Our main reason for going to Indonesia was to climb Carstensz Pyramid, one of the 7 summits. While there we did some sightseeing.
The island of Bali is one of the most popular among tourists of all of the Indonesian islands. While in Bali we stayed in the beach town of Kuta. It’s a very touristy area with the main street running parallel to the beach and packed with local and chain: shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. Kuta’s beach is one of the main reasons to come here. It’s a long, white sand beach with good surf and a lively atmosphere. Our favourite pre-dinner activity was to have beers on the beach. It’s not fancy, just plastic beach chairs, plastic crates as tables, but plenty of cold beer and a great atmosphere.
We also visited many temples on the island. The two most spectacular are Tanah Lot and Uluwatu. Tanah Lot is an ancient temple built on a small outcrop just off a rocky beach. Non Hindus cannot enter the temple, but it has a spectacular setting and is worth seeing. Uluwatu Temple is an old temple set on the side of a steep cliff by the sea. The views are really incredible, but while admiring the view, watch your camera, there are many Macaque monkeys ready to steal what they can. We saw one monkey snatching a camera from absent-minded tourist.
Located on the island of Papua, Carstensz is the lowest of the 7 summits. It was also Richard’s final peak in his collection of the 7 summits (highest mountain on each of the 7 continents). We booked our climb with Adventure Indonesia. There were 14 climbers, 5 guides and about 30 porters who brought their wives and children along for the 12 day expedition. It was quite the sight. The 6 day approach to the climb was through incredibly dense jungle. The ‘trail’ took us along rivers, over fallen trees, overgrown bush and muddy swamps. Much of the trek was dozens of feet off the ground as we walked along fallen logs that were on layers and layers of other fallen logs. When we could walk on the ground, it was either muddy, spongy or covered with slippery roots. Almost every day began with negotiations between our guides and the porters. Day after day the porters demanded more money, but the guides were used to this and planned for it. The negotiations came to a head on day 6 when the porters pulled out machetes and demanded an exorbitant fee to continue. A few hours later a settlement was made, and later that day, to everyone’s relief, we reached base camp.
The next day was summit day. We started at 3 am with a trek to the base of the climb. From here we used fixed ropes and ascenders for a few hours until we reached the Tyrolean Traverse. One of our guides, Poxi, was instrumental in getting all of us across the gap. He went across the traverse cable first and then, as we individually pulled ourselves along the cable, high above the ground, he pulled on a rope attached to our harness thus providing a lot of assistance. From there, the route to the summit follows an easy ridge hike and in half an hour we were on the the summit. We had our celebratory pictures on top before retracing our route back to base camp.
The trek back to Suguapa (our starting town) was no less harrowing than it was on the way out. In fact, some of the downhill sections were much more scary and potentially injury causing than going up. We all made it back to town safely and collectively decided not to tip our porters. Hopefully they learned that a tip is earned and not given at knife point.
Flores and Komodo
We took a private 3 day boat cruise from the Island of Flores, around the many islands in the area to the island of Komodo. The boat was a very basic locally operated motor boat with one cabin, our crew slept on the roof under a canopy.
On the way to Komodo island, we cruised past dozens of small islands, we stopped a few times to go snorkeling and hike on the small islands. The first night we anchored near Kalong island and watched thousands of fox bats fly out of their nests in just a few minutes making quite an amazing show.
The next day we cruised to Komodo National Park on Komodo Island. You have to use a Park Guide to enter the Park to see the dragons. Komodos are crocodile sized, prehistoric looking lizards with a forked tongue. A Komodo dragon’s mouth carries over 50 lethal bacteria and a single bite can kill a buffalo by giving them a lethal infection. To fend off the dragons, the guides are only armed with a long stick, which doesn’t make you feel very well protected. It was a little unnerving to walk past the dragons and even worse not knowing where were hiding. Over a couple of hours we were able to see several Komodos, from young babies to full grown males, and none of them tried to attack so in hindsight maybe the stick is a good enough deterrent.
The next day we were making our way back to Flores to catch a flight back to Bali when the steering rudder on our boat broke. We were going in circles for quite a while and after several failed attempts to repair the rudder our guide called a private taxi boat to pick us up. This boat was even more rudimentary as its steering was just 2 pieces of rope attached to the rudder. Pulling on one rope turned it one way, and the other rope turned it the other way. We were doubtful that this boat would be much better, but we eventually made it to shore and caught our flight back to Bali.
For more pictures from our trip check out our YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-1rojlu0dw
For more pics from our blogs go to Gallery at monkeystale.ca