Indonesia has long been a popular destination for hikers and backpackers, but has been somewhat neglected by trail runners. As you run in the various places in Indonesia, you will find a great diversity of paths available. From its steepest mountains to its longest beaches, this article will serve as your guide to Indonesia’s best running trails.
1. The Lake Toba Trail
Location: Tangga Batu, Sumatera Utara
Among the most scenic trails in Indonesia, The Lake Toba Trail is perfect for a full day or multiple day jog. While a marathon runner can certainly appreciate the practice, you will get the most out of this trail if you repeatedly stop to survey the sites along the way, including an authentic ancient Batak village complete with an intact headsman’s block.
2. Mt Sibayak
Location: Near Rajaberneh, Sumatera Utara
Length: 8.7 to 10km (varies)
If you are seeking a somewhat more challenging run, the many trails of Mt. Sibayak will not disappoint. Although considered a safe mountain for climbers, the steep uphill trajectory of the (now dormant) volcano will prove quite exhilarating for runners and joggers of all skill levels. Fortunately, you can always choose to close out the day with a relaxing dip in one of Mt. Sibayak’s many hot springs to sooth your tired muscles.
3. Prana Dewi
Location: Prana Dewi Resort, Wongaya Gede, Bali
A popular, yet relatively difficult run, the trail affiliated with the Prana Dewi Resort has long been a favourite of tourists from Singapore to Cardiff. The portion through the Prana Dewi Gorge is particularly breathtaking, as runners splash through the deep, muddy waters that separate Wongaya Gede from neighbouring villages. The proximity to the resort town in particular makes this a perfect run for those with families, as well as runners with a taste for luxury. Be warned, however, that the resort does close for particularly dangerous weather, especially during monsoon season.
4. Gunung Rinjani
Location: Gunung Rinjani, Lombok
For Indonesia’s most strenuous, difficult and, many say, overall best run, you cannot go wrong with the Rinjani Ultra. This officially curated, grueling 20 kilometre run takes participants around the rim of an active volcano, on unstable shale footing. As scary as that sounds, the run itself is relatively safe — you are far more likely to suffer dehydration from the summer heat than injury. If you are an ambitious runner, you can even shoot to compete in the Gunung Ultimate Run held here every summer.
5. Mt. Kintamani
Location: Penelokan, Bali
Length: 3-8km (depends on starting point)
For those looking for a slightly easier volcanic run, the steep slopes of Mt. Kintamani will provide the perfect combination of challenge and aesthetic beauty. Although open year-round, you will first have to check how active the volcano is before starting your jog: mild eruptions have happened as recently as 2009. You will also have to dodge the many local guides, who aggressively push low speed tours of the volcano while talking up dangers to discourage independent runners.
6. Ubud Ricefields
Location: Ubud, Bali
One of Bali’s many hidden gems, the Ubud Ricefields trail is a relatively short run through wet but level terrain. Although sometimes frequented by tourists on motorbikes, you will feel a blissful peace for most of the run as you will be surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of Indonesian pastoral life. Finish with a relaxing stop by one of the area’s many temples for a true taste of historical Indonesia.
7. The Seram Island Trails
Location: Seram, Maluku
Seram Island, as one of the largest and most sparsely populated islands in Maluku, is home to more than a dozen quality-running trails. These generally mild trails will take you past gorgeous beaches, and through forested areas teeming with the rich wildlife of the islands. The island is perfect for multiple day camping trips, with plenty of grounds, few visitors and hundreds of unique species of bird to watch out for.
8. Alas Purwo National Park
Location: Alas Purwo, Java
Length: 6-13 km
If you have a hunger for rainforest trails, Alas Purwo National Park has your number. With two trails, one of 6km through dense rainforest and a milder 13km, Alas Purwo has long been a favourite of both hikers and trail runners. The powerfully humid, hot environment of the jungle will leave you feeling exhausted, but the experience, unique flora and fauna, and general quality of the air makes it well worth it. Watch out for tigers!
9. Baluran National Park Savannah Run
Location: Baluran, Java
Proof of Indonesia’s incredible diversity of climate, Baluran lies on the same island as the previously mentioned Alas Purwo. Despite this, it is the complete opposite: Jungles give way to a vast, open savannah, full of the Indonesian water buffalo known as “Bateng”. Even the park’s longest trails are easily navigable due to the vast expanse of the savannah: there is no chance of getting lost here. This one will take you to a great viewing spot for one of the watering holes, and the acclaimed fauna that graze there.
Did we miss your favourite trail? Please let us know: Indonesia is full of beautiful places to run, and we would love to hear about more and share with us any hidden gems with our trail seekers.