Travel Bulletin - - INDONESIA -

Our Lombok jour­ney be­gins at Gili Meno, just a 30-minute boat ride from the main­land. Said to be the most re­laxed and ro­man­tic of the trio of Gili Is­lands (which also in­cludes party is­land Gili Trawan­gan and Gili Air), we dive off our boat and snorkel around co­ral reefs filled with iri­des­cent clouds of tiny sil­ver fish, fat sea slugs, tur­tles and more. Af­ter a lunch of cur­ried fish wrapped in ba­nana leaves at Ma­hamaya, a chic bou­tique ho­tel and restau­rant set on the talc-fine white sand, we’re ready to ex­plore. We hail a cidomo (a tra­di­tional horse cart, Meno’s only form of trans­port) and af­ter just five bumpy min­utes we ar­rive on the other side of the is­land. There, we pad­dle in translu­cent wa­ters and laze in the palm-thatched huts lin­ing the beach un­til it’s time to float back to the main­land. The fol­low­ing morn­ing we drive for two hours through jun­gle and ver­dant rice pad­dies into the rugged high­lands to the 40-me­tre Se­naru wa­ter­falls. Ac­cessed via a half-hour jun­gle hike, we stand knee-deep in the frosty wa­ters let­ting the spray cover our faces and the mighty roar en­gulf us. If we had an ex­tra two days we’d spend them sum­mit­ing Mount Rin­jani, an ac­tive vol­cano and one of In­done­sia’s high­est moun­tains. To­day, how­ever, it’s time to head off to our next In­done­sian idyll. three crew mem­bers for 24 hours and set sail. Soon we ar­rive on Rinca Is­land, one of Ko­modo Na­tional Park’s three main is­lands where about 2,000 dragons are said to live. Just 10 min­utes into our 90-minute walk we spot five of the two-me­tre dragons. They have more than 50 strains of bac­te­ria in their saliva, says our guide, and within 24 hours of be­ing bit­ten their prey usu­ally dies of blood poi­son­ing. We de­cide to keep our dis­tance and swiftly move on along the jun­gle paths, then back to the boat for a much-needed af­ter­noon siesta. At sun­set we find our­selves off the coast of Ka­long Is­land, or Fruit Bat Is­land. There, as the sky morphs from or­ange to pink to laven­der, hun­dreds of fly­ing foxes rush and chat­ter over­head as they leave their home in the man­grove forests in search of din­ner. From here, the awe-in­spir­ing na­ture mo­ments just keep on com­ing. There’s a sun­rise dip at Pink Beach, where we drift over the red co­ral reef that turns the beach sand pink. There’s a swim with en­dan­gered manta rays at Manta Point, where dozens of the huge, play­ful crea­tures glide around be­low us. The piece de re­sis­tance, how­ever, is a night on Ser­aya Is­land, where we re­lax in our white­washed wooden beach bun­ga­low just me­tres from the shore, swim in the beach­front salt­wa­ter pool, and watch the or­ange sun drop into the ocean from the top of the is­land’s 40-me­tre cliffs.

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