Whether it’s a short walk through rice terraces or an overnight hike up a volcano, one of the best ways to take in Indonesia’s colourful landscape is from somewhere up high. A beautiful sunrise, colour-changing lakes and even some snow and ice, these are just some of the things the best hikes in Indonesia offer. To help you on your search as you conjure up adventure plans for the day travel resumes, here is a list of the best hikes in Indonesia with jaw-dropping views!
1. Mount Rinjani, Lombok
Rising majestically at 3,726 metres above sea level, Mount Rinjani is the second highest active volcano in Indonesia. Climbing it is not for the uninitiated or the faint-hearted, but the journey is one hell of an adventure. It requires a three to four-day climb over a rather challenging terrain. But your perseverance will be rewarded with the exquisite views of Segara Anak crater lake and of Lombok island. Not your cup of tea or pressed for time? You can do short hikes around the mountain’s base, taking you to Rinjani’s picturesque hills and waterfalls. Read more about what climbing Rinjani is like here!
2. Tumpak Sewu Waterfall, East Java
East Java is a treasure trove for nature lovers, and Tumpak Sewu is kind of the Niagara Falls of this region! It is arguably one of the most beautiful and magical waterfalls in Indonesia. The best part is that getting to the panoramic viewpoint is just a short 10-minute walk away from the parking lot. Many people will also make the hike down to get up close to the waterfall, and this is where it gets challenging. You will need to make your way across rickety wooden planks and stairs, uneven terrain, and there is also a small section of waterfall that you will need to ‘rappel’ down while holding onto some rope. This is definitely not your usual hike and you will most definitely get wet. Pro tip: Get there for sunrise for some incredible views and little to no crowds!
3. Mount Bromo, East Java
Mount Bromo is one of the most famous hikes in Indonesia, drawing in lots of domestic and foreign tourists. A Bromo hike usually involves sunrise at Mount Penanjakan with the view of Mount Bromo, followed by the actual hike to the top of Mount Bromo and its epic crater. Reaching the summit can almost be effortless. You can rent a jeep to get to the mountain’s base, continue on via a horse ride, and then embark on a short 15-minute climb on paved stairs to reach the crater. More adventurous travellers can choose to walk through the sand dunes on the mountain’s base instead to get to the stairs.
4. Mount Semeru, East Java
What did we say about East Java being a treasure trove for nature lovers? If you’d rather not deal with the crowds at Bromo but still want to go somewhere just as beautiful, then why not consider Mount Semeru? It is one of the best hikes in Indonesia but you do need to be up for a challenge. As the tallest mountain in Java, it takes two days to get to the top! And if you also want to go through its impressive natural features such as flower fields, a lake and even a savannah, then it would take three to four days. Mount Semeru is also a prominent spiritual spot, considered to be the dwelling of the gods. Think of it as the Olympus of Javanese mythology!
5. Puncak Jaya, Papua
Puncak Jaya is not just the highest mountain in Indonesia, it is also the highest peak of an island on Earth, and the highest peak in Oceania. And yes, it is also the only place in Indonesia where snow is a regular thing. So of course we have to include it as one of the best hikes in Indonesia! However, only serious and experienced mountaineers should attempt the climb. It is the most technically challenging of the 7 Summits and requires a four-day climb through dense jungle just to get to base camp. And the climb from base camp requires an additional four days round trip! Climbing Puncak Jaya also requires lots of permits, and it is necessary to go through an agency, especially if you cannot speak Bahasa.
6. Mount Kelimutu, Flores
Mount Kelimutu is home to three multi-coloured volcanic lakes and they are the crown jewels of Flores. They display their own enchanting hues, and change several times a year from a striking turquoise to pitch black. The hiking trail to Mount Kelimutu’s peak is a convenient stairway, but can still be a bit demanding due to the elevation. As the top of the mountain is often covered by a thick fog, hikers must start the hike early in order to reach the summit by sunrise. Mount Kelimutu is getting increasingly well-known, but the colourful lakes are still a sight to behold.
7. Wae Rebo Village, Flores
Wae Rebo only gets a few hundred visitors every year due to its secluded location. This beautiful village is known for its iconic Mbaru Niang houses nestled within a valley between mountains. To get here, brace yourself for a multi-day journey from Labuan Bajo. You will reach the village on the second day, but not before you conquer a challenging three to six-hour hike! Travellers will then typically spend a day or two here in one of the traditional houses with the locals, before heading back armed with new knowledge about their fascinating local culture, stories and experiences.
8. Kakaban Island, East Kalimantan
For a really sensational experience, how does swimming with (stingless) jellyfish sound? Kakaban Island is one of the two places on earth where you can do that! A large coral atoll home to gorgeous reefs and forests, the hike to the lake begins at the dock. From the end of the dock, you will go up a staircase to cross to the other side of the island. You will then pass through a dense mangrove forest before reaching the lake! As the jellyfish have no natural predators in this lake, they have evolved to lose their sting. Hop in and enjoy the underwater world!