Five Reasons to Put Down Your Bintang, Get Out of Bali and Explore the Rest of Indonesia
With beaches for days, cheap beers and a food scene that rivals Melbourne’s at only a fraction of the cost, it’s easy to see why so many travellers arrive in Bali and forget to explore any of the other roughly 17,000 islands that make up this beautiful country. Here’s just a few reasons why you shouldn’t make that mistake.
1. Sail through the Komodo Islands from Lombok
Thanks to the famous Komodo and Rinca Islands and some deadest incredible diving, backpackers are starting to swarm to Labuan Bajo in Flores.
For those of us hobos who are time rich and money poor, one of the best ways to get there is to sailing from Lombok to Flores. For the four-day trip, you’ll spend your time snorkelling (including Manta Point), hiking to hidden waterfalls, visiting the famous Pink Beach and of course, looking for Komodo dragons on Komodo and Rinca.
While there are a number of companies who offer this, one of the cheapest, and more importantly safest, is Wanua Adventure. The boat, food and sleeping arrangements are very much on the basic side, but for the 1.8 million IDR ($180AUD), it’s hard to expect too much more. When you consider a flight from Lombok to Flores starts at around $151 and the trip ticks off most of the boxes for day trips you’d want to take from Labuan Bajo, this is a pretty good way to save cash and get free food for four days.
Cost: From $180 for four days including all accommodation, transport, food and activities. Whatever company you choose though, make sure you go local!
Head to: www.wanuaadventure.com
2. Climb Mount Rinjani in Lombok
We know hauling yourself up a mountain might not sound like how you want to spend your holiday, but when you consider seeing the sunrise over a volcano, swimming in natural hot springs and camping on a crater rim, you might feel differently.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: the 3D/4N trek up Rinjani is a bit of a brutal one, but the views make it all so worthwhile. We did our trek through Rinjani Trekking Club and was beyond happy with the service. The food was genuinely some of the best we’ve had in Indo, the guides were friendly and the porters absolute legends who work their arses off to make it that much easier for you.
Head to: www.info2lombok.com
3. Trek with Orangutans in Sumatra
Sad to say it, but this is one of those things you should probably do before time runs out. It’s no secret that thanks to a horrendous palm oil industry, orangutan populations are dwindling. One of the cheapest (albeit not at all easiest) places to visit genuine wild orang-utans is in the forest of Ketambe.
To get there, you need to take a long local bus ride from Medan to Kutacane and then jump on another bus to Ketambe. The ride is pretty hard work, with my bus breaking down no less than three times, but once you’re standing in front of a wild orangutan in the jungle, you’ll quickly forget the hassle.
I organised my trek through The Friendship Guesthouse for $45 a day which included all meals, a makeshift tent and guide to make sure you don’t get lost out there.
Cost: $45 per day including food, accommodation and your guide, although this would be cheaper if you can find a friend to split the bill.
Head to: www.ketambe.com to find directions to the guesthouse.
4. Get diving in Labuan Bajo
An up-and-coming little town, Labuan Bajo has a surprisingly thriving food scene, locals whose friendly banter has yet to be tarnished by tourism and some of the best diving in the world (yes hobos, they actually have real live coral there).
Aside from the famous Manta Point, the area around Labuan Bajo has a ridiculous number of incredible dive sites like Batu Balong, often referred to as the underwater aquarium, or Cannibal Rock known, for its large amount of sharks.
Diving here will set you back about $150 for three dives, which is super reasonable compared to everywhere else in the world. While all the companies charge the same, we can highly recommend Komodo Dive Center. Their boat is nice and spacious with plenty of free food and instructors with good banter – what more could you need?
Cost: From $150 for three dives
Head to: www.komododivecenter.com
5. Explore Nusa Penida
Considered to be pretty similar to Bali before tourism took hold (ah – that old adage), Nusa Penida is a little slice of paradise. It takes roughly an hour to get here from Sanur, but you couldn’t find somewhere more different from bustling Bali. Picture rugged coastline, pristine swimming spots and some of the gnarliest roads your 120CC will have ever have encountered.
Cost: $20 boat from Sanur, accommodation is around $15 per night and meals are around $2