balinese dance performance

Indonesia's Outer Islands: From the Mountains to the Seas

4 July to 18 July 2015

Indonesia’s Eastern Islands-Last Paradise on Earth

A tiny island of some 17,000 in the Indonesian archipelago, Bali reverberates in the public imagination to an extent far greater than its size. “Upon the hundreds of stone altars of Bali,” wrote Margaret Mead over eighty years ago, “there lay not merely a fruit and a flower, placed as a visible offering to the gods, but hundreds of finely wrought and elaborately conceived offerings made of palm leaves and flowers, twisted, folded, stitched, embroidered, brocaded into myriad traditional forms and fancies”. The tour program encounters worlds of patterned mosaics, from the terraced hillsides of Bali and Tanah Toraja, to the coral reefs and myriad mazes of the islands of Rajah Ampat and across the mountainous landscapes with volcanic peaks: home to the gods of Hinduism, animism and ancestor ‘worship’. In the fabled islands of Sulawesi where some 250km north of Makassar, a steep wall of mountains marks the limits of Bugis territory and the entrance into the highlands of Tanah Toraja, you will encounter a spectacular landscape of hills and valleys where buffalo wallow beside lush green paddy-fields and where the people enjoy one of Indonesia's most confident and vivid cultures. Raja Ampat casts a spell on all who visit – scientists, photographers, novice divers and enthusiasts alike. This group of majestic islands, located in the north western tip of Indonesia’s Papuan “Bird’s Head Seascape,” lies in the heart of the coral triangle, the most bio-diverse marine region on earth.

From the Mountains to the Seas explores elements of the cultures and lives of diverse groups of peoples, focussing on the intersections of art, ritual, performance, and the built and natural environments. For whilst Indonesia is on the one hand a chain of islands at the end of long, continental land routes, it also lies at the crossroads of sea routes which have existed for millennia between the civilizations of India and China. We will explore these themes throughout the tour program.

Day 1: Saturday 4 July 2015, Adelaide to Bali

Arrange your own flights to Bali

Overnight stay at Mercure Resort Sanur

Day 2: Sunday 5 July 2015, Bali

You travel behind the tourist façade of Bali on a full day tour to encounter its vibrant traditional culture. Bali is ‘a world full of temples’ and you will visit two of the most important. A Balinese temple is not a roofed space but a series of courtyards and thrones to which the invisible gods are invited to descend from above the great volcano Gunung Agung, and take up temporary residence. Your discovery begins with Pura Besakih, the great mother temple of Bali and the most important, built high on theslopes of Gunung Agung itself; A chronogram which can be dated back to AD 1007 indicates the temple was originally used as a Buddhist sanctuary. The character of the rites still practiced here today, the Balinese names of many of the deities worshipped and the topography might indicate that Besakih was originally a pre-Hindu terraced sanctuary for the cult of the ‘Master of the Mountain’. Eighteen separate sanctuaries belonging to different regencies and caste groups surround the three main temples dedicated to Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. To the Balinese, visiting the temple sanctuaries is a special pilgrimage. The mountain top setting gives it an almost mystical quality. The largest on the island, this massive complex of 35 small temples attracts staggering numbers of pilgrims each year, being the main point of pilgrimage for Balinese Hindus. Steps ascend through split gates to the main courtyard where the shrines dedicated to Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu are wrapped in cloth and decorated with flower offerings. There are a number of temples but many of their inner courtyards are closed to visitors. Tracing its origins to prehistoric times, the complex was untouched by the great 1963 eruption of Mount Agung, which wiped out surrounding villages. The complex also houses the oldest remaining gamelan instrument in Bali called selonding. If you have visited a Balinese temple before, you will be struck by the simple terraces and sober wooden sanctuaries at Pura Besakih, which in the light of the Balinese love for decoration, contrast with those you will encounter later.

Descending the mountain, a stop is made at the capital of what is considered the highest, most important of the nine kingdoms of Bali from the late 17th century until 1908. Klungkung is a city known for its arts, painting, dance and music, and for its magnificent Kertha Ghosa; the hall of justice in the royal palace compound. Because the Kertha Ghosa was the court of the high king of Bali, certain serious cases were tried there. The accused were able to view (as you will today) the ceiling which depicts different punishments awaiting criminals in the next life. These paintings are outstanding examples of the Kamasan or Wayang style and they are based on the story of Bhima (a hero of the great Indian epic Mahabharata) as he travelled through ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’, as well as those of the Tantri, Garuda, and scenes depicting portents of earthquakes.

Lunch at Mahagiri Resort restaurant set amongst spice groves and overlooking stunning rice terraces with a perfect view of Gunung Agung rising to the skies.

Your visit will continue to the State Temple of Pura Kehen at Bangli. To drive here you pass through terraced emerald rice fields, cross deep jungle and palm clad ravines to reach this beautiful temple with its enormous and ancient waringin (Ficus benjamina) tree at the entrance which throws cool shade across the split drum towers, the Divine Seats of the Gods, and the towering pagoda-like structure representing Mt Meru, home of the Gods at the Centre of the Universe.

Day 3: Monday 6 July 2015, Bali

Free Day for individual pursuits. Sanur was Bali’s first beach resort area, but due to a carefully managed plan, still retains its Balinese character and quiet old-style village ambience. You may wish to explore on foot the white coral fringed beach from your hotel, or wander through some of Bali’s chic fashion shops and well-known restaurants. Perhaps even explore further afield, as Sanur is ideally located to many of the historically and culturally important areas of the island. You may also visit Denpasar,Bali's capital city. Although the modern centre of government departments, international banks, and many other offices, it still retains its unique Balinese personality. This is strongly felt and clearly seen in its many temples, universities and pleasant gardens, which still maintain their presence and influence. Denpasar has the Pura Jagatnatha, a temple dedicated to Bali's Supreme God, Sang Hyang Widi. The Pura's awesome architecture resembles that of a Balinese palace which has now been converted into a museum housing a fine collection of prehistoric and modern art. The famous 4th century Pura Maospahit, is right next to Pura Jaganatha. Your Tour manager and local guide can provide plenty of ideas.

Day 4: Tuesday 7July 2015, Bali to Sulawesi

Transfer to Bali’s domestic airport and fly to Ujung Pandang. Upon arrival at Hasanuddin Airport you will enjoy an exploration of Makassar and its environs. Afternoon free for your own discovery of this amazing town which was the centre of trading by ships across the globe in its day.

Overnight stay at Aryaduta Makasar

Day 5: Wednesday 8 July 2015, Sulawesi

Depart this morning to drive to Tana Toraja in Southern Sulawesi. This journey, with stops along the way, will take around 10 hours, passing through the Buginese areas with their distinctive stilt houses and magnificent scenery. Some 250km north of Ujung Pandang, a steep wall of mountains marks the limits of Bugis territory and the entrance into the highlands of Tanah Toraja, a magnificent spread of hills and valleys where fat buffalo wallow beside lush green paddy-fields and where the people enjoy one of Indonesia's most confident and vivid cultures. Lunch at a local restaurant in Pare Pare. The long drive from the lowlands to the mountain stronghold of Tanah Toraja opens up a breath-taking new world. The rugged mountains and verdant valleys are home to a people whose love of religious spectacle is equalled only by their hospitality. With majestic panoramas, captivating villages and dramatic ceremonies, Tana Toraja is the undisputed highlight of any journey to Sulawesi.

Overnight stay at Heritage Toraja

Day 6: Thursday 9 July 2015, Tanah Toraja

Anthropologists place Torajan origins as part of the Bronze Age exodus from Vietnam; Torajans say that their ancestors descended from heaven by way of a stone staircase, which was later angrily smashed by the creator Puang Matua after his laws were broken. These laws became the root of aluk todolo, the ‘way of the ancestors’, which, at its most basic, divides the world into opposites associated with directions: north for the gods, south for humanity, east for life, and west for death. Only a fraction of Torajans now follow the old religion, the strict practice of which was prohibited after head-hunting and raunchy life-rites proved unacceptable to colonial and nationalist administrations. But trappings of the old religion are still an integral part of Torajan life. This morning’s tour will encounter extraordinary tongkonan and alang, traditional houses and rice-barns.

These boat-shaped houses face north in honour of the deities. Their traditional houses are related to the settlers who converted their boats into dwellings, and set the pattern of present-day community life. The houses are beautifully decorated with carvings and geometric designs. The numbers of buffalo horns hanging in front of the house indicate the status and wealth of the owner. Though Christianity and Islam have found converts here and modern trends have made inroads, traditional rituals remain strong, especially that of funeral rites.

Later this morning you will encounter the megalithic royal grave-stones of the seventh king, as well as the Sanggala, the “Tree for Dead Babies”.

Afternoon is free.

Day 7: Friday 10 July 2015, Tanah Toraja

The most spectacular of Torajan rituals are the funerals. For Torajans, a funeral is the single most important ceremony in the life cycle. It is based on a strong belief that the soul of the deceased travels to the land of the south, and in this land of eternity, they will need all the requisites of everyday life in the hereafter just as when they were alive in this world. Funeral ceremonies are festivals lasting as long as ten days with much feasting and entertainment. Animal sacrifices are made to ensure eternal life in the after-life and to safeguard the descendants. This morning’s visit to Londa will encounter the various types of graves which are located in cliff-side caves, mountain ledges or in special houses reserved for the dead. The rock cliffs are chosen because of their strength and relative safety from animals and thieves. Some are well guarded by life-size wooden effigies of the persons buried. You will also see more of the traditional houses and village life styles.

The afternoon is free.

Day 8: Saturday 11 July 2015, Toraja – Ujung Pandang

Return to Ujung Pandang, stopping for lunch at Bukit Indah restaurant in Pare-Pare, and then drive back through the magnificent mountain valleys direct to Ujung Pandang and check-in to your hotel.

Day 9: Sunday 12 July 2015, Ujung Pandang - Sorong - Rajah Ampat

Morning drive to the airport to catch the onward flight to Sorong. Transfer by public ferry to Waisai (capital of Raja Ampat), a journey of around 2 hours. From Waisai, your resort is just 45 minutes by private speedboat. As stunningly beautiful above water as it is below, Raja Ampat (which literally translates as “The Four Kings”) has a startling diversity of habitats to explore. Each of these – from the stark wave-pounded slopes that drop away beneath the karst cliffs of Wayag and Uranie islands to the deep, nutrient-rich bays of Mayalibit, Kabui and Aljui to the “blue water mangrove” channels of Kofiau and Gam, to the plankton-rich upwelling areas of Misool and the Dampier Strait – are homes to unique assemblages of species that, when taken together, add to produce the most impressive species lists ever compiled for a coral reef system of this size.

Your hotel, the Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, is located on the island of Mansuar which is at the southern tip of Waigeo. It is strategically positioned in the heart of the most spectacular dive sites of Northern Raja Ampat. The Lodge is built along the fine white sands of Yenpapir Beach and backs into a pristine tropical rainforest. The resort stretches across the cove with the nearest village a 20 minute walk away. Small mangrove clusters provide shelter for many juvenile aquatic species and the reef in front of theresort is a heaven for snorkelers.

Overnight stay at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

Day 10: Monday 13 July 2015, Rajah Ampat - Kabui Bay Tour

As the Raja Ampat Islands have four mountainous main islands and hundreds of small islands in their vicinity, you will have the opportunity to explore the region by boat. Today you head toward the Kabui island group, past the Karst area which is a beautiful natural phenomenon, with its various unique flora and fauna as its attractions, such as the Bird of Paradise (Cenderawasih) Botak, Red Cenderawasih, Maleo Waigeo, Kus-kus, orchids, and many species of palms. Kabui is renowned for its magnificent beautiful views of coral islands with pristine sandy beaches. Whilst you are here, why not take the chance to visit the goa tengkorak (cave of skulls), and the historical sites of Raja Ampat in Kali Raja.

Day 11: Tuesday 14 July 2015, Penemu Island

Scientists have determined that the waters surrounding the Raja Ampat have the world’s greatest concentration of marine life for a region of its size. Imagine: more than 1,300 species of fish, six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles, and at least 450 species of reef-building corals. You will start todays’ tour by boat from the Lodge and head toward Penemu or Pianemo islands. Reefs throughout Raja Ampat are among the world’s most pristine. Currents rush coral larvae cross the Pacific Ocean to constantly replenish reef ecosystems. Some areas harbor large schools of fish; others offer regular sightings of large species such as grouper and harmless sharks. You may like to sit back and enjoy the splendid scenery or better still, go snorkeling in the calm waters between Penemu’s mushroom-shaped rock islands, which harbor kilometers of hard and soft corals. Explore a shallow lake filled with cassiopea jellyfish and juvenile sharks. Before returning to the resort, you can visit Arborek Village to observe a different lifestyle from those already encountered, and purchase plaited handicrafts.

Day 12: Wednesday 15 July 2015, Raja Ampat Dive Lodge - Sorong - Ubud (Bali)

Transfer from the resort to Sorong Harbour with a two hour sea crossing by speedboat and then by vehicle to the airport for your flight to Bali. Drive directly to Ubud, where ‘everyone is an artist’. Your hotel is set right by the famous ‘Monkey Forest’ in the heart of the ‘arts capital’ of the island with its streets and laneways choking with cafes, craft shops, galleries, temples and boutiques of every kind.

Overnight stay at Pertiwi Resort Ubud

Day 13: Thursday 16 July 2015, Bali

A full day’s tour begins with Ubud’s wonderful Pura Dalem (Temple of the Dead) which is resplendent with gilded carvings, split gates and altars of every kind. You will be presented with a lively but petrified world of flowers, ‘angels’, demons and animals. It’s possible you will encounter Bali’s living ‘Hinduism’ (agama Bali) expressed through the cycle of rites and festivals which punctuate the Balinese calendar. Perhaps an odalan, or ‘temple birthday’ festival will be accessible, but in any event, every single day in Bali is charged with unique attributes of sacred power to be honoured through daily ritual offerings.

You continue to the sacred springs flowing at Pura Tirta Empul of Tampak Siring. An inscription dates the springs all the way back to 926AD; and there are fine carvings and Garudas on the courtyard buildings. The temple and its two bathing pools have been used by the Balinese for over a thousand years as the spring water is believed to hold magical and curative powers. Regular purification ceremonies also take place here and it is likely you will encounter a number of rituals in this spiritually charged location.

Climbing higher into the centre of the island you stop at the village of Kintamani which provides magnificent views of the still active Mount Batur and its fantastic lake. Twelve kilometres in diameter and twenty metres deep, Batur’s caldera lake is simply astounding. The spectacular mountainous region around Kintamani with its jungles, paddy fields, plantations and bubbling hot springs, make this region a must for those interested in volcanic geological features, and offers some of the most spectacular viewsto be found anywhere on the island. Batur Lake also provides water for an underground network of streams and springs across the southern slopes of the mountain.

On the return journey to Ubud, the later afternoon and evening is spent at the Agung Rai Museum of Art in Peliatan. The Agung says of his collection.

“As one who has lived in and been involved with the world of art, particularly the art of painting, my love for that world has grown daily. My interest and dedication increased dramatically after seeing the collections of two museums in Bali, the Puri Lukisan Museum and the Neka Museum. The identity and individuality of each of these museums is truly reflected by their unique settings and distinctive collections. Through the good fortune I experienced in the world of art, I have had the opportunity to collect paintings that I feel are complementary to and congruent with the collections in the two museums mentioned above. I began collecting paintings seriously in 1980, and the works I sought were those that were an expression of the depth of the artist's sensitivity -- paintings which moved me, and to which I felt a spiritual connection. The collection includes the works not only of Balinese artists, but also of Indonesian painters from islands other than Bali, such as Affandi, Sudjono, Hendra Gunawan, Srihadi Soedarsono, Abas Alibasyah and others. There are also works by foreign artists who drew inspiration from the natural beauty and culture of Bali. Included are paintings by Rudolph Bonnet, Arie Smit, Le Mayeur de Merpres, Wilem Hofker, Antonio Blanco, Theo Meier, Donald Friend, HansSnel and others.I have always been greatly impressed by the paintings of Walter Spies and Raden Saleh and they have been placed in a special collection”.

After viewing the collections, dinner will be served at the beautiful ARMA café and then you will be immersed in the world of Balinese dance and drama. Agung Rai presents authentic dance performances and you will learn that Balinese dances, dance - drama and music are functional arts, not ‘art for art’s sake’. All the music, performed or composed collectively, all choreography and all dances are ultimately rooted in ‘religion’ (there is no word in any Asia language for religion). There is virtually no major ritual event which is not enriched by music, dance or theatre. The Balinese gods, ancestral souls and demons too are not satisfied with the same thing all the time. On the contrary, they are a very demanding audience with refined sensibilities in respect to musical and choreographic forms of expression. Hence Agung Rai supports innovation in these art forms and you will be staggered by the brilliance of performances which are for the gods, with you and local villagers looking on. Scheduled for your visit is a performance of Topeng Jimat which is a magnificent masked drama.

Day 14: Friday 17 July 2015, Ubud, Free Day

As you are in such close proximity to the ‘Monkey Forest’ and Ubud’s King’s Palace, you only need to walk a short distance to find many activities. Shops are right on the main road in front of the resort and it’s just a short walk to the museums and rice fields. Why not enrol in a traditional Balinese art workshop with themes such as Balinese Rindik (bamboo musical instrument), Yoga class, Hindu Astrology and Numerology, Modernity in Bali, History of Bali, Egg Painting, Silver Class, Lontar-Leaf painting, or Offering-Making?

Day 15: Saturday 18 July 2015, Ubud, Free Day

If you have not yet visited the Monkey Forest, this morning may be a good time. The presence of this sacred forest of giant nutmeg trees inhabited by cheeky monkeys is a demonstration of the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. In Bali, such sanctuaries are usually in sacred village areas, often surrounded by temples. These cultural sanctuaries are not only an important part of Balinese heritage, but also an important part of everyday live.

A Balinese temple is more than just a collection of pagodas and pavilions. The area enclosed by temple walls and the forest area surrounding it is sacred. These temples and the forest are essential for renewing contact with the spiritual world. The activities associated with these areas are essential in maintaining harmony between humans, nature and the cosmos. Not only are ancestral spirits and gods given offerings and prayers, but also the spirits of trees and statues in the Monkey Forest are given offerings and prayers by the priests and local villagers.

In the evening, transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to Adelaide.

Anticipated cost per person twin share (excluding international airfares) approx. AUD 4290.00
Single Supplement AUD 1145.00

PLEASE NOTE: Prices may fluctuate due to changes in charges, taxes and currency. Flight times are subject to change by the airlines. You will be advised of any changes closer to departure. Currency fluctuation may be an issue!


• All hotels, meals, transfers and sightseeing as mentioned in the itinerary
• Domestic flights within Indonesia
• Local English speaking guides in each destination
• Entrance fees as currently applicable


• International flights to Denpasar
• Visa for Indonesia
• Travel & Medical insurance coverage.
• Drinks/Beverages
• Items of a personal nature eg laundry
• Tips
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