Forget Bali or Bintan, and discover one of Indonesia’s hidden gems.
Indonesia is a popular vacation destination that remains absolutely inviting to tourists all year round. Be it the white sandy beaches of Bali, the crystal clear blue waters of Bintan, or the interesting architecture and bustling city centre of Jakarta, the allure of this country is truly inexplicable. However, look beyond the idyllic beach paradise and financial heart of the country, and you will find a hidden gem that is often overlooked – the beautiful city of Yogyakarta!
Affectionately known as Jogja, Yogyakarta is located on the island of Java and can, in fact, be described as the cultural heart of Indonesia itself!
Just a one-hour flight from Bali, in West Flores, lies the scenic oasis of Labuan Bajo. This tropical paradise is overflowing with mesmerizing flora that extends from waterfalls to jagged dramatic mountain tops and vibrant sunsets overlooking Komodo National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.
AYANA will be launching the first and only five-star resort on the exquisite Labuan Bajo, Waecicu Beach. AYANA Komodo Resort, Waecicu Beach opens summer 2018 with 12 suites and 189 premium guest rooms. Inspired by light, comfort and open living, each contemporary room features a flawless ocean view with large windows to capture the golden glows of tropical sunset’s setting behind the distinctive Kukusan Island.
The unconventional design will allow guests to check-in from the 11th floor lobby, and access their room by descending towards the sandy shores.
Komodo National Park, located in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 due to its biodiversity and most famous inhabitants, the Komodo dragon. The world’s largest lizard—sometimes reaching more than 9 feet (3 meters) in length—are found only on these beautiful and desolate volcanic islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar.
No matter which of the three islands in the park you visit, you’re almost guaranteed to see a dragon or two, but you might also spot Timor deer, water buffalo, wild boar, Rinca rats, wild horses, fruit bats or long-tailed macaque monkeys. The islands also represent one of the riches marine environments in Indonesia, and the diving opportunities on the reef just off the coast are top notch. Outdoor enthusiasts will find hiking trails (though you’ll need a guide) and smaller islands only accessible by kayak.
Even at a global level, its exceptionality is evident, as host of over 4,000 plant species, 450 species of birds and 180 species of mammals.
Today’s List of World Heritages in Danger includes Indonesia’s Tropical Rainforests Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS), which encompasses three national parks along the island: Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat, and Bukit Barisan Selatan.
Protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage was among topics at last month’s meeting of the World Heritage Committee under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Sumatra site of rainforests was inscribed into the World Heritage List in 2004 given its exceptional beauty, significant on-going ecological evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals, including threatened species of outstanding universal value.
The exceptionality of TRHS has found no comparison in Indonesia.
Indonesia is celebrating 72 years of independence today. So why not learn a little more about the world’s fourth biggest country?
1. It covers a lot of ground
This vast place extends 5,120 kilometres from east to west. That’s longer than the distance (as the crow flies) from London to Tehran (4,403km).
2. And is made up of 18,307 islands
That’s according to a 2002 survey by the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (the CIA World Factbook seems to think it’s 17,508, however, while a more recent survey, by a different agency, put the figure at 13,466). Only Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland have more.
3. It’s heaven for animal lovers
According to Conservation International, just 17 countries are considered “megadiverse”. Each possesses a vast number of different species – many found nowhere else. And Indonesia is one.
Most of us are not exclusively shooters of the world below the waterline. Whisk us off to some exotic destination, and we’ll snap our cameras out of their housings, and indulge in some topside photo adventures, as much as anyone. So when my recent trip aboard the MSY WAOW turned into an expedition in multiple types of photography, I was in my element.
To begin with, the enchanting ship itself was so photogenic, a photographer could be satisfied for days above water enjoying photographing her from every angle. The attention to detail made it a true luxury experience, with things like live orchids in the dining room, lovely art on the walls, and even wood and stone accents in the bathrooms. Meals were an event in culinary beauty that had me leaving the table to rush to my cabin to get my camera.
Local officials currently have plans to build roads in Mount Leuser, Bukit Barisan Selatan and Kerinci Seblat National Parks in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.
Conservationists fear these plans could accelerate habitat loss and degradation in this highly biodiverse forest complex, which is home to many endangered species.
Proponents of road development cite the need for increased economic opportunities for local people and evacuation routes in case of natural disasters.
One of the last and largest remnants of tropical rainforest in Asia is under threat from multiple road development plans.
This forest complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS), is located on the spine of the Bukit Barisan Mountain Range in Indonesia’s main western island, Sumatra.