Activites in Indonesia
Indonesia is famous for its hundreds of volcanoes, and for being able to hike these colossal wonders. There are plenty of active and inactive volcanoes on Java that you can hike, or you can trek Mount Bromo, Indonesia’s most visited volcano. You can also adventure to Kawah Iljen, a group of composite volcanoes in East Java. At Iljen, you can take a midnight hike to the mountains crater where you can witness the famous electric-blue fire of the mountain, a phenomenon made famous by National Geographic.
There are many other dormant volcanoes in Bali, like Gunung Agung. With an elevation of over 3,000 metres, the volcano makes for an unbelievable hike. On the neighbouring island of Lombok is the mountain volcano Gunung Rinjani, a similarly popular hiking volcano. On another neighbouring island, Nusa Tenggara Barat is the volcano Keli Mutu. The lakes that have formed in the craters of these volcanoes are famous for their differently coloured waters. These strings of mountains make for a fantastic hiking trip – but remember to book a suitable travel insurance policy for your trip.
Ujong Kulon National Park
Ujong Kulon National Park is located on the westernmost tip of the island of Java, within the Banten province of Indonesia. The park is around 1,206 kilometres squared in land area. When the volcano Krakatau exploded in the late 19th century, a tsunami enveloped much of the western Java peninsula, forcing the population to leave. The human population was forced to stay away from the area due to the high accumulation of ash. Naturally, the animals of the peninsula repopulated the area and so since then, the park has become a kind of natural sanctuary. In Ujong Kulon you can travel by canoe through the many river systems, spotting rare and endangered animals like the elusive Javanese Rhino.
Surfing / Tours
Indonesia is well-known as one of the best countries in the world for surfing. Many of the most skilled surfers come to various beaches in Indonesia to try out some of the huge waves. In all of these locations, you can hire surf tours pretty easily with travel agents who are usually situated in the towns, or just by walking right onto the beach and hiring a pro there.
Bali, in particular, has some great surf beaches, like Padang and Uluwatu. The best season for surfing in Bali is the dry season, from June to September – though this is the busiest season so be prepared to compete for waves. If Bali is too crowded for you, try Lombok, the island next door.
Lombok has similar beaches and waves without the crowds, so it is fast becoming a destination for both the average tourist and surfer alike. The finest surf beaches in Lombok (that we know of) are located at the Desert Point, in West Lombok. Some of the beaches there along the southern coast are Mawi, Mawun and Point X. Desert Point used to be a well-kept secret but has since become more prominent on surf guides. Don’t let this dissuade you, it is still far-less crowded than places in Bali. The best surf season in Lombok is April to October, when the swell comes from the southern wind, blowing right towards the coastline.
Surf Gili Islands
In the Lombok, islands are three famous islands, the Gili Islands. These islands are praised by scuba divers for being the turtle capital of the world and exalted by experienced surfers as having fantastic swells.
Surf Sumba Islands
Further from the beaten track, in East Nusa Tenggara, are the Sumba Islands. These islands make for a more nuanced surfing experience. The various reefs, bays and river mouths create more technical waves perfect for the veteran surfer. The subsistent setup will be different to the resort setting you’ve been used to in Bali, so get ready for some bare-bones surfing.
Puppet shows are very popular in Indonesia, particularly in Java, and performances can sometimes last all through the night. They are based on the traditional Wayang Golak and Wayang Kulit marionettes, and the shows usually act out stories based on well-known legends that surround the region.
The Mahakam River is a huge river that runs through Kalimantan in the centre of Borneo. The river runs from the highland mountains of Borneo and empties in the Makassar Strait. Samarinda is the capital city of Kalimantan and is situated on the banks of the Mahakam River. You can hire tour guides that will take you along the river up into the highlands where you can contact various tribes who have preserved their way of life.
Rainforest Jungle Trek
If hiking volcanoes are not your thing, never fear, there are plenty of jungle treks for you to take part in. Irian Jaya, the western half of New Guinea, is a good place to hike and experience the colourful culture of the Papuan people. There is also good hiking at Muller Mountain in Kalimantan, and at Bukit Barisan National Park in Sumatra, where you can look for the endangered Sumatran Rhino, and contribute firsthand to conservation.
Indonesia is an archipelago of tiny islands, as you’d imagine there’s plenty of coastlines and plenty of magnificent reefs. Bunaken National Park and Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi make for some spectacular diving and snorkelling experiences. You can head to the Gili islands as well if you want to go scuba diving. If you’re a beginner, why not go wreck-diving at Tulumben Wreck off the coast of Bali’s eastern shores.
The province of Aceh was one of the areas worst hit by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Since then, an educational centre has been developed to help advise on evacuation procedures should a tsunami hit again. The Tsunami Museum also sheds light on that fateful day.
Komodo and Rinca islands
Komodo is a part of the Lesser Sunda chain of islands, part of the Komodo National Park. The island is roughly around 390 square kilometres and is home to the infamous Komodo dragon. There is a human population residing on Komodo at the main Komodo village, they’re a mixed practice of Christians and Muslims. Komodo’s vegetation is different to many of the other islands that you’d typically find in the archipelago. It is distinguished by its dryer vegetation. Where most islands are covered in tropical rainforest, Komodo is predominated by open grassland savannahs and occasionally mangroves. The most prolific tree on the island is a savannah tree, the lontar palm Borassus flabellifer. There is something quite special about a Savannah island covered in rolling hills of dry grasses, and so it has become a popular destination for hikers and tourists waiting to catch a glimpse of its giant reptilian residents.
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