The Galapagos Islands are a popular tourist destination for a reason – and indeed, for many reasons. Hundreds of thousands of people visit every year to take in everything from its wonderful climate, stunning natural wonders, and delicious food, to the friendliness of its people.
The name itself is iconic and conjures up a wealth of automatic associations, and so the chances are that you’re already onboard and that you don’t need much more convincing. Still, in case you need a little further coercion, here are just a few of the things you need to know before you travel to the Galapagos Islands.
Packing the essentials is one thing, but there’s also such a thing as being over prepared. That’s why you’ll want to try to pack light and to take only what you know you’re going to need, because it’ll allow you to bring more back with you. There will be plenty of opportunities to pick up gifts and souvenirs, whether you’re shopping for yourself or your family, and you’ll also have the pleasure of knowing that you’re supporting local craftsmen and the islands’ economies.
Going to the Galapagos Islands without seeing the local wildlife is like going to New York City and not visiting Central Park, Times Square or Broadway. The Galapagos Islands are known for their wildlife, and for their huge Galapagos Tortoises, in particular. You can even pay a little visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about them and to support the continuous breeding of this majestic creature.
Some people have the unfair idea that cruises are only for the wealthy, and while that might have been the case fifty years ago, these days, cruises are affordable for even the most budget-conscious traveler. Whether you’re travelling alone or whether you’re with family members or friends, taking a cruise to the Galapagos Islands can be a great way to see both the island and its wildlife, at the same time.
If seeing the wildlife above ground isn’t enough for you, there are plenty of opportunities to see the aquatic wildlife in the beautiful waters around the islands. From snorkeling to diving with whale sharks, there’s something for everyone. The water’s clear to a depth of over 20 meters, and when the weather’s good you’ll see some of the most stunning views in the world.
Based on Isabela Island, The Wall of Tears is a relic of the post World War II era and was built just after the Second World War, when the island was home to a prison. To keep the convicts busy and to serve as a punishment, they were instructed to build this 100-yard-long, 20-foot-high wall out of lava from the islands’ volcanoes.
Building on from the last point, the Galapagos Islands are known for their volcanoes and the lava flows that they left behind. One thing that’s particularly worth looking into is the lava tunnels on Santa Cruz Island. It’s one of those rare places in the world where just standing there will fill you with a sense of perspective.
We’ve already touched upon diving and snorkeling, but those aren’t the only water-based options that are available to you. For example, why not have a go at sea kayaking? You don’t need previous experience to be able to pick it up, as long as you go with a qualified instructor, and you can also go swimming or surfing if that’s more to your liking. You can hire pangas and dinghies, too.
We told you that you’d want to save some space in your luggage so that you could take a few goodies back with you! One of the best things about shopping in the Galapagos Islands is that you’re much more likely to find independent craftspeople and small, family-owned businesses, than you are to find huge multinational companies.
Hiring a local tour guide is a fantastic way to get a true look at what life is like on the Galapagos Islands. They’ll be able to take you to the tourist hotspots if you want them to, but they’ll also be able to take you off the beaten path and to the places that most visitors to the islands never get to experience.
Now that you know just a few of the things you might want to do during your trip to the Galapagos Islands, you’re ready to start planning your visit. You’ll want to be sure that your passports are all in order and to book as much as you can, as early as you can, to make sure that you take advantage of any savings that are on offer for booking up front. Happy travels!
Turtle’s Home – Sangalaki Island, East Kalimantan
A visit to Maratua Island usually includes an island-hopping tour to Kakaban and Sangalaki islands. That’s exactly what we did. You can read about the visit to Kakaban Island here, and the brief visit to Sangalaki was done shortly before that.
Sangalaki Island in the Derawan archipelago of East Kalimantan is known as the place where turtles lay eggs. It’s also where Daihatsu as a corporation donate a good amount of money as their CSR project, to help save turtles from extinction. Upon our visit, we were given thorough information by the conservation officers about the birthing process, the growth of turtles, and things we should or shouldn’t do to support the conservation.
The turtles conserved in Sangalaki are mainly the Green Sea Turtles (Penyu Hijau) or the Chelonia mydas. It’s – predictably – green, has a short and curved beak, and only eats algae and sea grasses. In average, there are 3,000 turtles lay eggs in Sangalaki Island, 800 eggs from each turtle. Statistically, only about 80% continue to live, and only 1 out of 1,000 turtles survive to be full-grown. When full-grown, the width of their shells could reach up to 75 cm or about 2.5 ft. Living creatures that might be the predators of turtles include human, crabs, sharks, eagles, and seagulfs.
“These turtles, will come back to the island to lay eggs. They always find the same island they were hatched in to lay eggs,” a conservation officer explained. That’s interesting, it’s like turtles have the sense of hometown or something. “Other turtles might also come here to lay eggs, especially if their original habitat has been damaged, too crowded with construction, badly polluted or damaged by abrasion,” he added.
Turtles always lay eggs at night and aren’t fond of lights or human presence, but if you’d like to see the process just contact the conservation center and they might arrange a sighting for you. Peak season of laying eggs is usually between July and September. There is a resort with a couple of cottages on the island, costing about IDR1,250,000/person/night, including meals.
What we human can do to help preserve turtles include: keep the beach clean, no littering in the sea, avoid eating turtle’s meat or eggs, not in any way supporting the selling or buying of turtle eggs, leave it alone and not capture it even though they might look exotic in your aquarium. Last but not least, tell your friends, family, students, co-workers, neighbors and perhaps yoga mates about turtle conservation.
Visitng Sangalaki Island doesn’t only allow you to get to know more about turtles, but it also offers beautiful beach with soft white sand that borders with light blue sea. You can snorkel and dive around the island, or just tan up on the beach and play baywatch on the tree.
(tree with prue)
When it comes to adventurous exploration in Indonesia, there’s just no end to it. This country is huge and full of things that many haven’t seen, been, touched, and heard of. I’m lucky to have experienced a few, but I still need to get to know more through a Borneo wild adventure. Of all the islands I’ve been to, Borneo – or Kalimantan – is the biggest and one of the most fascinating ones. It’s so rich in culture, history, and definitely nature.
I’ve been only to a few parts of Borneo and awed by the vast tropical forest of Betung Kerihun National Park and the underwater life of Derawan Islands. Still, there’s still so much of the island and the life in it I want to see. So when I heard about the next #Terios7Wonders is going to be exploring Borneo, my heart pumps faster and my mind travels to the things I want to see, do, and places I just want to be.
I want to see more of Palangkaraya
Palangkaraya is the capital of Central Kalimantan. Not much that I’ve heard about it but it’s interesting that Palangkaraya is the largest city in Indonesia, CMIIW, even compared to Jakarta! What’s more interesting is that most of it is forested, IN the city! Forests, instead of shopping malls, in the city. I have got to see that! And from what I’ve read, the cute fuzzy and grumpy-looking orangutans of Nyaru Menteng arboretum can be seen just from the riverside of Kahayan River, which I wouldn’t need to go so far from the city. Talking about something rare!
Dive at Maratua
Woohoo! Just a few hours off Berau by speedboat, I could be at Maratua Island, known for its paradisal resort and beautiful underwater scenery around it. I have been to Derawan Islands long time ago, but I could only enjoy the waters by snorkeling. Now that I’m a licensed diver, I would like to see the marine life upclose in the deeper water. Swaying mantas, schooling barracuda, fabulous lionfish, oh and adorable turtles! Just one of the many reasons why loving Indonesia is so easy to do.
I know, I need to watch my body weight, but when I’m traveling I like to have a taste on the local delicacies. They say you are what you eat, so getting to know the staple food could perhaps tell me at least a little bit about the culture or about the natural resources at the area. Alright, alright, this might just be the rasionalization of my real reason: I love durian and I heard that Kruing-Banjarmasin is known for the durians, though not much information I could gather about it. Is it as sweet as other durians I’ve tasted? Is it the one with orange-colored meat instead of the usual yellow? Well, there’s only one way to find out: try it where it’s from, Borneo.
I like big trunks and I cannot lie!
One of the things that awed me about Borneo is the big trees in the jungle. I’m a city girl and the biggest vertical and round things I see mostly are building pilars, but they don’t have leaves or orangutans swinging between them. Ironwood or ulin trees are among the biggest trees in Indonesia with so many parts of it that can be utilized for human’s good, aside to being home for many orangutans. And another coolness about it is its Latin name: Eusideroxylon zwageri, just as hard to pronounce as that volcano in Iceland. So where can I be among these big ironwood trees? Tanjung Kutai in East Kalimantan!
Have fun with road trip mates
In my experience, being on the road lets you get to know your travel mates and yourself. The longer you are with them through thick and thin, the more you can legitimately judge them, or to put it positively, have better understanding about each other. Cooperation and communication are definitely two things that can make or break a road trip. Since I’m not driving, I’d be glad to help navigate or arrange the drinks neatly at the glass holders. And it’s important that the driver lets the others know when he’s tired so backup drivers could step up on the pedals. It’s no less than a team work, with a far nicer scenery and stories to tell later when the trip ends. While road-tripping can be done in many other destinations, it makes the most sense to do it on an island as vast as 743,330 km2 such is Borneo!
I imagine the best way to go around Borneo would be on a road trip with New Daihatsu Terios 2015. Sure the island comprises of many rivers, but there are bridges here and there, even ferries, so road tripping most of the island with this car wouldn’t be a problem. It’s also spacious, so I can share the happiness – as Alexander McCandles said – with up to six other people in this mini SUV! I wouldn’t need to worry when we’re going through some rough part of the land because it’s a tough vehicle with 1500 cc machine capacity. And because I don’t know how to drive – hey, that’s usually Mumun’s job – I would be happy to sit as a passenger, checking out the scenery and watching video or bobbing to the music from the well-designed stereo system, all within the vehicle. This sounds like an awesome road trip I would never forget!
This blog was participated in the #Terios7Wonders blog competition.
I remember starting to have an obsession for traveling around the world when I was in high school. Stories upon stories from schoolmates originated from diverse countries made me wonder what’s really out there?
A decade later, that dream hadn’t come true, but I was taking baby steps. I traveled abroad within Asia. Amazed with what Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong had to offer. At the same time, annoyed with the fact that I knew Indonesia had so much more, yet very little known to the world, even to me. So I decided to explore much more of Indonesia, because only then I could let the world know what wonder this sunny archipelago actually has to offer.
As a beach lover, I had to start my exploration from the beaches, of course. Karimunjawa, Ujung Genting and Derawan were among my early destinations before then I had them written on this blog to share with everyone. Mumun, also a beach creature, started her explorations more on beaches, such as Gili Trawangan, Alor and Pangandaran. Later on we added our blog entries with city and mountain destinations, such as Yogyakarta, West Sumatera and Bromo.
No matter where we go, the sun followed us. Well, d’oh, it is a tropical country. The equator even hovers over some parts of Indonesia, like Pontianak. Hence we came to the point where our mothers’ welcome home greeting was no longer “You’re back, my dear child. So glad to see you,” but “Oh my, how tanned your skin is. Please don’t go to beaches anymore!”
It is very much expected because Indonesians are generally obsessed with white (or very light-colored) skin, especially for women. Tanned skin is bad, and ugly. We think that’s funny. We seriously prefer being tanned and called ugly than having to restrain ourselves at home, not experiencing the fun we could have out under the sun! To us, darker skin is not a problem, as long as we keep it healthy. Choosing the right body lotion would be one of our ways to deal with it. Keeping our skin moisture and still having a blast exploring Indonesia, is definitely a dream come true.
On my last trip to Tanjung Lesung, I tried the Vitalis body lotion, aside from applying sun lotion. It’s also great to smell good after all the dynamic activities under the sun, so I had the Vitalis eau de cologne and body scent with me. These babies were nice to my skin and I liked how they smelled. Not too strong, just fresh and sweet.
I think a girl could use these products to keep confident and smelling fine, which makes traveling all the more fun. And I want you to try them too!
Stand a chance to win a set of body treatment by entering the competition.
Don’t worry, this is not just a one time thing. If you didn’t win it in the first month, you can try again next month. There will be still interesting prizes for the winners.
All you have to do is:
Now, girls. What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to explore Indonesia while still looking pretty and smelling good? Share your stories and pictures!
We’re entering the year of 2014 with #FriFotos, yeayy, we’re back! And this Friday’s theme is #2013Best. (I read that hashtags are becoming more ubiquitous in this year, so get used to it even you’re not on Twitter, guys). To be honest, it was difficult for us to choose which photos that could represent our 2013Best moments since there were too many moments we enjoyed so much. But we don’t wanna smother you with too many of them, so here are our #2013Best…
Waking up to this view every morning? Gotta love Harau Valley. This trip was in January, 2013. What a lovely way to start the year 🙂
When opportunity knocks, open the door and let it in. MITBCA knocked through our friend Windy Ariestanty, so there we were in Kuala Lumpur, in March 2013. Mumun was amongst the international speakers on stage.
It was a dream come true! We finally hit Halong Bay in April, 2013, and had a lot of fun swimming in the cold water..! Brrr…!
Fly, pelicans, fly! Joining the Baronda Maluku team in May was definitely a superb experience!
On a more personal experience, June 2013 was a very special month for me and Diyan. We finally tied the knot, and it’s one of the rare occasions where I’d “kiss hands” like the common Indonesian traditions of showing respect.
This graffiti of European aisles could be painted anywhere in the world. But take Mumun’s word for it, that this is her in the streets of Prague. She finally did her version of Euro Trip in November Windy and Vindhya.
While Mumun was strolling down European streets, I was dancing at Dhammayangyi temple in Bagan, Burma, which was one of my 2013Best moments, no doubt.
To see our complete 2013 highlights, check out our kaleidoscope here.
This post is a contribution from Marie Wright, a full-time mother, writer and interior decorator from South London. She balances work, family and home life with the perfect feng shui of island inspired home decor to create the ultimate oasis of calm. And this is her tips for decorating your home with Indonesian style.
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Reminisce on your favorite moments exploring Indonesia by bringing a touch of the atmosphere into your own home. The tropical style, use of bamboo and signature woodwork can work in most rooms of the house and here are our top tips to create the look.
The Indonesian design is characterized by a combination of natural materials with the man-made interior of the home. A simple way to begin achieving this at home is by bringing a little of the garden indoors; plenty of lush plants in large pots and flowers in vases create a tropical feel.
Choose leafy plants like a Banana Plant or a Bird of Paradise, which blooms with exotic orange flowers.
Depending on your current flooring, you may want to update this to a lighter and brighter alternative. If you already have carpets, changing to a neutral carpet will create the natural effect you are looking for.
Make sure you choose the right carpet underlay to ensure the best comfort, warmth and soundproofing.
Indonesian homes are light, bright and airy. Try to replicate this by adding in glass panels between rooms. By removing walls and putting glass in their place you let light flow through while retaining the integrity of the building.
This is a stylish and modern renovation but is a fairly major one. If you want a quick fix, try installing bright yellow lighting and opting for lightly coloured soft furnishings and curtains.
Rustic wood and bamboo are essential in creating the right style. These materials are fresh and bright so a rustic wooden coffee table would be a great focal point in the centre of the room.
Bamboo is often used to make smaller items, such as wind chimes and picture frames. Find an authentic retailer online and choose one or two pieces for the finer details of your room.
Light colored stone can be used to surround your fireplace or windows if you fancy a bigger project. This earthy stone ties together the other materials to really finish off the look.
This week’s #FriFotos theme is Chill. It’s been a while since we participate in the #FriFotos. That’s probably because we’ve been chilling a little bit too much…
Chillin’ with the boatman at Baluran National Park
Nothing really matters when you’re sippin’ a drink at the colorful Motel Mexicolo in Seminyak, Bali
Chillin’ in front of Sea Circus restaurant in Bali, while waiting for a cab.
Siblings on a lazy afternoon on Gili Gede, Lombok.
This little dude is also chillin’ on its branch in Batu Secret Zoo, Malang.
Jimbaran area in Bali is famous for its row of seafood restaurants. Visitors go there especially for dinner and jam-pack the beach since daylight. I’m a seafood lover, but I didn’t get the hype. I had a dinner once in Jimbaran, got there when it was already dark. And I also had lunch there once. Yeah, the seafood was delicious, but so was seafood in other places.
“So what’s the deal with Jimbaran?” was the question I would ask people but never did. Until one day, in a family trip, when my sister insisted that we had dinner in Jimbaran. We decided to get there before dark, so that her kids could play with the waves a little before dinner time.
Upon calling my sister and her little family back to the table, amongst the crowded restaurants, I saw this view of Jimbaran sunset.
It may not be much more spectacular than so many other sunsets in the world. But I love the combination of the dark blue, yellow and orange, and the gradations in between. And at least, now have an answer to my question. It was all about having dinner by the sea, having sand between your toes while you munch on your grilled squid, and having that opportunity for the kids have that energy release before dinner so they would have an apatite. Yeah, I get it now 🙂
It was easy to understand that we were to visit Baluran National Park as the next destination. By location, it’s smacked in the middle of our route. We did about 7 hours on the road and, again, we failed to meet a sunset on this lag of the trip.
Time management is a hard thing when touring like this. It’s essential to keep the cars in line and traveling together, not to mention the shooting process for the video features takes a lot of coordination and synchronization on the road. Let’s not forget the late meal services due to the amount of people eating. Hence, it takes us a longer time to get to a destination than an individual car would, and we always fail to get any sunset images. But, the hassle is worth it. Having the cars aligned and moving together, overtaking other cars smoothly like a chain, looks pretty cool.
There’s a saying how one drives is how they live, how they work is how they love. This might not apply to everyone, but there might be some general truth to it. During a road trip, drivers are under the spotlight. Hence, it’s one of the topics for our daily gossips. Who drives like what, which applies to how do they live their lives. It’s an interesting observation.
As for work and love, well, having all of us ‘working’ to meet deadlines and challenges of being exhausted showed us the sides of our work styles. On this, I can only assume how they are with their relationships. Khihihihi…
By this time, I’m starting to really like the Terios. It’s been in and out of tough fields and I’m still all-good sitting in them. My ass doesn’t burn as it usually does for the same amount of time on the road. It’s growing on me. Maybe because Boski is a great driver that really understands cars, or because I’ve groomed my own little home in the middle row; whatever it is, I’ve come accustomed to road tripping with the Terios.
Baluran National Park is any wildlife observer’s heaven. It’s said to be the Africa of Java because of its savanna and the sightings of the wild animals running around the park. It’s got so many ecosystems that support life of so many different animals. From tropical forests, evergreen forests, monsoon forests, mangrove, coral reefs, savanna, and all sorts of other ecosystem, it’s all here. It’s easy to love Baluran National Park especially when you see how African-like it is and how you can easily see wildlife in its nature. As a Biology student once upon a time, I consider it a paradise.
For some reason, my favorite sighting is the peacock. Their heavy rear end doesn’t seem to be stopping them from running around the place and showing off its metallic green feathers. If lucky, you can spot the male bird and see its long shiny tail swish as it runs across the savanna.
Another favorite of the park is the herd of deer that prance around the savanna. They’re so cute and they leap like they’re having fun. The male deer always catches my heart, as it stands very macho with antlers that reach the sky.
The bonus on this visit was the sight of black Langur jumping from one tree to another. They look like they’re having the time of their life. In the end, I’m always happy to visit this park as I feel rewarded after seeing the animals in their habitat and yet I get to see them too. It’s a priceless feeling for me.
For more info, you can read our story about Baluran here.
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Remember how we huffed n’ puffed when hiking a hill on Dieng Plateau? I swore I wasn’t ever going to hike a hill or a mountain again! And like many ‘nevers’, this promise was finally broken, in less than a year’s time. To my defense, I had no other choice. I was going to Baluran National Park with Mumun, Diyan, Yusuf from Explore Solo, Werdha and Rully from Hifatlobrain, when the gang insisted to stop by the famous Ijen Crater along the way. Right. A crater. That usually means one thing: hiking up to see the crater from above. Oh, kill me now!
However, I managed to take a little interest in this hiking trip to Ijen Crater. Mumun told me about the blue flame that can be seen in the crater. She showed my gorgeous pictures of it from on the Internet and I was like, “Whoa! Yes, I want to see that! Let’s hike Ijen!”
Only, there’s a catch. The blue flame can only been seen at dawn, if we are lucky. That means we had to hike in wee hours and there’s still a chance of not seeing the blue flame. Right. *long inhale…never to exhale*
Long story short, we finally arrived at Catimor guesthouse, in Blawan Village, Bondowoso, at 3 pm. Some of us took a walk to nearby waterfall, but most of us just lazed around the guesthouse, resting our butts after 13 hours sitting on a bus and minibus from Surabaya. The air was cool and we decided to swim in the pool, as if practicing to go against the cold later on the mountain. Did it work? Read on 😉
We were woken up at 2 a.m. by Yusuf and geared up for the hike. We had to pack up our bags and put them in the minibus we rented, and checked out of the guesthouse. And we did all that half asleep…
The minibus ride to the foot of the mountain took about an hour or so. Still with heavy eyelids, Mumun and I kinda forced ourselves to be ‘on’ in front of Hifat gang’s camera. We were making a video on the trip with us as the hosts. * Scott and Justin, move over!*
We started the hike at about 3 a.m., so we should be able to see a bit of the blue flame. We finally dragged our feet up to the top of the crater, which turned out to be a 3 km long hike. Hooray!! We’re going to see the blue flaaaame..!!
Do you guys know what blue flame is, by the way? It’s burning sulfur with very high melting point and can only be seen in pitch dark. In this case, usually it’s best seen at about 3 or 4 a.m., they said 4.30-ish is usually the latest.
The hiking guide said it was only going to take 1,5 hours to the top of the crater. Well, when a local says a certain duration or distance, you must at least add half of it to your expectation. We panted almost all of our way up to the crater. And by we, I meant me, Mumun, Rully, and Werdha. Of course, Rully was using Werdha’s nausea as a reason to stay behind with us. Diyan was actually able to hike faster with Yusuf, Halim and Ilham, but he chose to walk with me in case anything happens. Can I get an aaaawwww….? *Wait..he did, didn’t he? Or was I just an excuse, too? Hmm..*
Suddenly we realized that we were still quite far from the top when my watch actually showed 4.30. “Hey, maybe it’s different this time! You never know with nature. The blue flame might be still there when we arrive!” an optimistic voice said, I forgot who that was. “You’re right! Let’s not give up! Hop hop hop!”
And then about half an hour later, we arrived on top of the crater! Woohoo! The wind was blowing really cold. I was covered up in layers of clothes, but still, I was freezing! But what the hell, I mean, finally, we got the crater view down below! And where’s the blue flame? Where…?
“Oh too bad, you guys missed the blue flame..,” said Yusuf, welcoming us with such a disappointing – yet expected – greeting.
“Oh, no…! Did you guys see it, though?” Mumun asked.
“We did, but only a teeny weeny bit of it, and then the sun rose and that was it, the blue flame disappeared,” said Yusuf.
We missed the blue flame of Ijen Crater. Though it was really the one thing that got me excited about going up here and we failed to see it, I had fun with the gang. No one was pressuring nobody to walk up so fast to see the flame. Instead, we had laughs making fun of each other and of our selves while hiking, panting and taking rests along the way. We even almost took the wrong path and laughed it out. I mean, hiking is hard enough for us city brats. The least we wanted was to be too ambitious about it.
Plus, there was still another reward for the 2-hour hike: the teal (or was it tuscan? I can never tell the difference between these 2 colors) view of the Ijen crater. It was beautiful, looked so soft and tempting to be admired within a foot distance. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to get close to the crater lake. Not even a hike down toward the lake. Our guide told us that there had been accidents of tourists that willfully went down or simply slipped. Predictably, the tourists died.
However, you’ll see local miners walk up and down the Ijen crater lake. They’d carry empty weaved baskets down to the lake, filled them up with sulfur stones and hiked back up with the heavy load. These are one of the strongest people I’ve ever encountered! But is that legal, what they’re doing? Well, it surely has been going on for decades, and I bet the government are in the know. We talked with some of them. Mumun will tell you more about the miners of Ijen Crater in our coming post.
All in all, the view of Ijen Crater is undoubtedly gorgeous. I’m guessing most visitors would say that the view is worth all the hassle. But for me, nah. Sorry to disappoint you, but if it weren’t for the blue flame – which I failed to see – I wouldn’t want to do the hike over again. I’m not trying to be non-mainstream here, I’m just a weak hiker and I’m not ashamed to admit it. LOL. But still, never say never.
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