Wildlife, Scuba Diving, Volcano Treks and More

With more than 18,000 islands scattered across the equator, Indonesia is a fascinating destination for those seeking adventure. Wildlife, marine life, archaeology, volcanoes and ancient cultures await you everywhere from Bali to Borneo and beyond.

Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra: The Gunung Leuser National Park is home to orangutans, Sumatran tigers and rhinoceros. Locals practice responsible tourism that aims to protect the forest and its inhabitants. Many of the rainforest regions of Indonesia are destroyed by deforestation and although some are protected from logging under federal law, illegal logging practices still occur. Tourism acts as an alternative income for many people here who have moved away from illegal means of income.

By visiting the region and participating in ecotourism activities such as trekking, tree planting and water rafting you are supporting the guardians of the Gunung Leuser, and you have the chance to get up close with the beautiful orangutans that call this place home.

This unique adventure in North Sumatra offers an exclusive opportunity for you to get hands-on with ongoing conservation efforts in remote villages and forest restoration sites. In addition to soaking up the culture and discovering the breathtaking beauty of this friendly and welcoming Indonesian island, you will also be involved with a number of tasks such as permaculture, restoration of former palm oil plantations, preparing new tree nurseries or identifying and recording native plant life in newly flourishing areas.

You also have the opportunity to visit the superb Leuser Nature School which aims to incentivize local farmers to become guardians of the forest by providing free education for their children in exchange for their involvement in forest restoration and protection efforts. All your hard work is rewarded with three relaxation days in Bukit Lawang including a jungle walk in search of wild orangutans. You Can Book Tour here: A different Travel Company or write to info@different-travel.com

Wakatobi, Sulawesi, Bunaken, Sulawesi: Wakatobi (pronounced WAHK-kah-TOH-bee) features a luxury dive resort in southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia. The area includes 143 islands, but only four of them are inhabited. Since 2005 the park has been listed as a tentative World Heritage Site. In 2012 it was added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Wakatobi was established following an extensive search to identify the perfect location for a dive resort in terms of geography, climate, oceanic topography and marine biodiversity. To ensure its future, the developers created one of the largest privately protected marine reserves in the world.

Wakatobi is the third largest marine park in Indonesia. It hosts 942 fish species and 750 coral reef species, versus 50 in the Caribbean and 300 in the Red Sea.

Wakatobi covers 1.4 million hectares. It includes the highest number of reef and fish species in the world.

The islands form the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Jacques Cousteau called the Wakatobi area an “Underwater Nirwana.”

Having identified the premier location, the developers built an island paradise with the essential facilities and comforts to make an unforgettable dive trip. From shore or by boat, you have exclusive access to 50 dive sites, miles of pristine reefs, where diverse and dramatic undersea landscapes harbor the highest level of marine biodiversity on the planet. New and undocumented species continue to be discovered at Wakatobi.

The House Reef is a cornucopia of marine life, which you can enter directly from the beach or the jetty. The coral top is host to sea grass offering refuge to species such as filefish, blue ringed octopus and bumphead parrotfish, while the corals are home to numerous colorful juveniles of many species. The dramatic drop off where the wall begins offers glimpses out into the blue and down the wall – turtles, bumphead parrotfish, rays, mild mannered triggerfish, box fish and puffer fish can be seen among many other species.

Anano Beach is a great place to observe sea turtles in their natural habitat.

The incredible white sandy beach is home to two types of sea turtles, Honu (green turtles) and Koila (hawksbill turtles). Depending on the timing of your trip, you might get to see the turtles spawn, hatch and migrate to sea. The optimal time to observe spawning is during the full moon where green turtles usually gather at the shoreline in preparation to lay their eggs in the early hours of the morning. This enchanting beach is also a popular spot for divers and sun loungers.

Adventurers also enjoy the majestic Lakasa cave, which is is filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The cave descends 120 meters. Locals believe that it has mystical properties. East and West come together at Wakatobi’s spa, which blends the best of Indonesian and European traditions. For more information, visit https://www.wakatobi.com/

Komodo National Park, Komodo and Rinca: Komodo is a small island of 280 square kilometers. It is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. The Island has about 800 human inhabitants and double that number of dragons. Most of the other islands where the dragons live have no permanent human residents at all.

Visitors to this area also should see the island of Rinca, which is just south and east of Komodo. It’s also part of Komodo National Park, but offers a slightly different landscape and good dragon populations. Rinca is just a short boat ride from Komodo island and is even closer to the island of Flores. In addition to wildlife viewing, Komodo National Park offers some of the best diving and snorkeling in Indonesia. The waters are clear and the marine life is spectacular. Whales and dolphins travel through the area regularly.

Camp Leakey, Tanjung Puting, Orangutans, Borneo: At Camp Leakey, we see up to 15,000 a year from all over the world. The local people saw them coming in and built up the tourism industry. The good thing is that the money stays in the area. The cooks are local. The guides are local. The boats are local. That’s one of the reasons the local people are so supportive.

After you go into the education center, you can walk to the feeding station. Once a day, the orangutans are provided with fruit and they usually come through the trees to the feeding platform. The feeding lasts two hours and some people watch them the whole time. You get very intimate encounters with the orangutans at Camp Leakey.

The tourism is controlled. Visitors can only observe the feeding at Camp Leakey. You’re not allowed to wander alone in the forest. It enhances the value of the park to the local people and then they will fight for it. Tourism directly benefits the orangutans. It makes the local people want to protect them. The main issue for orangutans in Southeast Asia is palm oil plantations. The forest needs to be cleared completely for the plantations. Orangutans spend 90 percent of their time in the tree canopy. When you cut down the trees, they have nowhere to go. We’re headed toward a point where most of the orangutans we see will be in captivity or at Tanjung Puting.

Indonesia is the fourth-largest nation in the world with more than 267 million people. The country is comprised of more than 17,500 islands, including BaliBorneoJavaLombokSumatra and Sulawesi. Learn more about Indonesia. Learn about where to go, what do and what to say.

Gary Chandler

Gary Chandler is the CEO of Crossbow Communications. He also is the founder of Sacred Seedlings and Earth News. Chandler also is the author of the Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia.