The Indonesian Islands of Java & Bali
Soak up the sun, ancient cultures and natural landscapes of Indonesia on this brand new tour of Java and Bali. From smoldering volcanoes and energetic dance performances, to the calm introspection of Buddhist temples and serenity of village life, Java and Bali are two islands with a lot to offer.
From London's Heathrow airport, relax aboard our flight to Singapore. Once we've touched down on Day 2, we'll board an onwards, direct flight to Java, landing in Yogyakarta. On arrival we have some time to settle in to our 5-Star accommodation before a welcome dinner is served in the hotel's restaurant.
Following breakfast this morning, we are collected by coach for a full-day excursion exploring the ancient religious sites, or candis, around Java. We begin at the UNESCO listed Prambanan Temple, a 10th century complex dedicated to the worship of the Gods Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. With it's unique architecture reminiscent of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, stone carvings weave intricate stories that reveal beliefs from the Hindu faith.
After some time to look around, we continue to Candi Plaosan and Candi Sewu, a collection of Buddhist sanctuaries dating from the 8th and 9th centuries. For their age, their preservation is remarkable, and has helped archaeologists greatly with their ongoing restorations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
With a whole day of explorations ahead of us, our local guide joins us as we make the journey by coach to the Sultan's Palace. This low-key and serene Keraton (a building used as the main residence for royalty) is supremely symbolic, and its lay out is actually a miniature model of the Hindu cosmos. Even though the sultans that occupied the palace were Muslims, they still respected and held dear many aspects of the Hindu faith, and each plant, courtyard and pillar that we see is highly emblematic.
Following a tour of the site, we enjoy a local lunch in the Magelang area of Java before making our way to the UNESCO listed Borobodur Temple. This elaborate Buddhist tabernacle was built during the 8th and 9th centuries, a fact that seems surprising as you look upwards towards its towering tiers that begin much like the base of a pyramid and rise elegantly into the sky, peaking with bell-like structures and depictions of a meditating Buddha. You can climb to the top if you so choose, and enjoy a peaceful view that stretches out across to the Menoreh Mountain Range This evening we sit down to an authentic Javanese dinner that precedes a Ramayana ballet performance. A typical Javanese art form, the dancers wear traditional, vibrant costumes and bring to life the reliefs we previously saw etched onto the walls of Prambanan Temple.
With an early start this morning we are driven to the railway station in time to board the service to Jombang. Here we change trains, continuing to Mojokerto where a coach meets us for the transfer to Tosari, a village situated in the Tengger Mountains. En route we stop for lunch, arriving at our hotel later this afternoon.
Day 6 begins with a Jeep pick up from our hotel, and we drive through remote and rural landscapes on our way to Mount Penanjakan. We reach the top in time to see the sun rise over the verdant and smoking volcanic craters of Mounts Bromo, Batok and Semeru. As the early morning mists start to clear we are rewarded with a view that could only be seen in Indonesia, and we admire the lush rainforest canopy as well as the barren plains that make up the 'Sea of Sand, a protected nature reserve surrounding the base of the volcanoes. The weather at the summit can be changeable, with temperatures often many degrees cooler than at sea level, so remember to bring some warmer clothing with you. On our return to the hotel you are at leisure.
We say goodbye to Java this morning as we begin our journey to the neighbouring island of Bali. From Probolinggo train station, we travel by rail to Banyuwangi on the very eastern tip of Java. Boarding a coach we continue to Ketapang where we take a ferry across the Bali strait, arriving at the island after a 30 minute crossing. On disembarkation, our coach takes us north to the coastal village of Pemuteran for two nights at the Naya Gawana hotel. Day 8 is free for you to relax so make the most of the hotel's facilities and location set in a secluded bay beside the Bali Sea. Activities include snorkelling and jungle trekking, all payable locally.
Today we start to make our way inland, travelling firstly across the east of the island before heading south, with our final destination being the mountain town of Ubud. Our first port of call is the Buddhist monastery, Brahma Vihara Amara. Situated in the northern hills of Banjar, it is the largest of it's kind on the whole island, consisting of traditional Balinese pagodas and tranquil water gardens to provide a calm atmosphere in which to meditate on your thoughts. The nearby town of Banjar is best-known for it's naturally occurring thermal springs, and some time here allows us the chance to bathe in their warm waters if we so choose. We then continue to the Pura Beji Temple, a unique complex nestled within the village of Sangsit, once the capita of Bali's Singaraja region. Next up is a photo opportunity at Kintamani, a destination overlooking Mount Batur - an active volcano in Bali's Highland region and offering dramatic views across its crater lake. Our last stop before arriving at our hotel is Tegalang, a magnificent, tiered rice paddy near to Ubud.
Experience a real taste of Balinese life today with our visit to Tunjuk village, about an hour's drive to the west of our hotel. A destination that prides itself on sustainable tourism, this is where locals demonstrate time-honoured traditions and techniques when it comes to farming the land, teaching the next generation at the local school and cooking (as well as tasting) quintessential dishes of the region.
We kick-start a day of sightseeing at Kerta Gosa, a royal compound commissioned in 1686 by the ruler of the Klungkung regency. We tour the two main structures here, including the grand hall which still displays remnants of Balinese frescos or wayang-style paintings, and the 'floating' pavilion which is still encircled by a moat. We continue along a coastal road that affords us views out over Nusa Penida, a secluded island with a laidback atmosphere, before arriving at the unusual Goa Lawah, or temple of the bat cave.
An important structure for Hindus, it's setting on the east coast helps fulfil its purpose to protect Bali from wayward sea spirits. Still used by residents as a place of worship, the temple is home to many, many fruit bats who are said to aid meditation with the sound of their echo-location. People leave offerings at the opening to the cave, which is flanked by two great Banyan trees and a shrine adorned with the motif of Naga Basuk, the dragon of Hindu mythology said to keep balance within the universe.
Just before lunch we visit the Taman Tirta Gangga Royal Water Garden, which is still used today by the royal Karangasem family. Made up of many lavish water displays it is a delectably cool retreat perched on the south-eastern slope of Bali's highest mountain, Mount Agung. Our final stop today is the village of Tenganan, once the most isolated community on the island, where we are privileged to see first-hand the ancient methods of the Double Ikat Weaving process.
Your last full day on Bali is at leisure, as well as the time before our evening transfer to the airport on Day 13. Flying via Singapore, we land back in London on Day 14.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.