10 destinations in Indonesia for anyone who loves nature

September 25, 2019

Jungles, volcanoes, pristine beaches: if you love wild nature, Indonesia is the next destination to visit! Here are some tips for your travel itinerary.

Raja Ampat sea in Indonesia

Anyone who decides to organize a trip to Indonesia is generally fascinated by its wild nature, pristine forests, rich flora, its varied fauna, beaches, waterfalls ... If you seek an escape from the routine of everyday life, from the smog and gray of winter, well, this magnificent archipelago has a lot to offer.

Here are 10 attractions to discover to immerse yourself in the amazing nature of Southeast Asia.

Indonesia wild beach
Indonesia and its many islands have much to offer to those who love nature.

Raja Ampat: a diving paradise

For those who are really looking for nature without limits and compromises, there is Raja Ampat, a complex of islands in the province of West Papua. Dense forests, pristine beaches, crystal clear emerald sea: Raja Ampat is all this and much more, thanks to the presence of many marine species that make it a paradise for all lovers of snorkeling and diving.

The archipelago consists of over 1,500 small islands, to which atolls and islets are to be added. Its waters are home to 540 types of different corals and 700 molluscs. It is also believed that around 75% of the species of the world live in Raja Ampat.

Both diving and snorkeling are therefore a unique experience here, swimming among manta rays, tuna, catfish, barracudas, dugongs and turtles. The best snorkeling spots include Kabui Passage, Arborek Island Pier, Sawandarek, Yenbuba and Friwen Wall.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat archipelago is composed of over 1500 small islands.

But there is not only the underwater environment: Raja Ampat also amazes for the beauties on the surface. Islets covered with exuberant vegetation emerge from the water, contrasting with their colors the blue of the sky and the sea. Among the forests of the islands there are many species of birds, including the "bird of paradise" and several endemic species of cusco, a funny Asian marsupial.

You can get to Raja Ampat by plane from Jakarta or Makassar landing in Sorong, here, aboard small aircraft you reach the capital of the district, Waisai. You can also arrive by ferry from Sorong, directly on the various islands.

Bali: beaches, surfing and volcanoes

There is no need to introduce Bali, not surprisingly also called the island of the gods and surfers paradise. Island of rich culture, as can be admired from the wonderful temples and the endless heritage of dances, songs and ceremonies of the local population, Bali is known above all for its beaches. Here you can practice various water sports, including jet skiing and, in fact, surfing.

But you should not forget the volcanoes, some over 3,000 meters above sea level, on whose top the temperatures are cooler than the plains, where the climate is hot and humid all year round.

Indonesia, Bali sea
A wild beach in Bali.

One of the most famous beaches in Bali is Kuta, with well-equipped services, hotels, restaurants and nightlife spots. Those who want nature and luxury hotels can opt for Seminyak. Jimbaran is a more peaceful and unspoiled resort, famous for its fish. Sanur and Nusa Dua are also interesting places, where in addition to the breathtaking sea there are good services.

But those who want to surf would do well to move to Nusa Lembongan, near the islet of Nusa Penida. In Nusa Penida, famous and photographed Manta Point and Malibu Point, where you can dive, are worth a visit. Other interesting places for diving are the island of Menjangan, off the west coast of Bali, where there is also an ancient shipwreck, and Pemutaran, where there is a rich coral reef.

For those who prefer trekking, in the West Bali National Park where you can admire the flora and fauna of the island. For a bit of adrenaline, you can also try rafting on the Ayung River near Ubud.

Bromo Volcano

Mount Bromo is not one of the highest volcanoes in Indonesia, with its 2,392 meters, but it is certainly one of the most picturesque in terms of landscape. Just four hours by car from Surabaya, the capital of East Java, Mount Bromo is part of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and is surrounded by a spectacular lava expanse. The Tengger population also lives in this territory, with ancient traditions, rituals and customs.

Near Monte Bromo there are many activities that adventure lovers can practice.

Bromo Volcano in Indonesia
Bromo Volcano is one of the highest peaks in Indonesia.

One of the activities that can be practiced here is trekking on the slopes of the mountain to admire the sunrise. With just over an hour walk from the parking lot, you walk up the side of the volcano to watch the sun rise over the nearby Mount Penanjankan around 5.30 (so yes, you have to get up very early). Or you can explore the lava plains in the surroundings in jeep accompanied by expert local guides. The surroundings of the volcano can also be explored by riding a pony.

Komodo National Park and its gems

The Komodo National Park is located in the eastern Nusa Tenggara province and occupies the territory between Sumbawa and Flores. Declared a UNESCO heritage and a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1986, this park is home to 29 volcanic islands, including the three main Rinca, Padar and Komodo, and is inhabited by about 2,500 Komodo dragons. The park includes very different habitats and territories, with hills, mountains, tropical forests, savannahs and beaches.

The Komodo dragon, with its 3 meters in length and weight that exceeds 70 kg, is the largest reptile in the world. They are ferocious and very dangerous carnivores, who manage to eat pigs, water buffaloes and even humans, killing their prey with their poisoned saliva. These beasts exist only within the Komodo National Park and on the island of Flores: visitors can see them keeping at a distance and accompanied by a ranger. Besides the dragons, other animal species coexist in the park, including the endemic Rinca rats.

The Komodo National Park has the driest climate in all of Indonesia, with rainfall virtually absent for eight months of the year. In the dry season, between May and October, temperatures can reach even peaks of 40 degrees. This is why the vegetation is scarce and limited to grasses and sporadic shrubs. On the contrary, the sea is rich in animal and coral species.

The sea is inhabited by many marine species, for this reason, the park of Komodo is appreciated both by divers and by the sea scholars. Because of strong currents, it is always recommended to practice diving with experienced local operators.

Inside the park there are several islands: there is Padar, with its spectacular nature and the perfect environment for trekking and hiking, there is Komodo, inhabited by the famous dragons, visited only by experienced rangers, and there is the island of Mesa, where you can get in touch with local gypsies called Bajau and learn about the traditional way of life. Then there is the island of Kanawa, a natural paradise perfect for long swims and snorkelling and finally Kalong, famous for the presence of bats.

Komodo National Park beach, Indonesia
Komodo National Park is the natural habitat of the world-famous Komodo dragons.

Finally, there is the island of Rinca, also inhabited by the fearful Komodo dragons. Once disembarked at the pier of Koh Kima, escorted by guides, you can start the trekking on the island, characterized by thick forests, grassy meadows and pools of water where you can spot reptiles while awaiting their prey.

Sulawesi and endemic species

The island of Sulawesi is characterized by a vast presence of protected exotic fauna: the island, with its suggestive orchid shape, is located on the Wallace Line, in the Sulawesi Sea. Its position halfway between the Asian and Australian tectonic plates has favored the proliferation of unique species, which are only found here. Among these animals we include the anoa, the babirusa, the black macaque, the bad birds, the cuscus and the tarsier.

The anoa looks like a water buffalo but smaller in size. It is a species at risk of extinction, of which there are two species, one that lives in the plains and one that inhabits the mountains. The two species have different body and horn sizes. The babirusa is instead a particular species of warthog, with very long tusks and living on fruit and only going out at night to avoid its predators.

The Maleo bird is recognizable by its black and white crest, it does not fly and is more easily found near the beaches or where there are hot springs, ideal places for hatching eggs.

The cuscus bear is a marsupial similar to a bear, less than 60 cm long, with a long tail. Active during the day just to eat leaves and fruits, it spends much of its time sleeping.

The most characteristic animal of Sulawesi is perhaps the black macaque, which lives only in the northern area and in some small islands nearby. Black, with a small tuft on the head and large brown eyes, feeds on nuts, flowers, tubers, insects, molluscs and snakes. It is mostly in the mountains, among the trees of the primary forest.

Black macaque in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Black macaque in Sulawesi.

The tarsier is the smallest primate in the world, lives in North Sulawesi and measures only 10-15 cm in length, that is, stands in the palm of a hand. It is recognized for its large round eyes and it has a very soft gray and brown fur. It feeds on insects or birds and stays faithful to the same mate for life.

Kalimantan and the orang utans

Tanjung Puting is one of the most appreciated natural areas by tourists in Kalimantan. This jungle is truly a place of wonders for those who love wild nature, especially because here they meet the famous orangutans. Declared a nature reserve in 1935 and then a national park in 1982, Tanjung Puting is famous for an ambitious research and conservation program that aims to protect these primates from extinction.

Orangutans in Kalimantan, Indonesia
Orangutans in Kalimantan.

In addition to the orangutans, the main reason why tourists come here to visit, the park also houses monkeys with proboscis, leoards, owls, banteng and several colorful birds and butterflies.

Ujung Kulon National Park: the rhinos

Ujung Kulon National Park is 300 km from Jakarta and extends over the Ujung Kulong Peninsula, Panaitan Island, Peucang, Handeleum Islands and Honje Mountains. Its main attraction is the Javanese rhinos, the largest animals of Java. These are very rare and shy beasts, considered almost sacred by the local population.

Rhinos in Ujung Kulon National Park, Indonesia
Rhinos in Ujung Kulon National Park.

For those who want to see the rhinos, you can get to the park by car from Jakarta, passing from Labuan and reaching Tamanjaya or Sumur. By sea you can take a boat from Carita Beach to Peucang Island, where the park offices are located.

Weh Island: paradise beaches and snorkeling

Just at the mouth of the Strait of Malacca, Weh is a small strip of pristine and lush land, a paradise for scuba diving. There are qualified diving instructors to discover its famous underwater garden, meeting from very close manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins and turtles.

Weh island sea, Indonesia
The transparent waters in Weh Island, Indonesia.

On the island you can move comfortably on board of motorbikes, becak or renting a car. You get here by ferry from Banda Aceh, landing at Gapang Beach.

Lake Toba and Samosir Island

Lake Toba is located inside the crater of a volcano and is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and the deepest in the world. At 900 meters above sea level, it boasts a wonderful natural landscape where you can forget any worries.

In the region the Batak live, characterized by particular traditional houses and a very particular craftsmanship. Despite the presence of beaches, the environment is green and mountainous, with cool temperatures and crisp air.

Lake Toba landscape, Indonesia
A panorama of Lake Toba.

How to get there? You need to reach the town of Parapat from Medan by car or public transport and from here you take a boat to Tuktuk or Tomok on the island of Samosir, where there are hotels and restaurants.

Why visit Lake Toba? Well, it is enough to know that inside there is an island, the island of Samosir, which is the real core of the Toba Batak culture. On the island you can admire the houses of traditional vaillages, recognizable by the striking elongated roofs.

Lombok: beaches, forests and waterfalls

Here we are at the island of Lombok, an unspoiled island near Bali, from which it is separated by a strait, feauturing enchanting beaches, dominated by the massive Mount Rinjani and rich in natural beauty that quickly made it one of the main attractions of western Nusa Tenggara. What to do in Lombok? First of all, those who love trekking can try an excursion on the slopes of the mountain, or rent a bicycle and explore the rice fields.

Mount Rinjani is one of the highest volcanoes in Indonesia, with its 3,726 meters above sea level. It houses the Segara Anak lake in its crater. In the area around the island there are the Gili islands ("islets" in the local Sasak language), of which there are three main ones, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, all three if you are looking for pristine beaches.

Remaining in Lombok, the most beautiful beaches are Kuta Beach, Tanjung A'an, Mawun Beach and Selong Belanak Beach. All these beaches are located in the central area of ​​the island, while moving to the west lies the town of Senggigi and the monkey forest.

Rinjani Mountain, Lombok, Indonesia
Mount Rinjani, Lombok.

But Lombok is not just beaches: for those who love nature, going into the island will be a real discovery. In particular, Lombok holds inside some wonderful waterfalls in the forest, to be seen accompanied by expert guides.

Among the most beautiful waterfalls we recommend Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep, in the north, near the village of Senaru, at the foot of Mount Rinjani. In the center, half an hour away from Senggigi beach, there are also Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu. Benang Kelambu is spread over three levels, and the water is clear and drinkable. The most characteristic of the Lombok falls is perhaps Mayang Putek, which contains sulfur in its waters. The inhabitants believe that it has healing properties.

Finally, the Tiu Tedja waterfall, in North Lombok, is perfect for those who want to relax, as it is not necessary to take long walks on foot to reach it, but simply a light walk.

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