Those on the group flights should be arriving in Yogyakarta early afternoon after a 2.5hr transfer from Solo airport. Land-only passengers will be told what time on day one they can meet the rest of the group. This afternoon will mostly be free to relax after the long flight or stretch your legs and explore Yogya (as the city is commonly referred to).
Yogua is an ancient city and, a thousand years ago, was the centre of the Mataram Kingdom. Today it is Java's cultural and traditional heart and is renowned for its batik, ballet, drama, poetry and music.
In the morning we have a city tour by bicycle rickshaws (becak) and explore the Sultan's Palace, markets as well as the puppetry and silver workshops of Yogya.
This afternoon we drive to Borobudur, 1.5hrs away. One of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. Scholars cannot agree when this monument was built, and many speculate it was constructed between the 7th and 8th centuries, they do seem to agree that that a huge workforce must have laboured to move and carve the 55,000 cubic metres of stone and that construction took about one hundred years, and for at least two hundred years it was the centre of Buddhism in Java. The temple was probably abandoned when the population converted to Islam in the 15th century, and over time it was covered by volcanic ash from the many volcanic eruptions from Mt. Merapi, and then covered in thick jungle growth. The temple was rediscovered by the British as they came to Indonesia for the first time in the 1800's. There are six rectangular storeys, three circular terraces and a central stupa forming the summit, the whole structure is in the form of a lotus, the sacred flower of Buddha. In total, Borobodur represents the ten levels of a Bodhisattva's life which he or she must develop to become a Buddha. We also visit Mendut and Pawon temples both thought to be waypoints on the road to Borobudur.
This morning we drive to the ninth century Prambanan temple compound, consisting of 224 temples. The Hindu temple complex is stunning beautiful, and devoted to the gods Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. It is the wealth of its sculptural details that these temples are known for, the most famous being on the inner wall of the balustrade, of the Ramayana epic. Like Borobodur after hundreds of years of being forgotten, the temples were eventually rediscovered and restored to their former glory. We continue onto Solo, arriving around lunch time. In the afternoon we take to the village bikes and make a tour of city. Local home industry, such as Gamelan orchestra instruments making, can be seen as can the processing of Tempe (fermented soybean cake), a major ingredient in Central Javanese dishes. Another favourite stop is watching the production of local alcohol. Depending on the water level we may even cross the main river, Bengawan Solo, on a bamboo raft. In the evening the city centre turns into a night market where the local dishes can be tried.
We continue our Javanese tour and head to the cool and old-colonial city of Batu. Batu is the hill station for the main town of Malang. The surroundings are agricultural and Batu is known as the apple city of Indonesia.
As we leave Batu, we will be passing through Malang on our way to Bromo. We will have a short city tour to see the flower market - Tugu and Toko Oen and colonial buildings that remain on the Ijen Boulevard.
Around noon we drive via Probolinggo, famous for its mangoes, to the Gunung Bromo Volcano. Our hotel is spectacularly located on the edge of the Tengger crater. The ascent of the volcano is usually the highlight of every visit to Java. This afternoon there is time to start exploring the Sand Sea by foot. This is a great time to visit as the Sand Sea is practically devoid of all people.
An early rise (4.00 am) will ensure we have enough time for the jeep ride to the sunrise viewpoint. The view of Bromo and the Semeru volcano in the back is fantastic, made even better when the slowly rising sun reveals an amazing moon-like landscape. After sunrise we cross the Sea of Sand and climb 246 steps up to the cone of Mt Bromo where you can see smoke rising from the crater. We get back to the jeep and drive back to the hotel for breakfast. We continue to Kalibaru (about 6hrs drive), where we spend 2 nights in beautifully situated bungalows surrounded by coffee, cacao and rubber plantations.
Those who wish can take an optional excursion to visit Ijen Volcano. This is another early rise and includes 1-1.5hr walk up to the summit at 2,300m for sunrise. The crater lake is green in colour due to sulphuric deposits. The entire excursion takes about 6hrs.
Those who chose not to visit Ijen Volcano can relax in the hotel's beautiful surroundings or go on a guided walk through the coffee, clove, rubber and cacao plantation and visit local home-factories in the company of a local guide.
We drive about 2hrs to the harbour where we will cross the narrow straits between Bali and Java by ferry (about 40mins). We will follow the West coast of Bali before heading into the centre of the island and the town of Ubud. On the way we visit Taman Ayun, the royal family temple. Ubud itself is the cultural heart of the island and religious traditions are an important part of life here.
This morning we go on a tour visiting two ancient and important temples: Tirta Empul and Gunung Kawi. Tirta Empul is the place where Balinese go to take their holy bath whilst Gunung Kawi is the location of beautiful 11th Century royal tombs. Whilst it is a long walk down to the river where the tombs are located, it is worth every step. We then continue north to Kintamani where, on a clear day, there are fantastic views of Batur Volcano and Batur Lake. We return to Ubud in the early afternoon and the rest of the day is free to explore. On offer are spa treatments, yoga, healthy organic food, and numerous art galleries. Every evening interesting Balinese dance performances take place in former palaces as well as various ceremonies taking place in the town's temples.
We continue our journey east stopping along the way. Our first stop is at Klungkung where we will visit the fomal court of jutice. Paintings of heaven and the underworld are painted on the ceilings and were used to dispense punishment in the old days. From here we continue to Goa Lawa temple, an important temple for the Balinese. Beautiful black lava stones were used for its constructions and it is located by the sea in front of a cave which is home to thousands of bats. Finally we continue to Cadissa.
A short drive will bring us to the starting point of a walk along irrigated rice paddies belonging to the village of Tenganan. The walk takes about 2.5hrs and the last half-hour is quite steep downhill towards the back gate to the village. Tenganan village is known for its ceremonies and double ikat weaving. Our bus will be waiting at the front gate of the village and will take us back to Cadissa. This afternoon we have the option to drive a short 20mins to an idyllic white-sand beach where we can relax, swim and stroll or enjoy a drink at one of the local food stalls.
We drive about 20 minutes to the ferry harbour of Padangbai. From here the fast boat takes us in 2 hours across the Lombok strait to the Norh West coast of Lombok Island. We will then drive along the North coast of the island to Senaru. Senaru is located on the foot of Rinjani Mountain with ricefields spread all the way down to the coast and on the edge of tropical rain forest. Our hotel, this evening, is basic and only has cold water.
Led by local women guides, we have an easy half-day walk exploring the foothills of spectacular Rinjani volcano (3700 meters high). Starting near the border of Gunung Rinjani National Park, our route follows old pathways through shady bamboo groves and village gardens before entering a wide, open landscape of rice terraces and palms. Following a winding irrigation channel we reach the lush rainforest of the famous Sendang Gila Waterfall Reserve. The local people believe that a refreshing bath behind these thundering falls can cure any disease. Along the way, we learn about various tropical plants and our guide explains their various uses We may come across cheeky long tailed monkeys and, with a bit of luck, may even spot the rare ebony leaf monkey.
Passing small hamlets where age-old traditions are practiced, we will gain insight into colourful village life of the Sasak people. There is always something interesting happening here as we meet local people and admire traditional houses.
Make sure you bring your camera as the views are simply spectacular! On a clear day you may even catch a glimpse of Bali's famous Gunung Agung volcano rising high above the blue waters of the Lombok Strait. Each turn of the track offers new vistas as finally Rinjani - the sacred mountain of the Sasak people - emerges majestically above rice terraces and rainforest. This natural and cultural diversity makes the Senaru Panorama Walk an unforgettable Lombok experience.
In the afternoon you will drive to Sengiggi.
Optional 2-day Rinjani Volcano trek
Day 1. After registering at the Rinjani Trek Centre in Senaru we start our ascent of Mt. Rinjani. Our path takes us through tropical forests rich in local flora, birds and butterflies. Along the way we can hope to see orchids and even, with a bit of luck, catch site of ebony leaf monkeys. The last couple hours are out of the forest and through pastures. The climb can be quite steep and good fitness is required.
After hiking about 8hrs we reach the crater rim with sweeping views over lake Sagara Anak. On a clear day we can see as far as the Gili Islands, Bali and Mt. Agung. We can relax as our camp is set up and enjoy the sun set.
Day 2. We start the day with, weather permitting, a glorious sunrise before retracing our steps and heading back down the mountain to Senaru. As we will be going downhill the hike takes less time than on the first day but can be quite hard on the knees.
Upon arrival in Senaru we will transfer to Sengiggi where a nice shower and the rest of the group will be waiting.
Please note that the trek may be cancelled if the weather conditions are deemed to be too severe for safety reasons.
All camping equipment is provided but the sleeping bags tend to be quite thin and you may wish to bring your own from home. See packing section for more information on what to bring.
Today is a free day to relax or partake in the various activities or excursions on offer. Some possible options include taking a day-trip to the Gili islands, popular for their underwater treasures and where it is possible to snorkel right from the white sandy beach. There are also numerous fantastic dive sites accessible from Sengiggi or for those who prefer land to sea it is possible to arrange various excursions to local temples, markets or typical Sasak village. Those who have opted for the Rinjani trek will re-join the rest of the group this evening.
This is the last day of the trip. Those on the group flights may have some free time before driving south to the International Airport, depending on the flight departure time.