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Bali, Sulawesi, Gili Air and Flores - best route and travel help please

  • breatheagain

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2011
    Posts: 29

    I plan to go from Bali to Sulawesi then on to Gili Air and on to Flores. Would I fly from Bali to Sulaweisi? How would I get from Sulaweisi to Gili Air - would I have to go back to Bali and get a boat? Is this even the best route to see all four? Any help would be appreciated - thank you

    #1 Posted: 8/2/2014 - 02:52

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  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2084
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    It would be helpful to know more about you plans for Sulawesi and Flores . In Sulawesi, are you planning on just going from Makassar to Rantepao, or are you going overland through to Manado? Likewise with Flore - are you just staying at the western end to see Komodo, are you going overland to/from Labuanbajo to Maumere? How long do you have - if time is tight you will need to fly. If you have time on your side but cost is an issue, then there are Pelni boats, etc which will take longer.

    I use Skyscanner and Air Asia sites to determine where the direct flights are available to/from. Also refer to Merpati, Lion, Srijaya and Gardua websites to see what's available.

    Based on assumptions that I am making, I would suggest:

    - Fly from Bali to Makassar
    - Fly from Makassar to Lombok (I think Garuda does a direct flight), then get a bus/boat to Gili Air.
    - From Gili Air, you can get a speed boat back to Bali.
    - From Bali, you can then fly to Labuanbajo in FLores (or to Maumere at the central/eastern end - than back to Bali.
    - Alternatively, after Gili Air, you can investigate some of the live-aboard boat trips between Lombok and Flores, then fly from Flores back to Bali.

    I believe you can also get a Pelni ship from Makassar to Labuanbajo but you'd have to check the Pelni website to confirm this.

    But as I said, it would be helpful to know your overland intentions for Sulawesi and Flores - and use Skyscanner to see what direct flights are available.

    #2 Posted: 8/2/2014 - 06:13

  • breatheagain

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2011
    Posts: 29

    thank you for your reply busylizzie - I appreciate the work you have put in! On Sulawesi we will only go from Makasssar up to Tanah Toraja and back over a few day.

    On Flores we have changed our plans as we are not hardy travelers and the more I read it sounds too horrific for us! We will stay in that nice resort in Labuanbajo and just do a day trip to see the dragons. We get a 30% discount if we book a month ahead!

    I shall look into the pelni boats as I have not heard about them. We do not really want to go to Lombok but maybe will have to if it is convenient for getting from place to place.

    We are still in India, 3 months here, 1 month in Sri Lanka and 2 months in Indonesia - travelling through Java to Bali and as explained beforehand. Out of interest I have another question on TF, re getting from E.Java to E Bali - ferry? or go to W Bali and get a driver to the East, any advise would be appreciated.
    Its odd isnt it that it all seems so complicated before hand and afterwards you wonder what all the fuss was about!

    Kind Regards - when we come to NZ next year I will ask your advise again if I may!

    #3 Posted: 8/2/2014 - 23:02

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2084
    Total reviews: 20
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    At least 107

    If you are not hardy travellers and prefer resorts, then forget the Pelni boats! These are local passenger ships which leave a bit to be desired. But it was an option, so I mentioned it. You'll have to stick to the flights that I suggested unless you decide to take a live-aboard boat to/from LBJ.

    I saw your question about Jave -> Bali. I haven't done this for many years (20 years!) but I suspect that you won't get a ferry from East Java to East Bali. They possibly have speedboat from Gilimanuk or Pemuteran (north coast of Bali) to Amed or Padangbai, I'm just playing a guessing game on this. I'd suggest that the easiest thing to do would be to get a bus from Java that will take you all the way into Denpasar in Bali (which would include the ferry trip). They will be easy to enough to find once you get to Java. The ferry is only a 15 min car ferry if I remember correctly. (It's been 20 years.... the memory is getting rusty). At the time, I had a rental car that I had hoped to bring into Java but wasn't allowed. So we left the car in Gilimanuk (Bali), caught the ferry, and then found a bus to Mt Bromo easily enough. I'm sure the same could be done in reverse.


    Try to track down mooball by sending a Private Message to find out more - he lives (lived?) in Java and did much of the research on Bali and Java for Travelfish.

    With respect to Sulawesi, it's a long bus ride up to Tana Toraja/Rantepao - about 10 hours. So if you're only going for a day or two, you'll be spending that long again just getting there and back. There are no flights to Tana Toraja. I seriously wouldn't consider spending any less than 4 days to make it worth while - and think 5 would be better. There is plenty to see and do, and it's a nice area to explore on foot or scooter. And you'll want to give yourself recovery time from the busride. I got the night bus back from Toraja to Makassar, thinking that if I 'splashed out' on the luxury bus, I'd be able to sleep through the night. Wrong! The bus left around 9pm I think, and got into Makassar around 6am or so. The bus stopped frequently along the way, each time, turning on the full bright lights in the bus as people got off/on. I thought it was a direct bus, but I don't think that they exist in reality. The bus driver continuously sat on the horn for the entire journey. Trucks and buses passing us from the other direction honked their horns continously. I wore good ear plugs and put a blanket over my head to block out the light but it was a hopeless cause. There was no sleep to be had on this bus ride. Just so you know....

    Happy to help with NZ when you come!

    #4 Posted: 9/2/2014 - 03:55

  • breatheagain

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2011
    Posts: 29

    thank you - yes a bus and ferry from Java to Denpasar sounds a good option. Also will take your advice about staying in Tana Toraja a few days longer.

    #5 Posted: 10/2/2014 - 01:22

  • mooball

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2010
    Location Australia
    Posts: 308
    Places visited:
    At least 132

    That route is a little bit of a pain and does require some backtracking. Bali-Makassar-Bali-Gili-Bali- Flores -Bali. The other option is to go directly from Gili to Flores which is possible by boat over the course of a couple of days. Other than that, you can go overland through Lombok and Sumbawa, but that takes ages. I think you might be best flying everywhere particularly if you're not interested in going overland across Flores.

    #6 Posted: 14/2/2014 - 22:49

  • breatheagain

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2011
    Posts: 29

    Yes, all that back tracking sounds a pain - if flights are possible we will definitely do that - thank you

    #7 Posted: 17/2/2014 - 23:20

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