Indonesia is renowned as a tropical paradise, located at the equator and famed for its heavy monsoon rainfall, dense rainforests, and consistently humid temperatures. However, a bit more investigation into this vast archipelago reveals there is far more climate diversity than first meets the eye.
From snow-capped mountains to crocodile-infested marshlands, which demonstrate that when it comes to climate, Indonesia has it all.
Here are 6 of Indonesia’s most extreme environments...
Tropical Rainforests Heritage of Sumatra
Around two-thirds of Indonesia consists of tropical rainforest, though this number continues to diminish at an alarming rate. To make matters worse, among these rainforests, 31% of the species are found nowhere else in the world, and the most bio-diverse forest per area are the Tropical Rainforests of Sumatra.
Comprised of three national conservation areas, Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, these forests are protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites because of their exceptional natural beauty and astoundingly diverse ecosystems [whc.unesco.org].
It is home to more than 10,000 plant species, and is also only place on earth that Tigers, Rhinos, Elephants and Bears all coexist.
Flash Flooding – Jakarta, Java
In the nation’s capital, flash flooding is a perennial problem. With monsoon rains striking the city with next to no notice, weak infrastructure and irrigation systems result in numerous deaths and thousands of people being displaced every year.
2015 alone has seen over 7,000 people evacuating their homes, and the problem continues to increase as the population grows. The flooding also results in mudslides, another significant natural disaster, and has seen Indonesia turn to importing their rice because of severe damage to their padi rice fields.
Snowy Mountains, Alpine Tundra, and Equatorial Glaciers - Lorentz National Park, Yakapis, Papua
Also on the UNESCO World Heritage list, the Lorentz National Park is home to an environment so disparate to most of Indonesia, and one that many aren’t aware exists. In this high-altitude area of Yakapis, Papua, one can find an ice world of stark alpine tundra and equatorial glaciers, if willing to brave the extreme wind and cold.
It is also where you can find the tallest mountain between the Himalayas and the Andes; Puncak Jaya, the snowy mountain that looms an impressive 4,884m high.
This part of the world is still incredibly untouched due to its harsh conditions and unforgiving landscape, and scientists predict that it may be home to many as yet undiscovered species.
Gumuk Pasir Parangtritis – Buntul, Java
Though Indonesia is considered a tropical paradise, in Buntul on the outskirts of Yogyakarta is a rather unique natural phenomenon. The Sand Dunes of Parangtritis, known by the locals as Gumuk Pasir, is a 16km stretch of desert found a few hours drive from Yogyakarta. The temperatures there are startlingly similar to those found in African deserts – extreme heat during the day, followed by cold nights.
It is the only place like this in Indonesia, and as such is a hotspots for geologists, who believe they were formed as a result of a particular movement of the wind.
A top destination worldwide for divers, the “Four Kings” islands are home to 600 species of coral – to put this into perspective, this accounts for 75% of the total for the entire world. It is arguably the richest coral reef on earth, and is one of the most beautiful places to explore beneath the sea.
chirpstory.com photo cred: perfect_blue
The Wasur Wetlands, which rival the African Serengeti in terms of biodiversity, are found in the southern-east most region of Papua. This incredible stretch of peatland and wetland does in fact mirror the major wetlands in Africa, or something out of a Mark Twain novel.
Like the neighboring Lorentz National Park, much of it is still unexplored because of its dense swampland and dangerous wildlife, where crocodiles and snakes lurk in its murky waters.
It's time to get rid of the singular tropical perception of Indonesia. The next time you book a holiday, try one of Indonesia's lesser known but extreme climates. The question is, how extreme can you go?