GUNUNG PALUNG NATIONAL PARK

GUNUNG PALUNG NATIONAL PARK: HOME OF ORANGUTANS

Gunung Palung National Park (2 hours from Ketapang, which is a one hour flight from Pontianak) is rich in rain forest wildlife. About 2,500 orangutans live here, one of the highest concentrations in the world. It is one of the best placed to see orangutans in the wild. Scientists come here to study the animals not rehabilitate them so what you’ll see is wild ones, It is also home to gibbons, proboscis monkeys, flying squirrels, flying snakes, flying lizards, bushy-crested hornbills and great rhinoceros hornbills.

Located on the border between Ketapang and North Kayon in the province of West Kalimantan, Gunung Palung (Mount Palung) National Park is one of the largest national parks in Indonesia. Officially open to the public in 1990, it covers a total area of approximately 90,000 hectares containing many animal species including birds, mammals, as well as many rare floras.

Mount Palung Park’s diverse flora and fauna make it one of the earth’s richest bio-diverse ecosystems. There are at least seven types of vegetation found within Mount Palung National Park, they include mangrove forests, swamp forests, alluvial forests, tropical lowland, tropical highland forests, and sub- alpine forests. It also embraces beaches and mountains but some areas have been degraded by illegal logging. Being a place of such importance, Mount Palung National Park has been dubbed by many as Kalimantan’s “Eden”.

Wildlife and Plants in

Gunung Palung National Park

The main attraction of Gunung Palung National park is the undisputed ruler of the Borneo rainforests: the orangutan (Pongo satyrus). These rare and unique primates find their playground safely protected behind the thick trees in the jungles of Mount Palung. An encounter with these gentle and friendly giants on their own turf will provide an insight into how orangutans live their daily life in the wild. The roam the lowland forests, thick jungle and to the peat lands on the outer rim parks.

Other peculiar faces of this jungle are the uniquely long-nosed proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus). Along with the orangutans, the proboscis monkeys are among many of the endemic species inhabiting Mount Palung National Park. Other animals that also dwell in the jungle of Mount Palung are the land squirrels (Lariscus hosei), forest deer (Muntiacus muntjak pleiharicus), honey bears (Helarctos malayanus euryspilus), beruk apes (Macaca nemestrina), klampiau (Hylobates muelleri), lemurs (Nyticebus coucang borneanus), rangkong badak (Buceros rhinoceros borneoensis), kancil (Tragulus napu borneanus), forest chicken (Gallus gallus), enggang gading (Rhinoplax vigil), Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), Ivory turtles (Orlitia borneensis), penyu tempayan (Caretta caretta), and the rare canary squirrels.

Similar to other forests in West Kalimantan, Mount Palung National Park is decorated with various species of flora including: jelutung (Dyera costulata), ramin (Gonystylus bancanus), damar (Agathis borneensis), pulai (Alstonia scholaris), rengas (Gluta renghas),Ulin woods(Eusideroxylon zwageri), Bruguiera sp. Lumnitzera sp. Rhizophora sp. Sonneratia sp,the strangler ara, and many herbal plants. The special flowers found in this national park are the exotic black orchids (Coelogyne pandurata). These tropical beauties can easily be found near the Matan River especially in the months of February to April when many are in full bloom.

Breeding and Studying Orangutans at Gunung Palung National Park

Scientist collect urine from wild orangutans by placing a sheet under their nests to determine what they have eaten and check for signs of menstruation, infections, weight loss and hormone levels. Cheryl Knott, an anthropologist at Borneo's Gunung Paiung National Park, Indonesia, wrote in National Geographic: Marissa and her baby are among the 50 orangutans I've studied in the wild since 1994. I and my team of field assistants, managers, and students have spent more than 50,000 hours over the past decade observing orangutan behavior and documenting the apes' physiology. Our work investigates how the boom-and-bust cycle of rain forest fruits affects birth intervals and the length of juvenile dependency. [Source: Cheryl Knott, National Geographic, October 2003]

“Recently we participated in a joint effort with other scientists to look at orangutan "culture"--- customs passed from one generation to the next and often unique to particular populations. For example, Martina will grow up threatening strangers by making kiss-squeaking sounds into a handful of leaves---a behavior seen regularly only at our site. Some 500 miles west of Borneo in Sumatra, orangutans use sticks to pry calorie-rich seeds from prickly, hard-to-eat Neesla fruits, a clever trick that youngsters pick up from the adults---and one that Borneo's apes have not devised.

“Populated with about 2,500 orangutans, Gunung Palung is one of their last strongholds. Describing a new addition Knott wrote: Marissa had a baby!" The good news arrived with my field assistant Rhanda as he dashed into our research camp. For three days we hadn't seen Marissa, one of about 50 orangutans I've studied in the wild since 1994. Rhanda found Marissa eating fruit from a Gnetum vine with the newborn female clinging to her mother's side. Orangutans bear young only about once every eight years (thought to be the longest span of any mammal), so there was much to celebrate. That was in 1998, shortly after I first reported on my research for National Geographic In several successive trips to Borneo, I've been relieved to find that Martina and the other orangutans at our site are doing well, despite the ever expanding reach of illegal logging.

“Zoo-bred hybrid offspring of parents from Sumatra and Borneo are called "cocktail orangutans" or "mutts." Scientist are now trying to halt intermixing of the two subspecies, arguing they are genetically polluted and disrupted the biological integrity of the species. Some have argued that two groups are species, more genetically different than tigers and lion, or chimpanzees and bonobos. The hybrids can live out their lives at zoo, but no longer can produce offspring. Critics of the policy as an ape version of racism, and that the hybrid are treated like second class primates.”

Visiting Gunung Palung National Park

In the past Gunung Palung National Park was known mainly as a research area. Now it is being promoted as an eco-tourism destination. Simple accommodation has been set up. Visitors are welcome to walk along the same trails as orangutans. Permits are needed to enter the park. Trekking is limited but generally you to walk so far to see wildlife. There is standard five hour hike through thick jungle and high bushes to get to the heart of Mount Palung. Alternately, you can take a six hour motorboat ride or, try the quiter traditional boat ride that can take up to eight hours.

For more Information, rules and regulations, and reservation, you can contact:
Balai Taman Nasional Gunung Palung
Address: Jl Wahid Hasyim 41A Ketapang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia
Tel:+62-534-33539, fax: +62-534-33539
Contact Person:
Franky Zamzani, Website: http://btngunungpalung.tripod.com/ (in Bahasa Indonesian)

If you are looking for starred hotels or cozy bed and breakfast this is not the place as the park aims to minimize human impact on the forest.. So if you want to spend the night, you have to prepared to live simply and be one with nature, as part of the creatures of the jungle. Lodging is generally in small bungalow without air conditioning and maybe no electricity or a tent. For an elaborate trip arrangement including meals and nicer accommodation, it is best to contact the management of Mount Palung National Park.

Here are some basic regulations issued by the management of Mount Palung: 2) Visitors must report to or get permission from the Mount Palung National Park Office by submitting your legal identity documentation. 2) Visitors must bring adequate equipment and logistics required during the trek. 4) Visitors must be accompanied by a guide, when wishing to make a trek inside the national park.

While you are within the area of the national park: 1) Do not remove any plants, animals, or other species from the park. Any type of vandalisms is prohibited. 2) Visitors must carry back with them any inorganic waste from within the national park area. It is also prohibited to spoil or pollute rivers. 3) Visitors must not make loud noises that can disturb the surrounding habitat. 4) Tents may only be set up at designated areas, and the use of fire is limited to prevent fire hazards to the area.

.Access to the park is from Ketapang, a town with 30,000 people. Permits to enter the park, guides and food can be obtained there. Ketapang is the starting point to make the two hour overland journey to Sukadana, which is the entry point to Mount Palung National Park. There is road to Ketapang but the bus journey is awful. Most people arrive by plane or boat. DAS and Deraya operate daily flight from Pontianak. From Jakarta or Kuching there are 75-minute flights to Pontianak’s airport. From there, it’s another hour’s flight to reach Ketapang Airport. There are also twice-daily jet boat from Pontianak that takes six to eight hours.

Lake Sentarum National Park

Lake Sentarum National Park (7 hours by boat and 11 hours by road from Pontianak) is a very hard-to-get-to park protecting one of the world's most biodiverse lake -systems situated deep in the Borneo rain forest. Located in the Kapuas Hulu Regency, the Park lies in the upper Kapuas River tectonic basin some 700 kilometers upstream from the delta at Pontianak. The basin is a vast floodplain, consisting of about 20 seasonal lakes, freshwater swamp forests and peat swamp forests which local people call Lebak lebung (floodplain). Home to a wide variety of wildlife, the national park is the best place to observe activities of the true inhabitants of the Borneo Jungle such as the orangutans, proboscis monkeys, long tailed macaques, and many others in the beautiful setting of a unique lake system.

The area was first designated as a Wildlife Reserve in 1982 when it extended over 80,000 hectares, with just under one-third consisting of open water. In 1994 it was enlarged to 132,000 hectares to include extensive tracts of peat swamp forest, and several hill ranges with dry lowland- and heath forest (a type of tropical moist forest found in areas with acidic, sandy soils that are extremely nutrient-poor). In April 1994, Lake Sentarum was declared Indonesia's second Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, thus drawing international attention to this unique area. On 4 February 1999, its status was upgraded to that of national park, however a National Park Authority was only established in 2006.

Lake Sentarum is dominated by a marked fluctuation in water levels of the lakes and streams. During the highest tide, the lakes’ depth can go from 6 to 8 meters. The waters in LSNP are reddish-brown due to the high level of tannin from the decomposing leaves and branches of various trees. The unique water condition and the annual cycle of rising and falling water levels dominate the ecosystem and exert a strong influence on the lives of its people, plants and animals.

Wildlife and Plant Life in Lake Sentarum National Park

The lakes in Lake Sentarum park are remarkable for their fish diversity. 240-266 fish species have been identified, including 12-26 new to science. As the lakes measure only 25,000 hectares, this diversity is remarkable when compared to Europe, where a total of only 195 primary freshwater fish are known. In fact, Lake Sentarum harbors one of the world's most diverse fish fauna of any floodplain lake system. Of the 71 tropical and temperate lakes listed for their biodiversity by World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC) in 1992, Lake Sentarum (which is not listed) is surpassed only by Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi. LSNP is also the home for two highly popular aquarium fish: the rare and valuable red variety of the endangered Asian Arowana (Scleropaged legendrei) and the Clown Loach Botia or Tiger Botia (Chromobotia macracanthus). The latter is known only to live at Danau Sentarum and several locations in Jambi, Sumatra.

The national park is known to have the largest remaining populations of orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and is also considered to have the largest inland population of proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) on the entire Borneo Island. The two families of apes are among 23 endemic fauna that make up 147 mammal species found in the Lake Sentarum Park. There are also 237 bird species recorded including the Storm Stork and Great Argus, and 26 reptile species including the False Gavial and Estuarine Crocodile. The mammals diversity in the national park contribute 29 percent to the 515 variety of mammals found in Indonesia which is regarded as the largest in the world.

The area of LSNP is also rich in flora diversity. Research revealed that there are a total of 675 species of flora in 97 families found in the national park. From that number, 33 are endemic to Lake Sentarum and 10 are newly discovered species. Most of the vegetation found in Lake Sentarum are unique and have different appearances than those outside of Lake Sentarum. One of the examples is the Dichilante borneesis, which is rare and endemic to the national park and regarded as the missing link between the families of Rubiaceae. Other fascinating feature of the national park is the existence of a type of vegetation endemic to the Amazon Jungle, the Crateva relegiosa, which came to be known to the locas who call these the Pungguk Tree.

Visiting Lake Sentarum National Park

Boat trips, limited hiking and bird watching are main activities at Lake Sentarum National Park. Lanjak Hill and Nanga Kenelang are known a the best birdwatching spots. The vast and fascinating interconnecting lakes also makes a perfect place for canoeing and observing the natural wildlife at the same time. If you go boating bring a guide as maybe nobody can find you if you get lost For those wishing to learn more about the national park, a research lab is available at Bukit Tekenang. There is a traditional Rumah Betang or the traditional Dayak longhouse about six kilometers from the county of Lanjak. There is some hiking but walking is limited by the presence of lots of water and swampy ground, especially when the lakes are filled up in the west season.

There is some basic accommodation in the national park. It also possible stay on a Bandung boat or a floating traditional house called Lanting. For those looking for hotels and inns, the town of Putussibau is the nearest place for these. Here are some of the hotels and inns you can find at Putussibau, which is seven hours away from the park: 1) AmanSentosa Hotel, Jl. Diponegoro No. 14, Tel. +62 567 21691; 2) Marisa Hotel, Jl. Melati No. 3, Tel. +62 567 21125; 3) Harapan Kita Guesthouse, Jl. Sembatan Pelita No. 3, Tel. +62 567 21157; 4) Uncak Lestari Guesthouse, Jl. Lintas Selatan, Phone +62 567 21822

Lake Sentarum National Park Office
Danau Sentarum National Park Office:
Jl. C.Oevang Oeray No. 43 Sintang
Tel./Fax. +62 (565)22242
e-mail : balai.tnds@yahoo.com

Getting There: From Pontianak, rental cars or cars hired with a driver for the arduous drive to Lake Sentarum National Park on the Pontianak-Sintang-Semitau route, which take approximately 11 hours. For a more interesting experience you may want to take the river course, by taking a 7 hours Bandung boat ride from Sintang to Semitau. From Semitau, the only transportation option available to get to the national Park is by boat. For a shorter trip, you can take about an hour and a half flight from Pontianak to the nearest town to Lake Sentarum Park, which is Putussibau. From Putussibau you can take the Bandung boat for about 7 hours before you reach the national park.

Betung Kerihun National Park

Betung Kerihun National Park is centrally located on the island of Borneo and is the largest conservation area in West Kalimantan. Its hilly topography spans an area of 8,000 square kilometers and encompasses 8 types of forest eco-systems, including lowland forest, old secondary forest, dipterocarpus, sub-montane and montane forest. A high level of plant diversity of over 1,200 species flourishes across the reserve, 75 of which are endemic to Kalimantan. 300 species of bird, 51 species of amphibian, 52 species of reptile, and 48 species of mammal, including the endangered orangutan reside within the parks boundaries. 24 species endemic to Kalimantan also inhabit these forests.

Betung Kerihun National Park (Transborder Rainforest Heritage of Borneo) was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Eight ethnic groups live in 12 settlements in and around the park, two of them within the park itself. Most communities support themselves through traditional agriculture, rice cultivation and wildlife hunting, with the exception of one community that sustains itself primarily from gold mining and collecting bird’s nests.

The park runs along the boundary between Indonesia and Malaysia, separated by the Muller Mountain Range, part of which constitutes the National Border. On the Malaysian side of the border is 2,000-square-kilometer Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary. The two parks comprise the Trans-border Rainforest Heritage of Borneo, which have been proposed as a World Heritage Site. It is also part of the Heart of Borneo conservation effort organized by Malaysia, Indonesia amd Brunei Darussalam.

Hundreds of rivers are either found of have their origins in Betung Kerihun National Park. Indonesia’s longest river, the Kapuas River, measures 1,143 kilometers and begins in the Park. The Park, originally known as Bentuang Karimun, was first designated as a nature reserve by ministerial decree in 1982. Ten years later, the reserve expanded from its initial 6,000 square kilometers to 8,000. In 1995, with the involvement of the WWF, the Reserve was converted to a National Park.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: In general, the climate in Betung Kerihun National Park “exhibits a very high rainfall, being the typical of wet inland Kalimantan. The average annual rainfall is around 2,863 to 5,517 mm, and the number of rainy days is between 120 and 309 per year. Drier months occur between June and September with approximately 100 mm rainfall per month. The driest year happened in 1976 with annual rainfall of 2,863 mm and 120 rainy days during the year, while the wettest year occurred in 1988 with up to 5,517 mm rainfall and 184 rainy days during the year. [Source: Coordinating Minister of People's Welfare, Indonesia]

Betung Kerihun Ecosystem

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: Physical features Betung Kerihun National Park (BKNP) located in Sub district of Embaloh Hulu, Embaloh Hilir and Putussibau, District of Kapuas Hulu, Province of West Kalimantan. BKNP covers an area of 800,000 Ha. The Park is approximately 27.60 percent of the total area of Kapuas Hulu District, around 40 percent of the total protected area in the district, or 5.5 percent of the total area of Kalimantan Barat Province (14,807,700 Ha). The topography of BKNP area ranges from lowland elevations at about 200 m asl to mountains almost 2,000 m asl high. At such the site serves as an important water catchments area. Three out of Borneo's great rivers, the Rejang and Lupar River in Sarawak, Malaysia, and the Kapuas River in Kalimantan, Indonesia, have their origins here. Meanwhile, the Park's eight types of forest ecosystems, ranging from lowland dipterocarp forest, alluvial forest, swamp forest, old secondary forest, hill dipterocarp forest, limestone forest, sub-montane forest, to montane forest, provide habitats for the valuable Bornean biodiversity. [Source: Coordinating Minister of People's Welfare, Indonesia]

“On the whole, the Park belongs to type A (wet) in Schmidt and Ferguson classification, with Q=2.6 percent. The topography of BKNP is mainly hilly and mountainous, with altitude ranging from 150 to 2,000 m asl. The largest part of the Park is located at altitude between 200 and 500 m asl (38 percent). followed by altitude between 500 and 700 m asl (28.14 percent), between 700 and 1,000 m asl (15.90), between 1,000 and 1,500 m (11.19 percent), less than 200 m asl (5.34 percent), and up than 1,500 m asl (0.92 percent). With its mountains and hills, the Park is characterized by steep slopes (45 percent and up) in up to 61.15 percent of its area. Moderate slopes (25-45 percent) occur in around 33.08 percent of the Park area, while slopes of less than 25 percent occur in 5.77 percent of the Park area. BKNP area has at least 179 peaks, consisting of 65 peaks in the Embaloh watershed, 36 in the Sibau-Menjakan watershed, 26 in the Mendalam watershed, and 52 in the Hulu Kapuas/Koheng/Bungan watershed.

“Prominent peaks in the Embaloh watershed are Mt. Betting (1,150 m asl) and Mt. Condong (1,240 m asl); in the Sibau-Menjakan watershed, Mt. Lawit (1,770 m asl); in the Kapuas/Koheng, Mt. Jemuki (1,375 m asl) and Mt. Cemaru (1,118 m asl); in the Bungan watershed, Mt. Kerihun (1,790 m asl) and Mt. Dayang (1,645 m asl). The hydrology of BKNP is characterized by hundreds of streams and big rivers which form the Kapuas watersheds. Kapuas watersheds cover 9,874,910 Ha or around 67 percent of Kalimantan Barat Province area (14,680,700 Ha).

“On the whole, Kapuas watershed can be divided into five smaller sub-watersheds, namely Embaloh in the west area of the Park, Sibau-Menjakan and Mendalarn in the middle area, and Hulu Kapuas/Koheng and Bungan in the eastern area. Key rivers are Embaloh River (95 km long), Sibau River (25 km), Menjakan River (65 km), Mendalam River (30 Km), Hulu Kapuas/Koheng (100 km), and Bungan River (50 km) The soil types of BKNP are varied. Organosol and decomposed Glei soils are dispersed in the Embaloh upriver sub-district. Alluvial soils occur in the Mendalam River areas, Sibau and Embaloh Rivers, while podzolic yellow-red, and complex podzolic yellow-red and latosol, which dominate the Park areas are identified are found in Puttusibau and in the Embaloh upriver sub-district.“

Wildlife and Plant Life in Betung Kerihun National Park

With many types and levels of ecosystems the biodiversity in the park is stunning. Many new species have been discovered, including 13 species of palm trees. With in the park are seven species of primate that are unique to the park and surrounding areas: the Maroon Leaf Monkey, Mueller’s Bornean grey Gibbon, White-fronted Leaf Monkey, Banded Leaf Monkey, and of course the Orangutan. Other commonly spotted creatures include the Sambar Deer, Western Tarsier, Sun Bear, Hairy-nosed Otter, and Larger Malay Mouse Deer. The most distinct bird species within the park are the Wreathed Hornbill and the Helmeted Hornbill, which is the largest species of hornbill and the symbol of West Kalimantan.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “Borneo, the richest of the Sunda islands floristically both in terms of total species richness and diversity (MacKinnon et al., 1996), has a flora richness which includes both Asian and Australian elements. In BKNP, the Asian element is generally seen in the lowland forest up to the lower montane forest. Meanwhile, the upper montane is generally inhabited by species of Australasian families, such as Leptospermum, Phyllocladus and Styphelia (Steenis, 1972). [Source: Coordinating Minister of People's Welfare, Indonesia]

“The vegetation and floristic composition in BKNP can generally be divided into the following types: 1) Lowland dipterocarp forest 2) Alluvial forest 3) Swamp forest. 4) Old secondary forest 5) Hill dipterocarp forest 6) Limestone forest 7) Sub-montane forest 8) Montane forest On the whole, the 8 forest ecosystems of BKNP harbor at least 1,254 flora species. The family of Dipterocarpaceae has the most species of all flora families of BKNP (120 of a total 267 dipterocarp species found in Borneo). Other families having many species in BKNP include Euphorbiaceae (99 species), Myrtaceae (66), Annonaceae (38), Myristicaceae (31), and Burseraceae (21). Flora richness of BKNP also includes a large variety of orchid species. At ]least 97 species have been identified in the Park. Another flora richness of BKNP is its palm species. At least 49 species of palm have been identified in the Park area. Meanwhile, 133 species of bryophyte under 3 classes have been identified in BKNP (Sujadmiko, 1999). Nineteen families and 65 species of bryophyte belong to Hepaticopsidae, 1 family and 2 species belong to Anthocerotopsidae, whereas 19 families and 66 species belong to Bryopsidae.

“Like Borneo' fauna in general, BKNP's rich fauna is characteristically Asian in origin. It shares most of its fauna with the Asian mainland and the other Sunda islands, but shares few species with Sulawesi and the eastern islands which have a somewhat different faunal composition. The Park harbors not least than 652 fauna species. Of them, at least 54 are mammal species. Mammal species of BKNP also includes 8 primate species, namely Pongo pygmaeus, Hylobates muelleri, Presbytis frontata, P. rubicunda, Macaca nemestrina, M. fascicularis, Nycticebus coucang and Tarsius bancanus. The distribution of Pongo pygmaeus, one of the two species of orangutan found in Indonesia is interestingly concentrated in the western part of BKNP area, especially in Embaloh Watershed, which border Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) of Sarawak, Malaysia. Therefore, the establishment of BKNP-LEWS Biodiversity Conservation Area is considered very relevant for the conservation of Orangutan. Seventeen species of bats and 17 species of rodent, including Cheiromeles torquatus, which has been declared extinct in Java, are also members of the mammal diversity of the Park.

“The Park harbors high herpetofauna diversity. At least 112 species, comprising 59 species of amphibian, 25 species of reptilia, 24 species of squamata, and 4 species of testudinata, have been identified in BKNP. Meanwhile, the Park provides habitats for 300 species of bird. The dominant species belong to family names of Muscicapidae, Pycnonotidae, and Timaliidae. Twenty five species are Bornean endemics and 6 species are newly found species to Indonesia. The fish diversity of BKNP is also high. At least 186 species of fresh¬water fish have been identified. Thirteen fish species have been identified endemic to Borneo. Finally, insect diversity of BKNP is interesting. At least 170 insects have been identified in the Park.”

“Initial surveys have discovered thousands of species of flora and fauna, including 67 threatened flora species and 81 threatened fauna species under the 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Threatened flora species under the list include Dipterocarpus cornutus (CR), Dipterocarpus gracilis (CR), and Dipterocarpus grandiflorus (CR), and threatened fauna species include the orangutan Pongo pygmaeus (EN) and False Gavial Tomistoma schlegelii (EN). The surveys also reveal Bornean endemic species, such as Muntiacus atherodes, Presbytis frontata, Presbytis rubicunda and Reithrosciurus macrotis. Forests of BKNP are also important for indigenous inhabitants of the region, a variety of Dayak tribes who live from hunting, collecting non-timber forest products and subsistence farming based on a pattern of shifting cultivation.”

Visiting Betung Kerihun National Park

At Betung Kerihun National Park, visitors can hike through the forests or along rivers that flow through the park, and witness a dazzling array of plant and animal life, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Several hiking trails weave across the park, through the forests and up the mountains. The park may be explored by bicycle, motorbike, or longboat by way of river. It is possible to trek deep into the forest and camp in the heart of the tropical forests of Kalimantan.

Explore the limestone caves towards the eastern parts of Bentung Kerihun. The Diang Kaung cave is an interesting archaeological destination with prehistoric paintings on its walls dating back 5,000 years ago. Tolo cave reaches a depth of over 120 meters and has a lot to offcr spelunkers. Climb any of the mountains in the park’s primary forests: Mount Betung, Mount Lawit and Mount Kerihun, one of only 19 mountains in the world that sit along the equator.

Brave the Rapids from the upper reaches of the Kapuas River, the longest river in Indonesia and the fifth longest in the world. Numerous challenging rapids are found on rivers throughout the park, ranging from class III to class V in difficulty. It is possible to do white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking and tubing on these rivers. You can also visit Dayak villages, sleep in their longhouses and learn the traditional methods of hunting, fishing and gathering of forest products, and even take part in these activities yourself.

There are four main entrances to the park: DAS Embaloh, Sibau, Mendalam and Kapuas. Each entrance offers various activities, and has access to different hiking trails, boating rivers and campground. A few other things to keep in mind are that while you do not need to follow an organized tour, visiting the park without a local companion or guide is not advised. Natural trails often cross water, and may become slippery. At times of rainfall, the rivers’ water levels may rise dramatically in a short space of time. Bring enough food and water for your visit. Bring appropriate clothes for trekking through a tropical rainforest, such as long pants, long sleeves and proper shoes. Do not remove any plants or animals from the park, and hunting is prohibited. Last but not least, keep the park clean and help to maintain the environment.

The best time to visit BetungKerihun depends largely on what you expect from your trip. Trekking tours are best during the dry season between June and August, whereby heavy rainfall is quite rare. For the best white-water rafting experience, the period between January and March would be ideal as the water levels of the river are considerably higher during that time. Between April and June, the Dayak hold their traditional “Adat Festivals.” The objective of the festival is to maintain the ancient local culture, which is one of the oldest in Indonesia. During the festival, various cultural arts are displayed from handicrafts to traditional dances. The period of flowering and fruiting is between October and January, which is also the reproductive time for the primates and fish of the park, hence making this the best time for observing the beauty and abundance of BentungKerihun’s plant and animal life.

Accommodation and Getting to Betung Kerihun National Park

It is possible to sleep in the rain forest. There are several camping grounds scattered around the park. Regular accommodations can be found in Putussibau city, five hours away by boat from the park: 1) Hotel Sanjaya is located on the main road, about 1.5 kilometers from the Kapuas River Station. It offers VIP, Executive and Economy rooms. VIP and Executive rooms include a private bathroom while economy rooms have a shared bathroom. 2) Hotel Sanjaya, JalanKom. YosSudarso, Tel. 62 -567 — 21653. 3) Penginapan Permata Bunda is a losmen style lodging located on the main road, approximately 1 kilometer from the Kapuas River Station. 4) Penginapan Permata Bunda, JalanKom. YosSudarso, Tel. 62 — 567- 22249. 5) Hotel Aman Sentosa is a budget hotel just a few meters from the Kapuas River Station. 6) Hotel Aman Sentosa, JalanDiponegoro 14, Tel. 62 — 567 — 21691 A more complete list of lodgings can be found here:

The journey to BetungKerihun is a long one, whether you travel by air, land or water. To get to there, first fly to the small international airport in Pontianak,. From Pontianak, one must embark on the challenging journey of 800 kilometers inland to the city of Putussibau. Various bus services cover the Pontianak-Putussibau route across Kalimantan which takes between 12-15 hours. For a more time-saving route, flights depart from Pontianak to Putussibau twice a week on a small Cessna plane. Tickets are available at Pontianak airport and the flight takes approximately 2 ½ hours. Once in Putussibau, continue your travels via longboat up the Kapuas, Sibau and Mendalam rivers for about 5 hours. Alternatively, you could take a speedboat which will take you about 3 hours.

Package tours to and around the park can be arranged through travel agents in Pontianak or and Putussibau. You also see what turns up online.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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