Indonesia's best kept secrets - Travel off the track!

Lots of people resume Indonesia by a few places: Bali, Prambanan & Borobudur temples, Kawa Ijen and the Gili Islands. Obviously, those places are stunning. But Indonesia has sooo much more to offer.

Indonesia Best Kept Secrets

We're talking about an archipelago with more than 17 000 islands. The territory is so wide, it would take years to explore it.

And here's the best part: there are still pristine places there, with no sign of human life... 

We stayed almost a year in Indonesia, as expats based in Jakarta. Unfortunately we had to eat, therefore, we had to work -and couldn't spend all our time traveling! But still, we took the time to explore the islands and discover heavenly places. Let me think back to these amazing memories...


The wild & deserted - Sumbawa

We arrived in Sumbawa Island at night, with no contact, no transport, nothing planned, as usual. We just forgot that we weren't on a developed place anymore. There's no taxi harassing tourists at the ferry pier arrival. No lights. Nobody -and anyway, most of the people ain't speak English neither Bahasa Indonesia. Into the wild. Pretty exciting!

Lucky us, we met a nice kiwi couple in the ferry, so they gave us a lift to Maluk -THE base for surfing in Sumbawa. We arrived by night and couldn't see anything. We got the surprise by the morning, discovering a wild land with pristine white sandy beaches, stunning mountains and incredible views. Would I dare saying paradise? This spot is well known for its surf potential, but it's also an amazing destination for road tripping. The roads are beautiful, the villages authentics, the food local and delicious, and the lifestyle reeelax. 

Live with the sun, swim, rest, drive, snorkel, explore, finish the day with a explosion of colors at sunset, a Bintang in the hand, then it's time to sleep. In a gorgeous private stone house for only 30$ a night.


The lost & traditional - Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja was my very first solo trip in Indonesia. I explored the area with a local guide. He was evidently passionate by the culture and the history of his ancestors, and told me lots of stories about Toraja people.

Beside the incredibly beautiful scenery, I discovered a culture. The Toraja people are known for their very unique traditional ceremonies. There are two important moments in life: your wedding, and your death. I had the luck to be invited to a traditional Toraja ritual of death. It aims to respect the spirit and the people who deliver death to the spirit, which is returned to the immortality with their ancestors. It's very important for the people, as the perfection of the ceremony will determine the position of the spirit of the person who died, if the soul reach the level of the gods or become a patron deity. They spend their whole life saving and planning for their family's death rituals. All their life turns around that.

It's a very long process, with tea ceremony, sacrifices, songs, dances, cries. I was hypnotized by the strength of this culture.


The sublime & remote - The Togean Islands

PICTURES ©LA BOITE A VOYAGES ©ELENASTRAVELGRAM

When my friends came to the Togean Island, it was only for a couple of days. Three, maximum -because they're not really "beach persons". They stayed for three weeks. And left with tears.

Lots of travelers refer the Togean Islands as the wild Maldives. White sandy beaches and turquoise warm ocean water, charming villages, beautiful snorkeling and diving spots... It's very hard to get there, and apparently, even harder to leave the place. A few flights to get to Makassar, then a 24h bus ride to Ampana, to finally get a ferry to Wakai -the capital of the Togeans'. After what you can take a ride to the island of your choice. This long journey makes the destination so special. That's why it's so peaceful, preserved, quiet. That's why you feel you're the luckiest person on Earth to be there, in this very magical place.


The tropical & rare - Tanjung Puting National Park

PICTURES ©IAN WOOD

When I left Indonesia, I still had a few unchecked destinations on my 'Indonesian to do list'. Tanjung Puting National Park was on top of it. Shame, I'll have to go back!

It's a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The orangutans are the main reason to visit this part of Kalimantan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo. It's one of the last places in the world to observe orangutans in their natural habitat, with a huge variety of wildlife. I hope one day I'll get the chance to go there and to meet these funny redheads.

There's a great expedition to do in Tanjung Puting, a three days trip in a traditional Klotok wooden river boat into Borneo's jungle. You can explore the rainforest from the boat, hike and also feed the animals. There are in the wild, which means there isn't any border between visitors and them. It sounds absolutely amazing, I definitely think it would be a trip of a lifetime. If any of you have been there, I'll be more than happy to read your thoughts and advices! 


The laid back and friendly - Batu Karas

There is one place in Indonesia where we really felt at home. There were good waves, beautiful sunsets, yummy cocktails, great exploration opportunities, delicious food and, above all, amazing people. Batu Karas. We stayed a week there and made more friends there than in six months in Jakarta!

Batu Karas is a sleepy charming village with a rare authentic friendly vibe. This is a perfect relaxed spot to simply enjoy life 'Indonesian style'.

From the beginning of the trip, you know you're going in a special place. Indeed, it took us a looong bus ride, a mini bus, to end up in a taxi moto. Then we finally arrived to heaven... Well, I have to precise something: a heaven during the WEEK. It gets crowded during the weekend and loses its charm. During the week days, you'll fall for the place, and want to stay forever.


What about you fellow travelers, do you have any secret destinations in indonesia to unveil? I'm looking forward to discover some new unknown Indonesian places!