Indonesia straddles the equator between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and with thousands of volcanic islands, Indonesia is the 7TH largest country in the world in terms of combined sea and land area. The archipelago is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages and has been an important center of long distance spice trade for more than one thousand years.
Join award-winning Professor Eric Tagliacozzo and only 13 others on a very special 19-day jaunt that covers three of Indonesia’s islands. On Java visit Jakarta, the capital of the country, the huge megalithic site of Gunung Padang, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Prambanan and Borobudur, the sanctuary of Penataran where intricate wall reliefs tell the Javanese version of the epic Ramayana, and Trowulan, the former capital city of the Majapahit Kingdom in the eastern part of the island. In Sulawesi climb into the mountainous area of the indigenous Toraja known for their elaborate funeral rituals and burial practices of tombs carved into cliff faces protected by life-size effigies of the dead. Then it’s on to Bali to experience their truly unique customs where inhabitants devote most of their waking hours to an endless series of offerings, purifications, processions, and a plethora of other spiritual rites celebrated in elaborate temples and in the cultural landscape. We will observe how this way of life is further proclaimed in their diverse art forms – painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performances.
Along the way, enjoy an enriching cornucopia of artistic events including dance and musical performances, dine on the various delicious Indonesian cuisines, stay in charming boutique hotels, see dazzling religious sanctuaries, relish gorgeous scenery, and learn about the many diverse ways of life of this island nation.
Depart on a flight bound for Jakarta.
Arrive Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, located on the northwest coast of Java. Overnight for three nights Four Points Sheraton in Jakarta. Gather this evening for our gala welcome dinner. (D)
Our day begins in Indonesia’s National Museum, popularly known as the Elephant Building after the imposing statue at the entrance. Exhibits include gold artifacts found in excavations, ceramics, ethnographic articles that are used in ceremonies and rituals, and what is considered the richest and the largest collection of Hindu-Buddhist art of ancient Indonesia. A highlight is the 12-foot tall statue of a 14th century king of Sumatra. Jakarta dates back to at least the 4th century when it was a Hindu settlement and port. The old section of the city, known as Kota Tua, was an integral part of the maritime trade route, and its earliest history centers on the port of Sunda Kelapa. When the Portuguese arrived in 1522, Sunda Kelapa was the harbor of the Pajajaran dynasty, the last Hindu kingdom of West Java. Within the harbor we will see the pinisi ships, old-style sailing vessels with two masts that once carried trade goods from Indonesia to Europe and Africa. At one end of the harbor is the fish market, and nearby can be seen some traditional houses, supported by stilts. We will enter the Museum Bahari, or Maritime Museum, housed in Dutch East India Company warehouses, and the Wayang Museum dedicated to puppetry. (B/L/D)
Today will be a long day as it is a four-hour drive to and from Gunung Padang, a massive and provocative megalithic site covering a hilltop and the largest site of its kind in Indonesia. Radiocarbon testing has revealed that it was built and first occupied about 4,800 years ago. The team who has been excavating here claims that ground penetrating radar indicates that the mound covers a massive underground pyramid. Whatever the reality, this enigmatic complex is impressive. Accessed by 400 successive andesite steps, a series of five terraces is supported by retaining walls made of huge basaltic, columnar pillars stacked horizontally. Each platform contains rectangular stone enclosures with inner partitions, walkways and gate entrances. In the afternoon return to Jakarta. Dinner is on our own to find one of Jakarta’s fine restaurants. (B/L)
Transfer to the airport for our flight to Yogyakarta. In the afternoon, visit Sewu Temple, the second largest Buddhist Temple complex on Java and the largest in the Prambanan Plain region. It predates Prambanan by over 70 years and Borobudur by about 37 years. Built on a north-south and east-west central axis, entrances were placed on all four cardinal points. The glorious central temple of Mahadeva, dedicated to Shiva, is enclosed by four rings of 250 smaller sanctuaries. This mandala represents a schematic visual representation of the universe in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Nearby Prambanan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in the 10th century and is the largest sanctuary compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Designed as three concentric squares, there are 224 temples in the huge complex, and three are dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma) and are decorated with carved reliefs illustrating the epic of the Ramayana. Overnight for two nights in The Sofitel Phoenix, an iconic Dutch colonial-era hotel located in the heart of the city of Yogyakarta. (B/L/D)
We will get up very early this morning to watch the sun rise over Borobudur, the largest single Buddhist temple in the world. Dating from the 8th and 9th centuries and another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this magnificent, massive sanctuary is built in a series of layers. The top three tiers contain open hallways embellished with carved bas-reliefs illustrating the different phases of the soul’s progression towards redemption and episodes from the life of Buddha. If stretched end-to-end, these carved panels would be almost three miles long! And the circular terraces are further decorated with no fewer than 72 openwork stupas each containing a statue of Buddha. Batik is an Indonesian technique of wax-resist dyeing that originated on Java, and on our drive back to Yogyakarta we will stop to see this tinting process. This evening, delight in Wayang Kulit, a form of puppet-shadow play, along with Javanese Gamelan, a large percussion ensemble. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Early this morning, we will climb aboard an air-conditioned train to ride through beautiful countryside from Yogyakarta to Blitar in eastern Java. In the afternoon, visit Penataran, dedicated to the god Shiva and the largest Hindu temple in East Java. The well-preserved sanctuary is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List due to the intricate stone carvings that decorate the temple walls and terrace foundations with scenes of daily life and stories of the god Vishnu. The lovely reliefs also tell the Rama story in the Javanese version of the epic Ramayana. Overnight for one night in the Hotel Tugu, housed in an elegant 19th century colonial mansion. (B/L/D)
Today we drive to Surabaya. Along the way, stop to see the remains of Trowulan, the former capital city of the Majapahit Kingdom during the Classical Age, spectacularly sited at the foot of three mountains. With wealth based on control of the spice trade and the bountiful rice-growing plains of Java, Trowulan was once the center of one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. Analysis of the city has shown a tolerance of religious practices with an amalgam of Hinduism and Buddhism. Koranic burial inscriptions found here suggest that Javanese Muslims resided within the royal court. The empire came to a cataclysmic end in 1478 when the city was conquered by the Islamized Demak Sultanate from the northern coast of Java, forcing the Majapahit aristocracy to flee to Bali and opening Java to the Muslim conquest. In the Trowulan Museum are splendid examples of Majapahit sculpture. Continue to Surabaya where we will board our evening flight to Makassar in South Sulawesi. Overnight in the stylish 4-star Melia Hotel. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Our morning flight takes us to Palopo. We then drive through wonderful scenery to the area of the Toraja, ethnic groups indigenous to this mountainous region of South Sulawesi. In Toraja society, the funeral ritual is the most elaborate and costly event. The richer and more powerful the individual, the more expensive is the funeral. After the weeks-long ceremonies, the bodies are buried in a stone grave carved out of a rocky bluff or hung by ropes along the precipice. After lunch drive to Lemo where rows of carved wooden life-size effigies of the dead, called Tau Tau, guard tombs cut into the cliff face. Then we move on to Ke’te Ke’su, one of the oldest and most complete Torajan villages in the highlands. Here, we will see two rows of massive peaked-roof ancestral houses, called Tongkonan, as well as traditional rice barns with lively wood carved gables and outside walls. A local Christian priest will join us to give an insight into how the Christian religion handles the ancient animist beliefs of the Torajans who also consider themselves to be Christians. Overnight in the Toraja Heritage Hotel for two nights. (B/L/D)
After driving to Kandora village, we will walk through the Torajan countryside and local villages where we can witness people going about their everyday life. We will learn about the ancient Torajan customs for babies who die before they grow any teeth at the small site of Kote, and see how commoners were buried alongside the coffins of noblemen at the burial cave of Tampangallo. We will also visit the cliff graves of the Kings of Sangalla, and in Suaya we will meet a descendent of one of the Royal Toraja families and take pleasure in a coffee break in his family’s house compound, picturesquely positioned among rice barns bedecked with colorful woodcarvings. (B/L/D)
Early this morning we begin the journey down the mountains. Upon arrival in Sengkang, board a vessel to cruise the Walanae River to Lake Tempe. Along the way, watch the daily activities of people living in stilt houses over the river, and glide slowly through green fields of water hyacinths with hundreds of various birds flying overhead before reaching the floating houses in the middle of the lake. We will have a chance to catch the sunset over beautiful Lake Tempe. Return to Sengkang and overnight in the simple Hotel BBC Sengkang. NOTE: Be prepared! This will be the most modest hotel of the trip. (B/L/D)
We begin with a visit to the home of a silk weaver to observe the traditional way of silk spinning, dying and weaving high quality fabrics with ancient motifs of the Buginese, the dominant ethnic group of Sulawesi. Continue on to Rammang-Rammang, a region of dramatic limestone cliffs, and Leang-Leang Historic Park, a karst landscape filled with caves, some displaying prehistoric art including red and white handprints that are thousands of years old. In the evening, fly to the island of Bali. Overnight for six nights at the Komaneka Rasa Sayang Hotel in the center of Ubud. Dinner is not included tonight. (B/L)
Drive to Batubulan Village to witness the Barong Dance, a ritual performance pitting the evil witch Rangda against the good lion Barong. It ends with the young men of the village going into trance and trying to kill themselves with a kris (wavy-bladed sword). This is the classic example of the Balinese way of acting out mythology, resulting in myth and history being blended into one reality. The masks used in the dance are considered sacred items, and before they are brought out, a priest must bless them by sprinkling them with holy water taken from Mount Agung, or Mount Divine, the abode of the gods and the goddesses. We return to Ubud with the rest of the day free to enjoy the hotel and the town. (B/ /D)
Begin today with a drive to Mengwi, long associated with the Balinese royal family, and home to the superb Royal Water Temple at Pura Taman Ayun, the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. Built in 1634 by the founder of the Mengwi kingdom, a powerful kingdom in central Bali until 1891, the temple is famous for its exquisite wooden merus, or pagoda-like shrines. The sanctuary’s interior walls are decorated with captivating carvings. Set in lush tropical rain forest in western Bali, Luhur Batukaru is one of the largest Hindu temples in Bali and a unique sacred mountain sanctuary and royal temple. Majestically situated on the slopes of Mount Batukaru and built to venerate deities of mountains and lake, this is an especially sacred site, even by Balinese standards. It is one of Bali’s key directional temples (west) and a major pilgrimage site. Bali’s UNESCO World Heritage Property is the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy. Throughout Bali’s countryside, temples are the centerpiece of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, dating back to the 9th century. The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature and has shaped the landscape of Bali. Throughout our time on Bali, we will be consistently engulfed in the complexity of this water organization and experience this society’s fundamental belief in the spiritual world and the importance of its balance with the physical world. In the afternoon, we will pass through Jatiluwih Rice Field Terraces, one of the most beautiful areas of Bali. (B/L/D)
Our all-day journey takes us through breathtaking scenery as we climb to the ‘Twin Lakes’ region and Lake Bratan which supplies fresh water to the majority of the rice irrigation system of Bali. Built in 1663, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, a temple built along the rim of the crater, belongs to the supreme water goddess, Dewi Danu. Hindu Balinese, who call their religion Agama Tirta, or ‘Religion of Water’, believe that she makes the water flow into the rivers and irrigation systems. While in Kintamani, we will stop in the new Batur GeoPark Museum, showcasing the geological history of Mount Batur, one of the two active volcanoes on Bali. On our way back to Ubud, stop at Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, a collection of caves carved by the Buddhist people of Bali around the time that Buddhism and Hinduism were both practiced on the island. According to inscriptions found on the walls, the caves were created in the 11th century, but it lay undetected for centuries before it was rediscovered in 1923 by a team of Dutch archaeologists. Excavations carried out in 1954 unearthed bathing places in front of the cave with six female figures, representing. nymphs or goddesses holding water spouts. While here, it would be unusual not to see some kind of Balinese ceremony as it is a popular spot and people bring offerings every day. (B/L)
The Balinese celebrate life through ceremony and daily rituals that permeate every aspect of life and is proclaimed in their diverse and sophisticated art forms – painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. Begin today in Mas, a village known for its wood carving traditions and where we meet with a famous Balinese mask dancer and mask maker. Known as gamelan, the Balinese percussion orchestra is highly developed and varied, and we will join renowned specialist, Dr. I Wayan Dibia, for a demonstration and fascinating dance performance. No ceremony on Bali is considered to be complete without the presence of holy water. It can be obtained from several sources – streams, natural springs, lakes or the sea (segara). Sea temples, or Pura Segara, are built on beaches to house the god of the sea. We will view one of the segara temples at Padang Galak Beach. Dinner is on our own this evening. (B/L)
Today we view the stunning Kerta Gosa Pavilion, the Hall of Justice, one of the best-preserved parts of Klungkung Palace. Erected in the 18th century, it is an excellent example of Balinese architecture surrounded by a moat that creates the image that it’s floating on water. The interior ceilings are lavishly painted with brilliant mythological scenes including the story of the sacrifice of the hero Sutasoma. Continue to the village of Tenganan, dating back to at least the 11th century, known for its gringsing, or double-ikat, weaving, practiced in only two other places in the world. Gringsing weavers use natural dyes painstakingly made from products collected from the forest and we will view the results. Located high on the slopes of Mt. Agung, Pura Besakih, known as the ‘Mother Temple’, is the largest and most important temple on Bali. It is actually a complex made up of twenty-two sanctuaries that sit on parallel ridges aligned along a single axis and designed to lead the spiritual upward and closer to the sacred mountain. A volcanic flow in 1963 came within feet of destroying the temple and the fact that it remained intact is regarded by the Balinese people as miraculous. (B/L/D)
Morning free. Afternoon flight home. (B)
Arrive back home.
Price is based on double occupancy and includes:
Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.
Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.
As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.
Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.
A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.
International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for 2 miles or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging as much as 5 miles of walking per day. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 60 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking several miles every day, ideally including stairs and hills. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.
This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. At times we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will not be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.