The eastern part of Indonesia is a magical place where peepers can find plenty of surreal sceneries. Mount Kelimutu is not an exception. Located in Flores island, Kelimutu is famous for the three lakes at its crater. They were turquoise, darker turquoise and black when I was there. However, due to geological phenomenon or weather condition, the colors are always changing. Some sources said that the colors can even turn to red, blue and white—very interesting!

In the local language, “keli” means mountain and “mutu” means boiling. The literal meaning is quite representative since some parts of the national park is forbidden for visitor due to geothermal instability. The safest trekking path, about one to two hours walk, lies between Moni (the entry point to Kelimutu) and the mountain.

Kelimutu is 66 km from Ende, or 83 km from Maumere. There’s a bus service, called “oto kol”, from Ende to Maumere that passes through Moni. The best time to go there is in July and August. Peepers are advised to wake up before dawn to walk the trekking path so you won’t miss the early sunrise—it will leave you breathless.

Derawan Islands

Being an archipelagic country, islands hopping is one of the must have journeys for travelling in Indonesia. Derawan Islands is a spot in Borneo – in the coast of East Kalimantan – that has heavenly islands including the famous four: Derawan, Sangalaki, Kakaban and Maratua. Pristine seascape is in the main menu. The turquoise sea with fishes, coral reefs, manta rays and sea turtles are within vicinity. Most people will always be tempted to jump and roam the ocean in these islands, either by snorkeling, diving or just by swimming.

Yet the place is heaven not just because of the landscape and the seascape, but also the warm tropical sunshine and the calm atmosphere of the village life. Derawan and Maratua are the only islands that are inhabited. Peepers usually fly to Berau or Tarakan (where it will be the last stop to collect cash as there will not be any ATM in Derawan Islands) and travel 3 hours by speedboat to Derawan or Maratua island. There are more options to stay in Derawan while Maratua offers more of private/honeymoon-type lodges. From these two islands, peepers can rent a boat to go to the other islands or to certain dive spots.

Another points for Derawan Islands is the unique ecosystem. The entire area is considered as a Marine Protected Area due to its rich biodiversity. Some say that the diversity of underwater life in Derawan Islands is among the top five in the world. In addition, Sangalaki is the nesting site for the endangered green turtles, where everyday there will be turtles laying their eggs in the sand or swimming to the sea. As for Kakaban, this island is very unique because it has a large pond of brackish water inhabited by thousands of non-stinging jellyfish. Swimming surrounded by jellyfish? Definitely sounds like something you must do before you die.

Garut Sheep Fighting

Garut, a city located in West Java, has a unique breed of sheep called Domba Garut (domba means sheep). Famous for its long circular horn, this kind of sheep intuitively likes to bang their head against the wall, trees, or other sheep’s head.

This unique behavior inspired people in Garut to have sheep fighting as their tradition. Sheep fighting is normally accompanied by Sundanese gamelan performance and held with a strict rule of game. For each match, the maximum number of charges is 20 times and the referee has the right to stop the fight early if necessary. If there is no clear winner, a panel of judges will determine the outcome based on the courage and endurance of the contenders.

Competing sheep belong to padepokans (communities of sheep owners) all across Garut. In every match, every padepokan will bring supporters to cheer on their ram fighters.

Sheep fighting are held every weekend. However, the location changes from place to place, from one livestock market to another. Don’t miss it the next time you visit Garut.

Semeru Mountain

Semeru is the highest volcano in Java island with its Mahameru peak rises 3,676 meters high above sea level. The volcano is located in East Java. From the capital city Surabaya, take a bus to Malang or Lumajang and go straight to the small city called Tumpang. Visitors can continue the journey by car or by hitchhiking trucks transporting vegetable to reach Ranu Pani village, the entry point of Semeru.

Around 5 km trekking through the hillside, which is full of Edelweiss flowers, you will reach Watu Rejeng where the beautiful scenery of steep stones, pine forests and sometimes puff of smoke from the crater are waiting. With another 4.5 km trek, the crystal clear fresh water lake called Ranu Kumbolo is expecting to host your night stay until very early in the next day. The magnificent view of sunrise at the lake will drag you to a relaxed morning. Climb a steep hill to reach Cemoro Kandang, a pinery forest with birds and deers.

Continue the journey, stay overnight in Kalimati and take one hour trek to reach Arcopodo, the last vegetated area at 2,900 meters high. It is suggested to leave bulky luggages in Kalimati or Arcopodo, and start hiking to the peak at around 2 a.m. to avoid toxic gas blowing from Jonggring Saloka crater.

The best time to climb Semeru is during the dry season (around June to September) to avoid storm and land slide. Despite the quite challenging environment, climbing Semeru is enjoyable with panoramic and breathtaking scenery along the way. Furthermore, it is an undeniable achievement to be able to reach the peak of one of the highest active volcanoes in Indonesia, don’t you think? Happy climbing!