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Dive Photo Guide


Underwater Photography Pictorial From Komodo
 April 25, 2009 @ 01:00 AM (EST)
by Filip Staes
In 2007 I won first place in the compact category in the  Wetpixel & DivePhotoGuide international underwater photography competition, Our World Underwater. The prize included a trip to Komodo or Irian Jaya with Kararu Dive Voyages. When I looked on their website I saw the ‘Cheng Ho’ for the first time, a magnificent traditional wooden sailing ship.
Kararu Cheng Ho
When I said to a couple of friends that I had chosen to go to Komodo, they where surprised and laughed at me. They told me I took the wrong choice. The reason is that here in Belgium, Komodo is not as well known as Irian Jaya. There have been several nice articles and pictures in magazines of Irian Jaya and  most of  the divers are convinced that this is the place a diver must go. As I am always swimming against the current, I chose to go to Komodo. So after a long trip from Holland to Kuala Lumpur, than to Bali and further to Bima we finally saw the Cheng Ho.

A Warm Welcome

Bima HarborI remember the ship rising between the other old and smaller vessels in Bima harbour. What a first impression!
We had a warm welcome from the crew and after a tour of the ship I had already felt at home.

The  Cheng Ho is a modified Pinisi (Bugis) Schooner, 49 meters long and 11 meters wide. There are 13 cabins and staterooms for a maximum of 20 divers, all equiped Kararu Dive Voyageswith private bathrooms, ample hot water and  individual air conditioning units.

The main salon is a confortable air conditionned lounge area equiped with sound system, TV, video, DVD and wireless internet access. The Cheng Ho even has a cinema room! In front of the main salon is the dive deck - a platform with plenty of space for every diver. All diving is from tenders. Each photographer or videographer has his or her own space and cameras are handled with great care by the crew. The upper decks are equiped with  different lounge seats in the sun or  shade. It’s big enough to play soccer which we would have if we had a ball!


Dive Tenders KararuI can go on for a few hours about the boat itself, it was great, but let me tell you something about the crew and the service. I have never experienced a feeling of luxury like this - and I’ve been around!  During the eleven day trip I always had smiling faces and helpful people by my side. If you where not able to carry your cylinder to the tenders, the crew did it for you. When we came back from our dives, they gave us a ‘high five’ and helped us back on bKomodo Dragonoard. After our tour on Rinca island to see the beautifully ugly and dangerous Komodo dragons, we were welcomed with cold towels and drinks the minute we stepped back aboard. And always with a smile! The cruise directors Hergen and Kerri were a real treat. I know their job is making the life of the guests as easy as possible, but their great personalities and the small extras they added, not to mention spotting great subjects for us underwater each dive (together with the two fantastic Indonesian dive guides), made them really special . Kerri knew exactly how to pose as an underwater model and showed up each time I had an interesting encounter with a turtle or some other creature.

Mantas And Much More

The diving in Komodo is truly world class. I can tell you this - my friends were wrong, very wrong. I had the most splendid dives I could ever imagine. I was surrounded by white tip reef sharks. Mantas flew over me and turtles swam around me. And I have 4,000 pictures to prove it.
Underwater Photographer Filip Staes
Filip in action
Underwater Photography - Manta - Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Manta - Filip Staes
The reefscapes at ‘Horseshoe bay’ are amazing.
Underwater Photography - Komodo Reef - Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo Reef - Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo  - Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo Turtle - Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo Anemone - Filip Staes
Underwater Photography Komodo, Filip Staes
‘Torpedo alley,  which is in the same bay, had fantastic macro life.
Underwater Photography - Komodo Goby- Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo Zebra Crab- Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo Frogfish- Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo Sea Flea - Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo  - Filip Staes
Strong currents at ‘Manta Alley’ and ‘the Mingler’ provided great encounters with friendly Mantas. My macro lens got plenty of action with the strange creatures in the black sand of the volcanic island of Sangean.
Underwater Photography - Komodo  Ambon Scorpionfish - Filip Staes
Underwater Photography - Komodo Ghost Pipefish - Filip Staes
It truly was an experience of a lifetime. But I definitly want to go back, in fact I’ll do anything to make it a second time and I will be back!


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