Selamat datang! Welcome to Indonesia. The adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, it's a good idea to arrive a day early so you can attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early you may want to check out Maimun Palace - designed by a Dutch Architect and built in 1887 – 1891 it combines architecture from Malay, Indian and Islamic cultures and is now a museum. Alternatively head to Tjong A Fie Mansion - known as "the historical jewel in Medan", the 35-room, 2-storey Tjong A Fie Mansion was built in 1895 by a hakka merchant and is modelled on the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion in Penang. It now serves as a museum. The entrance fee includes a guided tour.
2 Bukit Lawang
Jump aboard the minivan and drive to Bukit Lawang (approximately 5 hours). The first part of the journey involves quite heavy traffic, but the roads are nice and smooth. Closer to Bukit Lawang it gets bumpy and windy, so brace yourself for a bit of an adventure. The reward for the journey is the destination – Bukit Lawang a peaceful village located on the banks of the Bohorok river, right next to the Gunung Leuser National Park. In the afternoon you can take an optional tour in the countryside by Becak (cycle rickshaw) or cool off with a refreshing swim in the river. There will be plenty of time to also prepare for your jungle trek.
3 Gunung Leuser National Park
Set off on a trekking adventure through the Gunung Leuser National Park with an experienced guide (approximately 5–6 hours). The night will be spent camping out in the jungle. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed park spans 7,927 square kilometres, and is one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. It's the home of many endangered species, including the Sumatran tiger, rhinoceros and elephants. These animals are extremely rare to see but you will get the chance to go in search for wild orangutans. There used to be an orangutan rehabilitation centre here, but now these creatures have all been returned to their natural habitat, so this is your best chance in Indonesia to see orangutans in the wild. There are also 300 species of birds, and many rare plants and flowers. Today's hike is hilly (both up and down), and can be muddy and steep. The paths are mostly clear, but there are some sections where we have to climb over large fallen logs. We may stop and rest while our guides go in search of orangutans for us. Along the way our guides point out orangutan nests, edible plants for us to try, monkeys, birds, and wild orangutan. We will carry our own lunch and break for lunch along the way then continue trekking to the camp site, where the guides set up and cook dinner for the group. It's a wild, remote spot, which means maximum adventure and zero facilities! Twin share tents and boiled stream water refills are provided. You may want to bring your own water purification tablets for this night. Porters are available at a cost of 150,000 IDR per day. Please inform your leader in advance if you would like to hire a porter. You will need to prepare an overnight bag for your trek and we will leave our large bags at the hotel. Good to bring a spare set of clothes for the evening, a sleep sheet, biodegradable soap or shower gel, insect repellent, a pack towel or sarong and rain jacket. It’s possible you might encounter the odd leech but this is all part of the jungle experience.
You will wake early to the sound of Gibbons and continue our trek down river (approximately 2 hours) - your feet will get wet so strap on sandals or local rubber shoes are recommended. Back at Bukit Lawang, day rooms will be available for showers before you get on the bus. Depart early afternoon for Berastagi (approximately 5.5 hours). Berastagi is the home of the Karo people, a Batak sub-group with traditional villages (long houses). It's also a good chance to stock up on some tropical fruit for the road.
Drive (approximately 30 minutes) to the starting point of today's hike. The hike (approximately 2-3 hours) brings you to the top of Sibayak Volcano (2094 m). It's quite steep, muddy and slippery (rated 6/10 for difficulty in the dry season and 8/10 in the wet). Follow a shady jungle path which, towards the top, opens up into a more alpine setting. Long pants are essential to protect you from poisonous plants, and a trekking stick will also come in handy. After reaching the top, sit down to a traditional 'bungkus' lunch and enjoy the views. From the summit you can see (and hear) the steaming vapours escaping from the fumaroles of this active volcano. Then it's time for the descent (approximately 1 hour). Afterwards, head straight to the nearby hot springs afterwards for a soothing soak. These springs are are all built environments, more like swimming pools with naturally heated water from the local volcano, nice place to soak after a hard climb. They all have several pools (6–8) with water at varying temperatures. There are change rooms with cold water available, and snacks and drinks to buy (including beer).
6 Lake Toba
Drive to Tongging Vilage (2 hours). The road from Berastagi to Danau Toba is a nice, smooth road. You will make a stop at a traditional Dokan Village where you'll find a handful of traditional houses which are still the homes of local Batak families. Then continue on and stop at Sipiso-Piso waterfall, which was formed by a small underground river of the Karo plateau. Watch as water plunges from a cave in the side of the Lake Toba caldera some 120 metres (360 feet) down to lake level. This is Indonesia's highest waterfall. Lake Toba itself, surrounded by mountains, is a peaceful spot to relax. It was formed by a huge volcanic eruption 70,000 years ago; a second eruption 50,000 years later created an island the size of Singapore in the middle of the lake – Samosir Island. Your accommodation tonight is right next to the lake and boasts nice views of the water, mountains and rice fields.
7 Lake Toba
Embark on a day tour in Samosir. Visit the Stone Chairs, Simanindo Museum (in a traditional house), and a and Tomok, an ancient Batak King's grave. The island is punctuated with many ancient and modern grave sites, several of which we see on today's tour. Also enjoy a traditional Batak dance performance. The Toba Bataks have a unique religion, architecture and culture. Although they are predominantly Christian, they also practice animism. The most distinctive element of their culture is the traditional architecture – extraordinary boat-like houses with roofs resembling buffalo horns.
Drive back to Simanindo (approximately 45 minutes). From there, take a boat back to Tigaras (approximately 45 minutes). , the continue to Medan (approximately 3.5 hours). The road from Danau Toba (Lake Toba) to Medan is quite smooth, but busy, so it may be slow going in places.
Today you will fly from Medan to Jakarta approx. 2.5 hours. Please note you will be unescorted for this flight but you will be transferred to and from the airports. With your free time in Jakarta check out some of Jakarta's interesting museums, such as the Wayang (puppetry), Balai Seni Rupa (fine arts) and Maritime museums. The National Museum is great for first-time visitors. For city monuments, don't miss Si Jagur, an old Portuguese cannon ornately decorated with sexual imagery, or the Monas (National Monument) dedicated to the spirit of the Indonesian people. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Familiarise yourself with the city on a full day tour with your local guide. Take in Sunda Kelapa port, where the Dutch first landed, temple-filled Chinatown and the old town of Batavia. Visit a Chinese mansion (Chandra Naya) and gain an insight into the beautiful Peranakan architecture. Wander about Fatahillah Square, then explore the religious side of the city at Cathedral Church and Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in South East Asia. Meander through the antique market at Jalan Surabaya.
Today there's some distance to cover, so you will spend most of the day travelling. Travel by train to Purwokerto City (approximately 5.5 hours), then take a private minibus to Pangandaran (approximately 3 hours). Pangandaran is a small fishing village popular with visitors looking for a coastal escape. The Penanjung Nature Reserve on the adjoining peninsula boasts some impressive flora and fauna.
Set off on a tour of the local surrounds, villages, cottage industries and the impressive green canyon. Your day trip begins with a stop at a local market to check out the produce and home industries such as palm sugar and rice cracker production, as well as the famous Javanese 'Wayan Golek' (traditional wooden puppets). Then you'll continue to the Green Canyon. Hop aboard your boat and travel upriver (approximately 30 minutes) through superb jungle scenery, before stopping for a swim up into the canyon itself. This spot, whose water is green as its name suggests, is a popular hangout for locals, so take the opportunity to interact. Your day concludes at a nearby beach where you can take a break for lunch and swim in the afternoon before heading back.
Head inland by private minibus (approximately 1 hour) before catching a train to Yogyakarta (approximately 4 hours). This town is one of South East Asia's real gems. It's Java's cultural heart, has a great atmosphere and is an Intrepid favourite. From batik workshops to the nearby Hindu and Buddhist temples, 'Yogya' offers a great array of cultural avenues to explore.
Rise early to catch the morning light and avoid the crowds at Candi Borobudur, the largest Buddhist structure on earth. This magnificent World Heritage site is set in a tranquil park. As you approach, you'll see the enigmatic temple rise before you, looming above the tropical foliage. With your local guide, follow the route of ancient pilgrims, circling the mandala-shaped structure from the early realms towards Nirvana. It's truly one of South East Asia's treasures. Afterwards, enjoy an afternoon of free time. You might like to visit one of Yogya's other heritage temples – this time perhaps of the Hindu variety. Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu complex in Java. This evening perhaps catch a performance of the epic Ramayana Ballet. Your leader will be able to check dates and availability for you.
Pedal out of the city on a cycling tour (approximately 6 km) through the rice fields and countryside surrounding Yogyakarta. See the locals in this area making various goods, from bricks to tofu to tempe. As well as palms and lush green grasslands, you will see the odd burst of yellow and pink flowers by the side of the road, which make for great photo opportunities. This cycling tour is on relatively flat ground, so it won't be too strenuous. There will be ample time to take in all the interesting scenes of slow-paced local life. You will then have a free afternoon today and there is many activities for you to choose in Yogyakarta. Perhaps a cooking class to learn about Indonesian cuisine or limber up with a yoga class, there is something for everyone.
16 Seloliman Nature Reserve
Travel by train (approximately 4.5 hours) before transferring on a minivan (approximately 1 hour) to Seloliman Nature Reserve. The peaceful Seloliman Nature Reserve is situated on the slopes of the sacred Penanggungan volcano. Meet some of the volunteers working at the Seloliman Environmental Education Centre and eat delicious, locally grown organic produce cooked by their staff. The centre's accommodation is atmospheric, with open-air bathrooms built in harmony with the surrounding forrest, so take this opportunity to relax. This is a beautiful spot to appreciate nature – be sure to sit under the stars tonight and take in the ambience of the mountainous surrounds.
17 Seloliman Nature Reserve - Mt Bromo
Join reserve staff on a walk around the reserve, learning about the local environment and the Javanese tradition of herbal medicine (approximately 2.5 hours). You'll gain an insight into local flora and fauna, traditional farming methods, rice production, the mini hydro electricity plant and the local village coffee shop. Finish up with a traditional Jamu demonstration and a tasting of 'Javanese medicine'. Continue on to Mt Bromo, the timeless homeland of the Tenggerese (approximately 4 hours). The still-active Mount Bromo (2,329 m) is the most well known volcano of the Tengger massif. This region is also the homeland of the Tenggerese and the steep, cultivated hills of the Tengger Valley. Our accommodation tonight is in villa’s and each villa has 2 rooms with a lounge room and one shared bathroom between the 2 rooms. Retire early tonight, in preparation for tomorrow's early start.
18 Mt Bromo - Kalibaru
Your early start today (around 3am) will be well worth it, trust us. First you'll drive to a lookout point in jeeps for sunrise over the sea of sands. If the weather is clear, the sunrise over this eerie sea of volcanoes is an unforgettable experience. Afterwards descend in your jeep to the sea of sands and climb up to to the volcano crater to take a peek inside (note this can be closed during periods of volcanic activity) The ascent is not too difficult (approximately 45 minutes), but it can be very cold, so don't forget to bring extra layers of clothing. It's also worth bringing a scarf to cover your nose and mouth, as it can get dusty. Note that Mount Bromo is one of the highlights of the trip but it’s very popular, so during holiday periods expect it to be crowded. Return to the hotel to freshen up and then depart midmorning to Kalibaru in a private minivan (approximately 5.5 hours). You'll stop for lunch en route, then arrive in the afternoon, with time to relax by the pool or perhaps indulge in a local massage.
19 Kalibaru - Pemuteran
Head out early in the morning to tour nearby coffee, cocoa and rubber plantations. You'll see how rubber is processed, how coffee is dried, and, if there's time, how cocoa is fermented. Before you set off, enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea and snack on fried banana. Travel by minibus to the far eastern end of Java, Gilimanuk (approximately 3 hours). There is often a lot of heavy traffic on this stretch of road as it's the main entry point for Bali, so there may be some delays. Next you'll board a ferry across the Java Strait (approximately 1 hour), before boarding another minibus for a journey along the west coast of Bali (approximately 1 hour). Travel on to Pemuteran, your destination for the next two nights.
Enjoy a relaxing day in this gorgeous beach side spot. Maybe start the day with a relaxing yoga class and then explore the local area at your own pace. Visit the surrounding monkey-filled temples, go swimming, snorkelling, or simply sit back, relax and watch the fishermen go about their work.
Make the journey to Ubud (approximately 5 hours). En route, stop in at Taman Ayun Temple, taking in the impressive Balinese architecture while you stroll around the tranquil gardens. Ubud is Bali's main arts and cultural centre, recently made famous by the Hollywood movie 'Eat Pray Love'. It's a wonderful place to experience the magic that has made Bali such a popular travel destination.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. There is plenty to see and do if you're staying longer. Hire a bicycle and explore the surrounding rice paddies and small villages, or visit galleries, museums and handicraft merchants in town.