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Tour Indonesia your way with Sandra Vargas

Sandra grew up in the Basque Country (North of Spain) during a difficult, grey political atmosphere. At age 17, she went to Ireland to finish high school and learn English at the same time. After that she spent 2 years studying in Dublin, teaching Spanish to her peers to pay for the school fees. Once she finished her studies, she moved to the Balearic Islands to study Tourism Management, and shortly afterward began working in the airline industry in the small island of Minorca. Nowadays she runs her own tour company based in Bali. Read on to learn more!

What are you currently working on? I own Indonuka Travel Indonesia, a small tour operator based in Bali. Since 2011, we’ve been organizing tours, from budget to luxury, for all regions of Indonesia. Based on each customer’s request, we can combine culture, tradition, nature, and wildlife in one package. I’m so lucky to live in such a diverse country! We also have a solid dedicated wellness division for 4 years now, where we organize spiritual and wellness tours in Bali. We even have loyal customers from the U.S. coming year after year to experience these tours! For the past 9 years of operation, we’ve been focusing on the Spanish-speaking market, but we’re now expanding to the international market! An English version of our website will be up soon.

How was the idea for your business born? I first came to Southeast Asia as a backpacker for a 3-month trip. Little did I know, this trip would would change my life! While diving in a small island in Malaysia I landed a job as an assistant manager at the small resort where I was staying. Six months later I went on to manage a bigger resort in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi for another 2 years. A friend’s wedding took me to Bali for the first time… and I fell in love with the island of the Gods. I stayed there for a couple more years doing travel consulting services while also leading trips to Vietnam and Indonesia. Then one day the question came up: “Why don’t you open your own travel business?” In two weeks time, Indonuka Travel Indonesia was born on the second floor of a Balinese family compound in the village of Ubud.

What has been your boldest career or life change? I had long breaks during the low season when I was working at the Minorca airport and I had always dreamt of jumping on one of those planes that I ground-handled every day. Through my office window, I would watch the planes land, park, unload and load passengers... and then take off again. I loved my job, but after 8 years I started to feel stuck. Then this trip to South East Asia happened. One evening, while watching a sunset under a palm tree on a deserted beach in Sri Lanka, I realized I didn't want to go back home after only 15 days. As the sun was going down, a thought came to my mind: "I don't want to return." I’ve never looked back.

What has been the biggest obstacle during your journey? There are obstacles everyday. It's not always easy being a foreigner (and a woman!) in a country like Indonesia and being away from your family and friends. Our guests’ reviews upon their return and their high level of satisfaction are what empowers me day by day.

"I truly believe there’s no bigger obstacle than yourself."

We all know travel can bring us to unexpectedly * magical * moments. Tell us about one you’ve experienced. Definitely my most magical moments, no matter where I travel, are always related to connecting to nature and connecting with people on an emotional level. Somehow sunsets are extremely magical for me, like the one I saw that day under the palm tree on the beach in Sri Lanka, when I decided that I wasn’t going back home.

Can you share your favorite “undiscovered” destination? It’s not really “undiscovered”, but it’s definitely off the beaten track. I love getting lost in the mountains of Bali and walking through the lush jungle or the green rice fields. Part of these adventures always involves getting blessed by nature and meeting real local people.

Learn more about Sandra's tours at Indonuka and follow her on Instagram!