Indonesia is comprised of a variety of islands with Sumatra being the largest in terms of land mass and Bali, with its alluring beaches, the most well known.
It is Java however that was the heart of the Dutch East Indies, when it was known as Batavia, and continues to be the heart of this independent nation.
It is an island of cultural diversity with the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, a 9th Century Hindu temple complex and a neo-Gothic cathedral. A focus on Java exclusively will enable you to explore the island in depth combining the major religious complexes with visits to local fishing villages, coffee and tea plantations and active volcanoes.
Start your exploration in Jakarta, the nation’s capital. If you have a knowledgeable guide (and if you travel with us you will) they will make sure to take you to the Kuta neighborhood with its remaining walls, part of the old Dutch influence. You will balance that with a visit to a working class area of today’s city with a 40 year resident of the area. You will meet the people and enjoy their hospitality and feel especially good knowing that half of the cost of the tour is donated back to the area for school books and other supplies.
After Jakarta you can drive to Bogor and visit its impressive botanical gardens before traversing the Puncak Pass with its spectacular views of colonial tea plantations, rice terraces and typical Javanese villages. At the other end of the pass is Bandung whose art deco buildings and historic charm make it the “Paris of Java”. The next day you visit the Tangkuban Perahu volcano and then tour a tea plantation and learn the process of growing, harvesting and processing tea.
An early morning transfer sees you at the Bandung station boarding the Express Executive Train to Jogjakarta, a trip that allows you to view the passing Javanese countryside before arriving in Jogjakarta, Java’s cultural centre. In the afternoon, make time to visit the Hindu temples at Prambanan built in the 9th Century to honor the three Hindu deities of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
A visit to the Sultan’s palace, including the Harem will give you a glimpse into the ancient culture of Java and provides an interesting balance to a ride in a becak cyclo through the local bird market where a large variety of songbirds are for sale. The keeping of songbirds is a long tradition in the area. Your next day should de devoted to a visit to Borobudur the largest Buddhist temple in the world. For a change of pace board a dokar, a horse cart, and take a trip through the winding streets of Candirejo where your eyes and nose will be intrigued by the sight and smell of vanilla beans and chilies drying in the sun.
A stay at Losari plantation combines luxury with hands-on immersion in coffee production so now you will know where “a cup of Java” comes from. Finish your exploration in the seaside city of Surabaya, savor a meal of fresh seafood and reminisce over the past two weeks and the people, places and things that you have seen. It will indeed have been an adventure.