Natural & Cultural Wonders of Indonesia Vacation: Borneo, Bali, Komodo Islands

A 12 day trip to Bali / Indonesia 
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Escape the mundane for the adventure of a lifetime set in the verdant trees, rice paddy fields, and white-sand beaches of Borneo, Bali, and the Komodo Islands. Your custom-tailored Bali vacation tour embarks on an unforgettable journey in search of wild orangutans and komodo dragons. Wander along private plantations to find thriving coffee and clove plants. Witness the staggering terraces of the Balinese countryside shimmering with bright greenery. Distinctive proboscis monkeys leap across the treetops and dancers tell tales of historical heroes using only their movements. Uncover the splendors of nature and the elegance of history around Indonesia’s islands. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Tanjung Puting National Park, Komodo National Park, Ubud, Kintamani, Nusa Dua, Uluwatu and Jimbaran

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Tanjung Puting – The Beginnings of an Eco-Adventure

From the plane, you can look down and see the snaking figure of the Sekonyer River rushing against the edges of the city of Pangkalan Bun. Homes rise out of the banks on stilts accounting for the rising waters during months of tropical rain. A boardwalk runs along the banks, allowing visitors and locals to enjoy views of the rushing river and life alongside the water. Colorful boats use the current to speed across town, and larger vessels transport goods downstream. Your private transfer meets you upon your flight's arrival at Iskandar Airport. The tropical warmth greets you outside the airport doors, set amidst the bustling city.

You venture to the Kumai Harbor with a quick introduction into the thriving river life circulating along the riverbank. Canoes and large fishing boats moor in the harbor, highlighting the importance of river life to central Borneo. You board a comfortable klotok, a traditional Indonesian riverboat consisting of a shallow draft measuring an average of 33 feet long. You follow the waters of a small tributary connected to the Kumai River. The bustling movement of the harbor fades to serene jungle surroundings. The scent of freshwater blends with the aroma of fresh wood drifting upwards from the boat.

The skipper explains there are over 230 types of birds in the Tanjung Putting National Park, an area encompassing more than 1,600 square miles. You can hear the echoing twitter of colorful kingfisher roaming the riverbanks. The skipper points to a false gharial basking in the sunlight on the shoreline. The freshwater crocodile can grow to nearly 13 feet long. The journey up the winding tributary feels like something out of an adventure book. You arrive at the stunning eco-friendly lodge and settle into the comforts of your room overlooking the gentle flow of the Sekonyer River.   

What’s Included: airport transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 2: Tanjung Puting – In the Presence of the Wilds 

At sunrise, the wilds of the surrounding jungle return to life, filling the canopy with calls of proboscis monkeys and twittering flycatchers. The scent of Indonesian coffee fills the air at breakfast, refreshing your senses and reminding you of the adventures to come. You step aboard the riverboat bound for Camp Leakey Research Station. The river narrows, causing the canopy to dangle thick branches and lush leaves over the boat. You brush away the foliage feeling the waxy texture of the leaves on your skin. You notice a rhinoceros hornbill perching on an upper branch. Their beak and crowning horn contain colors similar to the sunset contrasting their muddled black foliage. The boat moors at the edge of Camp Leakey, located beneath the 100-foot tall forest canopy. The camp was erected in the early 1970s as an orangutan rehabilitation center.

Today the camp serves the research efforts of scientists and students moving beyond the preservation of only orangutans. Your guide introduces you to the camp, along with the resident rehabilitating orangutans. At two in the afternoon, your guide pulls out a bundle of bananas and buckets of milk to feed the orangutans. Seeing one of the largest apes up close is an unforgettable, breathtaking experience. The orange hair rustles with each of the orangutan’s movement. Their large hands and feet have nearly equal dexterity. Your guide reminds you that, even though the orangutans can be gentle giants with captivating charm, they are still wild animals in need of rehabilitation before being returned to their home in the jungle.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Tanjung Puting – Enchantment of the Jungle Surrounds

In the morning, the sounds of the jungle continue, filling with the calls of hornbills and rambunctious chatter of long tail macaques. Agile gibbons rustle the branches as they swing from tree to tree. After breakfast, you venture to the Pondok Tanggui Orangutan Rehabilitation Center to witness the community of or greater apes nearly ready to return to the wild, along with the rare proboscis monkey, which are found only in Borneo. Trails around the center lead you along the lowland swamps and beneath blossoming orchids. The vibrant pink, white, and light purple petals contrast the jade and emerald leaves protruding from the canopy. Sunlight pierces the treetops in streaks reaching down to the jungle floor.

A troop of proboscis monkeys lingers in the trees. You stop to view their unique features. Males grow up to 30 inches in height and can weigh up to 50 pounds. They are known for their large noses and cream-colored coats. As the day progresses, the monkeys grow more tired in the warm tropical air. They move less and laze in the protection of the shady trees more. Crocodiles linger near the banks of the swampland and sunbirds zip through the sky perching from one thin strand of underbrush to the next. Their iridescent blue plumage glows in the wisps of jungle light.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Tanjung Harapan – Beyond the Jungle Buffer Zone

In the morning, the air cools allowing the animals to move freely without the hindrance of the jungle humidity and heat. Before sunrise, the elusive pangolin wanders through the underbrush in search of ants and termites. The unique animals have a hardened outer shell with overlapping plates resembling large scales. During the day, they burrow into the ground or reside in hollowed out trees once ripe with their preferred dietary treats. After breakfast, you make you way further into the reaches of the national park, this time visiting the final outpost of orangutan conservation in Borneo at Tanjung Harapan. The post was the first of the conservation centers and acts as the beginning of the buffer zone between the national park and civilization.

Your guide leads you along the trails searching for the distinctive sounds of orangutans in the wild. Beneath the calls of colorful kingfishers, you can hear rustling in the leaves. Your guide points into the trees before a hollowed out coconut falls from the canopy. You can see the rich orange coat of the orangutan lazing on a comfortable spot between trunk and branch. You can’t help but stare, conscious of how fast your heart is racing after finding a great ape lounging in the wild. The orangutan continues to nibble at the flesh of the other half of a coconut before dropping its shell to the jungle floor.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: Nusa Dua – In Balinese Paradise

At breakfast, the exotic aromas of the jungle return in the form of fresh coconuts at breakfast accompanied by the scent of rich Javanese coffee. Your private transfer meets you at the hotel when ready and escorts you to the airport for your brief flight to Bali. Nusa Dua is a relaxing combination of Balinese culture and international luxury. The plane lands at Ngurah Rai Airport, where your private transfer greets you at baggage claim. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to indulge in the soft white sand beaches and indigo waters of the Indian Ocean or wander along the shopping gallery and cafés lining the welcoming streets.

For an introduction to Nusa Dua and Bali, you venture south along the promenade to Gegar Beach. The bluff overlooks the water with an adorning café and temple. The small but gorgeous structure stands beneath the twisting branches of old trees. The scent of freshly brewed coffee emanates from the café blending with the scented sea breeze. You can see the local fishermen head out beyond the reef break in traditional wooden boats. The colorful paint decorating the vessels are meant to appease the gods, bring the fishermen luck, and have the bonus of being visible from long distances. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Nusa Dua – Stepping Inside the Culture

The soothing rhythm of the waves lapping against the white and gold sand shores of Nusa Dua have replaced the distinctive morning sounds of the jungle. Fishermen once again set out in their colorful boats in search of the perfect catch and surfers venture past the reef break along Nusa Dua Beach to find the perfect wave. After breakfast, you begin you cultural exploration of Bali with the famous Barong and Kris Dance. The performance adds formal expression to the mythology of the good versus evil. The lion-like spirit of Barong battles the demon queen.

The bright red mask and golden decoration of the lion add to the mystical qualities of the movement. Rangda, the evil spirit, takes the shape of a large dog. The two figures reflect on the nature of good and evil in human action as they dance around one another. The performance dates back to the 10th century and continues to represent the Balinese tradition of storytelling through dance. You venture deeper into the captivating tales of the community with a visit to Mas, the heart of the island’s woodwork.

The art promotes the collaboration between humanism and naturalism, with an emphasis on understanding the wonders of nature. A monumental statue of a baby represents the beginning of Mas Village, in which locals have supported a shift from agricultural work to celebrated craftsmen. An open workshop allows you to view a woodcarver diligently crafting a stunning larger piece resembling the twisting vines of a banyan tree. The artist welcomes you into the workshop eagerly explaining the type of bau wood he uses, along with the inspiration gathered from folklore, legend, and religion. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 7: Ubud – A Day in the Mountains

In the morning, you find the sweet aroma of pineapple and rambutan filling the dining room at breakfast. The golden sheen of the beach returns with the spreading sunlight. Your guide meets you in the hotel lobby ready to lead you away from the beaches of southern Bali and on tailored Bali tours to the hills at the island’s center. The casual gradient leads you along the Jati Luwih rice field. The sweeping emerald hues of the plain lead to sporadic soaring coconut palms and thatched roof houses rising. The fields are visibly segmented, showing the boundaries between farms. You reach the shores of Lake Bratan to find the stunning figure of Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, a 17th-century construction dedicated to the goddess of the waters.

The thatched roof multi-tiered shrine reflects in the tranquil lake water with the mountains fulfilling the picturesque backdrop. Local couples paddle along the water inside swan-shaped pedal boats, traversing the outer ring of the temple. You continue into the hills to view Gitgit Waterfall, an 115-foot cascade rushing between the remarkably lush trees. The water splashes down into the waiting pool, adding a beckoning clap through the air. Monkeys linger in the surrounding trees watching passersby enjoy the misty and majestic beauty of the water beading down onto the smoothed boulders before filtering into the pool.   

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 8: Ubud – Taking to the Trails

Today you step out onto the trails surrounding the enchanting cultural town of Ubud to connect with the landscape and locals. Mount a bike and follow your guide along the meandering tracks taking you alongside and beyond the rice fields in the countryside. Pass through villages with frangipani trees decorating the roadside with blossoming pink and white flowers. Kids kick soccer balls against the outside walls of their homes beneath the overhanging thatched rooftops. The rice fields open to distinctive plantations in which locals grow cloves, coffee, and cocoa. The scents of the crops provide a semi-sweet and spiced aroma to the air.

You have a personal view of the traditional irrigation system known as subak, which was developed in the 9th century. The terraces allow for the water to reach crop roots, along with helping create the complex artificial ecosystem in which the crops can thrive. The network encompasses nearly 50,000 acres set across five terraced rice fields. After returning to Ubud, you venture to the Elephant Cave known locally as Goa Gajah. The temple contains elaborate reliefs carved into the rock, which includes the watchful eyes of a guardian situated above the cave entrance. The menacing creatures on display date back to at least the 11th century. The intricate details of each carving, along with the featured statues in the Bathing Temple, create an impressive atmosphere. The scent of burning incense drifts out of the cave and adds to the unique ambiance of the temple complex.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 9: Ubud – Learning the Movements

Ubud maintains a deep connection to the culture and traditions of Bali, evident in the wealth of temples and captivating artwork filling the Sukawati Art Market. After breakfast, the first half of the day is yours to embrace the splendor of Ubud at your leisure, exploring the beautiful displays of the handcrafted works in the marketplace or by discovering the temples hidden within the trees of the Sacred Monkey Forest. For a distinctively Balinese experience, you venture to a celebrated dance studio to learn the specific steps of traditional cultural dances, each important to the heritage of their role in telling particular stories.

The studio brings the community and visitors together for a better understanding of the island culture and Ubud’s importance in cultural preservation. Your instructor opens up the space inside the studio, offering a warm familial introduction. You learn the importance of each movement, not only for its beauty but for its ability to add to the story the dance tells. Your instructor first teaches you the steps before helping position your arms and hands. You first learn the Agem, the basic posture of the dancer that doesn’t alter between movements. You then learn the way to transition from one posture to an adjoining movement. Lastly, you learn the Tangkep, which determines the depth of the dance, otherwise known as its soul.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Labuan Bajo – Paradise in Flores

In the morning, the artists and craftsmen with stalls around the art market open their shops to showcase the stunning depictions of culture and daily life around Bali. Sweeping brush strokes help capture the beauty of the rice fields and intricate details of the stone sculptures decorating the temples. After breakfast, you venture to the airport for an easy flight to the neighboring island of Flores, landing at Komodo Airport. The lush landscape overtakes the view, bordering the runway and leading to the rolling mountains in the near distance.

Your private transfer meets you at baggage claim before leading you to a luxurious hotel overlooking the white-sand shores of Labuan Bajo. The infinity swimming pool trickles in the shade cast by the rustling palms. Island mountains freckle your view rising sporadically off the coast. Cafes and restaurants line the main street filling the town with aromas of rich coffee, sweet pastries, and freshly cooked seafood caught that morning.  You easily settle into the serene charm of the town, watching small sailboats glide along the quiet water, and fishermen bring mounds of fish to the market.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 11: Komodo National Park – In Search of Elusive Dragons

In the morning, diving boats set out from the marina with eager scuba enthusiasts ready to break the ocean’s surface in search of sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles. After breakfast, you step aboard a boat bound for Komodo National Park, keen on breaking open the trails of Komodo Island in search of the eponymous dragon. During the boat ride, the ocean breeze brushes through your hair. The boat passes into the expanse of Komodo National Park, which encompasses more than 700 square miles. A dolphin arches out of the water and splashes back down while playing with the rest of the pod.

The boat docks at the wood pier on Komodo. The gold sand leads to dense forest and the textured ridges of the bordering hills. A small indigenous village borders the waterway. You wander past the ranger station to follow the trail. A sign carved out of a local wood says “Keep Silent” in regards to the dragon’s sensitive hearing. The canopy traps the warm air. The forest trees clear and you discover a dragon lounging in the speckles of light piercing the treetops. The male weighs an average of 200 pounds and can accelerate up to speeds of 18 miles per hour.  Your heart pounds with excitement, as there is nothing like the thrill of discovering an animal in its natural habitat. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 12: Labuan Bajo – Unforgettable Indonesia

Outside of Labuan Bajo stands Rangko Cave. Crystal clear saltwater fills a pool magnifying the colorful pink and blue stones. The sunlight shines directly into the cave around noon, bouncing off the water for a colorful, radiant effect. The splendors around the island of Flores and the rest of Indonesia have captivated you, with each island offering a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural charm. At breakfast, you bask in the familiar aromas of the sea breeze and freshly roasted coffee beans sourced in Indonesia. When you are ready, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to Komodo Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, airport transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$2,395
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.