The sun emerging through the morning mist, a blazing blue fire, and exotic orangutans – these are just some of the amazing things that await you on the best hikes in Indonesia.
One of the best ways to enjoy Indonesia’s diverse landscapes is from an elevated height. The most beautiful, sweeping views of picturesque hills and bays are granted to those dedicated enough and don’t mind getting their hiking boots dirty. Sometimes, the hike brings you to the top of Indonesia’s exquisite and moody volcanoes, other times it lands you in the heart of a charming traditional village. Here is Culture Trip’s selection of the 10 best hikes in Indonesia.
This volcano is best known for the tri-coloured lakes perched on top of it, collectively named Kelimutu Lake. Located at a height of 1,639m (5,377ft), these mystical, colour-changing lakes boast a sweeping mountaintop vista. They also display their own enchanting hues, which have turned from calming turquoise to pitch black over the years. The hiking trail to Mount Kelimutu’s peak is a convenient stairway, although it’s still a bit demanding due to the elevation. The gate opens at 4.30am, the best time to start hiking in order to catch the gleaming sunrise.
Towering over the beautiful landscape of Lombok island, Mount Rinjani is Indonesia’s second highest volcano. That means it offers a demanding three to four days’ journey on a rather challenging trail, even for more seasoned hikers. Your determination to summit this volcano will be rewarded with the exquisite Segara Anak crater lake and a sweeping view of the island. However, even short hikes around the mountain’s base will suffice to take you to Rinjani’s picturesque hills and waterfalls.
A trip to Bromo usually involves at least two sessions: sunrise at Mount Pananjakan with the view of Mount Bromo, followed by a hike to the top of Bromo to see its epic crater. Reaching Bromo’s summit can almost be effortless, if tourists rent a jeep to reach the mountain’s base, continue on via horse ride, and then embark on a 15-minute climb along the stairs to the crater. More adventurous travellers opt to walk through the ‘Sea of Sand’ plain on the mountain’s base instead, slowing down to enjoy the dunes, desert, and hill vista.
The hike here starts in the dark of night, but culminates in Bali’s glimmering sunrise witnessed from the mountaintop. The 1,717m (5633 ft) hike can be completed in less than three hours, leaving you with enough time to catch your breath before losing it again over the breathtaking bursts of sunrise, with Batur’s surrounding sister peaks in the background. Sunrise at Mount Batur’s summit attracts a lot of audiences, so the earlier you get there the better viewing spot you’ll get.
Famed for its ‘blue fire’, Mount Ijen’s rare natural phenomenon is worth powering through the billowing sulfur fumes. To catch a glimpse of it, start the hike around midnight to arrive at the mountain’s caldera before 2am. The epic show of colour is observable until before sunrise, when the electrifying blue inferno subsides as the warm sunlight makes visible the volcano’s brilliant blue lake. Although this mountain takes less than two hours to summit, the trail is rather rough and demanding, especially when navigating it in the dark. Make sure you’re fit enough for the hike and bring or rent proper protection gear like jackets and masks for the sulfur. Don’t forget to bag some lovely carved sulfur, sold by local miners, to commemorate your conquest.
Padar is part of the expansive Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara. But in contrast to its famed sister island, this uninhabited islet appears completely quiet and serene, with nothing but stretches of beautiful, hilly landscape. A big part of this island is still uncharted territory, but a certain viewpoint embracing three magnificent bays in one scene has quickly become a coveted panorama, bringing more people to this island for the ‘gram.
This village in East Nusa Tenggara is famed for its iconic traditional houses set against a picturesque mountain view and shrouding mist. Aside from its fascinating local culture, Wae Rebo has a peaceful and secluded location, nestled in a valley between mountains. To reach this magnificent destination, brace yourself for a four-hour hike through varying but relatively well-established trails. Travellers typically spend a day or two in one of the Mbaru Niang houses with the locals before heading back armed with new stories and experiences that enrich the mind.
Representing the highest peak in Java, Mount Semeru is one of the holy grails of hiking in Indonesia. It’s also one of the most active volcanoes in the archipelago, spewing volcanic ash every other hour on its most lively days. Mount Semeru is also a prominent place when it comes to spiritual beliefs as it is considered the dwelling of the gods – the Olympus of Javanese mythology. A three- to four-day hike is enough to go through its impressive natural features — a savannah, stunning slopes, flower fields, and a gorgeous freshwater lake — and reach the magnificent summit then come back tired but refreshed.
Part of the Taman Leuser National Park, many travellers tread the lush jungle of Bukit Lawang in hopes of spotting the adorable orangutan. Regardless, when you’re deep in a pristine rainforest, the journey is a remarkable experience in itself. The hike will take you through the hills, rivers and waterfalls, and every once in a while you’ll inevitably cross paths with exotic birds, primates and more denizens of the jungle. A trek through this area can be tailored according to your preferences, but two days are usually enough to make the most of it.
Located in far-flung Papua, the trip to Baliem Valley is demanding in terms of time, energy and money. But your dedication will be very well rewarded with spectacular scenes unseen by many and encounters with extraordinary tribes, each with its own fascinating culture. A guide will take you wandering through the ruggedly beautiful valley to see a whole other side of Indonesia, where people live in their own authentic, peculiar ways, untouched by modern civilisation. You’ll see them living, dancing, and sporting their own unique attire. A typical journey through Baliem Valley can take anywhere from six to eight days, depending on the route taken, and usually involves getting from village to village separated by dense jungle, hills or rivers.