For anyone wanting to visit our closest cousin (the orangutan), we have created an African Queen-style adventure aboard a klotok (a 60-foot wooden boat) that plies deep into the Tanjung Puting National Park to Camp Leakey on the island of Borneo. Cruising the river, you’ll relax on deck while easily spotting wild proboscis monkeys, gibbons, orangutans, and countless bird species.
An encounter with Komodo dragons, the largest monitor lizard in the world, is also possible. A short 90-minute flight east from Bali brings us to Labuan Bajo, a majestic harbor long used by Bugis traders as an all-weather anchorage. It is now the jumping-off point to the famous Komodo National Park, home of the Komodo dragons. The region is also home to some of the best snorkeling and diving I have ever encountered — this is a big statement coming from a boy who grew up on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef!
For anyone seeking an insight into the early history of Indonesia, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Yogyakarta on the island of Java. This city has been home to the Royal Families since the 5th century, and the architecture of Borobudur and Prambanan are a living testament to the power of human ability driven by religious belief. These massive stone temples rival any of the better-known churches of Europe and will offer the visitor not only enlightenment but also incredible photographic opportunities. You can experience local village life by traveling through small settlements in an andong, a traditional horse and cart. Along the way, you’ll be welcomed into homes to sample the exquisite palm sugar and coconut desserts we could not get enough of.
Warning: the incredible flavours and variety of food in Indonesia make it worthwhile being part of this adventure. Just ask Aram. I cannot recount how many times his eyes lit up and a smile spread across his face upon tasting a new fruit or tantalising dish with an ingredient he had never heard of. The trip we have planned, for March 2016, will offer many different facets of Indonesian life. I hope you’ll join us.
Numerous images from our amazing trip to Bali (and beyond) will appear in the Summer 2014 issue of Travel Quest magazine.
Written by: Pedro O’Connor