Journey through the dramatic countryside of Java, discovering a one of the world’s most beautiful islands and its friendly people, en route to Bali. This epic six-day tour takes you to the top sights and attractions from central to eastern Java such as Prambanan, Borobudur and Mount Bromo, where an otherworldly lunar landscape of volcanoes emerges from fields of dried-up lava. The odyssey ends in Bali, after a ferry journey across the strait dividing the two islands.
Yogyakarta: Stunning illusions and dazzling costumes bring to life ancient Javanese legends at the beguiling Purawisata Ramayana Ballet show
Kediri: Head to the Irengolo and Dolo waterfalls for fresh air, the clean and crystal clear waters and the magnificent mountain scenery
East Java: Savour kupang lontong, the region’s most popular street food, an oyster rice cake with shrimp paste sauce and the wash it down with coconut ice
Prambanan: Reconstructed ninth century Hindu temple boasting beautiful and elaborate carvings
Yogyakarta: Visit the city’s two palaces – the Sultan’s and the Water – and explore the historic Kotagede district
Borobudur: Imposing and beautiful Buddhist temple that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Solo: This green city is home to the magnificent Mangkunegaran Palace
Mount Bromo: Experience sunrise over this smouldering and growling volcanic caldera
Ijen: Trek for more than an hour to enjoy another sunrise experience over a volcanic caldera
Arrive in Yogyakarta and head straight from the airport to the magnificent Prambanan Hindu temple. This vast religious complex was erected in the middle of the ninth century and, after extensive reconstruction, is as awe-inspiring today as it was more than 1,000 years ago. Of the original group of structures, the outer compound contains the remains of 244 temples. Eight minor and eight main temples stand in the highest courtyard. The temple is decorated with beautiful and elaborate carvings, and is without doubt one of the most impressive attractions in Yogyakarta Regency. In the evening, you can follow your own programme. Examples of places to visit include the famous Malioboro Street where you can enjoy the hustle and bustle as you trawl through myriad outlets. Maybe even find souvenirs at the many vendors – but try and bargain to get the best offer! At night, this street is famed for lesehan resto, where a lot of local artists will come to you and perform their simple but lovely music.
After breakfast at the hotel, visit the Yogyakarta Sultan’s Palace, which was built in the 18th century in the grand and elegant Javanese architectural style. Known as the Kraton, it lies in the heart of the old town and was built under the orders of Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono. Afterwards, continue to the famous Taman Sari Water Castle, which also dates from the mid-18th century, and then on to the historic district of Kotagede. This a neat and picturesque area was the seat of the once mighty Mataram Kingdom. Nowadays it is famous for being the centre of a thriving silversmiths industry and its charming Javanese-Dutch colonial homes. You will have a chance do try out some silver work and to browse the silver gallery and store. Just under an hour’s drive north-west of Yogyakarta is the vast and brilliant Borobudur Buddhist temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing majestically and serenely on a hillock overlooking lush green fields and distant hills, the shrine is without doubt one of the world’s most complete collections of Buddhist bas relief carvings. Return to Yogyakarta for the evening, with the rest of the day free. Lunch included.
Drive to Solo after breakfast at the hotel. Arguably the epicentre of Javanese identity and tradition, Solo is one of the least westernised cities in the island. On arrival in Solo, visit the Mangkunegaran Palace, a classical repository of Javanese art and culture. It has numerous priceless treasures dating all the way back to the Majapahit era, more than five centuries ago. Proceed to the Sukuh ‘erotic’ temple, which is decorated with wayang stone carvings of Hindu origin. Sukuh is the only erotic temple in Java and dates from the 15th century. It appears that at some stage in history, puritan-minded vandals caused considerable damage to the temple’s erotic depictions. After this visit, continue to the city of Kediri in the Brantas valley. Lunch included.
Take to the road after breakfast at the hotel to continue your journey through Java’s multicultural past. The day’s first stop is at the Hindu temples at Panataran, which are the largest intact Majapahit Empire era temples and also the finest examples of east Javanese architecture and sculpture. Construction began in 1197, during the Singosari dynasty, with building work continuing for another 250 years. Some 30km directly north of Panataran is Gunung Kelud (1,731 metres) which is one of Java’s most active volcanoes. It is also very accessible and rewarding to visit, with a plunging crater, steaming vents and a small crater lake. Kelud is in a near-permanent state of growl. Proceed to Bromo, perhaps Java’s most famous region. Here you will encounter a lunar-like landscape of epic proportions and surreal beauty. Rising from the guts of the ancient Tengger caldera, Mount Bromo (2,392 metres) is one of the three volcanoes to have emerged from a vast crater, stretching 10km across. Flanked by the peaks of Kursi (2,581 metres) and Batok (2,440 metres), the smouldering cone of Bromo stands in a sea of ashen, volcanic sand, surrounded by towering cliffs of the crater’s edge. Afterwards, continue to your accommodation with the rest of the evening free. Lunch included.
Mount Bromo really is something else – and there is no better way to appreciate it than at the crack of dawn. It is not the mountain itself but the sheer majesty of the experience: the immense size of the entire Tengger caldera, the supernatural beauty of the scenery and the dramatic highland light. Leave the hotel very early in the morning to catch an excursion to Mount Bromo, so you can experience the dramatic moment when the sun rises and breaks over the caldera. The trip is reminiscent of an Indiana Jones adventure it and involves a pony ride crossing a sea of sand to reach the base of Mount Bromo. After the magnificent sunrise (weather permitting), return to hotel for breakfast and a shower before driving to Ijen in the far east of Java. Lunch included.
This morning also starts with an early rise to witness a spectacular sunrise over a caldera. The fabled Ijen plateau is a vast volcanic region dominated by the three cones of Ijen (2,368 metres), Merapi (2,800 metres) and Raung (3,332 metres). After driving through a landscape of rice paddies and pine forests, reach Paltuding, a beautiful wooded alpine area. These thinly populated highlands host coffee plantations and a few isolated settlements – Gunung Ijen is Javanese for ‘Lonely Mountain’. Once you have reached the edge of Ijen crater after about 90 minutes walking on a good pathway, you can rest while admiring the fantastic landscape of the caldera, the jade-coloured lake, and the deep yellow of the s ulphur springs. Return to the hotel for breakfast before heading to Ketapang port to catch the ferry to cross the Bali Strait to Gilimanuk with drop off at your selected accommodation in southern Bali (Kuta/ Nusadua/ Sanur/ Jimbaran/ Seminyak). Breakfast and lunch included.