From Bali--Sumatra or Borneo?

Old Jan 23rd, 2017, 10:37 PM
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From Bali--Sumatra or Borneo?

We are a couple traveling to Bali late April-May. We've got 20 days to play with, and this is our first trip to Indonesia. I'd like to spend at least half the time in Bali, and the rest in one or two other places. We will be beginning and ending our trip in Bali, flying in/out of DPS. I want to do some rainforest/wildlife excursions, and am debating between Sumatra and Borneo. While I'd be happy to pop into a rehabilitation center for the orangutans if it is convenient on the route, my main goal is to just experience the rainforest with some guided treks and see what wildlife we can (we are both fairly fit and like to be active.) I would appreciate any input on which destination might work better logistically. Our budget is mid-range, and while I prefer to travel on the cheap, I am willing to pay for convenience and practicality given the limited time frame. Also, I imagine 2-4 days would be enough nature-time; is one location preferable for other worthwhile excursions close by? Additionally, recommendations for guided treks in either place would be welcome.

Also, would we be able to add in some highlights in Java (Borobudur, Yogyakarta) or would that be trying to cover too much ground?
jiadams is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2017, 07:46 AM
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So you have 20 days on the ground in Indonesia (21 nights). You plan to spend half of that on Bali. You are interested in both Borobudur and in wildlife. It would be easy to take a side trip to central Java, seeing wildlife and walking through the rainforest is a bit more complicated. Would you really be content to simply see orangutans in a "rehab" center (really just means they are captive)? Staying in a jungle lodge and taking hikes to see wildlife is not cheap. I have no idea what you mean by "mid-range" How much per night are you willing to spend? The jungle lodges are usually all-inclusive, so not only your meals but also your guide are included in the nightly price.

I've not been to a jungle lodge in Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantin), but I have been to a jungle lodge in Malaysian Borneo (Sabah). This was more than 10 years ago, and at that time, the price per night was in excess of US$400. It was a fabulous experience and we saw lots of wildlife, including orangutans in the wild.

You will need to do a lot of research on jungle lodges in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Be aware that these lodges are not easy to get to, and you will need to allow time for transport. It is common to have a 4 hour drive from the airport you fly into. We have had some trip reports here from people who went to Indonesia to view wildlife. To find them, start by choosing "Indonesia" from the drop down menu at the top of the page, then you will need to scan the titles to find wildlife reports. This will take some time, but will be worthwhile if you really want to see wildlife. I remember one fascinating report from a woman who did wildlife viewing all from a boat. There is another report from someone who went to Komodo. Also, take a look at Thorntree, the Lonely Planet's forum. That is where I got the best information before my trip.

Good luck to you and enjoy your planning!
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Old Jan 24th, 2017, 04:28 PM
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Central Java is a short flight from Bali. You could add 3-4 days to your Bali time to cover Yogyakarta, Borobudur, Prambanan and other attractions, more time if you want to cover the area in depth.

Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) are more difficult logistically. There are plenty of Indonesian tour operators that offer rain forest and orangutan spotting tours, mostly by river travel. I would agree with Kathie that you might be better off looking at Malaysian Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) for better infrastructure and accessibility.
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Old Jan 24th, 2017, 06:52 PM
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While I can't answer your main question, you might find some useful information in the trip report that I filed after visiting Java and Bali:

It's a fascinating part of the world -- enjoy!
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Old Jan 24th, 2017, 10:34 PM
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" I imagine 2-4 days would be enough nature-time; is one location preferable for other worthwhile excursions close by? " . Possibly. Although when factoring in travel time you would almost certainly need a little longer. One thought that springs to mind is Sandakan in Sabah. We spent a few days there visiting the Oranutan Rehabilitation centre (where you are guaranteed to see them), the Rainforest Conservation Centre which has some enjoyable trails into the forest and the Sun Bear Conseravtion centre (not so impressed). From there it is easy to get a trip on the Kinabatangan River where you can see wildlife and hopefully, even an orangutan in the wild. It would suit your mid range budget better than just about anywhere else I can think of. We didn't actually make it to Kingbatagan but based on chats with people we met who did, we are thinking of returning this year. Details of the rest of our time in Borneo @

To get there would involve flying from Denpasar to KL and then on to Sanadakan. You should be able to do it without stopping off in KL.

An alternative, or as well, you could easily include some of the highlights of Java. Maybe fly to Yogyakarta, spend a day at Borobudur and then get the train to magelang. We hired a guide and driver there and then over four days visited Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen (both were amazing!) before our car dropped us off to get the ferry to northern Bali from where it is easy to get back down to the south of the island. See for more detail.

If you are Divers or snorkellers, you could stop off at Permuteran from where you could visit Menjangan island - although the diving I'd just ok and te beaches aren't great.
crellston is offline  
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