Nova Fisher,
Total Solar Eclipse of 2016
From Bali to Borneo



In the morning we went in a convoy of cars, led by a police car, to visit Wangi Wangi village, the site of an old fortress. We were welcomed into the village in a procession, led by the Elders. After a welcoming dance and speech we tucked into the variety of local foods prepared by the locals. We were only the second group of visitors to visit the island – the first being tourists on the Caledonia Sky 5 days earlier. It was considered that the police escort was to announce to the islanders that some ‘important’ tourists had arrived. At the local Bajo village where we saw the lifestyle of the Bajo sea nomads and walked around the market. In the afternoon, 30 miles later, we arrived at Pulalu Hoga for snorkelling and walking around the village.


Wakatobi is an acronym of its four main islands, Wangi- Wangi (WA), Kaledupa (KA), Tomia (TO) and Binongko (BI) Legendary underwater explorer and conservationist, Jacques Cousteau is said to have called the Wakatobi islands – then known as the Tukangbesi islands – an “Underwater Nirvana”. Now a National Marine Park it comprises a total of 1.4 million hectares, of which 900,000 hectares are home to different, colourful species of tropical coral reefs. Wakatobi is widely recognized as having one of the highest number of reef and fish species in the world. It has 940 fish species and 750 coral reef species compared to 50 coral species in the Caribbean and 300 in the Red sea) The islands are also famous as the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The seas fringing the atolls and barrier reefs are also the playground of dolphins, turtles and even whales.


The Bajo People or Sea Gypsies, as they are often called, are a landless tribe, scattered throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and The Philippines but predominantly in Sulawesi. This sea-faring community, sustained completely by the ocean often live in entire villages built on stilts, connected by wooden bridges, over a large expanse of coral reefs and rocks in the middle of the sea. The Bajo tribe maintain an intimate knowledge of the maritime coastal ecosystems as well as the seasons, winds, currents, tides, lunar cycle, stars and navigation. They have developed specialised boat building skills and are able to chart some of the world’s most dangerous waters. They have exceptional free-diving abilities, being able to see better and dive longer underwater than most other people. Previously living segregated lives from the land people they are now interacting more, abandoning many of their old Bajo cultures. As they have a tendency to migrate from place to place it is not known exactly how many remain, though it is roughly estimated at a few hundred families.