12 best Indonesian holidays: Will it be Bali by bike or Sumbawa by schooner?
Sunday 12 December 1999
When first encountered in 1938 by a Western explorer, the Dani tribal people of Irian Jaya were still living a Stone Age existence. Things have changed since then, yet the men of the Dani tribes continue to wear the traditional horim, or penis gourd. The Imaginative Traveller (tel: 0181- 742 8612) offers a rigorous 15-day trek through the Baliem Valley staying nightly with local tribes. The price of pounds 705 per person includes all transport (largely on foot), accommodation, and meals while on the tour. International flight and transfers to the trek's starting point cost extra.
2 Batik et cetera
Symbiosis (tel: 0171-924 5906) offers you the chance to submerge yourself in a 16-day tour of Javanese and Balinese culture, including batik-making, an introduction to the Ramayana ballet and gamelan lessons. The trip will visit Java and Bali's most important cultural centres - Yogyakarta, Borobudur and Ubud. The price of around pounds 1,744 per person is based on two sharing and includes return flights, transfers, and accommodation with a variety of meals. Tours, performances and tuition are also all included.
Steppes East (tel: 01285 810267) offers a special 27-day trip to the unusual island of Sulawesi. Dayglo mushrooms, massive megaliths and the chance to attend a local funeral are among the highlights. Funeral preparation is an important part of the Sulawesi lifestyle, and the intricately carved coffins are part of an exotic burial service. The tour costs pounds 2,995 per person based on two sharing and includes flights, transfers, and b&b accommodation - unless trekking when full board is offered. This price also includes several days of diving.
4 Tribal Sumatra
Take the chance to sample Sumatra's colourful tribal identity on a 13- day tour with Explore Worldwide (tel: 01252 760000). The tour includes a stay at Samosir island in the middle of Lake Toba - the largest lake in south-east Asia. Toba is famed for its Batak culture - a people who believe in animism and used to practise cannibalism. Their traditional longhouses have extraordinary carved, horned roofs. The price of the tour starts at pounds 865 per person based on two sharing. This covers return flights, transfers and accommodation on a b&b basis.
5 Luxury stays
Aman hotels are among the world's most luxurious places to stay, and the Amanjiwo in central Java is no exception. To add to the opulent decor, Amanjiwo also has views out to one of Asia's greatest monuments, Borobudur. Steppes East (tel: 01285 810267) combines five nights at the Amanjiwo with a stay at one of Bali's finest hotels - the Begawan Giri. This 13- day break costs pounds 2,800 per person based on two sharing. It includes return flights on Singapore Airlines, transfers and suites at both hotels. Meals cost extra.
One of the highlights of any trip to Indonesia is a chance to visit the island of Komodo and view the famous 3m-long lizards - the "Komodo dragons". Asian Journeys (tel: 01604 234855) proposes a 16-day itinerary which also incorporates a visit to the island of Flores to see Keli Mutu volcano and its stunning three-coloured lakes. The price of pounds 1,995 per person is based on two sharing. It includes return flights, all transfers and accommodation. Meals are mainly on a full-board basis.
Shipwrecks, underwater volcanoes and encounters with hammerhead sharks await divers who travel to the Sangihe-Talaud archipelago, near Sulawesi. Hayes & Jarvis (tel: 0870 8989890) offer a diving trip which incorporates staying aboard a yacht, the SY Crescent. The 10-day trip starts at pounds 1,596 per person based on two sharing a standard cabin. This includes flights, transfers and full-board accommodation while at sea. Three dives per day are part of the package.
8 Among the orang-utans
In Indonesian, orang-utan literally means "old man of the forest". Earthwatch (tel: 01865 311600) is running several projects in Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra next year to study orang-utan health. Volunteers will assist in collecting data on their feeding habits, among other things. The price of the 14-day project is pounds 1,190 per person based on a shared guest-house and including transfers from Medan and all meals. International flights cost extra. Discovery Initiatives (tel: 01285 810621; e-mail: enquiry@discovery initiatives.com) also runs orang-utan study holidays in Borneo.
Despite burgeoning tourism over the past 10 years, Lombok island still receives only a fraction of the tourists that its neighbour, Bali, gets. Travelbag Adventures (tel: 01420 541007) offers an 11-day tour of Lombok for pounds 799 per person based on two sharing. Activities include a chance to explore Lombok's wonderful countryside, a spell on the beach and the option to climb Mount Rinjani. The price includes return flights, transfers, accommodation and some meals.
10 Backpackers of Borneo
While the Dyak people of Indonesian Borneo - Kalimantan - no longer practise headhunting, crossing this beautiful island will be an experience that you are unlikely to forget. Encounter (tel: 0171-370 6845) offers a challenging 21-day trans-Borneo crossing that costs pounds 830 per person. The trip will involve covering nearly 1,500km by road, jungle boats and trekking. There will be opportunities to stay in traditional Dyak villages. The price includes all accommodation, meals, and guides for crossing Kalimantan. Flights cost extra and participants make their own way to Pontiak where the expedition begins.
The islands east of Bali are known as Nusa Tenggara. Explore Worldwide (tel: 01252 760000) offers the chance to cruise between some of these, Indonesia's least-visited islands, such as Sumbawa and Rinca, by schooner. Highlights include searching for fruit-bats and a visit to the Sultan's palace on Sumbawa. The 15-day trip costs pounds 1,360 per person and is based on two people sharing. This includes return flights, transfers and accommodation - on a b&b basis on dry land but full-board during the seven days at sea.
12 Bali by bike
The Imaginative Traveller (tel: 0181-742 8612) offers the energetic the chance to tour Bali by bicycle. The back roads of Bali will allow you to come face to face with unspoilt local culture as you meander past rural villages and endless rice terraces. Visits to hot springs and a climb up the active volcano of Mount Batur are part of the itinerary. The 15- day tour starts from Ubud and costs pounds 450 per person, including bikes. Return flights, transfers to Ubud and meals all cost extra.
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