Art Adventures in Indonesia.

Wildlife holidays in Borneo, cultural visit in Borobudur Jogjakarta or birdwatching in Raja Ampat are just some examples of adventure activities that can you do in Indonesia. Indonesia’s tourism is well-known for several good reasons, such as culture, heritage, and beautiful nature. Indonesia inhabited by a large number of animals, including some unique endemics species. There is a special kind of tour that is about Painting and sketching the landscape around helps you to engage with it in a unique way. Arrange an Art Adventures to see and draw the wildlife creatures during your visit to Indonesia.

Art Adventures in Indonesia.

photo: Orangutan Sketch

The idea for the art tours came from an experience I shared with Meryl Wilson back in 2013. We were standing at the top of Mount Kelimutu in Eastern Flores, gazing over the beautiful and awe-inspiring three coloured lakes and both expressed a desire to document the lakes through painting.

Painting and sketching the landscape around helps you to engage with it in a unique way. You take the time to really look at what is there in front of you, to absorb its atmosphere and to hopefully take home an indelible memory. This is what Meryl and I wanted to share with others – a real celebration of the wonders that Indonesia has to offer.

Our first art tour in 2017 took us back to Kelimutu with a group of Australian artists, led by well-known botanical artist Leonie Norton. We spent mornings painting examples of the amazing flora at Kelimutu Crater Lakes Ecolodge, with our afternoons’ sightseeing and sketching. We visited weaving villages and learned about the centuries old techniques of the weaving the remarkable ikat, a skill passed own from mother to daughter. It included being shown how threads for the weaving are dyed, from mostly natural compounds, such as indigo. We visited the legendary lakes of Mount Kelimutu, sketching as we went. Natural wonders such as the lovely waterfall near the village of Moni were another port of call, where crossing the river on a rickety bamboo bridge proved a great adventure! In the evening’s people tried their hand at simple printmaking, including using locally found leaves and grasses to print. It was an effective way of recording what we found growing.

The following year 2018 Leonie brought a group of botanical painters from Australia. Mornings were spent painting the extraordinary flora growing in the gardens of Udayana Kingfisher Ecolodge in Bali, lovingly cared for by Meryl for many years the gardens were a treasure trove of amazing plants and flowers, as well as being alive with butterflies and dragonflies, all wonderful for the painters, who were spoiled for choice with their subject matter.  .There was an option again to do some simple printmaking, keeping some of us busy in the evenings.

orangutan at Tanjung Puting

photo: at Rimba Lodge 

In 2019 the intrepid artists ventured to Kalimantan, staying at Rimba Orangutan Ecolodge. The aim of the tour was to hopefully see and sketch orangutans in the wild, as well as the other amazing wildlife living in the National Park, including primates such as the extraordinary proboscis monkeys. We set off from Bali and flew to Pangkalan Bun. Flying low over the dense rainforests of Borneo gave us the opportunity to see the devastation palm oil plantations have created. Huge tracts of rainforests have been razed to make way for the plantations, threatening the habitat of the orangutan and other important wildlife species. It was a very disturbing sight and made one very aware of the need for conservation measures to protect this vital habitat.

Once we touched own we were taken to the landing stage where the klotok ‘Rimba King’ was waiting for us. The boats are called klotoks because of the noise the steady rhythm of their engines makes. They are the perfect craft for navigating the river. We travelled up the River Sekonyer – an amazing experience in itself. On either side of the river at its mouth were giant rattan palms. Local fishermen sheltered under them, fishing from dug-out canoes. The palms gave way to the forest of the National Park and as the sunset we were able to see the wonderful proboscis monkeys in family groups, silhouetted against the evening sky. We had a knowledgable and friendly guide, who was able to tell us about the wildlife of the forest and was supported by eagle-eyed assistants who were excellent at spotting wildlife.

We received a lovely welcome at Rimba Lodge, the staff waiting for us on the jetty with beaming smiles and welcoming refreshments. Our rooms were very comfortable and we soon sat down to an extremely tasty meal, cooked by local staff. The meals at Ecolodges Indonesia are never disappointing and this was no exception.

The next few days were spent sketching around the Lodge when we weren’t taking the comfortable klotok upriver to visit feeding stations and the legendary Camp Leakey, probably the most famous place in the world for orangutan research, headed up by Dr Birute Galdikas, who has dedicated her life to the study and conservation of orangutans, including developing a rehabilitation centre.

Our first visit to a feeding station was rewarded with the sight of several orangutans each taking their turn to feast on the bananas left by the rangers. First to feed was the dominant male, whilst the others watched. Then came a mother with her baby clinging to her as she swung down from the tree canopy, then others joined the feasting. All the while the wild pigs patrolled under the feeding platform making a beeline for each banana skin as it was dropped. An agile gibbon watched the proceedings with hawk eyes swooping down to take a banana or two whenever the opportunity arose. The feeding station gave us the opportunity to do quick sketches as well as take photographs. The orangs didn’t stay still for great lengths of time – so it was an interesting challenge!

photo: Orangutan Sketch

On our visit to Camp Leakey, we were followed back to the boat by the dominant male Tom. We were very close to him – always watched by the park rangers. It was a huge privilege to be in such close proximity to one of these intelligent and gentle creatures He insisted on preening himself.

The experience was breathtaking. The gentle trips up and down the river spotting wildlife were relaxing and energising.



A new art tour is planned for 2020. This will be led by Alexandra Robb and renowned wildlife artist Tim Pond. Tim has had a book recently published ‘The Field Guide to drawing and sketching Animals’ already a best seller.

Tim and Alex will lead a group firstly to the wonderful new birding lodge Mbeliling in Flores, where participants will be able to go birdwatching with an experienced guide. Tim will guide people through the basics of drawing birds….. We will spend a day on Rinca Island (one of the two large Komodo islands) to see and sketch the Komodo Dragon in its natural habitat, followed by a session of snorkelling in some of the most wildlife rich waters in the world.

Mbeliling Mountain Range View
photo: The view around Mbeliling Ecolodge

The group will then go on to Borneo and Rimba Lodge to enjoy the opportunity of a lifetime observing and sketching orangutans as well as other wildlife species.

Tim will lead daily classes in animal sketching and anatomy and Alex will bring her printmaking skills to the group where they will have the option to record their experiences through simple printmaking processes, including printing from leaves, flowers and other natural fond objects.

This is the opportunity of a lifetime to share some of the wonders of the natural world, visit and observe two of the worlds most endangered species, the orangutan and the komodo dragon and bring home a sketchbook laden with extraordinary visual memories


Photo : Alexandra Robb


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Gede Ariandika

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