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Hike atop smoking volcanoes, watch turtles hatch and scale the world’s biggest Buddhist temple on the Indonesian island of Java

At the heart of the Indonesian archipelago, the island of Java offers the chance to get as close as you can to steaming volcanoes, follow back-country roads to see turtles hatching on the beach, wander the rooms of a royal palace where Javanese dancers perform and see in the dawn at a legendary temple

JAVA

@OliSmithTravel

PHOTOGRAPHS PHILIP LEE HARVEY

@PhilipLeeHarvey

Early morning sun breaks over Red Island Beach, close to the entrance of Meru Betiri National Park at the eastern end of Java

Plan your trip

1 Peer gingerly into smoking craters believed to be the abode of gods amid the volcanic landscapes of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (p54).

2 Pick your way through the wilderness of Meru Betiri National Park: one of Java’s last remaining chunks of pristine jungle (p57).

3 The seat of powerful sultans and still a bastion of Javanese traditions, the city of Yogyakarta is the place to measure this island’s cultural pulse (p60).

4 Climb centuries-old steps to see in the dawn at the top of Borobudur – the volcanic-stone temple that is Indonesia’s greatest ancient monument (p62).

MAP ILLUSTRATION: ALEX VERHILLE. PHOTOGRAPHS: P HILIP LEE HARVEY, HEMIS/ALAMY, PHOTOALTO/R EX-SHUTTERSTOCK, SIMON REDDY/ALAMY PHOTOCREDIT

HOW TO GET THERE

Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta is the main gateway to Java (and Indonesia more generally). Garuda Indonesia flies from London Gatwick to Jakarta with a brief stop in Amsterdam (from £590; garuda-indonesia.com). Other flights from the UK to Indonesia require a change of plane. It’s also very easy to reach Jakarta and Surabaya airports from the UK via other Asian hubs, such as Bangkok, Doha, Dubai and Singapore.

HOW TO GET AROUND

At 600 miles long, Java is a fairly sizeable place and its network of internal flights can prove helpful if you’re short on time. Garuda Indonesia and Indonesia Air Asia are the safest and most reliable domestic operators (competition isn’t stiff), connecting the main hubs of Jakarta, Surabaya and Yogyakarta (Jakarta– Yogyakarta from £90 return; garuda-indonesia.com). Java is one of only two Indonesian islands with a railway network. Trains stop at most large cities, and the network stretches from Banyuwangi in the east to Jakarta and beyond in the west – it’s about 7½ hours by train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta (air-conditioned seat from £15; kereta-api.co.id, for advice about booking see seat61.com). Long-distance buses are the most popular form of public transport; tickets are cheap, but be aware you’ll have to turn up at bus stations to book your seat, and buses rarely depart until all the seats (and sometimes some of the aisle) gets filled. Arranging car hire is possible, although navigating in Java as a non-local is not for the faint of heart. It’s more common for visitors to hire a vehicle and driver – expect to pay around £30–£50 per day.

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