Whale sharks & waterfalls

Top of the Rock – Sagu Dampar

We left our little bay behind and sailed off to a great anchorage on the island of Sagu Dampar where we caught up with John & Cathy from Mystic Moon.  This place is really out of the glossy magazines with turquoise waters, coral gardens galore, local fishing boats nestling in the bay and many small idyllic sandy beaches.   Most anchorages in the Anambas are 20m plus but we found a couple of great spots here with good holding and not too deep.  We carry 60m of chain and a further 40m of rope but we like to anchor in 5 – 10 metres so the Captain was happy… continue reading….  As the Anambas is an archipelago of over 200 islands the fishermen stay out for days on their boats and only take their catch into Terempa for market.  They live on their boats and have made them into houseboats Anambas style.  They then just move them around as they need to.  We were fascinated at these boats – and traded with them for fish.

Houseboat Anambas style…

The next morning a large sailing schooner turned up with a guy who knew the Anambas well.  He had been coming for years and worked at a Singaporean university. He had on board a group of students for an outdoor education trip and invited us to go abseiling down this huge rock.  We thought this would be fun and so we all climbed the rock and were treated to the most incredible view.  Well worth the effort although we got completely lost coming down and ended up climbing through untamed jungle – at one time we thought we had disturbed a swarm of bees as we could hear the buzzing.  Us girls were really nervous as our men tried in vain to find the path again.   It ended in fits of giggles as we realised the buzzing was not a swarm of bees but one of the Singaporean students filming us with a drone!  Eventually we hit the beach, flopped into the water and decided not to go abseiling in the morning – one climb of that rock was enough!

We climbed this…
We swam in this..

That night Mystic Moon, Mzungu and Indian Summer all headed for the beach, had a bonfire and a sundowner.  It was a really lovely end to a fun day.

Sundowners on the beach.

The coral formations here we found were some of the best in this area.   With so many islands and bays to explore I expect there were even better ones but with all the coral bleaching in 2016, most of the reported excellent spots have been a little disappointing.   Here in Sagu Dampar we found it to be much better and undamaged.    We spent a few days here, swimming, snorkelling, beachcombing and just lazing around but the time came to move on as there were many islands to explore.  We set off for Penjalin island but when we arrived it was quite rolly and so we ended up on Matak island where we caught up with sv Charlotte  where we celebrated Sue’s birthday.  Another few days and we ran out of supplies so we had to head back to Terempa to re-stock.

Beautiful and empty

On one trip to an island we spotted a whale shark so we all jumped in.  These magnificent creatures are so gentle.   It was only a small one, but very inquisitive – and kept coming right up to us – we were trying to back off but she kept approaching us.  No fear at all.  It was one of the best experiences we have had and we will treasure it forever.

We could have spent all day with her but we had to move on and get anchored so we sadly left and headed for another island to spend the night.   We then island hopped back down to Jemaja – visiting Pulau Telaga on the way.   We wanted to spend a couple more days in Jemaja as we had not changed any money before so we thought it would be a good idea to hire some bikes and explore the island properly.   We were so glad we did.   Our friends John & Sukanya from Millenium were still there and so we had caught up with them and had a few drinks.

Last time we were here it was deserted.  There were no cars or people and we had the whole bay to ourselves, but this time it was packed.  The Indonesian navy were here from Java and there were ‘bigwigs’ from the Military everywhere.  The place was so busy…  There were 4 wheel-drives and people everywhere but we were still a novelty.  We walked into Letung and asked around (there are no hire places here – just word of mouth) and eventually got a couple of motor bikes for rent.   Using google maps we worked out that there were only a couple of roads and as soon as you are past the high school the internet dies, so we just followed our noses and set off.

We knew of only one ‘tourist’ spot – another waterfall and after a few wrong turns managed to find it.  It was gorgeous.  Vince & I jumped in and swam around – it was surprisingly cold but very refreshing.  They are preparing for a tourist influx – there were western toilets here, gardens planted and the approach road was quite good.

The guys on the road to the waterfall


Vince & I waterfall
Waterfall fun.


Ingrid & I posing.

We then decided to go off-road!  Easier said than done but we managed to get far enough to have some superb views.  The tracks disappeared into the jungle and the bikes slid all over the place, but the guys kept on going….   we met some locals coming who were very surprised to see us coming through on our bikes, but when it started getting a bit dangerous we turned around.  No rescue out here…


One of the locals we met in the jungle.


We went right to the end of the island and found some men building their wooden boats.  They have very basic tools and use a lot of measurements by eye, but produce very sturdy colourful boats.   The guys were full of admiration for their workmanship – I think they could have spent all day with them.


Inspection time.



We had lunch here and walked around the bay.  There were no sandy beaches, just rocky outcrops so we tried to take the bikes to a bay we spotted further along, but it was not possible to get there.   The road disappeared and we were worried we were going to damage the bikes so we had to go back.

The end of the road.

We decided to go back to the boat and freshen up as Letung was having a huge party that night and everybody was invited!  We met up with John and Sukanya and all came back into town to have dinner.  Letung was jumping!  There was a stage in the main square, singers, dancers, stalls selling all sorts of goodies.  There were people everywhere and a young schoolgirl came up to us as asked is she could help us.  She spoke really good English so we asked where we could have dinner.  She took us down an alleyway and into a small restaurant where a very bemused lady came out at seeing 6 of us wanting to eat.   She shuffled the tables around so we could all sit together and we all decided that she shouldn’t have to go to all the trouble of cooking different meals so we all opted for chicken and noodles.  We were joined by a young Italian couple we had met earlier and all became the talk of the town.   Little boys watching us from the door, older men playing mahjong beside us and our schoolgirl so excited to have made friends with us.   We were all starving – it had been a very long day, so the guys had a second bowl of noodles and us girls were invited to go to our new friends house to meet her mother.  We were literally escorted there by all the little kids – all wanting to hold our hands and chat to us.   When we arrived we were a bit surprised to see a mass of laundry hanging down from hooks in ceiling and our friend explained that the Anambas get all their clothes from Singapore, where they are washed and on-sold.  Her mother was one of the lady’s who sold these clothes.   It was a fun night – hundreds of selfies and shaking of hands.  We spent a while here and then had to pry ourselves away to go and find the guys.  We were all so tired and so we found our bikes and with lots of waves we all set off for Pedang Melang where our boats were anchored.


We spent a glorious couple more days here, but all good things must come to an end and so we decided to head back to Terempa to clear out.

Typical house in Jemaja
Fish market in Terempa

We re-stocked for a few days and bought 5 kilos of their fabulous coffee and as we were now cleared out, set off for the long sail back to Malaysia.   We stopped at a couple of islands on the way out for a last snorkel and swim.  We were quite sad to leave as  the Anambas had been so good to us – a really unspoilt honest and fun place.   Indonesia you are a very special place.











6 thoughts on “Whale sharks & waterfalls

  1. Kaye Kirkwood September 20, 2017 / 10:28 am

    Always good to read about your exciting adventures. Lucky you.


  2. Gina Knight September 21, 2017 / 1:52 pm

    So lovely to see you this evening xxx
    Astonishing adventures. Safe journey for the next leg. Xxx


  3. J September 23, 2017 / 5:29 am

    Thanks for sharing. A great read and oh my what an adventure you guys are having . X


  4. Cecilia September 23, 2017 / 11:21 am

    Safe travels across the seas dear cousin . Love your descriptions, experiences of off beat places on the globe with every day people.


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