The Most Difficult Places to Visit in Indonesia

One of Jayawijaya's Summit | © Christian Stangl/Flickr
One of Jayawijaya's Summit | © Christian Stangl/Flickr
Photo of Edira Putri
11 December 2017

The most difficult destinations are often the best ones to visit. The lack of human interference helps preserve nature, and you get a feeling of satisfaction from visiting places that most people haven’t seen. From mountains to caves, discover the most difficult places to visit in Indonesia.

Mount Leuser, Aceh

Hiking this mountain is made difficult by the complicated and unpredictable land—dense untouched jungles, rushing rivers, steep rocks. But the real danger and challenge lies in the wildlife. Even if you stay right on track, there are real possibilities of encountering snakes, bears, even tigers. The summit of Mount Leuser can be reached in about two weeks. The mountain is located in a relatively remote area, and to reach the starting point tourists have to switch flights in the country’s Sharia-governed Aceh Province.

Gunung Leuser National Park, Langkat Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia

Jomblang and Grubug Cave, Central Java

This vertical cave requires skill, experience, gear and courage to explore. Study and practice single-rope technique before driving to the cave’s mouth. To reach the bottom of the sinkhole–where peculiar ancient species that had never seen the sun dwell–adventurers will have to conquer the slippery vertical drop. Jomblang is actually just part of a massive cave system through the Mount Kidul area, and there’s a pitch black tunnel that will lead you to the adjacent Grubug Cave, with its famous ‘heaven’s light’.

Jomblang Caves, Pacarejo, Gunung Kidul Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Carstensz Pyramid, Papua

Perched on top of Oceania’s tallest mountain and one of the world’s seven summits, Indonesia’s only tropical glacier is not be easy to visit. Jayawijaya, or Cartenz Mountain, has been a mountain adventurers’ holy grail, with the Carstensz Pyramid an unmissable highlight. The area features a stunning rock formation and several lakes that sometimes appear to be floating above the clouds. If you want to see snow at the equator, you’ll have to reserve a lot of stamina and free up two whole weeks for the expedition (excluding travel to and from the mountain), and at least $3,000.

Carstensz Pyramid, Tembagapura, Mimika Regency, Papua, Indonesia

Breueh Island, Aceh

Sabang is the westernmost city of Indonesia. Further to the northwest is Breueh Island, one of the most beautiful and remote islands in the region. To reach it you’ll have to find a fisherman on a nearby island who doesn’t mind taking extra passengers, as there’s no ferry or organized boat operators there.

Breueh Island, Aceh Besar Regency, Aceh, Indonesia

Lake Kaco, Jambi

This mystical lake has become somewhat like a fairy-tale, as not many tourists are prepared to traverse 500 kilometers of jungle between the lake and the nearest town, Jambi. The road trip takes at least 10 hours, followed by four hours of walking through dense jungles. The luminescent lake is approximately 30 meters wide and surrounded by lush jungle. Although the opulent blue water is breathtaking, Lake Kaco is even more mystical at night, when the surface of the water reflects the moonlight like a mirror. Daring adventurers can swim in this mysterious lake, but don’t expect to see its bottom. Nobody has ever dived to the bottom.

Danau Kaco, Lempur Tengah, Kerinci Regency, Jambi, Indonesia

Siroktabe Island, North Sumatra

This remote island off the coast of Sumatra offers the ultimate survival adventure, with no facilities whatsoever — no homestays, toilet, or kitchen, let alone electricity or communication networks. Adventurers will have to rely on their own wits to find transportation to this island, whether by convincing a fisherman to take them or finding a tour operator (although there are only a couple that will go here). Don’t attempt to canoe your way to this virgin, idyllic island, though. It’s not even on Google Maps. Daredevils can enjoy the whole island and have the vast white stretch of beach for themselves.

Derawan Islands, North Kalimantan

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Free dive at Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia
Free dive at Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia | © Misbachul Munir / Shutterstock
The Derawan Islands are a 30-island archipelago off the coast of Kalimantan (Borneo). Their remote location keeps their exceptional charms from being spoilt by too many tourists. Only true adventurers will be able to endure the long and exhausting journey to this diving and coastal paradise. A trip to the Derawan Islands starts from a flight to either Tarakan or Berau in North Kalimantan. Even the flights to these two cities can be few and far between, and international tourists will have to depart from Jakarta or Singapore. From Berau, take a three-hour land journey through jungle before taking a boat to the islands. Once you get there, the sea caves, jellyfish lake, and idyllic beaches sure make the journey worth it.

Baliem Valley, Papua

The remote location and challenging landscape make a trip to Baliem Valley not only difficult but also very expensive. The flight to the nearest airport alone costs significantly more than flights to any other town in the country, and switching flights will be necessary. Baliem Valley is just an entry point to a whole other world of wonderful, mesmerizing, and largely unknown cultures of Papua. Tourists will have to hire a local guide to get through the dense forests to the villages, where indigenous tribes live.

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