A return to Indonesia, but a different set of islands this time. We landed in Jakarta, before taking the train to Yogyakarta, home of some magnificent temples. This is Borobudur which boasts a great sunrise spectular, although the clouds can dampen things somewhat.

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The hindu temple at Prambanang is part of a larger complex and is truly spectacular. We visited twice and still felt we ran out of time.

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An early start saw us shivering at a watchpoint to see the sunrise at Mount Bromo, the active volcano on the left of the picture. 2 Further stunning cones are also in the picture and all 3 sit with a 10 kilometer wide crater from an earlier almighty volcano. Very impressive indeed.

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The Java Sparrow is now quite rare on Java but is well established elsewhere in the far east. These wild birds were nesting in the temple complex at Prambanang.

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The very rare Bali Myna (or starling) has been trapped and hunted nearly to extinction but is now the subject of a reintroduction programme. About 30 birds exist in the wild on Bali, and can be seen if you are very lucky. Fortunately they breed well in captivity so if the continued hunting for the pet trade can be eradicated it stands a chance of becomingmore common again.

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The beautiful Komodo Dragon is only found on 3 small islands, and we able to visit two of these during our time here. We saw 5 dragons, including a rare sighting of a youngster sunbathing in a tree. Uponn hatching the young head straight for the trees to avoid becoming lunch to other dragons.

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This cracking shot shows how wide the mouth can be opened, presumably very useful when ripping open a large animal for lunch.

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I spent 2 tough weeks in Western Papua (Irian Jaya) with a friend in November. We flew from Heathrow via Amsterdam to Jakarta and then onto Wamena via Jayapura (a long time). Our purpose was to trek around the Baliem Valley to see some of the local tribes (Dani and Yali). We had a team of Lani porters to carry our gear leaving us just to carry ourselves. 

This was me in one of our overnight camps pretending to be Ernest Hemingway. I kept a brief journal, but if you look very closely at the words.... Also, no matter how deep into the jungle I've ever gone the photos always look like a Sunday stroll in Epping Forest

Irian Jaya 1
Irian Jaya 2

There are may different tribes in this part of the world and they are largely distinguished by the type of gourd they use to cover the private parts. Here there were long thin gourds that do nothing but cover the knob. They are held on by thin thread and I have to say we saw some sore bollocks on this trek. In other areas they have much bigger, rounder gourds that not only cover the privates but can be opened to store money and cigarettes, so be careful if you accept a cigarette off a Dani tribesman!!

Irian Jaya 3

If you look very carefully you will see the path snaking along the right side of the very steep valley. The photo doesn't really do justice to how steep and challenging this part of the trek was. You had to keep total focus on your steps or it would be a long drop to the bottom.

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This is me looking absolutely exhausted half way through a days trek. The path was often narrower than a westerner's boot making the going quite tough.

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This is, unbelievably, a preserved person, a mummy. He was a well respected ancestor so when he died he was put in the roof space above the fire and smoked for a couple of years, until he was totally preserved, and can now be brought out to meet visitors.

More trekking photos in Indonesia here

© Paul Hyland 2012