famous Buddhist monument of Borobudur. The largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur is best explored in the early morning and our group had scheduled a trip to see sunrise from the top of the magnificent complex. They knew the astrological luck was on their side when a meteorite was seen crossing the night sky at 4.30am right above the temple.

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Heading overland on an active few days, the group had some early starts to beat the midday sun on their treks to see the sunrise over Mount Bromo and the turquoise sulphur lake of the Ijen Crater. An active volcano, some of the group opted to descend into the crater with our local guide to see how the sulphur is excavated, stepping down a narrow, rocky path into the smoky and dark centre; an experience many of the group said was unlike anything they have experienced before.

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A short flight east from Java to the Spice Islands, everyone was getting excited to explore this little visited tropical paradise and for the eclipse day itself. Arriving at a rural island homestay on Moti, an island off the coast of Ternate, our group was received with an overwhelming welcome. Lining the jetty, the local hosts were waiting for the group as they arrived by boat and everyone was ushered into their respective homes for food and welcomes. The group provided eclipse viewing glasses for each homestay and the headman of the village and everyone was briefed in Indonesian about the dangers of looking at the sun directly.

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The group had chosen the school playing fields by the ocean as the viewing location as there was plenty of space for people to set up their camera equipment and to find shade under some trees from the mid-morning sun. There were some clouds in the morning but everyone remained optimistic about the weather as they made their way to the school grounds, and luckily enough, the clouds cleared in time for the first contact at 8.36am. As the sun was slowly but surely blocked out, the air turned cooler and some thin clouds did form, but it wasn’t enough to affect anyone viewing experience or photographs.

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 As a mixed group, there were many reactions to the 3 minutes of total eclipse. Experienced eclipse chasers were ready with their cameras to capture the perfect moment, while others simply watched the event unfold with the local hosts. Eerily cool for the tropics, it was interesting to see the nearby waves change their movements and to hear the tweets of birds returning to nest for the night. As the initial ‘diamond ring’ burst through with the first rays of sunlight again, everyone was delighted with what had turned out to be a near perfect eclipse location and viewing experience; there were even some tears!

After the group’s goodbyes with the Moti residents, it was onwards to North Sulawesi, a region known for its lush but volcanic landscapes and unique wildlife. Visiting the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre, the group learnt about Indonesia's incredible biodiversity and saw some unfortunate species that had been rescued from wildlife traffickers before exploring the protected Tangkoko National Park to see some of the wonderful fauna in their natural habitat. The trip ended with some time relaxing on Lembeh Island, snorkelling and enjoying the pristine coastline- a well deserved end to an action-packed trip in Indonesia!

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Keep an eye out for details of our new eclipse trip to Tanzania this August to see the magical ‘Ring of Fire’ Annular Eclipse….