Trip update from Lombok, Komodo, Bali and Java
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Dec 6, 2012 10:05 PM Last Post By: GaryD
Dec 6, 2012 12:53 PM
I initially climbed Rinjani - definitely recommend the 3 days/2 night trip starting in Sembalun and finishing in Senaru - this seems to be the best way to climb the mountain as you start the trek at 1100m whereas if you start the trek in Senaru you start you will start from 600m. Either way the trek is really tough - I climbed 1600m on day one taking about 8 hours including breaks, followed by about 11 hours trekking on Day 2. This was the toughest day as we set off at 2.30am to head for the Summit, climbing around 1000m in altitude, then 1600m down to the crater lake, followed by an exhausting 600m back up to the far side of the crater. The final day comparitively is a pretty easy trot down the mountain.
If you only have time for the two day/1 night trip to the crater still worth it as you probably get 80/90% of the views but possibly not the glory of getting to the summit.
I think also everyone needs to put more pressure on the guides/porters to be more environmentally concious. One has to question where the park fees that you pay end up going as the amount of litter/toilet paper on the mountain is disgusting. I would also suggest that in high season you leave early particularly if you are trekking up from Senaru. The campsite here is not the massive and so if you get up later in the day you may well end up camping in an inferior position.
Just one final comment on this I went with Rudy Trekking agency who were very good. I organised it from the UK. You may well get it cheaper by booking it locally but I was short of time and I have to say these guys were absolutely faultless in every aspect of the trip.
I then headed onto Komodo on a 5 day four night Perama trip. We booked a cabin but in the end spent most of the time sleeping on deck as it was so much cooler out there and I felt claustraphobic in the cabin. We were lucky with the weather however and so it meant that there was no spray on deck so it absolutely perfect. We had some fabulous Komodo sightings (including a group of them eating a buffalo on Rinca). The 5 day/4 night trip was a lot more relaxing than the 3 day 2 night trip but there is quite a lot of travelling on the way back. Perama were great and well organised but there were rats on the boat which I felt they could have made more effort to avoid/get rid off (I had one crawl across my foot whilst I slept in my cabin/ another person had it crawl across his face whilst he slept on deck!). One of the highlights was a visit to the Pink Beach near Komodo - make sure you clamber up the hill behind for great views of the surrounding area.
Back in Lombok we took a car and did a day trip to the beaches south of Lombok. These beaches 10-15kms either side of Kuta are some of the most beautiful and untouched beaches imaginable. We only did it as day trip and we wished we had longer as I really can't quite understand that even with an international airport nearby most of these beaches remain completely uncommercialised. The beaches here are far better than on the Gilis and you are likely to have most of them entirely to yourself. I have been lucky enough to visit over 100 countries and these beaches are definitely right up there. But as has been said many times before it won't last much longer as development will inevitably happen. Staying on Kuta Beach in Lombok and hiring a scooter would be a wonderful way of exploring this area.
We then headed onto Bali which to be honest I could take or leave. I had to a bit of work in the Kuta area for a couple of days. Clearly a lot of people love it but for me the mass commercialisation and heavy traffic was not enjoyable. Ubud was good but and in particular loved the Cycling day trip. Most of the trips follow a fairly similar route through some stunning countryside and give a great insight into how much despite the tourism the culture and heritage remains so alive. Also went to a couple of cultural performances - the fire dancing in particular was really good. My one bit of advice in Bali is try and do your sightseeing either early or later in the day. Not only are the views better as the clouds often come in early and then sometimes clear away later. More importantly many of the famous temples are pretty hellish in the middle of the day when bus after bus pours into the car parks - really not a fun experience. Didn't spend very long in Bali but loved the rice terraces at Jatiwullah (think thats how you spell it) + also thought Munduk was great and had some good options for trekking.
I then headed across to Java - heading for Banyuwangi and then up to Ijen. Had a few problems gettting there as LP guidebook had pretty crap directions - in the end chartered a minibus up to Licin and then took an ojek from there - the road was being rebuilt at the time so ended up walking the last 6kms. This may have changed as I was there a month ago. If you were coming down the mountain on this road you might even get an ojek driver to take you the whole way as there is a narrow section through the roadworks which a bike could take as long as you walked a few hundred metres.
Ijen was incredible and definitely one of the highlights of the trip - stayed up at the park HQ - even though it is basic and relatively expensive, without your own transport it is by far the best place to stay as it means you can walk in when you like. There is a sign at the park headquarters saying that it is illegal for tourists to go into the crater - however guides will take you down - you need to leave HQ by about 2-2.30 am to see the famous blue fire that emanates from the crater- I was given a gas mark which looked ridiculous but was quite useful. You need to leave this early to guarantee darkness in the crater (you can't see the blue fire once day light comes ) and also because a guard is sent up the mountain and normally gets up there about 5-5.30 - the guides are paranoid of him and so want to be back up on the crater rim before he gets up there.
The guard did give us permission to ignore the signs saying you cannot walk to the left and right once you hit the crater rim - these areas give by far the best views and none of the tourists seemed to be going up here partly because of the signs.
I then headed back down down the crater and caught an ojek down to Sempol, the nearest town on the other side of the volcano- tried to get a minibus from here but even though it was only 11am did not see much going in that direction - waited an hour then hitched a ride to Bondowoso on a motorbike. Proof perhaps that you have to get Sempol early if you are going to get public transport onwards.
I then headed onto Bromo - spent a couple of days here at Cemoro Lawang - it seemed strange to me so many people rushing through what is one of the great sights in Asia - so nice to be able to spend longer here. Headed out of Cemoro Lawang- hitched a ride to the base of Mt Penjakan and then walked up to the top. When I was at Cemoro Lawang there are currently no jeeps going from there to the top of Penjakan - they just go to a look out point further down on Penajakan - so the only way to get between the two is on the 45 minute walk (path cuts off to the right just at the final corner of the steps going to the lower viewpoint) Both top or lower viewpoints offer superb views almost everyone disappears within 45 minutes of the sunrise so you will invariably have the viewpoint to yourself after this. Both get very busy so for that short period at sunrise I suggest if you are at lower viewpoint take the path mentioned above - just for another 5 mins up the mountain and you will escape the crowds.
Most people head straight from the viewpoint to Bromo- looking down from Penjakan I could see over 50-60 jeeps down there -I headed there in late afternoon - great views and hardly anyone else there when I walked up the Bromo crater.
Heading out out Cemoro Lawang I again took an Ojek out the other side driving across the crater and coming out the other side at Ngadas - this really is a beautiful route and so worth coming this way as you pass through some stunning scenery - most of the best scenery is 5km either side of Ngadas. I transited through Malang and went onto Blitar where I spent the night. Took a driver here and headed out the Kelud Volcano - not as amazing Bromo but still really impressive and the drive up there is brilliant + spent an hour at Candi Penataran which was interesting.
More interesting though were Candi Cetho and Candi Sukuh which I accessed from Solo -I haven't got a massive interest in Hindu architecture but the setting of these two temples high up on the slopes Mt Lawu made the effort of getting out here so worth it.
My final couple of days were spent at Prambanan (busy but really impressive) and Borobodur which I loved at. Many people are paying the extra and going in at 4.30am - through my guesthouse I took at an ojek to a viewpoint probably about 5kms from Borobodur (I think it was called Menoreh Hill) - it was lovely up here watching the mist clearing and the distant temple slowly coming into view - I was back at Borobudur my 6am so didn't pay the additional entrance fee but still found it to be pretty peaceful there as most of the local did not appear to be arriving until at least 7am
Anyway thats about it - hopefully it helps a few people
Dec 6, 2012 1:12 PM
Dec 6, 2012 1:22 PM
Dec 6, 2012 5:11 PM
3Thanks for the report. I am glad you liked Kuta. You are right the government has big development plans for the area. In fact the president is coming this month for the ground breaking ceremony for the first new resort. An art market is under construction at the moment and then all the warungs on the beach will be moved. I can only hope that they reconsider some of their more ambitious plans like a Disney style theme park and F1racetrack!!!
Dec 6, 2012 7:17 PM
4Good report - and so glad that you did more than the usual "tick-box" list in Java. Blitar is a very nice town, and a good spot for an "off the beaten track" stopover. The surrounding countryside is fabulous.
And yes, the temples on the Lawu volcano are real highlights of Java for me - particularly for the interesting historic and cultural underpinnings. This is one of the most sacred mountains in Javanese culture; the community living around the Cetho temple are actually Hindus too...
Dec 6, 2012 10:05 PM
(4 star Hotel)
From US$109.40 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$118.18 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$53.93 per night