Day 1. Join tour Yogyakarta
Situated almost exactly halfway along the length of Java, in an area considered to be the heartland of Javanese, Yogyakarta is home to some of the island’s oldest traditions and blessed with a rich, fertile soil from the volcanic ash. It is the cultural capital of Java, with a real mixture of cultural influences, including Hindu and Buddhist temples, dating from the 8th century, Islamic Palaces from the 18th century and Dutch colonial architecture that harks back to the days when the Netherlands held much of Java in its imperialistic grip.
Day 2. Prambanan Temple and Yogyakarta City Tour – Evening visit to Ramayana Ballet
This morning we drive northeast out of the city, heading for the Hindu temple complex of the Prambanan Plain. This remarkable area, one of the most fertile on the island, is home to an incredible array of temples and palaces from the 8th and 9th centuries. The centrepieces of the complex are the three temples that occupy the central courtyard, towering spires dedicated to the Hindu gods of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva (which at 47 metres is the tallest of the three). We will visit the complex with a local guide, wandering amongst the temples and enjoying some of the finest samples of Hindu sculptural detail left on the island. It is believed that the site was abandoned some 300 years ago, when earthquakes reduced many of the spectacular edifices to rubble.
Abandoned to the elements the lay undisturbed until the early years of the 20th century, when reconstruction of the extensive ruins was begun. On our return we take a tour of the city, believed to be one of the most engaging and best preserved on the island. We will include the Kraton Palace complex, which traditional beliefs hold to be the capital of the kingdom and the hub of the cosmos. Built by Java’s first ruling Sultan, Prince Mangkubumi, the palace lies at the heart of a walled city that houses tens of thousands of people, whilst parts of the outer walls are still occupied by Javanese royalty. This quite remarkable complex houses not only the palace buildings, but also everything you would expect of a small town, including markets, mosques, schools and an assorted array of artisans and traders. We will visit the palace, home of the Sultans since the 18th century, as well as the Sonobudoyo Museum, containing an exquisite collection of Javanese art, including masks, batiks and puppets. We wll also visit the Alun Alun Lor Square, a public area that once served as a courthouse and an arena. Within the centre of the square are two sacread banyan trees, under which opposing protagonists would stand and state their case to the Sultan. Its other, rather more basic function was that of a venue for staged fights between tigers and buffalos (or in some cases tigers and condemned criminals), many of which saw the tiger (and almost certainly the criminal) come out as the loser.
After our visit the rest of the day is free to explore more of the city at your own leisure. You may like to wander through the handicraft shops; Yogya is renowned for its batik, as well as its excellent silver and leatherware. There are a number of museums that are well worth seeing in the city and it is also a centre for the performing arts – the traditional Wayang (shado-puppets shows whose origins date back to over 1000 years ago) are particularly recommended. This evening there is the opportunity to view a performance of ‘Ramayana Ballet’, an adaptation of the Hindu epic (optional).
Day 3. Drive to Wonosobo and Borobudur
This morning we head west to Borobudur, the largest and most impresive Buddhist monument in the southern hemisphere.
Constructed in the 8th century this incredible monument – a petrified a vision of the Buddhist cosmos – was lost for 900 years, when Mt Merapi erupted and covered Borobudur in layer of volcanic ash. The structure itself is immense, a gigantic Buddhist stupa constructed from 2 million blocks that covers an area of 200sq metres and rises some 34.5 metres above the Kedu Plain.
Older by nearly half a century than the site at Prambanan, Borobudur is believed to have been built on the top of foundations for what was originally a temple dedicated to Shiva, abandonded by the Hindu Sanjayas when their Buddhist rivals the Sailendras swept through the Malay peninsula during the 8th century.
A combination of earthquakes, subsidence and the mass migration of the Javanese to the east of the island saw the temple abandoned sometime during the 9th century, to be rediscovered again later by the British. Substantial work has been carried out to salvage the exquisite carvings and designs that adorn the structure and we can wander through the site today and marvel at the incredible detail of its narrative panels, which detail everything from Buddhist doctrines to the daily life of the Javanese. Finally we drive to the small town of Wonosobo, nestling amongst the hills of the central mountains.
Day 4. Visit and Tour at Dieng Plateau
Leaving early in this morning we drive up to the Dieng Plateau (1980m), where we visit Java’s oldest temples, set amongst a spectacular vista of mountain lakes, geysers and thermal springs. Lying within a volcanic caldera, Dieng translates as ‘Abode of the Gods’ and at this altitude low cloud and mists very often hug and folded landscape, instilling the area with an air of mystical serenity. Spread across this surreal landscape lie the remnants of hundreds of abandoned temples that date from the 7th century, when Hindu priests and pilgrims regularly occupied this sacred sight.
Like the other temples we have seen in the area, Dieng too was abandoned during the mysterious exodus that took place some 1000 years ago.
We will visit some of the prime sites around the plateau, including the Arjuna complex, which are believed to be the oldest of the temples. Dedicated to Shiva, one of Hindu’s great deities, the five temples that make up this central complex are all named after characters from the Mahabharata tales.
We will also visit nearby museum at Candi Gatutkaca, where we will find a collection of statuary and sculptures retrieved from some of the other temples around the site. At Candi Bima we discover the fascinating carvings of sculpted faces (kudu), blanklu starring back from the walls of the temple and more often seen in the temples of southern India, but strangely unique to Java.
As well as the temples the Dieng Plateau is as much renowned for its incredible natural features and our visit also includes the sulphur lakes of Telaga Warna and Telaga Pengilon (colored and mirror lake respectively), as well as the smoking fumaroles of Kawah Sikidang. At the end of the tour the rest of your time here is free to explore as you wish, before a late afternoon departure back to Wonosobo.
Day 5. Drive to Tawangmanggu via Mangkunegaran’s Palace at Solo; village walk to Candi Sukuh
Departing the highlands this morning we turn east, travelling via Ambarawa and Salatiga and across the Prambanan Plain once more, to the city of Surakarta, more commonly known as Solo. This is Java’s second royal city, situated on the banks of the Kali Solo River and nestling in the shadow of three of Java’s highest volcanoes. Like its younger rival Yogya, the city is a hub of Javanese culture and tradition, but has probably seen more than its fair share of upheaval and bloodshed following its foundation in the mid 18th century. We intend to visit the palace of Puri Mangkunegaran, which has the largest pavilion in Indonesia, a cavernous structure with a vividly decorated ceiling depicting figures of the Javanese zodiac. The palace also houses an excellent museum containing some quite unique artefacts, including gold-plated dresses, unfeasibly large Buddhist rings and his and hers golden genital covers!
After our visit we continue east, towards the hill town of Tawangmanggu, lying on the slopes of Gunung Lawu close to the border with eastern Java. The western slopes of Gunung Lawu, one of Java’s holiest mountains, is blanketed in lush forests and dotted with numerous temples. These religious sites are the last built by the Hindus before the island converted to Islam. One of the most spectacular by far is that of Candi Sukuh, a mysterious structure that sits some 900m above the surrounding countryside.
Built during the 15th century this unusual pyramid seems to bear little resemblance to the earlier structures that we have seen and indeed there is still some mystery as to who built it and why. Its remarkable carvings would seem to indicate that the temple was dedicated to a fertility cult and it is believed that part of the temple’s purpose was to determine the faithfulness of existing wives and the virginity of potential ones. Our return walk to the temple from the village will take us around three and a half hours including our visit.
For those interested there is the possibility of taking a walk this evening to the nearby waterfall of Grojogan Sewu, a favourite haunt for local monkeys and a great place to reflect on the day.
Day 6. Full Day Transfer to Blitar
Today sees a full day drive through the countryside to Blitar, a small town where the founder of Indonesia, President Sukarno was born and laid to rest. On arrival we hope to visit Panataran temple, and the place where Sukarno and his family have been laid to rest.
Day 7. Drive to Mt Bromo via Probolinggo
Today we head to the spectacular grandeur of Mt Bromo via the town of Probolinggo, famed throughout the country for its succulent mangoes. Its name is derived from a title bestowed upon it by King Hayam Wuruk in 1359 – Prabu Linggah – which translates as The Place the King was Pleased to Stay. We however will be continuing, to the magnificent scenic splendour of Gunung Bromo (2392m), Java’s still-smoking and very ancient volcano. Considered the jewel in the crown of East Java, and one of the most spectacular volcanoes in Indonesia. It is actually one of four craters, which have arisen out of the ancient and vast expanse of the Tengger crater. Legend tells that the Tengger people are descendants of an ancient union between the daughter of the last king of Majapahit and an heir of the god Brahamana, making them culturally and ethnically different from the other Java peoples, and each year the Kasada Festival sees them presenting prayers and offerings to the gods from the top of the crater’s rim, casting flowers, vegetables and money into the mouth of the caldera. This entire region now encompasses the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru N.P., a remarkable setting of rainforest, grasslands and casuarinas forests, sheltering a range of flora and fauna that includes some 157 species of orchid, as well as panthers, monkeys, leopards and deer.
Late this afternoon we will take a walk across the sand sea of the crater and ascend Mt Bromo for a spectacular sunset.
Day 8. Optional excursion by Jeep and on foot to Mt Penanjakan for sunrise
For those interested there is the opportunity this morning to make a very early start and take an optional jeep excursion across to the foot of Mt Pananjakan and then walk up to the summit, the highest point on the outer crater at some 2770m. Here we can witness the sunrise across the glorious vistas of Mt Bromo and the surrounding volcanoes. Volcanoes have mystified man since the earliest of times, and with this breathtaking scene laid out before us this morning it is easy to understand why. The rest of the day has then been left free to relax and enjoying this spectacular landscape, or perhaps venture a little farther afield and do some exploring on your own.
Day 9. Drive to Kalibaru; PM free for optionals
Leaving the national park after breakfast this morning we travel east, towards Kalibaru, a pleasant village nestling amongst the foothills of Gunung Raung. To the north of us lies the Ijen Plateau, to the south the Meru Betiri National Park and all around a landscape dotted with plantations of coffee, cocoa, vanilla, spices and rubber. During the 18th century much of Java lay under the auspices of the colonial power of Holland, a factor still much in evidence amongst the trappings and architecture of its estates. On arrival there will be free time to relax or perhaps take a walk around the area. You may like to visit a nearby plantation in the company of a local guide, to see for yourselves how the estates still continue the work of the original Dutch settlers and learn something of the cultivation and production of the crops. Coffee and cocoa is generally most prolific during the spring and summer months, whereas rubber is a year round crop, reaching its peak during the rains that send the trees into an overdrive of latex production.
Day 10. Ferry and bus to Lovina Beach
We leave Java behind this morning and head to the neighbouring island of Bali, crossing the Bali Strait by ferry from the coastal town of Ketapang. It is just a short ferry ride from here to Gilmanuk on Bali’s western tip, from where we transfer along the island’s scenic coastal road to laid back Lovina Beach on the northern shore. The rest of the afternoon should afford plenty of time to explore something of our new surroundings, enjoying the long black, volcanic sand beaches and perhaps making the most of the warm, tranquil waters of the Bali Sea.
Day 11. Free day at Lovina Beach
Today has been left tree for you to make the most of your time here. The reefs off shore mean that the waters around Lovina are generally calm, making swimming safe and offering some spectacular options for snorkelling or diving. You could take a boat trip out to nearby Menjangan (Deer) Island, where some of the best reefs are found, or enjoy one of the early morning Dolphin trips that the resort is famous for. Leaving the resort around dawn the boats venture out into the offshore waters in search of the schools of dolphins that play in these waters. An added bonus to an early start to the day is the chance of a magnificent sunrise over the surrounding volcanic peaks. Closer to home the area boasts some relaxing hot springs and Bali’s only Buddhist monastery, containing a golden Buddha and a vividly colourful grotto. Of course you may just prefer to relax by the pool, wander the beaches, soaking up the lovely ambience of this typically Balinese setting, and perhaps try the local catch at one of the resorts beachside fish restaurants.
Day 12. Drive to Ubud via Penelokan and Tirta Empul Temple
Leaving the coast this morning we head inland, crossing the centre of the island, taking in some quite spectacular and varied scenery along the way, including the smoking presence of Mt Batur. Travelling via Penelokan affords us some quite superb panoramas across the vistas of the Central Mountains, with the waters of Danau Batur below us and the imposing slopes of Gunung Batur and Gunung Abang to either side. From here we continue to the holy springs of Tirta Empul, a major pilgrimage site for the Balinese, who come here to cleanse themselves in the healing waters. Close by is also the site of the Gunung Kawi Royal Tombs, rock cut shrines dedicated to members of Bali’s 11th century rulers and Bali’s oldest and most expansive ancient site. Our final destination for today is the town of Ubud, the heart of Bali’s cultural this traditions. Nestling amongst the lush slopes of the central mountains, Ubud is a rich collection of museums and temples, galleries and craft centres that has seen local artists thrive and grow over the years, turning the town into a haven for local arts, crafts and Balinese dancing. Many of Bali’s artisans were farmers and merchants, earning their living from working the land and dedicating their skills to the gods and ruling elite free of charge. Painters, sculptors, masons and woodworkers would donate their time, decorating temples and palaces, without any thought of financial gain. That is until the demise of the rajahs and the arrival of colonial overseers. These interlopers became patrons of the arts, encouraging local craftsmen to produce work on demand and for profit, which they did with gusto! Balinese art reflects many of the traditions and culture of the islands, recounting religious and historical epics, elements of puppet theatre and even real life, and in Ubud you can find some of the finest examples of the work anywhere in the archipelago.
Day 13. AM excursion to Goa Gajah, Yeh Pulu and Pejeng Temple. PM free
This morning we drive to the nearby cave complex of Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave). Once a sanctuary for Hindu priests, it was carved by hand from the surrounding rock and entered through a giant mouth that early visitors thought looked like an elephant (hence the name). The interior of the cave houses the bathing pool and a number of carvings of Shiva and Ganesh. With a chance to visit the caves and the nearby bathing pools, we then continue by foot to the rock-cut panels at Yeh Pulu, a 25 metre long series of carvings that date back to the 14th or 15th centuries, believed to depict a story of life amongst these rich landscapes.
Reboarding our bus again we then drive on to the temple complex at Pejeng, where we visit the three main temples. In the Moon Temple we find the unique bronze gong that is believed to be the oldest cast drum anywhere on the planet (dating from sometime during the Balinese bronze period of the 3rd century BC). At the Pura Kebo Edan (Crazy Buffalo Temple) we find the famous statue of the Giant of Pejeng, a 3 metre tall statue with a somewhat daunting looking phallus (one of the six that the giant is meant to possess). Our final temple is that of Pura Pusering Jagat (The Navel of the World Temple), housing a large urn carved with relief details taken from the Hindu myth of the Mahabharata. From here we return by bus to Ubud, where the rest of the afternoon is free. You may like to visit one of the handicraft villages that lie on the outskirts of the town, or perhaps visit the Elephant Park at Pujung Kelod and ride Sumatran elephants. There are also trips for bird watchers, relaxing spa treatments, traditional dance performances and temple ceremonies
to see, in short, something for all tastes.
Day 14. Tour ends Ubud
Our tour ends after breakfast this morning.
What is included in the tour package :
– Accommodations twin/double share
– Breakfasts, lunches and dinners as appeared in itinerary
– Tours and entrance fees for all of the sites the group attends together, as listed in the Itinerary
– All transports required for the whole journey as indicated in itinerary
– Services of a professional Tourist Guide throughout the tour
– Tour production by PT Lintang Buana Wisata Nusantara
– Specified accommodations and meals for the guide and driver
– Return airport to hotel transfer
What is not included yet in the tour package :
– Airfare & airport tax
– Travel Insurance
– Personal expenses, optional tours or additional meals
– Tipping or gratitudes for driver and guide