The best way to explore and appreciate the rich geographical and cultural diversity of Indonesia is to set out on foot: to hike, to trek or to climb into the fascinating environments and beautiful countryside of this diverse, exotic land.Indonesia is one of the world most exotic places for the tropical mountain trekking and volcano observation. The “Ring of fire” runs through Sumatra, Java, the Lesser Sunda Islands and then up to Moluccas and made these islands marked by jagged volcanoes and most fertile land on the planet. If you intend to really immerse yourself in unique Indonesian trekking experiences, you have four main options: hiking up live volcanoes; climbing mountains; exploring remote cultures; or tracking through jungles. Note that the hikes and treks described here are just a few examples of what’s available – there are countless others, less well-known but just as remarkable in their way.
If you want to add that extra edge of excitement to your trekking activities, climbing up a live volcano is the way to do it – and, with around 120 volcanoes still active in Indonesia, there’s no shortage of choice. Nothing quite matches the feeling of standing on a mountain that’s grumbling, puffing, steaming and spewing ash. Volcanoes, like human beings, are complex and unpredictable and when you enter their majestic presence, it’s easy to understand why they have such cultural significance and are revered as gods.
Perhaps one of Indonesia’s most famous destinations is Mount Bromo, an active 2392m high volcano situated southeast of Surabaya in East Java. More people climb Mount Bromo than any other fire mountain in Indonesia. Bromo itself is in fact a crater within another gigantic crater, 10km across and rimmed with sheer 350m high walls. Bromo and two companion cones rise like islands out of the barren sandy expanse of the caldera, which is a center of worship for the local Tenggerese villagers. The surrounding Tengger Highlands are a scenic wonderland of puffing volcanic cones, deep canyons, ice-cold lakes, waterfalls, caves and alpine forests.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience the deep, strange world of the rainforest, Indonesia is one of the best countries to do it. The jungles here are the oldest in the world; vast tracts are still untouched; the biodiversity is mind-boggling; and in isolated Irian Jaya local people have changed little since the Stone Age. The Mamasa-Bittuang trek in Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi, offers a striking landscape of mountains, jungle and beautiful farmlands, and a window into the mystical culture of the Toraja people. Their unique and most complex architecture, most notably the buffalo-shaped houses, sophisticated craftsmanship, and intricate tribal rites and ceremonies draw visitors from all over the world.
The Bukit Barisan Salatan National Park in Sumatra is a remote and beautiful peninsula, which offers hikers a chance to see some of Indonesia’s incredible wildlife, including Sumatran elephants, barking deer and apes. The trek cuts through dense tropical jungle and mangrove and finally opens out on to a pristine beach famous for its breeding turtles.