Indonesia is a place diverse in both people and places. Home to 300 ethnic groups and 700 languages, the varied populace of Indonesia have carved out homes among the countries 17,500 islands, in its lush jungles, on its sandy shore and in its mountainous terrain. There is enough in Indonesia to explore to last several lifetimes, but for visitors that only have one, here are six of its most breath-taking sights.
Bali is one of the world's most popular island destinations, but it also, unsurprisingly, is one of Indonesia's most beautiful places. Bali is more than just some of the best beaches and clearest waters in the world although most visitors never wander too far from either. Just steps inland, the landscape takes a dramatic twist by turning into volcanic hillsides and lush rice terraces that are accented by the deep Hindu culture and spirituality that permeates the island. Factoring in the beaches and diving off the coast and it is easy to see how Bali has earned its immortal reputation as one of the best and most beautiful vacation destinations in the world.
Three Coloured Lakes on Mount Kelimutu
Mount Kelimutu is one of the most difficult destinations to reach in Indonesia, but navigating the sharp curves on the winding roads of Flores Island into its interior mountains is well worth it. Mount Kelimutu National Park is among the smallest of the six national parks in the stretch between Bali and Nusa Tenggara Islands, but its size belittles the treasures within. At the summit of the mountain are three volcanic lakes, which are always thrilling in and of themselves, but Kelimuitu's lakes are three different and equally striking colours. The lakes are blue, green and red usually, but the colours are always changing. The lakes are given colour by the vegetation that lies under the water. As the seasons or the different marine vegetation changes, so does the colour of the water.
The United States has its Grand Canyon, and in a playful pun West Java has named one of its tourism objects the Green Canyon. This attraction is not such much an actual canyon, but is the named for the area in which a river runs through the Cijulang Cave. The area is flanked by two hills that give a canyon-like appearance. The massive rocks and haphazardly growing trees present unique challenges for those that want to explore the rock formations inside the cave, but for even the most experienced adventurer, it is a thrill. Inside the cave, the water that formed the stalagmites is still dripping so visitors will be able to experience what is referred to as the eternal rain inside.
For those that want to explore Indonesia's many islands as quickly as possible, they will want to head to the Raja Ampat island chain. This area consists of over 610 different islands of all different sizes. Some are merely spits of sand popping out from the ocean while others hold a dense and near impenetrable forest. The Raja Ampat is a true natural phenomenon that host enormous biological diversity. Some choose to spend their time focusing on the abundance of marine wildlife that live in the waters around the islands while others rent a boat and spend days hopping from one island to the next, exploring the wilderness and remnants from the sea-faring cultures of Indonesia that used to live there.
Not many tourists are aware of the rich beauty that lurks inside the Goa Gong, or Gong Cave that burrows deep beneath East Java. Indeed, from the outside Goa Gong looks pretty unimpressive, even bleak. However, on the inside the cave hosts some of the best natural sculpture in the world. The various stalactites and stalagmites come in all different shapes and sizes; some are even so shiny they glow like crystals in the light. Visitors can travel 256 meters underground and explore 12 rooms, 7 springs and one natural bath along the way. The cave is often slippery, narrow and even dangerous, but for the true adventurer there is no better place for exploration.
Like its name suggests, the Komodo Island is home to some of the most fascinating creatures on earth; the Komodo dragon. This "dragon" and ancestor to the dinosaurs is native to Indonesia, however this island is the only place in the world where they can be found living in the wild. Growing up to three meters long and weighing in excess of 70 kilograms, the world's largest lizard survives on scavenging dead animals as well as hunting prey with sharp claws and poisonous saliva. Although rare, they have been known to attack humans so a trip to see these awe-inspiring creatures should be done with caution. Visitors have to obtain permission from the government before visiting Komodo Island, but a trip should certainly not be missed. Visitors can find groups of the massive dragons lounging in the sun or keeping cool in the lush hilly jungle of the island, making for an exciting day of exploration.
Have you been to Indonesia? Was it love at first sight?
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