The unique and incomparable topography of Indonesia – 17,000 islands covered in forests and ridged with mountains – has resulted in a fantastic biodiversity across the nation. Visiting the untouched forests and beaches is an unforgettable experience. Several of the ecosystems have evolved in virtual isolation in this biggest archipelago of the world. Indonesia is home to world’s largest lizard and world’s smallest primate, and also the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros and Sumatran tiger. The nation seamlessly combines the adventure of interacting with wildlife in their natural habitat, with accessibility and infrastructure. Here is a list of the top 5 spots not to be missed on your trip to Indonesia.
- Komodo and Rinca Islands
These islands have stunning natural views and fantastic flora and fauna (both in and out of water). If Komodo Dragons are on your list, you must visit both islands for a complete experience. These are excellent spots to see Komodo Dragons out in the wild and even interact with them on occasion. Since this is one of the very few locations you get to see Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat and not cages, there are no real security measures in place other than maintaining a safe distance and following the guides’ orders. Another spot not to be missed is the Taka Makassar – an incredible crescent shaped spit of pink sand poking out of the water that is full of manta rays and turtles.
- Tanjung Puting National Park
This fantastic national park is a working camp working for the location and protection of Orangutans. The river that flows through the heart of the park is spectacular, and we recommend taking a houseboat trip to sail across it for an adventure. Feel free to have high expectations of the Tanjung National Park tour as it will still exceed your expectations. It is an extremely memorable experience and a magical moment when you see the orang-utans close to you. There is something special about being onboard a traditional Indonesian klotok boat, floating up an increasingly narrow river, with proboscis monkeys perched overhead in towering tropical rainforest trees.
- Raja Ampat Islands
Raja Ampat is the Earth’s center of marine biodiversity and the incredible scuba diving reflects this. You can expect lots of encounters from pygmy seahorses to huge manta rays. The diving and diversity of fish coral is mind blowing – a bucket list must. An important point to keep in mind is that the currents can be quite strong, so this dive is not recommended for beginner divers. There is no doubt that the islands and seas surrounding them are beautiful in more ways than one. Mostly uninhabited or with only small communities, they are protected by the government and now form the national park. The park has a number of resorts of varying standards together with a developing number of cheaper home stays.
- Meru Betiri National Park
The Meru Betiri National Park is absolutely massive. Most tourists visit the place for Sukamade turtle beach, which in a separate attraction in itself. It takes some effort to reach the bay, but then you are well rewarded. The bay is one of the most unspoiled on Java. Getting to the heart of the matter, the Sukamade beach is at the end of the world, no mobile network and long drive from the city of Banyuwangi. The majority of the turtles coming to Sukamade beach are green turtles but other species can also be spotted. By keeping the eggs in the hatchery, the next generation of turtles are protected from birds of prey or wild pigs – it’s crucial as the number of them significantly decreased in past years. The scenery is beautiful and holding a baby turtle in your hand before it runs to the sea will surely be an extraordinary experience.
- Way Kambas National Park
Way Kambas park is well-known across the world for the presence of elephants and the unique interaction experiences it provides. But once you visit and explore Way Kambas, you quickly realize that the park is much more beyond that. This is the off-the-beaten-track, jungle experience you’ve been looking for. The best/easiest way to get to Way Kambas is from Bandar Lampung. You can get up close to elephants and rhinos and ride on elephants around the national park. Way Kambas also has a river that runs through the heart of the park. Along its banks, you can find birds, monkeys, snakes, and even crocodiles. The river cruise is an interesting and fascinating experience.
Photo credits: @luminousdeep, @alifeofjoe, @borneotour, @dani_fitzbrown, @xubec, @bigplankton, @explore_banyuwangi, @sukamade_adventure, @tnwaykambas on Instagram.
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