EAST JAVA, A TROPICAL PARADISE
East Java covers the eastern third of Java, as well as the island of Madura and several small offshore islands. It is dominated by a series of rugged, spectacular volcanic peaks, with Mount Bromo and Semeru being the most famous. In the north and south coasts are beautiful sandy beaches, another key attraction of the region. The two large southern national parks of Alas Purwo and Meru Betiri are remote and sparsely populated and represent the nearest thing to a wilderness experience that you will find on Java. In the northeast, is Baluran National Park, which has scenery similar to the African Savannah plains.
Surabaya is the capital and Indonesias second largest city. It is also a major industrial centre and business port.
Geography: East Java lies between Sumatra to the west and Bali to the east, with Borneo to the north and Christmas Island to the south.
Climate: The province has a tropical climate with average temperature of between19oC to 30oC. The plains and lower hill regions are hot and humid while in the mountain areas the night temperature can drop to zero. It has two seasons: rainy-season from October to April) and dry season from May to September.
PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO
The Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park
The main attraction in East Java, the national park is named after its two mountains, Mount Semeru (the highest in Java at 3,676m), Mount Bromo (the most popular) and the Tengger people who inhabit the area. Mount Semeru, also known as Mahameru (Great Mountain), is one of Indonesias most active volcanoes, and is often closed due to its highly active nature. The park offers many trekking trails to suit all levels of physical fitness. One of the most popular activities, especially for those who prefer leisure activities, is to stay in one of the simple lodges, then drive up to the top of Mount Penanjakan (2,770m) in a 4 x 4 jeep pre-dawn and wait for a truly spectacular sunrise. Later in the day, a slightly more arduous 90-minute climb up to the rim of the Mount Bromo caldera to view the bubbling active crater is worth the effort. You can also make this ascent on a local pony.
Ijen Plateau & Ijen Crater
The plateau, near Banyuwangi and Bondowoso, is an area of spectacular volcanic activity. For the adventurous traveller a visit to the Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen) is a must as it is one of Indonesias natural wonders. The crater can be approached from Bondowoso in the west or Banyuwangi in the east. This route is recommended as the road is relatively better and the 90-minute foot climb much easier. The colour of the water in the lake is an extraordinary vivid aqua blue. Evidence of volcanic activity is everywhere with steaming water and brilliant yellow crystalline sulphur deposits.
A large rug ged island inhabited by the Madurese people, who have a unique culture. The island is famous for two things: love potions and bull-racing competitions known as karapan sapi. In the competitions a jockey, usually a young boy, rides a simple wooden sled pulled by a pair of bulls, over a course of about 100 metres in 10 to 15 seconds. Several towns on the island hold races in August and September of each year, with a large final for the Presidential Trophy held in Pamekasan in late September or October.
Mount Kawi is a place of pilgrimage. A sages grave on Mount Kawi near Malang has, for decades, enjoyed unrivalled fame among those who seek to increase their worldly blessings through pilgrimages, offerings and meditations. Most of the pilgrims to Gunung Kawi are Chinese, but even to non-believers the place is worth a visit for its intensely Javanese atmosphere. Visitors are entertained by wayang kulit (shadow play) and gamelan (Indonesian traditional instruments) performances.
Purwodadi Botanical Garden
Founded in 1941 for the study of plants growing under relatively dry conditions the 35ha-garden is about 30 kms northeast of Malang on the lowest slopes of Mount Arjuno, about 300m above sea level.
Sukamade Turtle Beach
Located about 78 kms south of Banyuwangi the beach has deep turquoise water and is surrounded by vast cocoa, coffee and rubber plantations. One of the main attractions here are sea turtles weighing up to 250 kgs.