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Indonesia Destination Information

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Bali:

Ubud

Nearly 85% of Bali's visitors stay in southern Bali, home of its fabled beaches. We certainly recommend the relaxing release of Bali's sand and surf, but Ubud is its cultural and artistic center.

Situated in one of the most beautiful natural settings in Indonesia, its rice terraces, flowing water and the soothing sound of bamboo music create an ambiance that is distinctively Balinese.

From Ubud visit the surrounding mask-making village of Mas, the artists in Pengosekan, and view fabulous traditional dance performances. Hike through rice fields on paths radiating out of Ubud and raft the holy Ayung River. Many of Bali's other attractions are a day-trip from Ubud.

South Bali

It's beach Babylon on legendary Kuta Beach, but it also has a good shopping district with art and artifacts, and exciting nightlife. Cliff-top Ulu Watu temple and fabled Tanah Lot are not to be missed. Easily accessible Denpasar Museum can be visited for its fine collection of art and artifacts.

Eastern Bali

Discover pre-Hindu villages, the Tirta Gangga baths built in the 1940s by a raja, and double ikat (an intricate local weaving style) textiles. Enjoy hiking and snorkeling.

North Coast & Western Bali

This seldom-visited area of Bali hosts black-sand beaches, national parks and snorkeling amongst reefs, walls and soft coral-encrusted boulders.

Central Highlands

Enjoy a cool mountain climate, dramatic volcanoes and rural life. Lake Batur is a crater lake and a great stop, and Besakih-the most holy temple complex on the island-is a must.

Komodo:

Komodo & Rinca Islands National Park

This national park is a place of raw natural beauty, home to the ancient Komodo dragon, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The largest of the monitor lizards, the Komodo dragon can reach 12 feet in length and can weigh up to 350 pounds. The habitat of the Komodo dragon varies from dense thickets to upland woodlands, rocky cliffs and open plains. Neighboring Rinca Island also harbors populations of wild horses, buffaloes and pigs, as well as the barking Timor deer.

In addition to observing dragons on both Komodo and Rinca islands, cruise through seas teeming with life-dolphins, tuna and whales are frequently seen-past some of the world's most spectacular island scenery. Snorkel from deserted pink-sand beaches over incredibly rich coral reefs.

Java:

Mt. Bromo

Mt. Bromo (Gunung Bromo) is the most popular tourist destination in all of East Java, with intrepid travelers rising in the pre-dawn hours to reach its summit to see magnificent sunrises.

The mountain is also a holy place to the native Tenggerese who live in the area. Even today they commemorate deceased ancestors in an annual ritual where offerings are thrown into the crater. The Hindu Tengger people possess Tibetan features and have a tradition of warm hospitality to visitors. Hike between villages through spectacular terraced terrain.

Yogyakarta

Lying in the epicenter of Central Java, Yogyakarta or Yogya (pronounced Joag-ja) is the hub of one of the most densely populated areas on earth. It is also the cultural and intellectual hub of Javanese civilization. Visit the Kraton (the Sultan's Palace) and Taman Sari (the Water Palace), the bird market and the souvenir stalls of Jalan Malioboro. Explore the Prambanan Temple, a massive complex of ancient Hindu temples. Take in an evening of Javanese gamelan music or see a wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performance. Perhaps visit Solo (aka Surakarta), Yogya's nearby sister city, overflowing with culture.

Borobudur

An absolute must are the reclaimed 9th century ruins at Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument in the world, one of the seven ancient wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The layout represents the 10 levels of a Bodhisattva's life that he or she must develop to become a Buddha, or "awakened one."

Krakatau (Krakatoa)

Explore its volcanoes and stunning scenery. Hiking, snorkeling and boating are all excellent.

Kalimantan:

Camp Leakey

In the wilds of Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), you can visit Camp Leakey Orangutan Research Station, accessible only by river. Arrive at Pangkalanbun in Central Kalimantan airport and then to Kumai, a thriving harbor town at the edge of the vast Borneo interior.

Cruise by local boat, the klotok, up the Kumai River to arrive at the camp. Watch for native birds, including the spectacular rhinoceros hornbill. You'll likely see wild orangutans and the rare proboscis monkey on the way.

Hand selected by Louis Leakey along with Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey to study the relationship between great apes and humans, Birute Galdikas established Camp Leakey, in the Tanjung Puting National Park, as her base for orangutan research over 25 years ago. This facility does important work in the training and reintroduction of formerly captive orangutans to the wild. The program provides a rare opportunity to closely observe orangutans in their natural habitat.

Dayak Villages

Unlike most of Kalimantan's tribes, who live near coastal areas, the Dayaks still favor areas deep inland along the banks of myriad waterways. Known for their intricate tattooing, blowguns, elongated earlobes with heavy metal earrings, and mastery of basket weaving and woodcarving, the Dayaks are facing-as are the rest of Indonesia's peoples-modernization. Even though the younger generation often sport shorts and T-shirts, watch for village elders in traditional garb, and travel into "Heart of Darkness" jungles on Kalimantan's most-often used highways-its rivers.

Sumatra:

Lake Toba

Nestled in the volcanic heights of northern Sumatra lie the glistening green waters of Lake Toba, the largest lake in Southeast Asia. This region is home to the legendary Bataks, historically famous for their fierce cannibalism.

Noted for their music, the robust and straightforward nature of the Bataks is in stark contrast to the more subtle, refined Javanese. The shores of Lake Toba offer some of Indonesia's most inviting scenery. Pine forests stretch down to white sandy beaches, and calm waters invite you to swim, canoe or sail. Cruise to spectacular Samosir Island, rising in vertical cliffs from the center of the lake, where you'll see traditional villages. Upon returning to Medan, explore silver waterfalls and groves of cocoa and rubber trees.

Sulawesi:

South Sulawesi

This remarkable area offers a picturesque and extensive coastline dotted with harbor towns and colorful fishing villages.

You'll discover spectacular natural features, including eerie limestone karst mountains, large caves, hot springs, thundering waterfalls and huge lakes; distinctive flora and fauna; and diverse and exotic cultures including the Bugis (renowned as pirates in the not-too-distant past), the Makassar (builders of the fabulous Makassar schooners) and the Torajan (known for their incredible funeral ceremonies and cliff burials).

Tana Toraja (Torajaland)

The perfect place for trekking in Indonesia's dense rainforests. Experience tribal cultures, witness elaborate rituals and enjoy birding as you explore Tana Toraja by foot.

North Sulawesi

Its waters host some of the world's best snorkeling. Explore national parks with distinctive indigenous wildlife and dense tropical forest.

Flores & Sumba

Explore the "outer edges" of remote eastern Indonesia, where steaming volcanoes dominate the landscape in some areas, while in others there are infertile savannahs. The people are progressively more traditional as one travels east: discover their villages, animistic religious practices and extraordinary ikat weavings. These are truly adventurous destinations, best accessed by boat.

Papua (formerly Irian Jaya):

Baliem Valley

Remaining one of the world's most inaccessible places, Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea. Its heart is the magnificent Baliem Valley, an expansive plain between two imposing mountain ranges, cut by the roaring Baliem River.

Both the valley and the surrounding mountains are inhabited by the Dani tribe. These "Gentle Warriors of the Highlands" with their penis gourds and feathered headdresses are, to the visitor, among the most gentle and soft-spoken people you will ever encounter, yet reports of tribal wars endure, conducted to settle a blood feud or a marriage gone bad. Mummifying and smoking the remains is the Dani's traditional way of showing respect to their powerful ancestors. It may be possible to join in the festivities of a traditional Dani pig feast, an incredible experience, unchanged over the millennia.

Explore traditional salt mines at Jiwika, where tribal women soak trunks from banana plants in a brine pool to collect the precious salt.

This is a destination for the flexible adventurer, willing to sacrifice creature comforts and predictability for a glimpse into the lives of some of Earth's most primitive people. While in villages, lodging and food will be simple. Portions of some walks may be strenuous even for strong walkers.