The Samata Experience: blending eco-tourism and luxury

Entering the new year with the spotlight on Australia’s wildfire tragedy which resulted in the death of some one billion animals is surely a call to action inviting us citizens of the world to unite and begin to take care of ourselves, our planet and its magnificent biodiversity.

One way to make a change is to consider traveling with intention. Travel means different things to different people, and luxury travel can evoke a particularly grandiose, albeit limited image in our minds’ eye.

Samata Luxury

Cocktail hour at Komodo National Park. Image: Luca Vaime

Samata Luxury is a private charter yacht and liveaboard. Beyond curating personalized itineraries through Komodo and Raja Ampat in Indonesia, the 42-metre Phinisi-styled vessel is a big proponent of eco-tourism. Multiple times each year, Samata teams up with local NGOs, assisting in the facilitation of conservation surveys in Indonesia.

Dr Mark Erdmann, coral reef ecologist and senior advisor for Conservation International-Indonesia’s marine program and Sarah Lewis from The Indonesian Manta Project have a close relationship with Samata and helped with its recent conservation-focused cruise through the north Maluku Islands.

North Raja Ampat. Vipula, Mintimage

Dr Erdmann is generous in his appreciation of Indonesia’s incredible diversity, from its melting pot of cultures, cuisine and wildlife, but understands that the uniqueness of Indonesia’s eco-system requires an alternative to traditional mass tourism operators.

“Culturally and environmentally-sensitive eco-tourism, which is very much exemplified by Samata’s innovative, low-impact and small group-size trips, is unquestionably the only sustainable path forward for tourism development in Indonesia. Choosing an eco-tourism adventure with Samata ensures that your visit is low-impact and supports cultural and wildlife conservation.”

Dr Erdmann

Companies like Samata that offer conservation-focused itineraries are adding depth and a meaningful sense of connectedness to the usual luxury vacation experience while honoring the fundamentals of eco-tourism.

“You still have all the luxury and service that Samata is famous for,” explains cruise director Michael Click.

“In addition, you have the opportunity to interact with and learn from world-class field conservation professionals by participating in surveys and joining in on discussions. You end your trip with a sense of having contributed to important conservation efforts. In fact, it may be on your trip that new scientific insights on threatened species or even new species are uncovered, catalyzing future conservation efforts in Indonesia.”

Michael Click

Conservation Cruises

Releasing Thresher Sharks after being caught and tagged – Alor. Image: Sarah Lewis

Typically, Samata’s conservation cruises involve searching for new aggregations of charismatic megafauna like manta rays or whale sharks, observing satellite or acoustic tagging efforts to track animal movements, or surveying the biodiversity of remote regions.

“Guests can choose to be as involved as they’d like to be; if they’d like, they can have the conservation scientists join them at meals and make nightly presentations, or they can request a much less involved interaction that might be limited to only participating in a dive or two each day. It’s completely up to the guests,” Click says.

Recently, Samata took guests on a journey from Ternate in North Maluku to Sorong in West Papua, Indonesia to survey Manta Rays. Along the 400 nautical mile journey, the guests on board also enjoyed diving and snorkeling in some of Indonesia’s best-kept locations as well as communing with local fishermen and their villages as part of the adventure.

Samata works closely with The Indonesian Manta Project and supports their mission to protect Mantas, which not only encourages species population growth but it also supports the economy of local villages thanks to the influx of this kind of eco-tourism.

Central Raja Ampat. Vipula, Mintimage

“Environmental education is vital. We take every opportunity to open up the world to our guests, it helps them better understand the reality of these parts of the globe and what they can do to help,” explains Click.

Last year’s Thresher Shark tagging project was a hugely successful collaboration between Samata and Conservation International-Indonesia. A team of locals supervised by Dr. Mark Erdmann came together to help catch, tag and release these beautiful sea creatures in a bid to survey population growth, which is extremely important as Thresher Sharks are vulnerable to extinction in the wild.

Ecotourism will continue to play a vital role in the health of the planet thanks to players like Samata focusing on conservation education, raising awareness about the state of the earth, its species and their needs as well as investing support into local communities to help them thrive.

Luxury travel needn’t be elitist or separatist, but rather an opportunity to combine sustainability with memorable experiences that connect us to something more.

If you’re interested in par-taking in a conservation cruise or learning more about Samata’s eco-tourism offering, visit

Keep up to date with Samata’s adventures via instagram at

Team is ready to take measurements and place satellite tag – Alor. Image: Sarah Lewis

Nikki Majewski is an Australian-born, Montreal-based writer, podcast host and Human Design reader. Among her various exploits, Nikki has documented the testimonies of ex-Khmer Rouge leaders, stood knee-deep in Cambodian flood waters capturing nature's wrath and solo-trekked the Mongolian steppe on horseback. Connection, consciousness and sustainability are core to her life as a storyteller.