Introduction

 Introduction

The world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is composed of over 17,000 islands scattered over 5,000 miles of ocean straddling the Southeast Asian equator. Few places on earth contain such cultural diversity and geographical extremes as this vast, deeply enigmatic country. Indonesia’s catalogue of highlights is further enhanced by the year-round hot climate, and outstanding value for money.

The islands of the East Indies with their array of exotic spices first drew flotillas of English and Dutch ships during the 16th century, some of Europe’s most valuable commodities at the time. Today, the majority of visitors flock here to visit the magical island of Bali with its beautiful sandy beaches, verdant landscapes and tropical climate. For the more adventurous, exploring beyond Bali reaps rich rewards. Sumatra offers the orang-utan nature reserve of Bukhit Lawang, the striking vistas of Lake Toba – the world’s largest volcanic lake – and the world-renowned surfing destination of Pulau Nias.

At the tip of Java, Jakarta is the vibrant, chaotic capital of Indonesia, while Yogyakarta presents a more traditional face and is the starting point for visits to the enigmatic temple ruins of Borobudur and Paramban as well as the volcanic bright blue lakes and Hindu temples of Dieng Plateau.

The islands of Nusa Tenggara are where the richness of Indonesia’s natural environment becomes even more apparent. Lombok island has beaches to rival the world’s best and in general offers a more laid back and less touristy experience than Bali; Komodo is the tiny island that is home to the prehistoric Komodo Dragon, while Flores has intriguing cultures and the extraordinary coloured lakes of Kelimutu.

North of Java, the vast jungles of Kalimantan are one of the least explored areas in the world. Visitors return enthralled from their encounters with the local people and spectacularly diverse fauna and flora. Sulawesi is similarly unexplored, although somewhat more accessible to visitors, and offers gorgeous beaches perfect for soaking up the never-ending sunshine.

At some point in your life you have to come here, and once you do it is likely you will return again and again. There is quite possibly nowhere more exhilarating on earth…

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