Southeast Asia Natural Adventures

nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Thailand, Indonesia and Southeast Asia



Bali, Borneo, Komodo and Biawak Besar (and a few gibbons)

michael the gibbon


Wildlife, Nature & Cultural Travel in Indonesia - Bali, Sulawesi, Java, Sumatra, Komodo


sulawesi tarsierThere are few, if any, countries in the world with the diversity that is Indonesia. A land of barong dancer baliactive volcanoes - there are more here than anywhere else on Earth - lush tropical rainforests, a snow-capped mountain, superb beaches, unparalleled coral reefs, cultures including mountain warriors in New Guinea, urbane and modern city-dwellers, devout Muslims, graceful Hindu Balinese, Dyaks from Borneo and a hundred more spread through 17,000 islands straddling the Equator. Wildlife includes the largest and most dangerous lizard in the world, the Komodo Dragon, forest elephants and rhinos, tigers, monkeys including the amazing Proboscis Monkey, gibbons and of the course orangutans. But as well as these more familiar kinds there are also animals both strange in appearance, such as the babirusa, a forest pig whose tusks grow through its upper snout - and strange in distribution - marsupials more usual in Australia.


HAVING SAID THAT, and leaving place what you see below to help establish how much we like and have supported Indonesia through the years, including difficult times for the country and its people, often made even more difficult by US politicking, we have decided that we can no longer support travel to Indonesia. This decision is predicated on one thing - the continued ignoring by the Indonesian Government of the destruction of it remaining Orangutan population. Recently oil palm companies burned thousands of hectares - ie 2.2 x thousands of acres - of prime orangutan habitat, illegally, to establish more palm oil plantations. This has resulted in the death of probably 300 or so Sumatran orangutans. This is about 5% of the total population. That's about the equivalent of killing 15 million of the US population, or 3 million British people. Not displacing, killing by burning to death and starvation. This is an intelligent, sentient and feeling being. Over the years we have tried to promote conservation in Indonesia by sending people there ot see and appreciate the wildife, especially including orangutans, by helping with volunteer opportunities, and direct support to Indonesian wildife protection agencies. We thought that the democratically elected governments in this economically developing and growing country would see the benefits of conserving wildlife in general, and orangutans in particular, given the high leveling of spending that tourists bring to see it, and them. But over and over again we have seen oil palm, and some other, companies, burn forest illegally, both on Sumatra and Borneo, destroying both habitat and orangutans directly, while never being concerned about Government intervention or prosecution, regardless of the illegality of their actions.

Obviously merely injection dollars into the economy does not work, nor does shame for inaction, or action. For these reasons we will no longer support tourism to Indonesia in any form.Not Bali, not Sulawesi, not Java, not Komodo. We have many friends in Indonesia, who we know will be hurt by this action, as they and their families and businesses will be hurt. We are upset about this, and have thought long and hard about this decision. But if we simply ignore Indonesia's destruction of this magnificent and sentient being, and continue business as usual, we are as complicit in the destruction and eventual extinction in the wild of the orangutan as if we wielded the torches ourselves. Destruction in the Danum Valley in Malaysian Borneo also increases, and so this is not an issue that Indonesia alone will face.

I am sorry that we cannot share this beautiful country, its friendly people and bounteous wildlife and nature with you, but we have to take this stand. Please assist us in this by not just turning to another company, but turning to another country that has more concern for its wildlife, and the extinction of its heritage.

We also ask that all other companies serving Indonesia, most especially those that profess eco or wildlife tourism as part of their mantle to also stop tours to Indonesia. There is no longer an argument for "our tourism dollars will support conservation and make the government aware." For over 20 years this has not worked, and the rate of "has not worked" is increasing. We especially implore the International Ecotourism Society to delist tours and companies that travel to Indonesia. Let ecotourism put its dollars, pounds and euros where they do good, not just satisfy the desire to see great wildlife and make money, regardless of the institutions and outlooks they support. This was the case for many years with Myanmar, and the policy has seemed to promote a thaw. Let's try the reverse with Indonesia, before it's too late.



iban longhouse motifThe islands of Indonesia sound like a roll call of the exotic worlds of storybook, adventure, and wildlife documentary. Borneo, Sumatra, Sulawesi,"LONG EARS"long ears" Iban woman, borneo Komodo, Bali, Java. And despite on-going population growth, habitat destruction and increasingly common forest fires, this magical land can still provide the traveler with all these experiences, and more. Seventy foot long trading boats still fight whirlpools that can sink them in minutes as they ply the Mahakam River in Borneo, traveling from seaside city to the villages of tribal Dyaks over 200 miles upstream, where tattooed "long-ears" still prepare their narcotic Betel paste in time-worn tradition. Amid noise, confusion, explosive color and heat Balinese cremate their dead on the backs of paper and wood bulls, often en masse. In the forests of Sumatra a trek is taken with care, if wild elephant are heard along the jungle path. Tigers' pug marks can be found in the mud of streams, and the eerie call of gibons greets the early morning light. The Toraja cliffs hold the images of the dead, and in Tangkoko Dua Sudara reserve tiny tarsiers leap from tree to tree, with huge round eyes searching for insects.







Luxurious very small group cruising from Bali to Komodo.

The schooner Adelaar has been refitted to just 4 luxurious ensuite cabins, and is sailing 10 night adventures from Bali to Komodo, returning to Bali. We've sailed on the Adelaar ourselves (as well as sending many guests aboard), before the refit, and she was a delight then with superb and attentive crew, a knowledgeable and thoughtful itinerary, and excellent food. This has all now been raised to a higher level, and can only be enjoyed by a maximum of 8 guests per voyage. Combine the culture of Bali and Lombok, Sumbawa's Mt Tambora, the volcano that was the largest in recorded history and caused Europe's 1816 "year without summer", remote islands where Wallace wandered, some of the world's best coral reefs for both snorkeling and diving, plus the Komodo Dragon, the world's largest and deadliest lizard, and you have possibly the most diverse 11 days you can spend. Adelaar has a dive master and compressors on board, and with 15 years experience cruising these waters knows the very best places to take advantage of their hidden beauties.


Add Adelaar's knowldge, experience and professionalism to our own 12 years of travel experience in Bali, Komodo and Indonesia and you have perfect and reliable partners to put together a trip never to be forgotten to one of the least visited areas of the world.




Please call or email for information about planning your nature tour to Indonesia

You can find our information about traveling within Indonesia, including immigration, visas, getting about, dining, money and lots more on our Indonesia Information pages here.


We often get asked about terrorism in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries (yes, we're willing to bring up travel subjects that most companies don't want mentioned). While there have been several well-publicized attacks there, overall the risk is small, and these attacks do not reflect the overall view of the Indonesian people, their attitude or action towards visitors, including Americans. On Bali, which is Hindu and not Muslim, this is especially obvious. Naturally we keep up to date on the situation over there, and use a variety of sources other than the State Department's Travel Advisories. (And speaking of which, our general feeling about these is summed thus: what was the response of your loving and concerned mother and your unmarried, doting aunt regarding your climbing a tree when you were 10. Generally their thoughts on your safety were, and probably still are, that all you should do is stay in bed with the covers drawn, where they could keep an eye on you.)

We believe there is a large dose of politics in the warnings, as we note that despite the several recent terrorist attacks in Britain, the attempted airline attacks on aircraft originating there, and the number of known British-born terrorists that have conducted or attempted to conduct attacks on travelers and others, Britain does not even appear as a country on the general State Department list, let alone be the subject of a Travel Warning or milder Public Announcement. However, we do not wish to downplay the risks these days of such events; but the risk seems spread over many countries, and the decision to issue, and especially to rescind, a warning does not seem to be equally applied across all. Importantly, Indonesia is no longer on the State Dept's Travel Warning or Travel Alert lists.



komodo dragon