With roughly 17,000 islands found within its borders, the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia is home to a particularly diverse array of landscapes and ecosystems—and this abundant array of natural features has ushered in a wealth of spectacular national parks all across the country. From colorful volcanoes to massive peat bogs, these iconic preserves are essential destinations for any seasoned outdoor adventurers planning a trip to the Indonesian archipelago.
Ujung Kulon National Park
With close to 150 million inhabitants, Java is the earth’s most populated island, but humans are far from the only creatures that call the region home. One particular animal—the Javan rhinoceros—hovers at the brink of extinction, with Java’s Ujung Kulon National Park hosting the planet’s last remaining population. While these ungulates are particularly difficult to spot in the wild, a visit to the park offers the opportunity to spot several hundred of the species that roam Java’s once-abundant lowland rainforests. In terms of native birds, guests should keep an eye out for vibrant species like the wreathed hornbill and black-backed kingfisher, while mammals range from the tiny Java mouse-deer to the elusive Javan leopard.
Sebangau National Park
Measuring in at more than one million acres, the sprawling Sebangau National Park houses one of the world’s largest populations of orangutans, with roughly 6,000 calling the preserve home. Though rampant unchecked deforestation brought widespread devastation to the park during the tail end of the 20th century, organizations like the Borneo Nature Foundation are working tirelessly to restore the region back to its former glory, engaging in reforestation and fire-fighting campaigns with local citizens. During a visit, guests can spot a wealth of other primate species including maroon langurs, tarsiers, and the odd-looking proboscis monkey, a creature that’s renowned for its massive nose.
Bunaken National Marine Park
Just beyond the northern shore of Sulawesi, a paradise for aquatic flora and fauna exists in the form of Bunaken National Marine Park. With close to 400 different species of coral residing within its boundaries, the preserve draws divers from across the globe, while the small pockets of land housed within the park are rife with vast mangrove forests that teem with fish and small crustaceans. Though coral is king around the park, oceanic species abound across all walks of life, with sea turtles, ocean whitetip sharks, dugongs and a truly massive array of oceanic fish all serving as potential sightings during a dive.
Kelimutu National Park
Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara Province tends to draw fewer tourists than areas like Bali and Jakarta, but there’s a wide array of spectacular natural wonders to explore across the region. Case in point—Kelimutu, a massive volcano that serves as the centerpiece of the aptly-named Kelimutu National Park. Located on the island of Flores, this natural feature has been a popular sunrise destination for decades thanks to its three striking crater lakes, all of which change color throughout the day due to volcanic activity. In addition to these iconic bodies of water, park visitors can also spot a wealth of wildlife including the bare-throated whistler, a striking bird that’s endemic to the Lesser Sunda Islands.
West Bali National Park
Bali may be best known for its vibrant nightlife, but there’s a wealth of pristine natural beauty waiting to be discovered across West Bali National Park. Perched on the northwesternmost edge of the island, the region is surprisingly diverse in spite of its small size, equipped with tangled mangrove forests, dense rainforest, and sprawling savanna. This complex ecosystem has ushered in a particularly high level of biodiversity, with more than 150 different bird species recorded in the area. Java sparrows, lesser adjutants, and even the critically-endangered Bali myna can be found during a visit, while flying foxes, banteng, and leopard cats are just a few of the mammalian species that call the park home.