Independent Families: 'How can we see the real Bali?'


Q. I am Dutch, married to an Englishman and have a nine-year-old daughter. Sadly, both my parents, who were from Indonesia, died recently. We would like my daughter to experience the culture of their homeland - perhaps in east Bali or Lombok - and see some wildlife. My husband likes sailing, and we all like snorkelling and walking. A beach would be fine, but I would be just as happy with a pool. However, we're concerned that large, organised tours of the region would be too tiring for her.

Alexandra Pickett, London

A. Although many organised tours in Indonesia - with long distances between stops, and demanding trekking - may well be too much for your child, you could consider those few specialists that tailor their trips to suit the very young.

The Adventure Company (08454 505 311; www.adventurecompany.co.uk) is one such operator that offers active, off-the-beaten track holidays for families. It organises a 15-day Monkeys and Volcanoes trip in Bali that combines wildlife, walking and beaches. With no more than three-hour journeys between stops, plenty of swimming, and a maximum group size of 12, it's graded as "easy" by the tour company, although it does point out that Bali's high humidity can sap the energy of adults as well as children.

The itinerary begins in the central, artisan town of Ubud, and then circles north and east through mountains and along the Balinese coast. It includes walks through a "monkey forest" - where the local primates will try to mug you for nuts, a trip to the Bali Bird Park to see birds of paradise, hornbills and rare Bali starlings, and snorkelling off black-sand beaches. You'll also have the opportunity to dolphin-watch from a traditional out-rigged boat, or prahu, and spend the night with a Balinese family. During British school summer holidays - which coincide with Bali's dry season - prices start at £1,649 per adult, £1,059 per child, including flights with Thai Airways from Heathrow to Denpasar via Bangkok, full-board accommodation, and transfers.

Though still tropical, Lombok is far drier than Bali, even in the October-March rainy season, which makes a lower-cost autumn or spring half-term visit a possibility. It's also a lot quieter, with fewer visitors and perhaps more possibility for your daughter to experience her grandparents' culture unmediated by too much tourism. What's more, the snorkelling is superb - particularly in the backpacker havens of the Gilli islands - while Lombok's central, forested volcano provides plenty of hiking, with some beautiful waterfalls to swim beneath, and more monkeys for your daughter to coo at.

The Santai Beach Inn and Book Exchange (00 62 37 069 3038; www.santaibeach inn.com) is a series of simple, thatched bungalows hidden in the forest a short drive from Lombok's airport - though its relaxed rusticity means it feels a million miles from anywhere. A large wooden bungalow, sleeping three and with a bamboo porch and outdoor shower, starts at 209,000 Rupiahs (£11) per night, including breakfast. The food, prepared on site, is typical of the area - fresh, mildly spicy fish and vegetables - and children under 11 can be catered for separately if necessary. A shallow, calm beach with coral just offshore is a short stroll through the gardens, and the inn can arrange boat trips to the Gilli islands or guides for walks around the area.

As for wildlife, Lombok is only a short hop from the unique inhabitants of Komodo Island. Across Indonesia (00 62 21 7 918 3601; www.acrossindonesia.com) can arrange a private four-day excursion to the island and its near neighbours. Accommodation is on specially converted traditional wooden boats, and activities include snorkelling off pink-sand beaches, and taking a guided, easy-grade trek to see the rare, 10ft Komodo dragons in their native habitat. Prices start at US$940 (£522) for two adults and a child, full board.

To get to Lombok, you'll need to fly via Bali - Singapore Airlines (0844 800 2380; www.singaporeair.com) has February returns from Heathrow from £654 per adult, £525 for under-12s, with the advantage of transiting at Singapore's very family-friendly Changi airport.

For onward connections, Garuda (020-7467 8640; www.garudaindonesia.co.uk) and Merpati (00 62 21 654 8888; www.merpati.co.id) both have daily flights to Lombok's Mataram airport for around 290,000 Rupiahs (£16) per adult return.

For more ideas on what to see and do in Indonesia, visit the government website www.tourismindonesia.com

Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail crusoe@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test