Indonesia is a splendor of 17.508 islands stretching some 6.400 kilometers across the beautiful turquoise waters of the equator. The principal islands of Indonesia - the world's largest archipelago which are : Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Sulawesi and the enchanting island of Bali.
The national motto of "Unity in Diversity" describes the endless array of natural and cultural wonders spread from the countrie's extremes of Sumatra to West-Papua.
Indonesia offers the great visual contrasts of snow-capped mountains and shallow mangrove-filled estuaries; dry savannah plains and dense tropical rainforests; broad sandy beaches and steep rocky headlands. Rice, the mainstay of the diet, is grown on emerald terraces that cascade down from smoldering volcanoes. Through the centuries, great civilizations have blossomed in this fertile chain of islands that have contributed to creating Indonesia's unique cultural legacy.
With over 366 ethnic groups and 250 distinct languages, Indonesia is a paradise of cultural richness including colorful temple festivals in Bali, Dayak longhouses in Kalimantan, primitive groups in Irian Jaya and matriarchal societies in West-Sumatra.
Our home island Sumatra - the second largest island in Indonesia is in the fourth place in procuring total visits of foreign tourists following Jakarta, Bali and Batam. This region has a remarkable panorama, thick with virgin forests, lush vegetation, strong rivers, beautiful waterfalls, peaceful sandy beaches and large ancient lakes. The diversity of arts, people and culture literally make Sumatra a Garden of Eden for social scientists and culture seekers. Sumatra has indeed reliable nature and cultural tour objects:
Pulau Weh (Weh Island) - at the northwestern end of Sumatra - is a beautiful island of dense jungle, high hill-top views, palm-lined beaches and mysterious rocky coves. There is also a fresh water lake and a semi-active vulcano on the island. Nearby Rubiah island is famous for its excellent coral reefs and spectacular array of tropical fish. A great place for snorkeling and diving. There are several licensed diving schools on the island.
Gunung Leuser National Park
This is one of the largest national parks in the world, containing over 800.000 ha. of virgin rainforest. The park is home to the Orang Utan, gibbons, tigers, elephants and among the last of the Sumatran rhino. There are research facilities for the study of primates, birds and insects. It is possible to raft down the Sungai Alas river from Ketambe to the Indian Ocean on a 4-5 day expedition. Your journey takes you through exciting white-water rapids to the calmer, crocodile-infested waters of the low-lands.
Tangkahan is sometimes mentioned as the hidden Paradise In Sumatra. It is definitely hidden and for many a paradise. It is the perfect place to get off the beaten track, but still have access to nice food and comfortable bungalows. Tangkahan is an interesting place in many ways. Interesting for what it has to offer and an interesting background. The elephants, the jungle, and the clean rivers are obvious attractions. What makes Tangkahan different is that it is a good example on how community based eco-tourism can stop illegal logging, improve livelihood, and develop a sense of pride amongst the locals. This development on the border of Leuser National Park where the bigger river Batang Serangan meets the smaller river Sungai Musam is the hidden paradise of Tangkahan.
The Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center where formerly captive apes are re-introduced into the wild. One of the most popular tourist destinations in North-Sumatra.
One of the largest and deepest lakes in Southeast Asia. In the middle Samosir island. Toba has developed into a full-featured highland resort while retaining the rustic charm and relaxed ambiance that define Toba's attraction.
The heart of the highlands, Bukittinggi is a pleasant two-hour drive from the West-Sumatra provincial capital of Padang through the gorgeous Anai Valley up to the Agam Plateau. Located 930 meter above sea level, Bukittinggi (formerly called Fort De Kock by the Dutch) has a cool climate and is surrouned by three vulcanoes: Tandikat, Singgalang and Merapi. The central landmark is the town's clock tower, referred to by the locals as Jam Gadang. It's overlooks the market square, a beehive of activity. A fantastic place to do shopping in souvenir shops. Nearby Kota Gadang is renowned for its fine silver filigree and hand embroidery. On the outskirts of Bukittinggi there is a 150 meter deep canyon called Ngarai Sianok (Sianok Canyon).
It is an incredibly winding through the bottom of the steep-walled canyon. West Sumatrans claim it is unrivalled for natural beauty in all of Indonesia.
A crater lake, its scenery rivals Lake Toba on a smaller scale. One of West Sumatra's most famous sights. There are facilities for swimming, water skiing and a good selection of hotels and restaurants. The village of Matur, overlooking the lake, arranges dance performances on request. Another ideal place for recreation - 36 km from Bukittinggi - is Lake Singkarak, the longest in West Sumatra.
Kerinci-Seblat National Park
Home to rhino's, tigers, elephants, bears and orang-utans, the Kerinci sprawls across four provinces, making it Sumatra's largest national park. The scenery is magnificent, dominated by volcanic cones including the highest peak in Western Indonesia Mount Kerinci. Lake Kerinci is the best place to sight the park's famous bird life.