With over 17,500 diverse islands under its umbrella, Indonesia can seem more like a hundred different destinations than a single country. It would be almost impossible to see more than a snapshot in one trip, but this all-encompassing route showcases Indonesia’s scope and scale, giving you an overview of its highlights and an outline of its possibilities.
Catch your breath on the outskirts of Jakarta then head straight into Kalimantan’s rainforest wilderness. Cruise along the jungle waterways at a leisurely pace, discovering dedicated orangutan conservation and relaxing into the rhythms of this timeless landscape. Back in Java, Borobudur’s iconic temple instils a different kind of awe, demonstrating the power and ambition of a historic civilisation. It’s also the setting for the first of two phenomenal sunrises you’ll experience on this trip (as long as you don’t mind the early starts!) Immerse yourself in the wider artistic and spiritual culture of Yogyakarta, before taking a scenic train journey towards the raw, volcanic landscape of Bromo-Tengger Semeru National Park, stopping at its most famous peak, Mount Bromo, for your second jaw-dropping sunrise.
Hop over to Bali to wander with laid-back ease through Ubud - the island’s bohemian centre - picking up street-food treats and artisan crafts in the markets, before finishing your trip by tuning into Komodo’s unspoilt ocean paradise. This is a route for those who relish the journeys as much as the destinations, and want to catch sight of the depth and breadth of Indonesian culture.
Tanjung Puting National Park
A few days making your way down jungle waterways aboard a private klotok boat powerfully demonstrates Indonesia’s capacity for ‘wow factor’. Navigating the winding rivers of Kalimantan’s Tanjung Puting National Park in traditional style, immersing yourself in the rainforest’s distinctive sights and sounds, is certainly near the top of a lot of wish lists. This is no luxury cruise, and the bijou boats are very simply equipped, but you’ll have the entire vessel to yourselves, complete with a skilled crew.
Watch the bank closely for glimpses of macaques, hornbills, crocodiles and the elusive ‘old men of the forest’, the orangutans. Visit three of the area’s inspirational conservation projects - Camp Leakey (a bastion of orangutan rehabilitation since the ‘70s) and the feeding stations at Pondok Tanguy and Tanjung Harapan Camp - where you’ll have the chance to see orangutans at even closer range. This is Indonesian rainforest wilderness at its best: unadorned, immediate and all-encompassing.
Like many of the world’s iconic landmarks, Borobudur has a weight of expectation upon it, and it definitely delivers. Contrasted against a surrounding sea of green fields and forests, the imposing and beautifully preserved 9th-century temple seems even more breathtaking. Get an early night at one of the region’s characterful properties in preparation for heading to the temple for sunrise. There are usually fewer visitors in the early morning, and the cooler temperatures mean you can walk between the rooftop Buddha statues in comfort as the day’s first rays hit the stones. After dawn, wander off the beaten path to some less-lauded landmarks from the same era, including the partially-restored Mendut temple and elaborately-carved Pawon temple, both of which add deeper context to Borobudur.
Yogyakarta & Mount Bromo
Yogyakarta offers a counterbalance to the somewhat overwhelming capital, Jakarta. Spiralling inwards from rugged surroundings that hold some of Indonesia’s finest temples, Yogyakarta is a richly cultured city that mixes spiritual intensity with creative flair. Explore the surrounding villages by bike, including sleepy Kaliadem, which has magnificent views of Gunung Merapi (one of Indonesia’s active volcanoes), and cycle on towards Candi Prambanan’s cluster of elegantly carved stone temples. Back in central Yogyakarta, stroll through the atmospheric halls of the Sultan’s Palace, and spend an evening with one of our local friends who’ll show you the best street food spots in the city.
The perfect follow up to Yogyakarta is a night amid the raw wilderness of Bromo-Tengger Semeru National Park, and travelling there by train allows you to see the rugged landscape in all its glory. Visit the rust-hued Candi Bajang Ratu temple and peaceful Candi Tikus bathing pool, before focusing your attention on the park’s famous peak: Mount Bromo. Trek up the slopes of Mount Penanjakan to watch the sunrise over Bromo’s distinctive outline then, as dawn turns to day, scale the slopes of Bromo itself and gaze down into its smoking crater.
Drop down a gear to spend a few days absorbing Ubud’s bohemian atmosphere. The town’s reputation as a haven for health and healing is now its key draw, and several gorgeous retreats nestle in the surrounding green hills, while the central markets and artisan communities have their own gentle buzz. Spend blissful hours unwinding at a spa, take a yoga class or two, find hidden escapes, and enjoy a seemingly endless trail of foodie treats.
Travel through the surrounding countryside on two wheels to learn about local life, head further out to immerse yourself in the spiced scents and sights of Bedugul market, and see the ‘floating’ temple of Ulun Danu on the islands of Bratan Lake. Ubud’s relaxed vibe is, perhaps, most perfectly encapsulated in the artisan village of Mas, where you can enrich your experience further with a cooking class or wood-carving workshop.
The last leg of this journey is centred around enjoying dedicated R&R in Indonesia’s coastal haven. One of the richest marine ecosystems in the world, and home to the legendary Komodo Dragons, the Komodo National Park is a peppering of rocky islands floating in crystal-clear, protected waters; a little slice of paradise. The world-renowned Komodo Resort sits gently on the shoreline of Sebayur Island, and is the epitome of a desert-island idyll.
If relaxation is your top priority, settle down in one of the resort’s cosy shoreline pods and breathe deep as you gaze towards the horizon...If you’re keen to squeeze a bit more activity out of the last few days of your trip, enjoy eco-sensitive diving and snorkelling just off the coast. You can even stay aboard the resort’s boat, the Sea Dragon, for diving, snorkelling, kayaking, and trekking trips ashore in hope of seeing the incredible Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat. A few days in this protected marine landscape is a real privilege, and a phenomenal way to round off your tour of Indonesia’s highlights.
The guide price of £3,890US$4,390 is a per person price (not including international flights) staying 1 night in Jakarta, a 3 night cruise in Tanjung Puting National Park, 2 nights at Borobudur, 2 nights in Jogja,1 night at Mount Bromo, 4 nights in Ubud and 3 nights on the Komodo Archipelago; all in our favourite mid-range hotels, boats & lodges.
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