A regular, FAQ to our All Points East office goes somewhat along the lines of; “so…if you call yourselves the Southeast Asia specialists why can’t I see any Indonesia tours?” Well, fair question and our only excuse, being a small, family-run business, is lack of time and resources but finally, not before time…we intend to put that right!
Our first decision then – when dealing with a continent-sized country – was, ok, where do we start? Bali’s obviously the best-known part and certainly already very popular with overseas visitors but, without being rude, the relatively small island possibly lends itself more to a beach stay in one of its myriad resorts or perhaps a spa retreat in Ubud rather than a 2-week tour? You don’t really need us for either of those and being such a well-known destination we also felt many of our faithful travellers may well have already visited the island anyway.
Kalimantan? Seems to have some wonderful wildlife and great national parks but we do already have tours to Sabah and Sarawak so would perhaps be better suited as an add-on to our existing Borneo tours? Sumatra certainly has spectacular landscapes but is a very big island with a very bad transport infrastructure so travelling can be hard w0rk. Remoter islands further east such as Sulawesi and Flores seem fascinating destinations but – aside from being rather tricky to get to – are perhaps too off-the-beaten-track for a first foray.
So – no photo then – Java it is! If we don’t try and include the entire island then it’s a manageable size and while roads are still far from great, the rail system is excellent. The island’s range of sites is also a hard one to beat with 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Borobudur and Prambanan, attractive, fun, user-friendly towns with Dutch architecture and historic sites such as Yogyakarta, Solo and Malang and dramatic scenery including active volcanoes, national parks and lush rice terraces.
Decent international flight connections and convenient starting and departure points; tick. Great food, plenty of very friendly locals, a fine collection of hotels, variety of destinations and reasonable travel distances – tick! We’ve chosen laid back and hard-not-to-like Yogyakarta as an ideal starting point and a fine spot for an additional pre-tour chill-out day or two. (You can’t fit everything into a 2-week tour so the large and hectic capital Jakarta would be a 3-day, 2-night optional add-on.)
After travelling through central and eastern Java a 45-minute ferry ride across the Bali Straits to the quiet coastal town of Pemuteran before a transfer to Denpasar with its plentiful flight connections seemed to be the obvious way to finish the tour and allows for several post-tour, optional add-ons including Bali or Lombok beach stays or a few days relaxing amid the picturesque rice terraces of Ubud .
We’re aiming for mid-October for the inaugural tour so, watch this space, or mail us for further details.