You may be thinking that planning a regular day at the beach or local park is stressful enough when you’ve got cranky kids and their tantrums to worry about, so how on earth would a hiking trip in Indonesia do any good for your family vacation? Simple: Indonesia is home to some of the easiest climbs you would have never thought your family could enjoy together. The health benefits attributed with letting your children spend time outdoors are well understood. So for the sake of your child’s mental and physical health and development, we’ve got some tips to get you and your family climbing Indonesia’s mountains!
1. Picking family friendly hikes
When looking for trail options, you can either make or break your holiday. Indonesia is an archipelago made up of over 17,000 islands, which means your options are vast – from week-long treks through remote jungle such as Carstensz Pyramid (not a family climb at all), to 2-hour hikes like Mount Bromo (perfect for the family). Of the options available in Indonesia, choose a trail that is suitable for your child’s age, skill level, and stamina.
2. The Right Time
Most adults enjoy sunrise hikes. The views are idyllic and it’s a refreshing way to start the day. Of course sunrise hikes mean you’re looking at doing most of the climbing in pitch black darkness during the wee hours of the morning. When you’re catering to the likes of grumpy teenagers, you may want to skip the sunrise and try out an early morning, post-breakfast hike. The goal is to get some fresh air and healthy activity before the sun gets too harsh. Given the closing hours of many of Indonesia’s parks, aiming for sunset can be a bit hazardous. At Ijen Crater, one of the highlights is to reach the summit’s volcanic caldera at night time when small pools of blue flame can be seen coming out of the rocks.
3. Preparation is Key
As important as this bonding time is to you, you’ll want to make sure you’re all prepared to face whatever peak you’ve decided to climb. Hiking shoes with good support to handle any terrain aren’t going to be a necessity when going on family friendly hikes. This is simply because the summits that you’ll most likely be taking with your family aren’t going to be too complicated with too many different terrains. However, you may want to avoid sandals and slippers when hiking even the easiest peaks. If you’ve got new shoes for the kids, have them break in their new hiking shoes weeks before hitting the trails in order to avoid blisters.
Sun protection is very important and even if it may not seem warm or sunny, you and the kids need to be lathered up in a decent broad spectrum SPF.
Slips and falls are likely no matter how short the hike, so remember to pack in a first-aid kit with antiseptic wipes, bandages, plasters and anything else you feel your child may specifically need. Citronella patches or spraying on citronella oil is important for keeping the mozzies off on your trek!
4. Pack a Snack
Engage the kids and put together a little DIY trail mix. You can use their some of their favourites like raisins, nuts and M&Ms. Healthy portable snacks like apples, berries, granola bars, and homemade chocolate protein balls are also good refreshments to have ready. Frequent water breaks are vital so make sure you’re all well-equipped with a decent supply!
5. Have Fun
Whilst you’ve set your eyes on the summit ahead, remember to make this a fun experience for the kids so it’ll bring back fond memories, hopefully urging them to partake in more hiking adventures across Southeast Asia and beyond!
Pack a few extra accessories like a disposable camera, binoculars and even a magnifying glass for the trek. On your way up you can get the kids to explore the ecosystem on the summit and enjoy the views from the top. You can even create a trail map with some tea-stained paper and burnt edges, emulating old explorers’ maps, with a scavenger to collect things along the way.
6. Learning Experience
Hiking is also a great learning experience for your kids. Leaving no trace of garbage or rubbish behind is a valuable lesson for the children to understand the importance of responsible, eco-friendly behaviour. It’s a great opportunity to teach the kids how important it is that we preserve the one planet we’ve got.
Positively reinforce the children’s efforts on the climb. Without making a competition out of the event, you can always reward them for being attentive, adventurous and speedy. The point of this family hike is to make sure everyone has a good time and are given the opportunity to learn and experience something that they could develop a liking for in a larger scale in the future.
We hope you have a great time on your next trek with the kids! If you’re still not entirely sure about which mountain to pick and what sets each of Indonesia’s many peaks apart, here’s a quick guide to some of Indonesia’s easier climbs.