When visiting Bali it is easy to forget that it is just one island in the midst of an entire country, but whether you are an adventurer, a wanderer, a romantic, a thrill-seeker, or a beach-goer, those who visit the rest of Indonesia will be rewarded with life-changing memories. If you are heading to Bali to volunteer with IVHQ in either Ubud or Lovina, these itineraries are perfect to add on the end of your volunteer experience. And, because we know you probably like to have a few options up your sleeve, we’ve nutted out two, week long itinerary options for you!
First Three Days: Do you want to laze on a beach or work up a sweat? It’s a tough decision! We recommend you head to the Gili Islands if you want to relax, otherwise head to Lombok to start the three-day trek to the top of Mt Rinjani. This is an incredibly popular option with backpackers at the moment, and it’s easy to see why! The views will leave your jaw-gaping. There is no doubt the trek will push you but there’s a reason people say nothing easy is worth doing.
For the Gilis: Jump on a fast boat from Bali to Gili Air. This picturesque island is quickly making a name for itself and nipping on the heels ever popular Gili T. This is a great option for those wanting a grassroots island experience. With unspoilt beaches, mesmerizing marine life and a peaceful approach to life, you’ll be feeling zen within seconds of digging your toes into the sand. Not to mention because there are no motorized vehicles on the Island, you’ll be pulling the fresh air in and truly appreciating it after your travels through the rest of Asia. If you’re looking for something with a party atmosphere then you can go to Gili Trawangan, better known as Gili T, or if you are loved up then have a romantic escape to Gili Meno. Head back to Lombok once you’ve soaked up all the sun you can manage.
From Lombok you can catch public transport and ferry from island to island yourself, or you can join one of the many boat tours leaving from Bangsal Harbour and take the hassle out of the trip. You’ll also be able to enjoy the company of fellow boaters, dining above deck and being lulled to sleep by waves gently lapping against the hull.
Day Four: Stopping off to Moyo Island will put you face-to-face with nature. The majority of the island is a nature reserve meaning flora and fauna is abundant and so are opportunities to snap a few pictures for the photo album. When you run out of things to see onland you can start exploring the untouched coral reefs.
Day Five: Komodo Island, whilst it’s famous for the creature it’s named after what you really want to see is actually found under the crystal blue waters surrounding the island. Spend an unforgettable day at Manta Point. This will be one of those experiences with animals that will stay with you for life. The friendly giants of the sea won’t disappoint.
Day Six: Visit Rinca Island for its breathtaking views of the stunning natural landscape. Think stark golden hills set against turquoise blue waters and you’ll have a rough idea, not that anything can come close to seeing it in the flesh. Here you can also spot the Komodo Dragon lazing in the sunny grasslands, along with other wildlife. Just remember these creatures are best viewed from a distance, you do not want a dragon bite!
Day Seven: Finally touch down in Labuan Bajo on the Island of Flores. There is lots to see and do in the outskirts of this port town - you can explore the authentic villages, bubbling hot pools or trek up into the hills. This place is abuzz with dive shops and for good reason, there are some of the best dive spots in the world nearby! You can pick up your Open Water Dive certification here too!
If you have more time you can head a bit further inland to find the famous spider web rice fields, or in East Flores you can lace up your boots and get up and close with a truly magical sight: Mt Kelimutu. This really is a must! Rise before dawn to see the sun break across the western rim, unveiling three volcanic lakes famous for each being a different striking color. It’s something you’ll never forget.
Day One: Let the adventure begin. Catch a bus from Ubung Bus Station, or arrange transport directly from Ubud to Gilimanuk where you will board a ferry across to the port just outside of Banjuwangi, Java. You can use this blip on the map as your base to see Kawah Ijen, better known as the Blue Flame, or you can venture out to stay in a homestay in the rural areas surrounding the volcano.
Day Two: Rise early to start your trek into the depths of the crater. A guide is a must here as the plumes of sulphur can quickly change direction and engulf the area, making visibility poor and your eyes tear up even through the ventilation mask. Oh, and that little mask may not look like it will do much but you’ll truly appreciate it when it’s put to the test. The blue flame, the result of sulphur combusting, is truly spectacular and will leave you marveling at the wonder of nature. Both on the way down and up you will needed to step aside to allow the miners carrying up to 90kgs of sulfur to pass. This path is nothing more than a goat track and these little miners resembled ants in their ability to balance large loads on their tiny frames. Once you are back on the lip of the crater head over to the sunrise point to watch the landscape slowly appear before your eyes. Looking back into the crater you’ll be no doubt be chuffed that your legs managed to get you down to the lake’s edge and even more surprisingly back up the craggy face. Top tip: if you have the time stay an extra day and arrange to go to Kawah Ijen at sunset - you’ll have the place to yourself! Otherwise make use your afternoon to make your way to Cemoro Lawang which is a town adjacent to the Mt Bromo volcanic complex.
Day Three: With all the spectacular sights Indonesia has to offer you’ll quickly become accustomed to sunrise starts. Mt Bromo is no exception, this must be seen when the rooster crows. You can join a four wheel drive tour or pop your trusty head torch on and set out on foot for the sunrise point above the Cemoro Lawang. As the sun breaks across the horizon, Mt Bromo will be revealed amongst the sea of morning mist and you’ll understand why people from all across the world flock here. From the top sunrise viewing point organize transport down and across the sea of sand to the base of Mt Bromo, the very active beast you’re there to see. The climb itself is very straight forward, it is quite literally just one foot in front of the other directly up a well formed staircase. Jump on a train for a quick trip to Surabaya.
Day Four: You’ve had three big days in a row now so take a break and have a rest day. Enjoy what Surabaya has to offer - which at first glance may not seem like much but if you take the time to get out and eat street food, wander around the museums, experience a sprawling Indonesian city and visit the old quarters, then you’ll be rewarded with some great sights or at the very least you’ll meet some wonderfully friendly people.
Day Five: Head off to Yogyakarta. It’s the cultural powerhouse of Indonesia. The area is dotted with ancient ruins, artists preserving traditions and some of the grandest temples you will ever see. Make sure you lock in to see the Ramayana ballet against the backdrop of the Prambanan temple complex.
Day Six: Roll out of bed for another sunrise - you can sleep in when you get home! The temple doesn’t officially open until around 7am which means if you want to see the sunrise from within Borobudur temple then you need to dig into your pockets and pay. Doing this means you’ll have less people around as you explore the complex in the morning. Otherwise you could head off to a sunset point and make your way in when the gates open. Top tip: Borobudur and Prambanan temples are two of the most visited tourists spots in Indonesia so try to time your visit to avoid the weekend. Now it’s time to test your travel skills by piecing together a combination of trains, buses, and even a motorcycle taxi to make your way to Batukaras, a village nestled on the southern coast of West Java. Oh, and prepare yourself to cross a bridge made entirely of bamboo - this is just a wee bit off the beaten track after all.
Day Seven: Wake to the sound of crashing waves, have fresh fruit for breakfast, hire a surfboard and hit the water. Batukaras is a great way to unwind after an action packed trip around Indonesia. Be warned though, people go to this idyllic surf hideaway and end up staying there for months on end. It’s just that kind of place. When you can muster the motivation to leave, you can make your way to the Jakarta and fly on home.
If you do have more time up your sleeve you can always keep going. We’d recommend you look at going to Sumatra where you can see orangutans swinging in the trees in Ketambe and dive below the waves off the coast of Banda Aceh.
If you are wanting to balance your time in Indonesia with one of our volunteer projects in Bali then you can find out more information here, or if you are struggling to decided which project is the right fit for you then this guide to Lovina vs Ubud will be a great place to start!