LOMBOK ISLAND INFORMATION
The Island of Lombok, Indonesia. It is one of the Lesser Sundas Islands separated from Bali by the Lombok Strait and from Sumbawa by the Alas Strait. It is 70 mi (115 km) long and 50 mi (80 km) wide and occupies an area of 2,098 sq mi (5,435 sq km). It is divided by two mountain chains; its northern range includes Mount Rinjani (12,224 ft [3,726 m]), Indonesia’s tallest mountain. It was ruled by the sultan of Makasar in 1640. The Balinese later seized control and established four kingdoms there; the Dutch ruled the kingdom of Mataram from 1843 and gained control of the entire island by the late 19th century. Following World War II, it became part of Indonesia.
The island, which has an area of 2,098 square miles (5,435 square km), is divided for nearly its entire length by two mountain chains. The southern chain, a range of limestone hills, reaches an elevation of 2,350 feet (716 metres), but the northern chain rises to Mount Rinjani (12,224 feet [3,726 metres]). None of the small rivers is navigable. Cliffs often rise precipitously from the sea, but there are good anchorages in bays on the western and eastern coasts.
Lombok Strait, which has depths exceeding 3,600 feet (1,100 metres), has been called the edge of the Asian continental shelf, a contention supported by the marked differences between the plant and animal life of Bali and Lombok. Some intermingling of species has taken place, and Lombok has become the beginning of a transitional area in which Asian forms of life are being supplanted gradually by Australian forms. Vegetation includes a great palm, and typical mammals are monkeys, deer, and wild pigs. The island’s diverse birdlife includes large green pigeons, eight kinds of kingfishers, ground thrushes, grass-green doves, little crimson and black flower-peckers, large black cuckoos, king crows, golden orioles, and fine jungle cocks.
The population of Lombok is composed largely of Sasaks of Malay origin, although there are Chinese in the urban area around Mataram, some Balinese in the west, and some Sumbawanese in the east. The Sasak are Muslim, though there is a strong animist element to their religion. Agriculture is by far the dominant occupation, with paddy rice, soybeans, tubers, peanuts (groundnuts), tobacco, coconuts, and vegetables the chief crops. The central lowland strip of the island, between the two elevated coastal areas, is the centre of settlement and rice cultivation. Mataram, the provincial capital, is the largest city. The chief port is Lembar, on the western coast.
As early as 1640 Lombok was under the sultan of Makasar (Macassar). Eventually, the Balinese seized control and established four kingdoms on the island; one of them, Mataram, entered into a contract with the Dutch that lasted from 1843 to 1872, when Mataram’s oppression of the Sasaks and interference in politics on Bali caused the Dutch to step in and, in 1894, eliminate Balinese rule in Lombok and impose direct rule themselves.
Lombok lies 8 degrees south of the equator and stretches some 80km east to west and about the same distance north to south. It is dominated by the second highest mountain in Indonesia, GUNUNG RINJANI, which soars to 3726m. It has a large caldera with a crater lake, Segara Anak, 600m below the rim, and a new volcanic cone which has formed in the center. Rinjani last erupted in 1994, and evidence of this can be seen in the fresh lava and yellow sulphur around the inner cone.
Central Lombok, to the south of Rinjani is similar to Bali, with rich alluvial plains and fields irrigated by water flowing from the mountains. In the far south and east it is drier, with scrubby, barren hills. This area gets little rain and often has droughts which can last for months. In recent years, several dams have been built, so the abundant rain-fall of the wet season can be retained for irrigation throughout the year.
In Lombok’s dry season – from June to September – the heat can be scorching. At night, particularly at higher elevations, the temperature can drop so much a sweater and light jacket are necessary. The wet season extends from October and January the wettest months.
Tipping is relatively new in Lombok. Most large hotels and restaurants will automatically add a service charge of between 5 & 10 percent to your bill which is quite sufficient. Smaller restaurants generally don’t add anything extra but considering that the waiter’s wage may well be less than $1.00 a day – a tip of 5 – 10 percent is very much appreciated.
Bellmen generally get Rp. 500 – Rp.1,000 for a small to medium sized luggage and up to Rp.2,000 for those house trailers some people carry around. For taxi drivers, rounding up to the nearest Rp. 500 or Rp. 1,000 depending on the length of trip is the norm. And with tour guides and the like tipping is up to you – just remember that chances are your driver has already received a commission from anything you purchased during the day.
Lombok has basically two seasons – wet and dry. The wet season generally occurs from November through to February, with heavy monsoon rainfall and cloud. During this time it can be quite humid but still hot. The dry season from March to October can still experience rain but is generally fine, clear and hot with average temperatures around 28″C. Around August and September it can also be quite breezy. The best months for good surf are June , July and August.
No visas are required for Australian passport holders to enter Indonesia, however your passport must have a minimum of 6 months validity from the date of entrance into Indonesia. For passengers of other nationalities its best to check your visa requirements with the nearest Indonesian consulate.
The current International departure tax from Indonesia is Rp75.000 (approx $15 Australian dollars). Domestic Departure tax is currently Rp11.000 (approx $3 Australian dollars)
The unit of currency throughout Indonesia is the Rupiah (Rp). Currently the exchange rate is approximately Rp10.000 for $1 American and Rp 5.000 for $1 Australian dollar on the island of Lombok . Higher rates are available in Bali. However as the Rupiah has still not stabilized and rates may vary greatly.
Most larger hotels and some restaurants in Lombok accept credit cards, however smaller hotels and losmens, particularly on the islands will accept cash only.
Money can be changed at larger hotels and banks or money changers that can be found in the Senggigi area. If traveling to areas outside of Senggigi or particularly onto other islands east of Lombok it can be very difficult to get money converted and enough Rupiah needs to be carried in cash. It is wise to have a money belt worn under your shirt to protect your cash. As the exchange rates are generally higher in Bali , it may be an idea to change your money prior to traveling to Lombok.
The national language is Bahasa Indonesia and various dialects are also spoken throughout Indonesia. English is taught as a second language in all schools. English is widely spoken in most tourist areas and generally wherever you travel no matter how remote, someone can be found who speaks English. There is usually no shortage of locals wanting to try out their English skills.
the main religion of Lombok is Muslim although there is also a Hindu population particularly in the tourist areas.
Public buses operate between main towns throughout Lombok. They are not air-conditioned and can be quite run down and crowded though they are a very cheap and good means of traveling between towns for those on a budget. Prices are fixed and beware!! Indonesians do not travel well on buses.
Bemos or Taxis:
Metered taxis operate in the Senggigi area and are quite cheap. Bemos, or small vans can be found in most towns and will take you anywhere at a price to be negotiated. Make sure you set a price before getting in.
The cheapest and the most fun way to travel short distances in Lombok is by cidomo , a locally designed horse-drawn cart. These can be found everywhere , even on the small Gili Islands
Car and Motor Bike Hire:
The roads in Lombok are generally quite good and traffic is fairly easy to drive in, even in the cities of Lombok. On the country roads the main traffic is often cidomos or motorbikes. To hire a car in Lombok a valid international drivers license is required.
The power supply throughout Indonesia is 220 volts. Some large hotels have adaptors, but adaptors can be purchased from most Duty Free stores before traveling.
Food and Water:
Food in Lombok can be one of the highlights of your stay. There are many excellent restaurants, and some have quite a good range of meals for vegetarians. As well as delicious local dishes, western style meals are available almost everywhere in Lombok. Water from the taps is not healthy to drink. Water can be purchased in sealed bottles and is available everywhere, larger hotels usually have drinking water in flasks in the room. Water served in restaurants with your meal is also fit to drink.
Malaria is found in some parts of Lombok, though it is considered safe around the Senggigi region. Please check with your doctor or Traveller Medical Vaccination Centre in your state for advise.
Lombok is a great place to backpack around quite easily. Most budget hotels or losmens around the countryside have very basic facilities and bathrooms. The ones recommended by E.R Tours are chosen as clean, reliable and friendly, but are still quite basic. Often they do not have soap or toilet paper so it is wise to always travel with these items yourself.
Mosquitoes can be a nuisance in some areas and malaria is present, so a light mosquito net and repellent is also good to carry, plus you should also speak to your local doctor or medical centre for details.
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