Flores and its satellite islands in Eastern Indonesia are magical places… right out of a fantasy movie. When the first human colonists arrived on the island of Flores thousands of years ago, they had no idea that they were treading on the remains of a lost world.
Until around 12,000 years ago, when a volcanic eruption seems to have ended the party, Flores was a looking-glass garden of Komodo dragons and even larger lizards, giant tortoises and enormous rats. Alongside them were tiny primitive elephants, and more remarkably, tiny primitive people… real-life Hobbits!
Probably descended from full-sized Homo erectus that made landfall on Flores as much as 900,000 years ago, the islanders dodged the dragons and hunted the pygmy elephants. Killers and quarry became smaller with each generation due to the well-known phenomenon of endemic dwarfing in small, inbred island populations. Over time they were transformed into a new species… Homo erectus became Homo floresiensis.
These people, no more than a meter tall as adults, lived on Flores from at least 38,000 years ago until the time of the huge volcanic eruption 12,000 years ago. They may well have been alive when modern Homo sapiens arrived in the region. As far as we know, Homo floresiensis survived for thousands of years, unnoticed and unmolested by humans, before becoming extinct.
The Manggarai tribal peoples of western Flores Island today are also a diminutive peoples and their culture, along with the Komodo dragons found on nearby Rinca and Komodo Islands, offer visitors to this remote region experiences to be found nowhere else in the world.
Students on this study adventure will explore caves on Flores Islands where the ‘Hobbit’ peoplesonce lived. They will immerse themselves in the indigenous Manggarai culture staying overnight in a mountain top traditional village and learn about unique methods of rice paddy allotments to family members based on the pattern of a spread human hand. After spending several days immersed in the culture of the Flores interior, students will head to the coast and board a charter live-aboard boat for several magical days of island hopping, snorkeling over world class reefs, encountering giant manta rays, sea turtles, porpoise and dugongs, and trekking on Komodo and Rinca Islands in search of the world’s largest lizards and living fossils – the legendary Komodo Dragons.