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Entries in eco-travel (7)


Why Sumbawa should be on your Eco-Travel Itinerary

The rugged beauty of Sumbawa

Sumbawa is an ultra rugged large landmass with Lombok to the West and Flores to the East.  It’s not to be confused with the island of Sumba, which lies to its South East.  Sumbawa is indeed large. It’s bigger than Bali and Lombok combined (and then some).  The scenic island is hard to get to and does not offer a robust infrastructure, but the adventure loving traveler is rewarded with unspoiled beaches of turquoise waters, world class surf and welcoming and gracious locals.

Bali Sumbawa wellness retreatWatching hundreds of uninhabited islands go by on the ferry ride from Lombok to Sumbawa

Indonesia's Volcanos and The Ring of Fire

It is an island of angular and twisting peninsulas, deep protected bays, forested mountains, and of course Mount Tambora, the infamous volcano that is responsible for killing over 72,000 in one eruption.  Sumbawa, as the rest of the 14,000 Indonesian islands, sits directly upon The Ring of Fire. The infamous explosion took place in April, 1815 and is considered the most destructive volcanic eruption in modern history. It spewed 100 cubic kilometers (24 cu mi) of ash into the atmosphere, causing the “year without summer”.  Very few crops could be produced following the eruption as the ash blocked out the sun causing the deaths of thousands more worldwide.

Bali travel sustainable bambooThe beautiful and plentiful islands off Sumbawa's coast provide endless adventure for the eco-tourist

Sumbawa is a Surfer's Paradise

Historically, Sumbawa was invaded by Western marauders for its honey, wild horses and sandalwood. Today, Sumbawa is known for surfing boasting several world-class surf breaks. The most well known surf spots include Lakey Peak, Cobblestones and Onnie’s Right, but there are many more exceptional breaks like Benete, Nungas, Periscopes, Yo-Yo’s and the ominously and perhaps unfortunately aptly named Scar Reef and Super Suck. Most breaks are for good to experienced surfers but Benete, Lakey, Periscopes and Scar Reef are best left for the more expert level surfers. Sumbawa receives great surf year round but the best swells are generally from April to September. If you are interested, please contact us or research the surf camps at Dompu (Lakey), Sekongkang and Hu’u. One last surf note, tides really determine the conditions here, so it is important to have a tide table handy.

Bali eco-tour surf retreatRipping Surf Breaks Await the Traveling Surfer in Sumbawa

What if you don't surf?

Despite the fact that not many travelers explore this scenic island, it is a wonderful place to visit even if you don't surf.  In fact, Sumbawa’s slogan is B E S A R which means 'big' in Bahasa Indonesia and the letters of the slogan stand for Bersih, Elok, Sehat, Aman damai, Rapi. Roughly translated, that means Clean, Beautiful, Healthy, Peaceful and Neat.

Sadly, the island is not without its challenges. Sumbawa is poor, and health and education are very much at the development stage. The infrastructure is in its nascent stages and there are a couple good roads, but for the most part, travel is difficult across the sprawling island. In just a matter of minutes we almost collided with other cars, dozens of motor bikes, huge pot holes, cows, dogs, cats, chickens, goats, some unidentifiable animals, people just hanging out in the roads and other obstacles.

best bali tour yogaChildren play along the coast overlooking clear turquoise water

To compound the struggles the good people of Sumbawa are faced with, the mega-corporation Newmont and its partners have invested almost $2 billion USD in an enormous copper mine, making Batu Hijau one of the largest mines in the world. Little if anything is done to protect the island and the company is straight raping the land and leaving muddy, polluted messes for the poor native peoples. Newmont has been involved in many scandals including mercury and arsenic poisoning here in Sulawesi not to mention the ongoing pollution cases on four continents.  It is appallingly sad that this continues and permits have already been issued by corrupt politicians to allow further pillaging until 2034.

This blog post continues below

Bali yoga and wellness retreatRugged volcanic rock dot the perfect white sandy beaches of Sumbawa recalling deadly eruptions of Mount Tambora

Sumbawa is a must for the eco-adventure traveler

The pace of life in Sumbawa is chill and slow. People sit together and eat delicious fresh food and enjoy the rustic natural beauty of the island. That is not to say that they are not dedicated and hard working folk. Local people are predominantly Muslim but traditional beliefs and practices also continue to influence daily life. There are two main cultural groups in Sumbawa. Generally, the Tau Samawa live in the west and the Dou Mbojo inhabit the east.

bali adventure travel photographyThe generous and friendly people of Sumbawa enjoy a slow paced lifestyle and appreciate the bounty of beauty that surround them

Traditional living and ancient rituals await the eco-adventure traveler

In parts of Sumbawa, traditional ways of living continue today and I urge you to get out into the villages to observe this interesting way of life. While you are there, see what you can do to help like donate time, clothing, gear or just play with the children and share with them. Many of the ancient rituals are still performed such as water buffalo racing and berempuk, which is an exciting ritual boxing match.  Try to find a guide who can take you into these villages as entering them by yourself may be perceived as unwelcomed.  We can certainly assist you and have some wonderful contacts that would be delighted to help you, as it is difficult to find accommodations and your way around on your own.  Please contact us and we would be happy to help.

bali yoga and wellness photographyGreat Surf, White Sand Beaches and Pristine Water make Sumbawa a perfect adventure for the eco-traveler

Sustainable living and caring for the land

The people have learned to live of the land and have deep respect for the natural resources.  We were lucky to spend time with our extended family and my wife’s uncle, despite his advancing age, is still a ‘super forest man’. I consider myself a capable outdoorsman but I could barely keep up with his pace through the jungle. Treading through dense brush barefoot, finding paths I could never see, with machete in hand showing me all kinds of plants used for shelter, first aid, food, water and more. He has build beautiful, strong and sustainable buildings from bamboo for his family and his coveted bonsai trees are a true work of art.

Only two islands over, Sumbawa is a world away from Bali and its luxurious accommodations but the adventure traveler can learn and experience a great deal on this storied island.  For more information and help planning your adventure to Sumbawa, please contact us today.

wellness retreat center baliHeading back to Bali after an amazing adventure to rugged but beautiful Sumbawa

A huge thank you to the lovely people of Sumbawa and now Back to Bali



Photo of the Day ~ Gunung Batur, Bali's Massive Volcano ~ Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog

A great vantage point from Kintamani of Bali's still active Mount Batur. The massive volcano rises 1,500 meters above sea level.  You can occasionally see her smoking and hear her rumbling.  The last major eruptions occurred in 1926 and 1917 but also more recently in 1994. You can see the burned land in the photo below from previous lava flows.  A crater lake was formed about 30,000 years ago after a major eruption. We run tours in the middle of the night and hike to the summit for an unbelievable sunrise.

bali volcano travel photoCopyright © 2011 Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog ~ Michael DoliveckContact us today to help craft your ultimate Bali vacation!

Happy Travels!

The Balifornian Crew


Photo of the Day ~ Gentle Street Vendor ~ Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog

This gentle older woman was selling sweets in Yogjakarta.  Our Eco-Travel Tour stopped to get some provisions before we headed off to the increadible Water Castle and underground tunnel system in Yogjakarta.  I have been asked what equiptment I use for these shots and this was taken with a Canon 7D, handheld.  If you have any questions, we would love to hear from you! 

Copyright © 2010 Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog ~ Michael Doliveck

Are you a photographer or just like to take pictures?  Contact us to find out about our special tours for photographers.  Take a look at the images in the gallery as they are good examples of the types of images you will be able to create on our tours.  The tours are led by Michael, a professor of art and photography as well as some very special guest teachers and pro photographers.  Contact us at today for more information.

Have great images from your Indonesian travels you would like to share? Want to submit your photo for the Balifornian Tour and Travel Blog Photo of the Day?  Please send your JPEG, location and description to  Files must be under 500 kb.

Happy travels!

Michael and Maryam ~ Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog ~ The best Bali website.  Your best option for Bali and Indonesia Travel information.


Staying safe in Bali ~ Asbestos

Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog is an eco-tourist business and as such we go out of our way to make sure you and your family is not only safe but travel in an eco-friendly manner.  The hotels, meals and activites are choosen specifically for thier safety and eco-friendly reputation.  Please ask us how we can make your vacation the very best it can be.

Here is an article from a guest blogger, Matt Phillips

We thank Matt for his informative and important blog post.


Asbestos in Bali and Indonesia


Most people are at least marginally aware of the dangers of asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral often used in insulation and fireproofing materials.  Though the substance was banned in the United States in 1977 and in many other countries soon after, some less industrialized nations may still be using it in common construction materials.  Asbestos is naturally heat resistant, strong, and durable, and thus is used in areas where extreme temperatures are present – such as pipes, ducts, or boilers – as well as in insulation and roofing materials.

Asbestos is so dangerous because its fibers may become lodged in the lining of the lungs, causing a number of health problems including mesothelioma.  Symptoms of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung, may take between 20 and 50 years to manifest, and are often confused with other, more common lung conditions.  Because of this, the cancer is rarely diagnosed until its later stages, making it especially deadly.

Sadly, asbestos use has not been outlawed through much of Asia, and Indonesia still imports the raw mineral from Canada, Brazil, and Russia.  While groups like the Indonesian Ban Asbestos Network, or Ina-Ban, are hard at work trying to bar the use of asbestos in construction and other materials, the cheapness and effectiveness of the mineral mean that it is still being used.

While a casual traveler may never encounter asbestos at all in Bali, it pays to be aware of the possible danger.  Fortunately, asbestos is generally harmless when intact, but when the material containing it is cut, broken, or damaged, the asbestos fibers can become airborne, and this is when they become dangerous.  Travelers should steer clear of any construction sites, as these asbestos-containing materials may be sawed, sanded, or otherwise manipulated in a way that will release the fibers.

Call ahead to ask if your hotel or hostel is undergoing any renovation.  If this is the case, you may want to choose another place to stay.  If possible, stay in newer, recently constructed buildings.  If your room appears to have any damaged or fraying insulation materials, ask to be moved.  Though short periods of exposure to low levels of asbestos generally do not have long-term consequences, you can never be too careful when it comes to your health.  Mesothelioma symptoms are tragic and painful, but nearly always linked to asbestos exposure, and as such are largely avoidable.


Surfing in Bali; Everything you need to know (except a few secrets) 

Balifornian Tours can get you to all of the best spots regardless of your skill level.  We know many secrets that we cant reveal here but there is some great information on surfing on the island in our blog.  Please contact us for more information and learn how we can set you up like noone else.  Balifornian Tours provides you with all the information you need to make your next holiday the best vacation ever.  Some good resources are discussed on our blog- just search surfing on the right hand side of the page and you will find many results of specific surf breaks, surfing tips and more surf related information. 

Photos by Balifornian and Michael Doliveck

Surfing in Bali