My friend and I are looking to travel Indonesia from 5-21 September. The things we definitely want to do is see the orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park (TPNP) and the Komodo dragons in Komodo National Park. Hopefully we can also squeeze in some beach time, culture and Kelimutu into our trip. I'm having trouble trying to connect the dots in this itinerary. I have a lot of questions below, but from your past experiences if you can answer even a few then that would be great.
Our first stop is Jakarta and we will be keen to jump straight to TPNP. Should we fly or take the ferry? I am struggling to find flight/ferry timings online. Do we just land in Jakarta and then check at the airport for prices/availability? Is it easy to catch a flight/ferry? Once in TPNP, is it simple to book say a 3 day tour/hire a boat from there or should we book a tour now?
Is it possible to fly from TPNP to an airport near Kelimutu crater lakes? We would like to travel overland towards the west coast of Nusa Tenggara Timur and then take a boat trip to around for a few days to see the Komodo dragons. Any places we should visit on the way? Also, any tips on picking up a boat tour?
We'd like to finish off with a couple of days (time permitting) on a nice beach and then fly off to Jakarta. Where would you suggest is best after the boat tour?
Sorry about the numerous questions..I'm off to try and answer some of them by doing some more research and picking up a guidebook tomorrow but please do chip in with your thoughts guys. I could do with them!
I would suggest you are trying to do far too much in too short a period - and if you haven't already, I would suggest that you check out a map of Indonesia - the places that you are trying to are going to require some serious travel!
TPNP is in Kalimantan by the looks of it (just did a quick google check to confirm).
Komodo dragons are off of Flores
Kelimutu Lakes are on Flores.
I haven't been to Kalimantan so can't offer any help there. You would want to fly from Java to Kalimantan - forget about a ferry. I doubt that that there are any flights from Kalimantan to Flores from there so you will probably have to go via Bali or Java.
I have been in Flores, however (about 2 years ago). You can easily arrange live-aboard boat trips from Bali to the Komodo dragons - I think these are usually 3-4 day trips. Alternatively fly into Lombok and organise a cruise from there. The boat trips are supposed to be quite good (snorkelling, etc) - but DO check out your boat company well first. Safety can be a big concern around these areas.
In terms of getting to the Kelimutu Lakes, you will need to fly into Maumere and travel for a day to get there. Alternatively, you could jump off the Komodo boat in Labuanbaju, then travel overland from LBJ to Moni (to the lakes) over a 2-3 day period (but I would suggest taking longer, like 4-5 days). This is a great trip to do, but public transport will be frustratingly slow and uncomfortable. If your budget extends to it, consider hiring a driver and car. They will stop to see interesting things along the way and the car is a far more comfortable option. And it will be less phaffing around if you are on a time-budget.
I think there is a smalll airport near Moni (by the lakes) but it was no longer operating be memory when I was there. It would pay to check it out if that is what you were thinking.
My suggestion overall: forget Kalimantan. Fly into Bali, then fly from there to Maumere. Spend 5-6 days (minimum!) going overland from Maumere to Labuanbaju (stopping at Moni, Kelimutu, Bajawa, Runteng, etc) along the way).
Once in LBJ, you can organise a liveaboard boat trip back to Lombok, stopping at Komodo or Rinca islands for the komodos. Alternatively, just organise a daytrip from LBJ to see the dragons - then fly back to Bali from there. (They are definitely worth it, by the way!)
NOTE: Flights to Flores are limited so it would pay to book them ahead of time. We had to wait 4 days before we could get a flight out from LBJ.. had to kill time on Kanawa Island while we waited.
Hope that helps rather than confuses things.
If I wanted to see Orangutans and Kelimutu in one trip, I'd recommend this itinerary. Head from Jakarta to Medan by plane. There are heaps. Then get a bus out to Bukit Lawang. It'd be a whole day of travelling, but the next morning you could see orangutans in the wild or at the feeding station. And Bukit Lawang is a brilliant place to hang around. Stay there are few days and then head back to Jak. Then from Jak catch a plane to the east... Not sure if there are direct flights to Flores from Jak, but whatever the case, try and fly into Maumere as it's not too far from Kelimutu. Then I'd hightail it in a car across Flores for a full day until I got to Labuanbajo where I'd stay overnight and decide how I was going to do Komodo. I'd suggest going and staying on one of the islands out in the ocean there. Absolutely magic beaches/coral. Almost deserted etc... And I'd get a boat for a daytrip to Komodo from there. Then I'd try and find my way back by plane from Labuanbajo to Jak. My experience with Flores is that the flights were a bit iffy. Yeah, they go regularly, but Flores is starting to get a little remote as far as Indo planes go and flights are hard to book in advance unless you're in Indo.
So there you have it. 2 weeks is pushing it to see orangutans and go to Kelimutu in one trip. It's doable, but you'd have to just hope that everything works out with all the flights you'd have to take. Maybe 6 internal flights, a few long days on the road. Lots of travel and not much sightseeing.