In Sumatra Barat (West Sumatra), fertile uplands ring jungle-clad volcanoes, waterfalls cascade into deep ravines and nature takes a breath in deep, still lakes. Rainforest still clings to the steepest slopes, while rice, tapioca, cinnamon and coffee bring in the wealth.
This is the heartland of the matriarchal Minangkabau, an intelligent, culturally rich and politically savvy people who have successfully exported their culture, language, cuisine and beliefs throughout Indonesia and whose soaring architecture dominates the cities and villages.
Coastal Padang is a transport hub and popular pit stop for surfers, trekkers and indigenous-culture enthusiasts bound for the Mentawai Islands. Scenic traveller-friendly Bukittinggi is surrounded by picturesque villages where traditional artisans still ply their trades, while the gorgeous Danau Maninjau, the secluded Harau Valley and Kerinci Seblat National Park provide plenty of scope for outdoor adventure.