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Return to Indonesia

Last year I took part in a rather intense expedition to explore a jungle river in Papua in eastern Indonesia. Whilst we didn’t succeed in descending as much of the river as hoped, it opened my eyes to the huge variety of cultures, wildlife and landscapes that Indonesia has to offer.

I got married in May this year (about 6 months after the Papua trip), and suggested to my better half that Indonesia might be a good honeymoon destination. Instead of the typical week-in-a-five-star hotel approach, we decided to go for a longer holiday and island hop around Indonesia – not doing things on the cheap – but making the most of the money we had!


Saving money by getting cheap local flights

Saving money by getting cheap local flights


Cocktails at Seminyak, Bali

But not skimping on other things


We’d told our wedding guests that if they wanted to get us a gift, money towards the honeymoon would be welcomed, provided they made a suggestion of what we should use that money for. Gifts that were bought for us included going scuba diving, trekking, SUP’ing, dolphin spotting, etc etc. And, whilst taking our boats on honeymoon was ruled out, it went without saying that as both Amie and I kayak, we’d spend at least a couple of days in boats.


SUPing... Just need a river to take these down!

SUPing… Just need a river to take these down!


In the end we managed to borrow boats to go kayaking in two places on our travels. Both runs were lovely grade 3, with bits of 4, in tropical jungle setting. Dry cags most definitely not required – shorts and t-shirt all the way (the t-shirt is only being to prevent sunburn).


Nimanga River, North Sulawesi.
Franky at Waraney Rafting was extremely hospitable. Although not set up for kayaking, he lent us the only two boats in his possession – one modern creekboat he’d borrowed from a friend on Java with matching modern blades – and one brittle 4m long plastic craft he’d picked up in Australia with paddles to match. We topped off the look with centre-helmets and life jackets. Win!


Franky only had one modern boat to borrow!

Bringing back the old skool


The Nimanga river in Sulawesi

Chilling out during a flat section


Amie on the Nimanga river in Sulawesi

Amie on the Nimanga river in Sulawesi Amie on the Nimanga river in Sulawesi


Franky joined us in a raft with a couple of his guides and a couple of students from Manado Universities adventure sports society. The Nimanga River proved to be a fun run for kayaking, made even more spicy for me by rapidly having to re-learn to control the ancient barge using long zero feather splits which cracked if you pulled too hard on them.

Whilst I’ve not painted a particularly good picture of Franky’s kayaking equipment, his rafting set-up is much better and his enthusiasm, generosity and hospitality is unmatched. If you’re planning to explore North Sulawesi, get in touch with him through Manado Adventure.


One of many as yet unrun waterfalls - I'm definitely coming back one day!

This (un-run) roadside waterfall is on the river which flows towards the rafting base – and this is in low water season. There’s another bigger one on the same section, with another half a dozen or so on another similarly sized trib – that’s barely scratching the surface of what else is out there. I’m definitely coming back to explore one day!


Citarik River, Java

A few hours drive south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, the Arus Lair rafting base has been developed with corporate events and hospitality in mind. Their extensive and immaculate grounds spread over a few hundred meters down the river bank, with a restaurant, an area for camping (that conveniently remains in the shade early morning) and a dozen or so new bungalows – some of which are located on an island in the middle of the river. A great place for hanging out with a beer, or planning which river to head to next – if only we’d had more time! He’s also got a shed full of modern kayaks to hire.


The Bridge to Arus Liar's Island

The bridge to Arus Liar’s Island


Arus Liar's Island huts

Arus Liar’s Island huts


The Citarik isn’t the only river in Java worth paddling, near the rafting base are a selection of great rivers, ranging from class 3 to 5. Once again, Lody – the head honcho at Arus Lair, is the man to talk to about this.


Shudder ruddering outside Arus Liar's bungalows

Shudder ruddering outside Arus Liar’s newest batch of bungalows


We were there in May/June, which is low water season – both rivers would be improved by a visit at a different time of year, but then kayaking wasn’t the prime reason for this trip!


Low water on the Citarik river

Low water on the Citarik river


The Citarik River, Arus Liar

One way not to miss the takeout


Wildlife & Culture
Indonesia is a huge country, with rich cultures and a massively diverse array of weird and wonderful flora and fauna. There’s no more paddling in the rest of these photos – but a taste of what there is to see and do off the river.


Tarsiers - one of the worlds smallest monkeys

Tarsiers – one of the worlds smallest monkeys


Here be dragons

Komodo Dragons


Huge hissing beetle

Huge hissing beetle (that’s a 72mm lens cap)


Dolphins in Sulawesi

More dolphins Dolphins in Sulawesi





Crazy spiders

Crazy spiders


Planting Rice in Bali's Paddy Fields

Planting Rice in Bali’s Paddy Fields


Kecak fire dance - Bali

Kecak fire dance – Bali


If anyone wants any information about visiting Indonesia for paddling, let me know and I’ll pass on as much of the info as I can, that I gathered during last year’s Papua trip and this (somewhat more relaxing) one!