Located on the southernmost tip of Sumatra, Lampung is considered an alternative holiday destination for Jakartans.
Its proximity to the national capital means holidaymakers can reach Bandar Lampung, Lampung's capital city, in a four-hour drive (roughly 200 kilometers) plus a two-hour ferry ride.
The ferry ride itself offers a different view for Jakarta city slickers: Strings of islands through the Sunda Strait, a view of the wide-open Indian Ocean and a glimpse of the notorious Krakatoa volcano in the distance.
Lampung is well known for two favorite holiday spots: the white-sand beach at Kalianda and the elephant conservatory at Way Kambas. Way Kambas is about 40 kilometers from the city of Bandar Lampung, offering attractions featuring the 68 elephants currently registered there. But we were not there on a weekend and were informed there are no special attractions on weekdays. So, why go at all?
Fortunately, the night before, we had met Pak Yaman.
Yaman N. Azis is the chairman of HPI (Himpunan Pramuwisata), the Association of Tour Guides in Lampung. We met him in Yen Yen, a famous store on Jl. Kakap, Bandar Lampung, that specializes in Lampung souvenirs such as coffee, flavored banana chips and lobi-lobi (a local fruit) syrup.
The main attraction of the tour is access to the Way Kambas National Park, a 130,000-hectare park, of which the elephant conservatory is one part. The park itself is a surviving example of Sumatran rainforest, with animals such as Sumatran tigers, gibbons, kingfishers, pelicans and, of course, elephants.
The best times to enjoy the wildlife are either in the morning or in the late afternoon, when the animals are easily spotted. During the day, most animals stay in the shade; at night, it is too dangerous.