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One of the largest archipelagos in the world, Indonesia consists of more than thirteen thousand islands. The island of Java is the vibrant heart of the country, a true paradise for active travellers and wellness seekers.

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Climb a volcano

Near the city of Yogyakarta, the enormous Gunung Merapi stands 2911 metres high. Although this is Java's most active volcano, in quieter periods it makes for a great hiking destination with breathtaking views of Central Java. Many hikers choose to hike the long way up at night to arrive in time for sunrise. Often you will see low-hanging clouds pierced by the smouldering peaks of nearby volcanoes. The most impressive display of nature awaits visitors at the edge of the crater. However, access, accompanied by a guide, depends on the conditions. Check for conditions at www.gunungbagging.com

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    Learn how to surf

    The fishing village of Batu Karas, 32 kilometres west of the popular beach resort Pangandaran, is one of the best spots in Java for surfing. Near Batu Karas Point Break, beginners can practice on easy waves that break slowly and predictably along hundreds of metres in a protected bay with a soft bottom of black-volcanic sand. More experienced surfers can hone their skills on the reef (‘Karang’) and at ‘Bulak Bendak’, a surf spot in open sea, accessible only by boat.

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      Go on a jungle tour

      There is no better place to go off the beaten track than in Ujung Kulon National Park. This destination is only accessible on foot or by boat. The company of a good guide is an absolute must. The jungle is home to a great variety of exotic wildlife. With luck you may even spot a Javanese rhinoceros. Real adventure lovers can undertake a three-day hike along beaches and river crossings, ending with a visit to the island of Pulau Peucang, but there are also numerous shorter day hikes. Enquire about the possibilities in the village of Tamanjaya, the starting point for most routes through the park.

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      Meditate with Buddhist monks

      The nearby Buddhist monument of Borobodur is deservedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Indonesia. Your best bet for a quiet visit is sunrise. Those who undertake the effort to arrive just before break of day will not only avoid the masses but are also rewarded with a view of the temple basking in magical light. As soon as the first tour busses arrive, you can be on your way to visit the nearby Mendut monastery, where you can accompany the monks every morning at 7 am for a group meditation. If you want more, you also book a three-day meditation retreat.

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        Dream away at a gamelan performance

        Few musical styles are as relaxing as the Indonesian gamelan. The sounds of the gongs, xylophones, drums and flutes are deliberately slow and calculated. The sultry evening air carries the sounds of the gamelan, heavy with the aroma of flowers and fruit, cooking fires and clove cigarettes. Of course you can enjoy the music in passing, but for the full experience we recommend attending a concert, for example at the enormous palace grounds of the Kraton in Yogyakarta. Here gamelan orchestras regularly accompany traditional dance and puppet performances for an authentic soothing sonic massage.

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        Watch the sun sink into the ocean

        To explore the most beautiful and relatively undiscovered beaches of Java head to the tiny archipelago of Karimunjawa. These islands are accessible by speedboat from Jepara, a small Javanese village northeast of the city of Semarang. Only five of the 27 islands are inhabited and the entire island group is surrounded by a marine reserve. There is not much to do except snorkel, swim and enjoy the sunset, but that should be just the right amount of activity.

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