Natural Wonders

This island-chain in the 'Ring of Fire' is punctuated with dramatic volcanic landscapes, and cloaked with rainforests, many of them designated as national parks. Come to Indonesia to see orang-utans, Komodo dragons and an exceptional abundance of sealife.

Mount Bromo

The volcanic region of eastern Java includes Gunung (Mount) Bromo, which rises to 2329 m (7641 ft) in an astonishing blasted landscape of brown sand. Early morning expeditions reach the crater in time to watch the sunrise.

Krakatau and Ujung Kulon

This island volcano (also spelled Krakatao) famously exploded with massive force in 1883, creating a tsunami that killed some 36,000 people on the neighbouring coasts. The explosion was heard in Australia 3500 km (2200 miles) away, and sent so much ash into the sky that global weather patterns and sunsets were affected for years to come. Forty-five years later, a new volcano on the same site began to rise up from the sea; known as Anak Krakatau (Son of Krakatau), it has offered a unique opportunity to see how new islands are colonised by plants and animal life. Meanwhile, the coast of Java facing the volcano has been turned into the Ujung Kulon National Park, home to Javan rhinoceroses and leopards, flying foxes (bats), saltwater crocodiles, hornbills and bee-eaters (birds). Further north is Anyer, with one of Indonesia's most beautiful white-sand beaches.

Mount Merapi

The foothills of this highly active volcano to the north of Yogyakarta were once popular with hikers, but since May 2006 Mount Merapi has begun to erupt again, and should be approached with great care. Its steaming peak can be seen from Borobudur.

Lake Toba

This large caldera lake in Northern Sumatra is the site of a colossal volcanic eruption which occurred about 70,000 years ago. The island called Pulau Samosir, which occupies the centre of the lake, is the largest 'island within an island' in the world. It is a popular tourist destination, and a centre of the distinctive Batak culture.

The volcanoes of Bali

There are two notable volcanoes on Bali. The centre of the island is dominated by Gunung Batur; roads lead to villages on the crater edge, and then down into the crater and to Lake Batur, which can be crossed on a boat; you can also take a three-hour walk to the summit of the active crater-within-a-crater. Gunung Agung is the most sacred mountain of Bali, and the focus of religious orientation on the island. It erupted in 1963-4, causing widespread devastation. Paths lead hikers to the rim, a tough walk that takes four or five hours; night walks, leaving at 10pm, reach the rim for sunrise.

Dolphins in Bali

You can go dolphin-watching in Bali, off the northern coast at Lovina. Schools of up to 200 dolphins assemble here just before dawn, particularly in September and October.

Orang-utans

The name 'orang-utan' means 'person of the forest': there are two islands where you might see them in Indonesia: on Sumatra and in Kalimantan (Borneo), and the species in each differ slightly. Both are endangered. Orang-utans are found in various places in Kalimantan, such as the Tanjung Puting National Park. But the most visitor-oriented place to encounter orang-utans is the Bohorok-Bukit Lawang centre near the Gunung Leuser National Park, in north-western Sumatra. The centre was originally founded in 1973 to help rehabilitate captive orang-utans, or those displaced from other habitats, and the animals here are only semi-wild.

www.orangutans-sos.org

www.orangutan.com

Komodo dragons

The world's largest lizards are found on the island of Komodo, as well as on the other nearby islands of Rinca, Padar and Flores. Measuring up to 3 m (10 ft) long, they have to be approached with great caution (i.e. with guides), as they are strong, quick, vicious, and flesh-eating.

Sea-life

Indonesia is surrounded by some of the world's richest seas. The shallow coasts are rimmed by coral gardens inhabited by vast numbers of sea creatures, from tiny iridescent tropical fish to sharks, rays and turtles - a mesmerising world that is accessible to snorkellers, while scuba-divers can explore the drop-offs and sea-walls. (See Activities and Adventures for the best diving locations.)

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