Sukamade | Spotting Turtles

Sukamade is a small village in the national park “Meru Betiri” on the South coast of Java. It is located in the middle of the jungle, isolated from civilization.

Turtles

In the evening after sunset, sea turtles arrive here to lay their eggs on the beach. You can witness this spectacular event. It is impressive to see how the large turtles (100kg-350kg) that live in the ocean, move slowly on land and carefully dig a hole for their eggs (around 100) that they are going to lay. If you are lucky enough to see the turtles come ashore, this is an unforgettable and unique experience to remember!

On average, 2 to 5 turtles arrive at night to lay eggs. The chances of seeing the turtles are the greatest in the months of July and August, but of course there is no 100% guarantee. The whole trip is a very special experience anyway.

Rangers

Sukamade is home to the rangers whose task it is to protect the vulnerable turtles. The rangers ensure that the eggs buried by the turtles on the beach are protected from predators and poachers alike. The project now exists for almost 50 years and is successful.

Once the turtle has laid the eggs and returned to the sea, the eggs are dug up by the rangers and taken to a protected area where they are safe until the little turtles hatch after about 55 days.

The release of the turtles

Because eggs are dug up almost daily, small turtles also hatch almost daily. These little turtles are then released back into the ocean. You can help.

It is really special to see how the turtles instinctively run towards Release the Turtlethe ocean and later, when they are grown – and sometimes live more than 2600 kilometers away – return to the same beach of Sukamade to lay their eggs themselves.

The turtles that lay their eggs on the beach in Sukamade normally live on the East coast of Australia, Papua New Guinea and even the southern Pacific.
It is amazing how these turtles, generation after generation, find their way back to the same beach. The turtles can live up to 100 years. Think about what they have already seen in their life.

 

Sukamade Jeep Tour

 

The Jungle

The trip to Sukamade is very adventurous. With a 4WD jeep you drive with your driver through villages, forests and plantations. Along the way you can see how palm sugar is made and at the coast you will stop at a bay where the typical wooden canoes quietly wait for their next sea trip.

Then you continue your way through the jungle on a bumpy road and you even have to cross the river by jeep. Along the way you can encounter giant bats, monkeys, deer, forest cats, beautiful birds and large iguanas (up to 1.5 to 2 meters). Sometimes you hear the sound of a strange steam locomotive… this is the flapping wings of the hornbill. Black panthers also live in this protected area of jungle, and it is said you can find here also the last remaining Javanese tigers.

Tranquility and simplicity

You will spend the night in a simple accommodation. A large shared room with a number of beds and a simple bathroom. At 10 p.m. the generator switches off and there is no electricity anymore, only kerosene lamps.

Just before sunset, hundreds of bats fly over the jungle. In the distance you will hear animal sounds. The whole area is full of peace and quietness. Here you are really away from civilization.

An experience never to forget

Ijen

Ijen blue fire vulcano

The Ijen volcano is 2250 meters high and has a crater lake with a very high sulfur content, which makes the water turn turquoise. With a diameter of 1 kilometer and a depth of 200 meters, it is the largest acidic crater lake in the world.

At night, a blue fire can sometimes be seen in the crater of the volcano. It is the largest blue fire area on Earth. The flames can reach a height of five meters and reach a temperature of 600 degrees Celsius. The blue fire arises because sulfuric acid escaping from the soil ignites after it comes into contact with the oxygen in the air.

The government requires touristsIjen blue fire tour to drive a jeep to the beginning of the park. It is a 2-hour walk from the park entrance to the crater lake. For tourists it is mandatory to do this under the supervision of a guide. The climb to the top is quite tough. Due to the height it can get cold (be sure to bring a jacket). You can rent a gas mask for the sulfur fumes.

Sulfur has been extracted at the edge of the lake since 1968. The solidified sulfur is chopped up and carried down by about 300 carriers in baskets. The carriers carry between 75kg and 90kg first up from the crater and then 3km down. They make the trip twice a day.

On the westside of the crater lake a dam was built around 1920 to prevent the toxic water from the lake from flowing over the lower farmland. This dam itself is difficult to reach.

Since National Geographic, the BBC and Al Jazeera broadcast documentaries about the extraordinary blue fire, tourism to the volcano has increased. It can be busy in the high season, especially on weekends.

Surabaya

Surabaya with a private driver

Surabaya

Surabaya is the second largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta and has 3.5 million inhabitants.

The story goes that the name of the city was taken from a fight between a shark (sura) and a crocodile (baya), but it is more likely that the name comes from the phrase “sura ing bhaya” which means “the courage to face danger”.
The city is not very popular with tourists, but it certainly has some interesting places to visit. Many Dutch people have their roots in Surabaya, which makes it interesting to look for history.

High Tea at the Majapahit hotel

Hotel Majapahit

The Majapahit hotel is more than a hotel. It is a well-known meeting place with an interesting history. The hotel is located in a beautiful colonial building. Construction started in 1910 and the hotel opened in 1936. The Belgian Crown Prince and Charlie Chaplin were present.
This used to be the well-known Orange hotel and until 1969 this hotel was owned by the Armenian Lucas Sarkies.
The hotel is mentioned in all the history books in Indonesian schools. During the Japanese occupation, the hotel became the headquarters of the Japanese troops and after the capitulation the Dutch flag was raised here again. In September 1945, the blue strip of the Dutch flag was removed and the Dutch flag changed to the Indonesian flag.

In the hotel you can eat delicious food and look around and of course also spend the night in style.Santa Maria Church

Catholic Church of the Santa Maria

This church was built in 1899 in Dutch style. Since 1998, the building has been designated as a cultural heritage site. The church has beautiful stained glass windows.

Kembang Kuning Cemetery

Field of honour Surabaya

More than 5000 war victims are buried on Kembang Kuning (literally “yellow flower”) cemetery, including the civilian victims of the camps in East Java, as well as soldiers. The Java Sea Battle memorial is in the middle of the cemetery. In February 1942, 915 naval men lost their lives in the Java Sea in an attempt to stop the Japanese. Only a few victims of this battle are buried here. Most of them were given sailors’ graves. Their names are inscribed on a bronze plate at the back of the monument.

Sampoerna Museum

A cigarette museum is not the first thing you think of when you go on holiday, but the Sampoerna museum is a special museum, interesting, and with an intersting story.

Sampoerna’s house was built in 1862 as an orphanage. Later it was converted into a theater and cinema where Charlie Chaplin was also a guest.
In 1932, the building was purchased by the founder of the Sampoerna cigarette factory. Since 2003 it is possible to visit the building and see how the  cigarettes (including kretek) are made. There is also a museum and a shop and a good restaurant. The museum is well managed and well maintained.

What makes it special is that it is possible a  to take a look at the factory hall from a balcony, where the workers manually roll cigarettes at an enormous speed. The fastest employees roll 4000 cigarettes a day.

Bank Indonesia Museum

The Museum Bank Indonesia is a museum in the old building of the Javansche bank in Surabaya. The Javansche bank was founded in Surabaya in 1829. A new building was built in 1903 by the architects Cuypers and Marius J. Hulswit in a beautiful neo-Renaissance style. Until 1973, the building served as a bank. It was restored in 2012 and is now a museum.

It is a modest museum in a beautiful building. One of the highlights, for example, is the old vault with a safe from Dordrecht.
(like most museums it is closed on Mondays).

Bank Mandiri Museum (Escompto)

city tour Surabaya

Not far from the Javansche bank used to be the Escompto bank (now the Bank Mandiri). The building was built in 1928. Like the Javansche bank, this building was also designed by the Dutch architect Marius J. Hulswit.

The Escompto bank was founded on August 22, 1857.  The Indonesian government took over this bank in 1960 and changed its name to Bank Dagang Negara, after which Bank Dagang Negara was merged into Bank Mandiri on October 9, 1998.

Although a lot has changed on the outside of the building, the inside is still old style.

Zangrandi ice cream shop

Zangrandi Ice Cream Surabaya
Zangrandi Ice Cream Surabaya

Roberto Zangrandi ran a successful ice cream shop in Surabaya between 1930 and 1960. In Dijkermanstraat (now Jl. Yos Sudarso) he and his wife delighted visitors with the famous Tutti Frutti ice cream, Banana Split and other classics.

The low table and the red and beige chairs are still the same and the recipe remains the same. When the Zangrandi couple decided to return to their home country in 1960, they sold the ice cream shop. Old recipes remain and new flavors have been added. A lovely place to enjoy ice cream.

Majid Al Akbar

Al Akbar Surabaya

The Al Akbar Mosque was built between 1995 and 2000. It is the second largest mosque in Indonesia. It is a beautiful building, majestic and impressive with beautiful details. The minaret beside the mosque is 99 meters high, is a poem to the 99 names of Allah and can be climbed. From the tower you have a beautiful view of the city. There is a lift available, so even if you have trouble walking this shouldn’t be a hindrance. There are no official tours.

Mpu Tantular Museum

The Mpu Tantular Museum was founded by Godfried Hariowald von Faber in 1933 as “Stedelijk Historisch Museum Soerabaia”. The current name refers to the Javanese poet and thinker Mpu Tantular who lived in the 14th century. The museum is located in a beautiful building and shows a lot of the history of Surabaya. There are often interesting exhibitions and meetings.

City tour

Chinatown Surabaya Surbaya is even more fun with a guide. Discover the diversity of the city. For example, in Surabaya there is an old European quarter, an Arab quarter and a Chinese quarter with a rich history and culture.

The inhabitants are welcoming and friendly. You can eat well at the many stalls along the way.

Malang

City tour Malang

Malang

About 1 million people live in Malang. The city is relatively cool because the city is located a few hundred meters above sea level. The city is spacious with wide avenues and lots of green. Many old buildings in Art deco style have been preserved, which gives the city a great atmosphere. Architect Karsten was closely involved in the design of the city. He was an architect who cares about the environment and ​​human values.  He had a great love for Javanese culture.

There are several markets and great shops to visit. In the center is a square (alun-alun) with a Mosque, Catholic and Protestant church. In the neighborhood around the square there are still many houses from the colonial era. The oldest house that can still be found in this area was built in 1870. On theplates with the names of the streets, you will also find the old Dutch name in addition to the Indonesian name.

Sacred Heart Church

The Sacred Heart Church (Hati Kudus Yesus) is also known as the Kayutangan Church.

Kayutangan literally means “wooden hand” after the old name of the neighborhood where the church is located. The story goes that the name of the district is based on an old wooden sign that once stood here in the shape of a hand.

The church was built in 1905 by the Dutch architect Hulswit.

Emmanuel Church

On the other side of the square is Immanuel Church, a Protestant church with a tower built in 1861. The church itself was rebuilt in 1912. Two old bibles from 1618 are preserved in this church.

Malang cycling tour Mosque Agung Jami’

Next to the Immanuel church is a mosque. This mosque was built in 1890 in Javanese style. Later, the front was rebuilt in Arabic style. On Friday around one o’clock it is very busy because of the Friday prayers; sometimes people even pray outside.

And Ang Kiong temple

This beautiful Chinese temple was built in 1825 for the Chinese community in Malang. the name of the temple literally means: “The palace of redemption in God’s eternity”. For centuries people with a Chinese background have lived on Java.

Until the early 20th century they were obliged to live in separate neighborhoods. This temple is beautifully decorated. Red and yellow predominate because these colors bring good luck. Followers of Buddhism, Confusionism and Taoism use this temple.

Kampung Pelangi Kampung Pelangi

Kampung Pelangi (rainbow village) is located right on the banks of the river Brantas. In 2016, students came up with the idea to paint the kampung in different colors to not only renovate the kampung but also to attract tourists so that the mostly poor residents of this neighbourhood had more opportunities to earn some extra money. Partly due to Instagram, it became a great success. An adjacent kampung has painted a number of three-dimensional paintings on the walls of the houses. The two kampungs are connected by a glass suspension bridge over the Brantas River. These neighbourhoods are well worth a visit.


-Tip-

Bicycle tour through the old center

By cycling through quiet streets and alleys in the “kampungs” and parks in Malang you will get to know the city in a completely different way. Meet friendly people and visit the bird and flower markets. You will cycle along the river and through the old Dutch quarter. This tour can be done with an English speaking guide.
It is also fun to explore Malang on foot or by becak.


Back in history

Toko Oen

Visit Toko Oen Malang

Toko Oen in Malang was opened in 1934 and at that time this was a favorite meeting place where people could enjoy delicious Dutch food. Toko Oen in Malang is currently no longer run by the descendants of the Oen family.

The menu still features dishes from the Dutch era. However, many people only come to enjoy the atmosphere and a cup of coffee.

Ingill restaurant

In this restaurant you can eat delicious Javanese food while enjoying the interior, with many historical photos and attributes. It almost looks like a small museum.

Hotel Tugu

In the heart of Malang you find this special 5-star Tugu Hotel. This hotel is more than a hotel. This hotel is very stylish and is beautifully decorated with art treasures. The hotel is located in an old colonial villa. The owner is one of Indonesia’s most famous art collectors. In the hotel you can admire a beautiful collection of Javanese, Chinese and Dutch antiques.

Panji Museum

This museum has been open since 2012 and was first located in the center of the city. A local history lover has established an interesting private museum with many ancient objects. Wayang dolls, some of which are more than 100 years old, objects of the Javanese nobility in Malang and photographs from colonial times are part of the collection. After a visit to the museum you can cool off in the swimming pool in the museum gardens, in a beautiful atmosphere or take a walk through a sculpture garden along the river.

D’Topeng Museum in Batu

Topeng means “mask” in the Indonesian language. The museum’s collection has much more than just masks. Here you can find many artifacts that are centuries old. The objects mainly come from Java, but also from other parts of Indonesia. It is a well-maintained museum. A guide is available for larger groups. Individual groups can follow a self-guided tour via an app on your phone (bring your own earphones).

Close to Malang

Coban Pelangi

Coban Pelangi Malang

The waterfall “Coban Pelangi” is located in a beautiful piece of jungle. After a walk of 700 meters you will see the 30 meter high water. A beautiful sight. Especially around noon because at this time you have a good chance of seeing a rainbow above the cliff. The name of the waterfall literally means “rainbow waterfall” for a reason. The waterfall is located about 1400 meters above sea level, so the wheather is often nice and fresh. You can paddle in the water, in nature between the bird sounds.

Waterfall Tumpak Sewu

Tumpak Sewu means “a thousand together” and that is exactly what you will see: in a semicircle water falls from about 100 meters high everywhere: a thousand waterfalls next to each other.

Visit Tumpak Sewu from Malang
Tumpak Sewu waterfall

It is a brisk one hour walk from the parking lot to the waterfall Tumpak Sewu. The waterfall is very impressive and located in the middle of nature. It is not without reason that it can be busy here on the weekends.
At the waterfall it is possible to climb all the way down via many steep stairs and ladders to admire the waterfall from below. There it is possible to walk along the water to Goa Tetes in about 45 minutes. Goa Tetes is another waterfall that flows down a rocky slope. You will also find caves with stalagmites and stalactites. From Goa Tetes you can climb up via a less steep staircase. You can of course also choose to start the tour at Goa Tetes. Consult with your driver what is the most convenient.

It is cool here because of the altitude. In the morning there may still be some fog. Good shoes and a rain poncho or towel are not a luxury.

Bromo

Bromo jeep tour

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

The Bromo volcano is located at an altitude of 2329 meters above sea level and is located in the middle of an old large crater; The Tengger (10 km x 8.5 km). This large old crater looks like a large sandy area, like a desert, and is situated at an altitude of 2000 meters. The Tengger “desert” can be crossed by jeep.

The sandy plain is surrounded by the steep crater walls of the old Tengger volcano. In this old and wide sandy crater five old volcanoes are located. From this five the Bromo is the only one that is still smoking. Mount Semeru (3676 meters high) just outside the old Tengger crater, also still smokes.

If Bromo starts showing some vulcanic activity, the government will issue a warning, and no one can approach Bromo closer than 2 km. This does not happen often, but it cannot be predicted when this will happen.

Together, the volcanoes form the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.

The Tengger people

The Tengger people have lived in this area for around 500 years. The Tengger people are Hindu and it is thought that they descended from the ancient Hindu kingdom, Majapahit. They fled to the mountains when Islam spread throughout Java.

Bromo has an important place in their religion. The name Bromo is an abbreviation of one of their main Gods: Brahma. At the foot of the Bromo a Hindu temple was built. You can buy flowers to offer to the Bromo. Once a year (on the 14th day of the Hindu month Kasada) offerings (flowers, fruit and chickens) are offered to Bromo. On that day, no motorized transportation is permitted near the Bromo.


Dewa Kusuma

“Years ago, a young man and young woman lived near Bromo. They were called Joko Seger and Rara Anteng. They fell in love, married and lived happily in the mountains together. Unfortunately, their happiness was not blessed with children. This desire was not fulfilled. Therefore they  went to Mount Penanjakan together, from where they had a great view of Bromo, and they meditated for six years. The first year facing East, the next year facing South, one year later facing the West, the fourth year the North, the fifth year to earth and the last year to heaven. During their meditation they took an oath and promised to Bromo: if we are blessed with 25 children, we will return to offer our youngest child to Bromo. Immediately after the made this promise, a strong flame came out of Bromo.

The couple returned home and soon their first child was born, one child after another was born and finally the couple lived happily in the mountains with their 25 children. Until one night the Bromo appeared in Rara’s dream and reminded her of her promise. Fearful and out of love for her youngest child, Rara fled to the forest with her 25 children. That very moment the earth began to shake and a big flame took her youngest son (Dewa Kusuma). Soon the earth became quiet again and the voice of Dewa Kusuma could be heard loud: “Today I leave you so that you can live in peace. One thing I have to ask you: come back every year and bring me fruit and water. If you do this, you will harvest abundantly and will have many children. This is all I ask from you.


Where to sleep?

You can spend the night at Cemoro Lawang, a village on the edge of the large old Tengger crater. Hotels and restaurants are simple, so don’t expect luxury here.

You can also choose to spend the night at Probolinggo, a rather large place at about a two hours drive from Bromo.

Hotels are not always easy to book online. If you need help, feel free to inform about the possibilities.

Tengger people

How to reach the Bromo?

From Surabaya

It takes about 4 hours to drive from Surabaya. Surabaya is easily accessible by train or airplane. From Surabaya your driver can pick you up and take you to the Bromo.

From Yogyakarta or Denpasar

From Yogyakarta, it takes around 11 hours by car. Also  from Denpasar, Bali it is about an 11 hours drive. Most people experience this long journey as very tiring and especially if you  want to visit Bromo at sunrise, you wont feel relaxed. So check if you can find more time in your travel plans for a more relaxed visit.

From Malang (also great by jeep)

After about a 5 hours drive from Malang you reach the Bromo. The last part of the journey (if you drive via Tumpang) you can transfer to a jeep and drive to the Bromo through sandy plains of the Tengger. Not only will this shorten the time you need to reach the Bromo, the trip will also be more adventurous. You drive over a narrow ridge, so small that the jeeps cannot pass each other. On the way, if  you like, you can take a short walk to the waterfall. You drive through the misty forest and pass through the villages where the Tengger people live, and see their fields on the slopes of the mountain. Finally you arrive at the Tengger desert landscape. Often the wind blows and the sand will be blown around, so bring a mask or scarf to cover your face to protect it from the sand.

When you drive the last part with a jeep, your driver will drive with your luggage on the paved road to the Bromo. For him it takes longer to reach Cemoro Lawang. So make sure you bring warm clothes, it can be cold in the mountains.

Sunrise or not?

Many people love to see the Bromo at sunrise, so especially in the morning it can be very busy around the Bromo. During the day it is less busy, In the afternoon there are often more clouds.

Bromo Tengger SemeruIn the morning, around 3:00, a jeep can bring you to the view point on Mount Penanjakan (400 meters higher than Bromo) to see the Bromo at sunrise. This trip takes less than an hour. Especially in high season, it is very busy and there are many jeeps driving on the mountains in line. The thin air can make breathing hard.

At the view point you cannot enjoy the spectacular view in peace. Although it can be busy, it is worth it.

From Penanjakan you can see Bromo, Kursi, and Batok the ancient volcano’s (Bromo has a smoke) and in the background the large volcano Semeru (the highest mountain in Java). An impressive view.

Because of its height, it is very fresh in the morning (around 5 degrees), unlike the usual weather in Indonesia. Don’t forget to bring a warm coat!

paardrijden bij de Bromo When the sun rises, the jeep tour continues through the lunar landscape of the Tengger Crater, to return to Bromo. Sometimes there  still is low fog in Tengger in the morning. This makes the landscape more mysterious than it already is. You can walk , but you can also take a horse to reach the Bromo. Quite pleasant, because the air is thin and cold, your condition is not as you are used to. Finally you can climb Bromo via a long ladder. Above the crater smoke appears. You can see the flowers that have been offered before.

Don’t you like to get up early or do you like to avoid the crowds? Then you can also choose to visit Bromo during the daytime.

Good to know and some tips

  • Make sure you take enough cash with you.
  • Renting a jeep is required (by the authorities) if you want to drive to yhe Bromo or the view point at Penanjakan. This is not possible with normal transportation.
  • Bring warm clothes. You can also buy gloves or a cap on the spot.

Like most places in Indonesia, you have to buy a ticket for the national park. The government is trying to sell these tickets as much as possible online, to be able to check the maximum number of tickets sold per day.

Bromo krater


Madakaripura Waterfall

Not to far away from the Bromo a beautiful waterfall can be found. Madakaripura Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Java (200 meters high) and the second highest waterfall in Indonesia.

A famous poem from the 14th century tells us that Madakaripura was a present from king Majapahit, to the military commander Gajah Mada.

The Majapahit Kingdom (1293-1500) stretched from southern Thailand and Malaysia to Brunei and East Timor. This great kingdom was the result of the talents of Gajah Mada, the military commander.

Gajah Mada is said to have obtained his extraordinary talents by meditating in the cave behind the Madakaripura waterfall.

At the end of his life, Gajah Mada chose this waterfall for his final meditation before disappearing from earth. Here he reached the highest possible goal (“Muksha” in ancient Javanese).


The remembrance of Gajah Mada is still celebrated through meditation and rituals. This waterfall is not only an extraordinary natural phenomenon, but also historically and spiritually very special.

This waterfall always flows, even in the dry season and that is why this waterfall is also called the “eternal waterfall”. At the entrance there is a statue of Gajah Mada, after a walk of 20 minutes you reach the Madakaripura waterfall. During this tour you can get wet by the waterfall. Therefore raincoats are sold at the road.