It cannot be overstated: Indonesia is one of the greatest hiking destinations in the entire world. If that comes as a surprise to you, you’ll see why that’s a legitimate statement after reading this post.
The world’s largest archipelagic country, Indonesia is blessed with a tremendous variety of landscapes. It’s one of the most biodiverse places on earth—only Brazil is more biodiverse—, home to vast tropical forests, island habitats and barren volcanoes. Indonesia’s various biotopes provide a home to high-profile animals like tigers, rhinoceros, leopards, elephants and orangutans, but also to more than 1,500 bird species and an incredible 1,650 species of coral reef fish in eastern Indonesia alone.
This is without question one of the premier destinations for nature lovers, adventure travellers and wildlife watchers. To fully enjoy this wealth of natural resources, we recommend strapping on your hiking boots, throwing some water and food in a backpack, and heading out on one of Indonesia’s numerous epic hiking trails.
1. Mount Bromo, Java
Mount Bromo is probably the most well-known volcano in Indonesia. Rising 2,329 metres toward the sky, this mountain is truly a sight to see. It’s arguably Indonesia’s most iconic mountain. Located in the otherworldly landscape of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Mount Bromo is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, regularly spewing white sulphurous smoke into the air. It’s also one of the most hiked volcanoes. The hike can be done in one (very) long day. Rise early and try to get there to watch the sunrise.
2. Mount Penanjakan, Java
While Mount Bromo captures people’s imagination, it’s nearby Mount Penanjakan that actually provides the greatest views of Bromo itself. From the summit, hikers can enjoy a phenomenal panorama that takes in Mount Bromo, Mount Semeru and the rest of this unique volcanic landscape.
3. Hundred-Mile View, Mount Rinjani
Towering 3,726 metres over Lombok, Mount Rinjani is the second-highest volcano in Indonesia. It also makes for one of the country’s greatest hiking adventures. Getting to the summit and back down is no easy feat, though. The trek lasts three to four days. Trails commence in each of the more than twenty villages surrounding the mountain, but the main access routes lie in Sembalun Lawang and Senaru. The views from the summit are phenomenal, taking in a crater lake named Segara Anak and the rest of Lombok, reaching as far as Bali.
4. Swimming with Jellyfish, Kakaban Island
This hike is completely different from all other hikes in this list. On Kakaban Island, you won’t scale an imposing mountain. Instead, you’ll hike to one of the world’s most famous lakes. On your hike, you’ll walk through tropical forests and along mangroves. Your destination is one of the world’s only lakes that are inhabited by stingless jellyfish—thousands and thousands of them. The beauty of it all is that it’s allowed to swim in the lake, too. Just take care not to jump in or make any brisk movements. The total outing duration for this hike and swim is about two hours.
5. Padar Island, Komodo National Park
Located in Komodo National Park, Padar Island is part of a collection of islands home to the famous komodo dragons. This is, however, one of the least visited islands in the region. It offers secluded and quiet hiking opportunities, rewarded by epic coastal views. Just keep your eyes peeled for the island’s native reptiles!
6. Sipiso-Piso Waterfall, Sumatra
Nature lovers and photographers are always impressed by the 120-metre-tall Sipiso-Piso Waterfall. The trail starts at the parking lot and leads 600 steps down to the fall’s bottom (and back up afterwards). Make sure to bring some swimwear as you can swim at the natural pool below the waterfall.
7. Multi-Coloured Lakes, Mount Kelimutu
Mount Kelimutu’s three multi-coloured lakes are one of Indonesia’s natural wonders. Each of the lakes has a distinct colour, which can range from blue and green to black. The colours depend on the season and other natural influences. The view of the lakes from the mountain’s summit is breathtaking, especially at sunrise. There’s a 20-kilometre trail from the bottom of the mountain, but you can also take public transport to a parking lot near the top, after which it’s thirty minutes on foot to the lakes.
8. Mount Batur, Bali
Situated in Bali, Mount Batur is another active volcano in Indonesia. Because of the amazing panoramic views of Bali and the surrounding islands, hiking Mount Batur is a great alternative to lazing the day away on the beach. The hike to the top is pretty short and the views of Lake Batur and the surrounding landscapes are phenomenal.
9. Kawah Ijen, Java
Home to the largest volcanic acidic lake in the world, Mount Ijen is a major hiking destination in Java. This one-kilometre-wide crater contains turquoise sulphur water that seems to emit blue fire in the dark. Therefore, the best time to hike to the top of this volcano is during the night. You’ll certainly be impressed by this unique natural phenomenon.
10. Mount Merbabu, Java
With a name that can be translated liberally as “Mountain of Ash”, Mount Merbabu is an extinct volcano. That doesn’t mean hiking it isn’t a challenge, though. The trek to the summit and back easily takes more than 12 hours. Many hikers start the climb in the middle of the night in order to be at the top at sunrise. You can also choose to camp at the summit, making it a two-day hike.