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Indonesia forum

Indonesia Itinerary

Posted by djkeith on 6/11/2013 at 13:47

Hey all,

Travelfish was great for me on my last trip around S.E Asia and now I'm looking for some advice about a rough travel itinerary for indonesia.

I'm looking to travel round the south pacific and this includes Indonesia. I'd be looking to hopefully start in Sumatra and finish in Jayapura where I'd hope to cross into PNG. Time wise would be roughly two months and I'd like to avoid planes as I'm going to try and get as far as possible from London without flying (hence a lot of planning!). This seems possible in Indonesia due to the ferry service. I'm not really interested in heavily tourist areas, I'd like to go places a little off the beaten track, but not totally wild. I would like to take in Maluku during the course of this trip and any islands where world war 2 sites can still be seen. Snorkling is not really my thing, but chilling on a beach at some point will be required.

Essentially I'm happy to listen to anyone and everyone that has travelled the region. Would love to hear what experiences people had that they tell recommend to others to see and do.

Thanks in advance for your help.

#1 djkeith has been a member since 28/11/2011. Posts: 13

Posted by somtam2000 on 8/11/2013 at 01:09 admin

Welcome back :-)

Two months top to tail without flying, while possible, is probably going to give you a deep insight into Indonesia's public transport!

I've not been to Sumatra but a while back when I suggested spending a month covering it from west to east, someone very familiar with it scoffed at the suggestion -- See the comment by Alex here.

Across Java, a typical route would be Jakarta (perhaps with an aside to Bogor) to Yogyakarta to Bromo to Bali. We've a sample Java itinerary here that might be of use.

Bali - can be skipped through quickly if not really your scene, but it would be a mistake to write it off as all touristed. Munduk and Medewi are two western good spots and Sidemen in the east also good.

Lombok if you skip the Gili Islands there is a volcano to climb -- be a good way to stretch those legs after being crammed on a bus!

Next stop is Sumbawa -- I've only flown over it sorry.

Then Flores -- Flores is fabulous - start at Labuan Bajo and take the trans flores "highway" across.

For Maluku etc -- see the East Indonesia site run by Lazlo also see the Indonesia section of Theodora's website here - she got as far as West Timor by motorbike...

Last but not least: Pelni's timetable!


#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,933
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Posted by djkeith on 8/11/2013 at 12:35

Thanks somtam2000

Looks like that will be loads of help, so thank you!

#3 djkeith has been a member since 28/11/2011. Posts: 13

Posted by SBE on 10/11/2013 at 08:59

I think it will be nigh on impossible to do all you're planning in 2 months if you rely solely on ferries and ground transport.

Pelni ships often only do the route you want once a fortnight so maybe look at the Pelni schedule first and try and work around that. In fact I usually go to the most remote place first because you never know how long it's going to take to get back to somewhere with better transport options. If it were me I'd start in Papua and work towards Sumatra.

The Pelni website usually doesn't show schedules more than a month or so in advance but ships very often leave ports on the same day of the week (eg every second Monday) so you can extrapolate and make a reasonable guess. They're usually at least several hours behind schedule but on rare occasions can leave a couple of hours early too. If you miss a ferry you may have to wait 2 weeks for the next one so you need to be at the port several hours before it's due to leave and also prepared to hang around waiting for a day if it's behind schedule. Sometimes they're even several days late. Pelni ships carry thousands of passengers and it's quite challenging getting on and off with swarms porters pushing and shoving everyone out of the way. Beware of pickpockets in the crush. Probably best to get a cabin the first time at least so you don't need to rush on board with the ekonomi passengers. When Pelni ships are really about to leave they do 3 horn blasts... you can wait till you've heard 2 horn blasts before attempting to get on if you have a cabin because you don't need to try and grab a bit of empty floor space.

Check when religious holidays are during your trip because the smaller local ferries may stop running all week if it's Idul Fitri or something. Weddings or some other social event can also disrupt transport in smaller towns and villages because everyone wants to attend. Someone told me today that everyone stays indoors and nobody goes anywhere on Bali on March 12th because of a Hindu festival. (I learn something new every day!)

Probably best not to plan too detailed a route in advance because you'll be dealing with Indonesian rubber time for almost all your transport once you stray off the beaten track a bit. You'll no doubt have to change plans as you go along due to unforeseen circumstances anyway so just start somewhere and see how far you can get! Be prepared to have to take at least one domestic flight at the end of your trip in order to catch your flight home and don't assume the domestic flight will leave on time or not get cancelled at the last minute either (especially if it's a small propeller plane and/or a Merpati flight).

#4 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,052
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Posted by djkeith on 18/11/2013 at 13:26

Thank you SBE

Guess I'll have to pick and chose carefully if I want to avoid flying!! Appreciate the feedback.

#5 djkeith has been a member since 28/11/2011. Posts: 13

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