Indonesia 2019: Orangutans, Dragons and fascinating Cultures

May 16 (pre-tour May 13), 2019 – May 31th, 2019

Indonesia 2019: Orangutans, Dragons and fascinating Cultures

If you are interested in a future tour, please email me at [email protected]


I have traveled to some of these fascinating islands several times since 1981 and enjoy going back every time. It has been very tricky to put this program together. The itinerary you will see, allows us to cover the important wildlife and colorful cultures you will find in Indonesia. May is the end of the rainy season and is a great time to go because we will have lush greens and nice colors for our photography.

Please feel free to call me with any questions. Thank you.

TOUR CLOSED. Please email us at [email protected] for information about future editions of this tour.


Trip Details

Optional pre-tour to Solo, Yogyakarta and Borobudur:

Day 1 May 13th, 2019

Arrive Solo and check-in to the Swiss Belinn Saripetojo Hotel

Day 2 May 14th, 2019

Solo, city tour and batik course (half day)

Breakfast at Hotel. You will be picked up at lobby by your guide and

transferred to visit the royal halls and courtyards of Pura Mangkunegaran, a palace dating from in 1757. Built under the rule of Mangkunegaran I, it still accommodates the royal family today. View the interesting combination of traditional Javanese architecture and the obvious European influence on the interior design. Next is visit Pasar Triwindu is the city’s famous antique market. The recently renovated market is a tourist friendly site where one can find relics of the past as well as experience a pleasant, leisurely stroll.

Then continue to have Batik Course Solo. Instead of just learning about batik by visiting a batik factory, you can also learn the process by real experience. Suzy from Kelik Art Shop offers a full day course in English. In one day you will get to know the basic principles of batik and she guarantees her students a satisfying result (a batik painting of 50 by 50 cm).

Day 3 May 15th, 2019

Drive from Solo to Yogyakarta via Prambanan temple


Breakfast at hotel. Today you will transfer to Yogyakarta (often called “Jogja”) is a city on the Indonesian island of Java known for its traditional arts and cultural heritage. On the way from Solo, you will visit Prambanan Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site), a magnificent spectacle and an icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. The temples at Prambanan were built in the 9th century and is known locally as Roro Jonggrang, coming from the legend of the ‘slender virgin’. The biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva – the destroyer, and the two smaller ones which sit on its right and left are dedicated to Brahma, the creator, and Wisnhu, the sustainer. The tallest temple of Prambanan is a staggering 47 meters high. Its peak visible from far away and rises high above the ruins of the other temples.

In the evening spend your night in Yogyakarta like the locals in alun-alun kidul (Southern Square). See the night life’s festivity; the crowd, the food, the attraction, the activity, accompanied by our local guide. Your tour will start at our Happy Trails Yogja office. You will be greeted by your guide with a little explanation about the tour itself. Take an easy walk throughout the busy streets of Yogyakarta while a glimpse of local life pass by.


Arrive in Alun-alun Kidul, your guide will explain about the history that lies within. Enjoy your night riding the light becak, trying the Masangin game, and tasting a selection of the street foods. Tonight is all about being a Yogjakartans!

Accommodation: Gallery Prawirotaman

Day 4 May 16th, 2019
Yogyakarta city tour and Borobudur temple
Breakfast at hotel. Today you will have full day Yogyakarta City Tour and Borobudur. First visit is Kraton (Sultan Royal Palace) and Water Castle (Taman Sari). In afternoon drive to Borobudur Temple.
Borobudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, as well as the world’s largest Buddhist temple and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.

Day 5 May 17th, 2019
Departure and flight to Bali



















Day 1 May 17th, 2019
Arrive in Bali and check into the Hotel  Puri Santrian
Meet other guests and briefing on things to come.

Day 2 May 18th, 2019
Fly from Bali to Balikpapan. Transfer to Samboja Lodge. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Orangutan viewing











Day 3 May 19th, 2019
Early morning orangutan viewing and trip to Sun Bear Sanctuary. Back to Samboja. B,L,D

Day 4 & Day 5 May 20th– 21st, 2019

Samboja Lodge: free activities TBD. I am working on additional visits to the orangutan sanctuary, but at the end of the itinerary is a list of optional (not included) activities for day 4 and 5. B,L,D

Day 6 May 22nd, 2019

Leave Samboja and fly to Denpasar to hotel in Bali.

Day 7 May 23rd, 2019 

Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Batubulan village to attend Barong and Keris dance performance. After this performance, continue your trip to the east. When you pass y Klungkung-a small town once was a capital of Balinese Kingdom, you can visit Kertha Kosa, the former court of justice and Bale Kambang, a nice open pavilion with historic legacy, surrounded by a spring. Then visit traditional Bali – Aga village named Tenganan. Famous for its double ikat weaving technique this village keeps old traditions alive and live in relative isolation from other Balinese villages. You will arrive at your hotel in Amed for lunch.  B

Day 8 May 24th, 2019 

Breakfast at hotel. This morning you will have rice fields walk around Tirtagangga. Your guide will lead you to the breathtaking paddy field scenery, the authentic Balinese rural character and the exciting views of the mighty Mount Agung. You also will visit Puri Agung Karangasem. Next drive to Taman Ujung – a water palace, which was built by the last king of Karangasem. Return to your hotel and you still have time to relax or snorkeling. Return to hotel in Amed. B










Day 9 – Start of Cruise May 25th, 2019

Breakfast in Hotel and then join Katharina for start of Dances and Dragons program.

After we board the vessel you will have a chance to settle in before the captain gives the orders for the anchor to be lifted prior to crossing the Lombok Strait. This deep trench of water between Bali and Lombok marks part of a very important ecological boundary, which was first described by Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, the British naturalist. Wallace noticed that the flora and fauna of the islands to the west are home to Asiatic animal and plant species, whereas the islands to the east of the invisible ‘Wallace Line’ have a greater similarity to species found in Australia. In the afternoon we will make our first stop at one of the three Gili islands, a popular holiday destination just off Lombok’s northwest coast. We will spend a few hours here, during which time you can choose from a number of water activities: swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking or simply enjoying the beautiful white-sand beach.










Day 10 May 26th, 2019

Moored off the coast of North Lombok, we will enjoy a hearty breakfast before going ashore and boarding a private bus for a trip into the interior of the northern side of the island and the traditional village of Senaru. Here, we will be taken on a tour, by one of the local women-guides, of the simple thatched houses and gardens of fruits and spices, which will give us an insight into the culture of the indigenous Sasak people. Our mellow adventure will then lead us down a well-trodden flight of steps through the tropical forest to Sindang Gila, a roaring 40-metre tiered waterfall. The small gravel beach and flat rocks at the base of the falls are a meeting place for the local people, and if we want we can take a dip under the full force of the intense flow. Our walk will continue alongside an old irrigation canal offering panoramic vistas of rice fields stretching towards the sea. The area around Senaru and Bayan was the birthplace of Lombok’s unique Wektu Telu belief system in which ancient animist practices are combined with Islam. If we have time, we will visit Bayan Beleq, a grass-roofed mosque with woven bamboo walls. Said to have been founded in the 16th century, this is the oldest mosque in Lombok. We will also see some weavers and spinners demonstrating their age-old skills. After re-embarkation, we will explore one of the coral reefs near Gili Sulat, which is a marine conservation area.

Day 11 May 27th, 2019

This morning we will moor off Labuan Aji village on the island of Moyo, visit the village and then walk to Diwu Mba’i waterfall, where can swing on a rope and jump into the deep clear river pool below, or simply bathe in the refreshing cool water. Our next stop will be Satonda, a strange and mystical volcanic island with a sunken crater lake in its center that was filled with saltwater when the nearby Mt Tambora erupted in 1815, causing a tsunami that flowed into the crater. The eruption was the biggest volcanic explosion in the collective memory of mankind; it had roughly four times the energy of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, and gave rise to the ‘year without a summer’ because of the effect on North American and European weather. Local people believe Satonda to be magical, and with this in mind, we will walk to the lip of the caldera to view the mysterious lake, alongside which are trees believed to be ‘wishing trees.’ Visitors to the island tie a small stone to a tree and make a wish. If your wish comes true, you are bound to return to the island to offer thanks. The seas surrounding the island are rich with soft and hard corals and colorful tropical fish, so we will spend the afternoon swimming and snorkeling. Another highlight of our visit to Satonda will be the sight of thousands of flying foxes that commute at dusk from the island to feed on the mainland, returning before first light the next day. Immediately after sunset, we leave for an overnight passage on a course due east.

Day 12 May 28th, 2019

Today we will visit Wera, a Buginese settlement on the northeast coast of the island of Sumbawa, where the men build wooden boats along the black-sand shores and the village women spend days weaving brightly colored cloth. Here we will visit the village and have a look at the hand-built boats in various stages of construction. Some of these boats are colossal in size, and it is fascinating to see how they are constructed. We will then precede to the island of Banta, passing Sangean Island, an active volcano towering 1800 meters above the surrounding waters. Banta Island lies within the boundaries of the Komodo National Park; it is uninhabited and perfect swimming and snorkeling.

Day 13 May 29th, 2019

When we wake up, the boat will be anchored off the famous Komodo Island, one of approximately 80 islands that make up the Komodo National Park. We will go ashore at the ranger station in Loh Liang for an early morning ranger-led trek through the park searching for Komodo dragons.


In this savannah-like setting of dry, rugged landscape, we will encounter, at a safe distance, these awe-inspiring, giant lizards – Indonesia’s living dinosaurs. We may spot deer, wild boar, sulphur-crested cockatoos, butterflies, rare orchids and jungle chickens among the strangle-fig trees and the distinctive lontar palms. After returning to the on-board we will cruise around the coast and visit Komodo village, where we can buy some local handicrafts. Later we will head to the gorgeous Pantai Merah ‘red-beach,’ which takes its name from the particles of red coral mingled with the sand. Here we will swim and snorkel over one of the richest reefs in Eastern Indonesia, relishing the unforgettable spectacle of the region’s many varieties of coral and marine life.

Day 14 May 30th, 2019
Today we will visit the ranger station of Loh Buaya on Rinca Island where we will have another ranger-led nature trek in search of more Komodo dragons, which are indigenous to this small group of islands. Rinca is also well known for its diverse wildlife, so we may spot monkeys, wild buffaloes and deer as well. From the top of the hills, the scenery is breathtaking. In the afternoon we can go snorkeling. With over 1000 species of fish in the waters of the national park, there is much more to this wildlife reserve than just dragons. In the evening we will go ashore to an island where you can enjoy a quintessential experience and a highlight for many guests. With your feet in the sand and the stars rising in the vast Indonesian sky, the crew will build a bonfire and prepare a beach barbecue as a final celebration of our memorable voyage.

Day 15 May 31st, 2019









After breakfast in Labuan Bajo, Flores Island, we will visit the local market or take a private bus to the inland village of Melo. Here, local ‘strongmen’ will perform the ‘Caci,’ a ritual whip-fight between two rivals in which the players, each armed with a rattan shield and a whip, will try to hit each other while dancing to the rhythm of traditional acoustic instruments. The men of Western Flores are famous for this test of daring and skill, requiring lightning quick moves to dodge the infliction of a wound. The winner is loudly applauded and cheered by the village. Besides this, the cultural group will also showcase other traditional dances. After the performance, we will have lunch on the boat before transferring you to the airport for your flight back to Bali. Direct to the hotel for final night dinner.

Day 16 June 1st, 2019
Breakfast at hotel and transfers for the flights home.

Samboja Lodge optional activities

Nature Trails (2 hrs): There are a number of other animal species in Samboja Lestari that have returned to this regenerating forest. Some of the animals you might spot on guided walks early morning and late afternoon through our Nature Trail are: birds, lizards and snakes (blood pythons), small mammals (deer and pigs) and many amazing insects (walking sticks, beautiful butterflies,

Millipedes etc.). You might even spot wild primates newly arrived to the area such as gibbons, macaques (2 species), and proboscis and red leaf monkeys.


Tree planting (1 hr): This is not as simple as it sounds. There are more than a hundred thousand young trees of many varieties in our nearby plantation. It takes a lot of knowledge to plant trees properly, finding the best locations regarding amount of sun, water needs, proper soil balance and nutrients, etc. Armed with a machete, you can help cut the large and fast-growing weeds, fertilize trees, and register growth and/or any problems. It is very educational and you will be able to experience for yourself the value of the local workers and a hard day’s work in the hot sun! It is not easy to plant a new forest and we can certainly use your help.


Bird Watching (2.5 hrs): As a part of East Borneo, Samboja Lestari has more than 30 species of birds, such as: Zebra Dove, Black & Red Broadbill, Crested and Crestless Fireback, swallow, and etc. Walking around in the morning with binocular and bird’s list, make sure you are completing the list. Move quietly and enjoy how fantastic they are. Especially swallow, here you can see them closely. Visiting a local swallow house to learn more about how they live, build a nest from the saliva, caring the baby and interact with the nature.


Sungai Hitam (Black River) Tour (2.5 hrs): Sungai Hitam is best visited in the early morning and late afternoon. Following a 30-minute drive from Samboja Lestari you take a boat ride along the Sungai Hitam tidal river to see highly endangered Proboscis monkeys and other wildlife. Local fisherman will guide you on this tidal river. The fisherman will have a daily income for their services.


Bukit Bengkirai (Canopy Bridge) (4 hrs): One-hour drive from Samboja Lestari is the forest park of Bukit Bangkirai. Visitors can take short forest walks and climbing into the forest canopy using connecting bridges to a height of 40 meters. Platform provides a perfect vantage point for observing macaques, leaf monkeys, maroon langurs, gibbons and hornbills.


Sungai Wain (6 hrs): Less than one hour drive from Samboja Lestari lies the protected forest area of Sungai Wain. This was the first release site of BOS Foundation where 75 rehabilitated orangutans were released between 1992-1998. Several female orangutans with babies have been observed on previous visits. Since they are totally wild again, there is no guarantee that you will see one of those released orangutans on your hike through the forest. The hike is fairly challenging and a lovely rainforest hike. There is a chance to spot wildlife on the hike through the forest, but it is not very likely. It is more likely to see the evidence of wildlife from tracks.


Lamaru Beach (4 hrs): Thirty minutes drives from Samboja Lodge brings you to Lamaru beach, a typical Indonesian beach with white sands, coconut palms and pine trees! Observe locals in action. Though not one of the cleanest beaches it is an opportunity to see how local Indonesians enjoy their free time and an insight into the local culture. After lunch you will visit the Teritip crocodile farm. Perhaps not the most conservation orientated project but the farm does sustainable produce crocodile products such as wallets, belts, teeth and barbecue meat products. There are also elephants, snakes and other creatures to see at the farm. Late afternoon you will return to Samboja Lodge.

End of Samboja Lodge optional activities



This itinerary is subject to change because the flight schedule for the internal flights might change.