Java and Bali - Volcanoes and Gamelans in a tropical Eden
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Day 1: Arrival
Arrival in Yogyakarta, the cultural center of historic Java. Transfer to our comfortable and charming hotel (with a swimming pool) in the city for our welcome dinner.
Day 2: Ancient Hindu Temple of Prambanan
A morning trip to Prambanan, a splendid 8th century Hindu temple complex not far from Yogyakarta. This will be our first opportunity to learn about Hinduism, which surprisingly co-existed with Buddhism until the overwhelming infiltration of Muslim traders in the 13th century turned the course of history for Java. In the afternoon, we visit the main market of Yogyakarta before some free time for exploring (or shopping) on your own.
Day 3: Yogyakarta - Artistic Heart of Java
In the morning we will take a tour by becak (three-wheeled bicycle taxi) through Yogyakarta, a lovely city set in a broad, green crescent of fertile rice lands that blanket the southern reaches of Mt. Merapi. The city is known as the artistic heart of Java where it is possible to see batik workshops, gamelan orchestras, ballet, and all night puppet shows, in addition to some of the best handicraft shopping in all of Asia. One highlight of our tour will be our visit to the Water Palace, once a splendid pleasure park of palaces, pools, and underground passages and waterways for the Sultan of Yogyakarta. Today, Yogyakarta's artistic community has established itself in this inspiring and serene setting. We will also have the opportunity to explore the Sultan's Palace, the only active Sultanate in Indonesia, and enjoy a buffet lunch on the palace grounds. After lunch we venture into the exotic Bird Market. Following dinner we will attend a shadow puppet performance, one of the traditional arts of Java.
Day 4: Sunrise at Borobudur
An early morning drive to the fabled steps of Borobudur (8th c.), the world's largest Buddhist monument and the greatest ancient monument in the Southern Hemisphere. This fantastic complex was buried beneath volcanic ash for almost 1,000 years until excavations in the late 19th century, and remains today a brilliant synthesis of sculpture and architecture.
Day 5: To Mt. Bromo
This morning we take the train from Yogyakarta to the city of Surabaya. From there we drive to spectacular Mt. Bromo, arriving in the early evening. For those joining our optional adventure hike in the early hours to the summit of Mt. Bromo, an early evening is recommended.
Day 6: Volcanic Landscape of Mt. Bromo
A free day to relax at Mt. Bromo, a primordial volcanic landscape unmatched for its scenic beauty. For those with energy to spare, early this morning we will have a 4 hour hike to the beautiful and rugged rim of the crater at Mt. Bromo. This is not a technically difficult hike, but does require a strong spirit. Upon return to our hotel, group members will visit the village market and will be treated to tea or coffee at the home of a local Tenggarese family where we will learn about Tenggarese people and culture, who represent Java's only remaining pocket of Hinduism (all the others retreated to the island of Bali during the 13th century conversion to Islam). This evening, before dinner we will have a private instructional session on how to play the gamelan instruments.
Day 7: Bromo Sunrise, to Bali
Early this morning (about 4 am) we begin our off-road drive to the top of a nearby mountain to catch the sun as it rises over the lava fields illuminating Mt. Bromo and its neighbor Mt. Batok. The rewards for such an early start usually include one of the most spectacular sunrises you could ever hope to see. Silence falls and the power and beauty of Mother Nature strike home. We return to our guesthouse, and after breakfast, we continue to Banyuwangi to catch the ferry for the short crossing to the idyllic island of Bali. Our accommodations for the next two nights are at a charming hotel in Pemuteran Bay, just a few minutes outside Bali Barat National Park, on the North Bali Sea.
Day 8: Bali Barat Nationall Park & Menjangan Island
A short morning drive to Bali Barat National Park, protecting 200 sq. km of stunning scenery in northwestern Bali, and featuring one of the world's rarest and most endangered birds, the Bali starling. Here we have an early morning option of hiking and bird watching (this area has birds galore including bulbuls, sunbirds, swiftlets, warbers, shrikes, kingfishers and swallows - there are also many silvered leaf monkeys, wild pigs and rusa deer), followed by a boat trip to Menjangan Island for a picnic lunch, and an afternoon filled with swimming and snorkeling, or just relaxing on the beach. For those not joining the morning hike, you can enjoy a relaxed morning to catch up with your reading or enjoy a nice stroll on the beach prior to the Menjangan Island journey. Late afternoon return for dinner.
Day 9: To Mt. Batur & Ubud
Today we drive to the town of Ubud, passing through beautiful rice fields in this magical middle kingdom that is Bali's most exotic and artistic region. On our way to Ubud, we stop at a local farm to taste their homegrown coffee or lemongrass tea. In the afternoon, we will stop at Tirta Empul Water Temple (Penelokan) for fantastic views of the dormant volcano Mt. Batur and the crater lake of the same name. Here we will visit Batur Temple, the second most important Hindu temple on the island.
Day 10: Bali Bird Park
Today is a chance to see the beautiful bird life of Bali. Get up close to the rare Bali starlings, South American macaws and Australian cockatoos to name just a few. Be captivated by the radiance of Indonesian parrots and massive cassowaries, black palm cockatoos, hornbills and one of the world's largest and most varied collection of birds of paradise.
Day 11: Traditional Home & Dinner With a Local Balinese Family
Enjoy a morning hike to explore the beautiful countryside and artisan villages set in the rice paddies surrounding the town.
Day 12: Ubud - the Arts of Bali
We will visit some of the unique art galleries near Ubud, including a guided tour of a gallery featuring traditional and contemporary Balinese paintings. Later, an informative talk led by a master woodcarver and mask maker will teach us about Balinese culture and how it is expressed in the forms of traditional art and dance. We also we visit an interesting and informative puppet museum.
Day 13: Ubud, Besakih Temple, to Candidasa
Today we can enjoy a well deserved relaxing morning.
Day 14: Candidasa: Tirtagganga & Pasir Putih
Enjoy a morning of leisure with free time to enjoy the beach. In the afternoon, we travel to a nearby bay using traditional fishing boats. Here we can swim in the beautiful blue waters, or just stay back at the hotel and relax by the pool while taking in the beauty of the Balinese coast.
Day 15: Candidasa, Fly to Flores
Today we depart our lovely seaside resort and drive to Denpasar for our flight to Labuan Bajo, Flores. During your flight, you will pass by some the of stunning islands and volcanoes of Indonesia. Upon arrival, we are transferred to our hotel just outside of town.
Day 16: Dance Ceremony of the Manggarai
Today, our adventure focuses on the fascinating Manggarai culture, who inhabit the western 1/3 of Flores and represent the largest ethnic group on Flores. In the past, heroes and knights perfomed their famous dance to celebrate and evoke a battle between villages. Today, the people of Manggarai perform the caci dance during celebrations such as welcoming guests, weddings, and thanksgiving during harvest season.
Day 17: Komodo Dragon Adventure, Rinca Island by Overnight Boat
Today we have an early start as we drive to the harbor to board our boat in search of the massive Komodo dragons. The Komodo dragons are actually monitor lizards that can grow up to 12 feet. The 2 main islands where the Komodo dragons live are on Komodo Island and Rinca Island. Our adventure is not limited to searching for these massive lizards. We also make visits to pristine beaches to swim and several spots where we can snorkel, including Manta Ray Point. We may also see a variety of birds as well as deer and monkeys, which are also a food source for the lizards.
Day 18: Komodo Island, Snorkeling, Return to Flores
Our excursion today is on Komodo Island. We depart by boat with our first stop at the park headquarters where we meet our ranger. Today our hike will be 1 - 2 hours, in search of birds, monkeys, deer and most importantly, Komodo dragons.
Day 19: Fly to Bali, Farewell Dinner
This morning we drive to the airport for our flight to back to Bali. Upon arrival, we transfer to our hotel. You can enjoy a relaxing afternoon before our farewell dinner tonight. The perfect toast to a splendid journey!
Day 20: Departure
After breakfast you have free time before your transfer to the airport.
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