We are excited to be launching Indonesia as part of our portfolio, offering tailor-made adventures through the steamy rainforests, rolling rice terraces and azure blue waters of this wild and wonderful destination. Here, Indonesia expert, Hannah, talks us through the highlights of Java, one of the very many islands that make up the archipelago.
When you think of Indonesia, for many it’s Bali which first comes to mind, with its lush green rice terraces, world class surfing and golden beaches. But Bali is only one of over 13,500 islands in Indonesia, and on my most recent trip, it was Java that stole my heart. Java is Indonesia’s most populous island, but away from its industrious cities, beautifully intricate temples tell stories of yesteryear, and smoking volcanoes provide a stunning backdrop to rural life. Here’s my rundown of Javas many highlights…
First, the temples
A stay in Yogyakarta absolutely must include a visit to Prambanan Temple. It is the largest Hindu temple in the whole of Indonesia, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. It is a hugely impressive site of Hindu architecture, dedicated to Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer.
As well as Indonesia’s largest Hindu temple, Java is also home to the world’s largest single Buddhist monument. Dating back to the 8th century, Borobudur temple complex has to be one of Asia’s most remarkable ancient sites and has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. The best time to visit is at sunrise, where you will arrive in complete darkness. As the sun starts to rise you begin to see the silhouettes of the stupas against a dusty pink sky, making for that perfect postcard photo. It’s not until it’s fully light that you begin to appreciate the full beauty and uniqueness of Borobudur, it is truly outstanding.
One of the must dos on everybody’s list who is travelling to Java has to be a visit to Mount Bromo, with sunrise being the most spectacular time to take in the Bromo landscape, it does not disappoint! Your early morning start begins in a jeep, driving up to the rim of Mount Penanjakan. Here you will make your way to the viewpoint, where you will be rewarded with the most incredible, almost otherworldly vistas in front of you. After sunrise, you will hop back in the jeep to make your descent, after driving through the ‘sea of sand’ you will stop to hike up the 250 steps to reach the crater rim of Bromo itself, where you can see up close the smoke rising up into the sky.
Tip: it is best to visit Bromo during the week, as it can get very busy at the viewpoint during weekends and holidays!
For those looking for a more challenging hike, then look no further than Ijen Crater. Right in the Eastern part of Java and known for its bright blue lake within the crater, Ijen offers travellers a more difficult trek than Bromo, with stunning scenery. The climb takes about two hours, where you will also walk alongside sulphur miners carrying wheelbarrows of heavy sulphur up and down the mountain. It definitely makes for an interesting and unique addition to any Java itinerary.