Indonesia covers a vast area separating the Indian Ocean and the northern Pacific with a with more than 17,000 islands, including Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, western New Guinea and Bali.
A richly diverse nation of different cultures and religions, elaborate oriental architecture and exotic natural beauty, Indonesia is renowned for its warm and friendly welcome.
Highlights include Java Island, the 15th-century Sam Po Kong Temple in Semarang and the wonderful World Heritage Site of Borobudor Temple.
The island of Bali is known as the “island of the gods” and loved for its beaches, tolerant locals, dramatic mountains, temples and rice paddies, and exotic dance performances from epic Hindu tales.
To the east, the Gili Islands are a paradise of tranquillity with few cars and stunning wildlife. Snorkellers can spot Hawksbill turtles, bumphead parrotfish and manta rays swimming in the turquoise waters of the Java Sea. In the Lesser Sunda Islands, Komodo Island is one of the few remaining habitats of the formidable Komodo Dragon and home to a dazzling variety of exotic plants.
The island of Borneo is the world’s third largest, and more than 70% of it is Indonesian territory, with the rest being Malaysia and Brunei. Borneo is one of the most biodiverse areas on earth, with 15,000 varieties of flowering plant, and abundant tree, mammal and bird species living in remote mangroves, swamps and alluvial forests.
Several National Parks have been established to protect this environment and Gunung Palung is one of the few where orang-utans can be seen in the wild.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is the eastern portion of New Guinea, on the edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire. A natural wonderland of rugged mountain terrain, rainforest and vast areas of wetland, Papua New Guinea’s unique natural heritage was shown when an expedition into the huge crater of extinct volcano Mount Bosavi in 2009 uncovered numerous new species held captive by its 3000-ft walls, including a frog with fangs, geckos and a tree kangaroo.
Head-hunting and cannibalism played an important part in ceremonial and ritual practices in Papua New Guinea up until the 1950s, when after contact with the outside world it largely died out.