Comprising 13,466 islands, it can be hard to know where to start with Indonesia. From world class dive sites to volcano trekking, exploring ancient cultures to the modern buzz of the big cities this country offers something for every traveller. While many tourists head straight to the southern islands of Bali, Java and Lombok, if you venture further afield you will be rewarded handsomely by remarkable landscapes, pristine reefs and locals intrigued by you for reasons other than what lies in your wallet.
What to do:
– Stay at Mutiara Guest House in the city of Bandaneira in the Spice Islands of Banda. Rooms adorned in antiques and a healthy library of local history books make an excellent base to explore the archipelago and it’s fascinating colonial history.
– Dive the Raja Ampat Islands, known as the ‘Amazon of the underwater world’ for the highest diversity of marine life recorded on Earth.
– Eat gado-gado, an Indonesian favourite of vegetables, egg and tempeh, drenched in spicy peanut sauce.
– Trek to the Kawah Ijen crater lake in eastern Java to see the blue sulphur gas light show and men harvesting sulphur in extreme working conditions (don’t forget to tip for photos!)
– Attend a funeral ceremony in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi where life is centred around the preparation of death and burial. Visit the weekly buffalo market to observe these majestic beasts prior to their sacrifice at the funeral ceremonies, and travel the surrounding countryside dotted with rice paddies and ancient graves.
– Surf the breaks around Kuta Lombok where the waves cater to all level of surfers and beaches are best reached by motorbike, travelling through spectacular scenery.
– Read ‘Throwim Way Leg’ by Tim Flannery