Beautiful Indonesia is rich with culture, history and the opportunity for adventure. It is a nation of 100 countries and 17,000 islands across 5000km of the equator region, so the landscapes, customs, food and wildlife are hugely diverse.
With so much to see in this gorgeous country, it would take a lifetime to do even 10% of it, from swimming in sapphire blue lagoons and meeting orangutans to climbing awe-inspiring volcanoes and exploring the rice fields.
As wonderful as it is, don’t stick to the main tourist trail; the hidden gems in Indonesia are too good to be missed.
Hidden Gems in Indonesia
Explore Brown Canyon – Semarang
Semarang is the bustling capital city of Central Java, and Brown Canyon, one of the hidden gems in Indonesia, is 18 km away in Rowosari Village.
Brown Canyon has a unique and beautiful appearance, thanks to a decade of local people and government organisations mining for sand and rocks. Lush greenery-covered cliffs and peaks tower dramatically into the sky.
The canyon is still a working mine, so visiting at the weekend, when the miners have gone, is recommended. The route is rough and dusty, an adventure, but the stunning vistas are worth the effort once you arrive.
Marvel at Kaolin Lake – Belitung Island
Belitung Island is famous for gorgeous beaches, unusual rock formations and a sapphire sea teaming with colourful sea life. If you’re lucky enough to visit, the Blue Kaolin Lake is just a 10–15-minute drive from Tanjung Pandan City and a must-see.
Blue Kaolin Lake is a beautiful place; it’s enormous, and the clear, blue water shimmers in the sunshine. But, created by mining kaolin, a mineral, and close to the access road, the Kaolin Lake shouldn’t have the air of peace and serenity you will feel on its pure white shores.
Photographers will love exploring this fantastic spot; the small ice-blue ponds surrounding the main lake and the ivory dunes create many opportunities for a jaw-dropping image.
Kaolin Lake is the perfect location if you’re looking for somewhere to relax for the day. Swimming in the cool water is safe, and there are soft sand hills to sunbathe on.
See orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park
Tanjung Puting National Park is in Central Kalimantan, a magnificent combination of coastal tropical heath, mangroves, and peat swamp forests. It became a national park in 1982, and while there have been some struggles to protect the landscape and wildlife, it is still a place of wild beauty.
The park is a feast for the senses. You’ll see huge skies, night-time views of the milky way, bright red sunsets, and breathe pure, fresh air. The highlight? You’ll come into close contact with the gentle dignity of the orangutan.
Camp Leakey Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is a research station that cares for and studies the orangutan. They are unique amongst similar sanctuaries in that the animals they have rehabilitated are released back into the park.
The orangutans share the park with the big-nosed proboscis monkey, several types of deer, endangered birds, crocodiles, snakes, sun bears, civets and clouded leopards. Rare dragonfish, vibrant butterflies and moths are some of the smaller creatures that call Tanjung Puting home.
Most visitors will travel around Tanjung Puting on the backwaters in a latok boat piloted by a local. There’s an eco-lodge beside the river on the park’s perimeter, but the adventurous will love sleeping on the boat’s deck under a starry sky and a mosquito net.
Take a dip in Weekuri Lagoon – Sumba
Sumba is an island in eastern Indonesia in the Nusa Tengara province. Once you’ve arrived on this magical island, head to the southwest coast, trek down a few dirt roads and discover Weekuri Lagoon, one of the hidden gems in Indonesia.
The Indian Ocean crashes dramatically against the rocks of Weekuri and powers through the cracks and holes; watching from the bridge in the middle of the lagoon is breathtaking. Alternatively, float blissfully on the crystal clear, aquamarine water in rentable giant rubber rings.
Swimming in Weekuri Lagoon is exhilarating. Saltwater from the ocean and freshwater from a spring combine, and this phenomenon makes the temperature of the lake a mixture of warm and cold.
If you’re feeling energetic, climb to the cliff for a stunning panorama of deep blue ocean, turquoise lagoon and green meadows. If you’re hungry after your trek, local people sell tasty noodles, fresh coconuts and spicy snacks.
Meet the Komodo Dragons in Komodo National Park
Komodo Island is the biggest of the 29 islands in the Komodo National Park in the east of Indonesia. It has a rugged landscape with volcanic hills, sprawling savannah and mangrove forests. There’s a coral reef off the coast, and it has a population of over 4000 Komodo Dragons.
This is a protected area, so most tourists will visit as part of a guided tour. Your day or weekend includes meeting (at a respectful distance!) the biggest lizard species on the planet. A knowledgeable ranger will accompany you and explain all you need to know about these fascinating creatures and their fearsome reputation.
There will also be plenty of opportunities for swimming and snorkelling on the coral reef and hiking to awe-inspiring viewpoints. But, of course, relaxing on the famous pink beaches is a must too. The light baby pink sand gets its gorgeous hue from microscopic red coral.
More extended tours will include trips to the nearby island of Kalong to see the flying bats and the Mirror Cave near Labuan Bajo on Flores Island.
Explore amazing Komodo National Park Tours
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Climb Mount Kelimutu – Flores
The Kelimutu National Park is on the island of Flores in eastern Indonesia. Awesome Mount Kelimutu dominates the skyline. There are two volcanic lakes that transform from blue to pink to green and brown, depending on the current combination of gases under the water.
A tour of Kelimutu National Park will usually start at 4 am, and you’ll meet in Moni, the small town in the volcano’s foothills. If you’re not an early bird, take heart; witnessing the gorgeous sunrise over the crater lakes is worth the jarring alarm call.
The crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu can be reached with an exhilarating 30-minute car or scooter ride and then an easy 20-minute trek up to the crater rim from the parking area. High in the sky, surrounded by volcanic rock, strange smells and other jaw-dropping beauty, you’ll feel like you’re on another planet.
There are two ways to take in the views of Tiwu Ata Polo (Enchanted Lake) and Tiwu Ko’o Fai Nuwa Muri (Lake of Young Souls). A platform with safety railings is the conventional choice, but a rough dirt path can be scrambled across to stand between the lakes. If you are determined to get up close, don’t be tempted to swim, the sulphuric waters are dangerous.
Trek the Mount Ijen volcano
Kawah Ijen (Mount Ijen) is an active volcano in East Java, and trekking to its summit is a spectacular adventure. You’ll need to get up while it’s still dark and cold, wear a gas mask to protect you from the sulphuric gas and challenge your leg muscles. The payoff is the sight of magical blue fire, a bubbling crater lake and magnificent sunrise views.
Your tour will likely begin in Banyuwangi Town, an hour from the mountain. Though, there is a lovely lodge closer to the base of Mount Ijen if you prefer being closer. You’ll climb in the dark, and unless you’re an experienced night hiker, you’ll appreciate the expertise and reassurance of your guide.
The magical blue flame is close to the lake, where you’ll need nerve, a sure foot and your gas mask. You’ll be in a cloud of toxic sulphur, so don’t linger for longer than two minutes.
Your sunrise spot is above the clouds and is surprisingly peaceful as many enjoy the morning colours on their walk back down the mountain. However, the genuinely daring may want to climb a sharp ridge above the crater and experience a truly alien landscape.
Explore the rice fields of Majalengka
Majalengka is a province in West Java, 70km east of the capital city, Bandung. This is one of the hidden gems in Indonesia that is soon to be discovered by the wider travelling community. This marvellous, diverse region includes the flat lands around the coast, the peaks of Mount Ciremai National Park and green valleys studded with tea plantations.
Are you craving serenity and breathtaking vistas? Head to the rice paddies of Panyaweuyan Argapura. Lush green fields cascade down rolling hills and make crazy, geometric patterns as far as the horizon and beyond.
The best time to visit is the early morning before the sun gets hot, and you can experience the wonder of the sun rising through the swirling mist.
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