Indonesia – Five Can’t Miss Experiences
Indonesia is a large country with a rich history and a wealthy of natural resources. With over 200 million people, it’s one of the most populous countries in the world. However, with more than 17,000 islands stretching across a vast archipelago, there is plenty of room for everyone. With it’s vast territory and wealth of resources, there is always something exciting to see and do in this wonderful country. The wonderful Indonesian people are very welcoming of visitors and are always happy to introduce you to their country. With such a variety of attractions to choose from it’s hard to prioritize a list of things to do. Not to worry, simply use our “Top 5 Can’t Miss Experiences in Indonesia” to help curate your bucket list options!
Come Face to Face With a Living Dinosaur
Everyone knows dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago, didn’t they? You might not be so sure of that once you come face to face with a Komodo Dragon. The Varanus komodoensis is the largest lizard on Earth and is only found in one small corner of Indonesia. These giant monitor lizards reach up to 3 meters in length and reach over 90kg. An alpha predator in it’s range, Komodo Dragons will eat anything it can tackle including deer, buffalo, pigs, and even other dragons.
Cruising the Komodo National Park on the Samata offers a unique combination of amazing scenery and marine life. With a wealth of activities available, there is always an exciting option around every corner. However, nothing comes close to the experience of coming face to face with the prehistoric looking dragon. The park offers 2 scenic destinations to walk with a ranger and encounter these predators. We always offer an opportunity for our guests to visit the National Park in order to experience this amazing encounter.
The Komodo National Park is a destination that can be visited throughout the year. High season is June to September and the “wetter” season is December to March. However, every season offers wonderful opportunities to see these primal animals. Learn more about the dragons on this recent post.
Explore Indonesia’s Ancient Civilizations
Remnants of ancient civilizations are found throughout the world. Famous examples include the pyramids of Egypt, the Mayan ruins of Central America, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. However, what are less well known are the ancient temples of Java, Indonesia. The central Java city of Yogyakarta is home to two large temple complexes: Borobudur and Prambanan.
Borobodur is the largest single Buddhist complex in the world and was built in the 8th and 9th centuries. The temple complex consists of not just Borobudur temple itself but also Mendut and Pawon. These were built by the Shailendra Dynasty who ruled much of Java from the 6th to 10th centuries. The 9 level temple has been restored to much of its former glory and is one of the most popular sites in Java.
Neighbouring Prambanan Temple is equally as ancient as Borobudur but on a smaller scale. Prambana was built in the 8th and 9th centuries and is the second largest Hindu temple in SE Asia after Angkor Wat. Built by the Sanjaya Dynasty, who took over from the Shailendra, it was built to illustrate the ascending dominion of Hinduism over Buddhism. With over 240 shrines in the complex, the restoration of Prambanan has been ongoing since the 1930s.
Both Borobudur and Prambanan are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Each are based outside the city of Yogyakarta and can be visited in the same day. However, to truly experience each complex it’s far better to spend a full day at each one. As an added bonus, the active Merapi volcano offers a dramatic backdrop to the area. This area can be visited at any time of year, however, the rainy season from December to March is not recommended. Learn more about the history of these great temples.
Visit One of the Great Apes
Humans belong to the Order of Primates. Although alone in the genus “Homo”, humans are closely related to the family of great apes. The great ape family consists of three main species: chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. The orangutans are found exclusively in South East Asia on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. These critically endangered animals are one of the most intelligent species on Earth.
A protected species throughout their range, orangutans are under constant pressure by humans. With rapidly dwindling natural forest habitat, orangutans are becoming harder to observe in the wild. However, there are several nature reserves in Indonesia offering wonderful opportunities to encounter these gentle creatures.
Bukit Lawang in North Sumatra and Tanjung Puting in Central Kalimantan are two of the best places to see orangutans. Tanjung Puting in particular is the center of a lot of the research on orangutan behavior. There are river boat cruises available in the National Park which offer a great way to see the forest. The best time to visit is outside of the rainy season which runs from December through March.
Did you know there are three distinct species of orangutans? Learn more about these amazing animals on this recent article.
Swim in the Heart of Marine Biodiversity
The Coral Triangle is the epicenter of marine life on Earth. Consisting of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, there are more species of fish and coral in this region than anywhere else. At the heart of the Coral Triangle lies the crown jewel of marine life, Raja Ampat. Raja is located in West Papua province in eastern Indonesia. The area is made up of hundreds of limestone islands and beautiful lagoons. The lush green landscape and beautiful blue water offers endless photographic opportunities. However, it’s what lies beneath the ocean that makes it truly special.
Raja Ampat boasts over 1300 species of fish and more than 500 species of coral. Although you won’t see every species at one time, it sure will feel like it! Divers, snorkelers, and swimmers alike will revel in the rich warm water. Fields of healthy hard coral are home to large schools of fish like trevally, snappers, and parrotfish. A unique looking carpet shark called a tassled wobbegong can be found hanging around underneath coral heads. Perhaps the most unique encounter is the chance to swim with manta rays while snorkeling. These giant filter feeders are often found at the surface feeding on plankton and are not afraid of swimmers.
Raja Ampat is a marine protected area and is a great area for cruising. The Samata often spends time here during different times of the year. Raja is accessible throughout the year but the best months for cruising range from November until late April.
Climb a Volcano in Indonesia
As the country with the most active volcanoes in the world, there is no shortage of volcanoes in the country. Although there are always a few that are active, the vast majority are dormant. With the third most number of volcanoes in the world, most of the major islands of the country boast at least one. With most Indonesian volcanoes featuring the classic pyramid shape, they are great mountains to climb and offer a stunning view of the surrounding country.
They range in height from the tallest, Mt Kerinci of Sumatra, at 3805 meters to many under 1000 meters. They also range in degree of difficulty from multiple day hikes requiring a high level of fitness to others that can be done in just a few hours. Many of these peaks are close to the coast and offer an opportunity for guests of the Samata to explore them. If there is no time during a cruise it’s easy to arrange for a guided volcano trek before or after the trip.
Popular and scenic volcanoes can be found throughout Indonesia but are mainly found on the Sunda Arc. These “range” encompasses the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, and further east through Nusa Tenggara. Other islands boasting a large number of volcanoes include Sulawesi and Halmahera. Popular volcanoes to hike include Mt Rinjani in Lombok, Batur in Bali, Banda Api in the Banda Islands, or our favourite: Mt Kelimutu in Flores. Whichever you choose, the euphoric feeling of conquering the peak of a volcano is a hard one to match!
Indonesia – A Land of Adventure
Whatever your activity of choice, it can be found in Indonesia. This “top 5 list” is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Indonesia. The list of other attractions is never ending and a traveler could spend years exploring this wonderful country. Let us know if you would like to explore one of these activities with us on a future trip aboard the Samata.