Central Kalimantan is the only province in Borneo with a predominately Dayak population, mostly Ngaju. Ot Danum and Ma’anyan people. It was created in 1957 after a Dayak revolt for more autonomy. Traditional beliefs are still widely practiced here. the government classifies them as a form of Hinduism. Large numbers of Malays live in the province as well some Bugis. Some Dayak people still live in isolation among the forest.

Central Kalimantan is the biggest province on the island, most of it jungles, swamps, mountains and forest. Some virgin rain forest remain. Other placed have been stripped of much of their forest cover. The northern area is mountainous and difficult to reach. The central part is dense tropical forest. The southern area is swampy and has many rivers. The northern mountain chain, the Schwaner Range, is home to some of the most pristine forests in Kalimantan. Certain areas are within WWF’s Heart of Borneo conservation initiative signed by the 3 nations, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

Central Kalimantan(Kalimantan Tengah) Province covers 153,564.50 square kilometers. Its population grew from 1,913,026 in 2005 to , 2,202,599 in 2010 to 2,490,178 in 2015. The population density (people per square kilometer) is 16.2. The provincial capital and largest city is Palangkaraya.

Central Kalimantan was part of the Brunei-based Kutai Kingdom, which first embraced Hinduism but later adopted Islam. In the 19th century, the Dutch and British began making serious attempt to colonize the area. Dutch practiced divide et ampera techniques to divide and conquere the local people. The tribes were scattered and wary of each other until late 19th century when Tumbang Anoy peace pact in Hulu Kahayan, Central Kalimantan, was held. Central Kalimantan was part of South Kalimantan when Indonesia became independent after World War II. Central Kalimantan was declared as a province on May 23, 1957.

Traditional Indonesian food can be found in most places, but you might want to try one local specialty — rattan. Yes, it’s the same material used to create furniture! But when this plant is harvested when it is young and tender, and the thorns and outer layer are removed., and the young rattan is processed and cooked with other vegetables, it can be quite good. The texture is rather rubbery and the taste is bitter, and is best eaten with fish.

Entry: Garuda Indonedia Airlines domestic flies direct to Palangkaraya, capital of Central Kalimantan, three times every day. Tourism Office: Jl. Tjilik Riwut Km.5, Palangkaraya 73112 Phone. (0536) 3231110 Fax. (0536) 3231007.


Kalimantan occupies the southern two thirds of Borneo and embraces an area of 539,000 square kilometers (208,285 square miles ). It is an Indonesian region. Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak, and the independent country of Brunei occupy the northern part of Borneo. Kalimantan is divided into five provinces: North Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan. In August 2019, the Indonesian government announced a plan to move Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to a location near Balikpapan and Samarinda in East Kalimantan

Kalimantan is a vast, thinly settled region, covered mostly by large wildernesses with marshy coastal plains and jungle covered mountains in the interior. It is a land of rain forests where wild orangutans can still be found and former headhunters welcome tourists into their longhouses. It also suffers from heavy deforestation. Logging companies are quickly exploiting the timber resources and palm oil companies are burning down the forest create plantations. It is also ravaged by fires.At the end of drought in 1982, a fire raged in East Kalimantan for almost year, destroying 33,700 square kilometers (13,000 square miles) of forest. It was the largest fire ever recorded.

The name Kalimantan, which is sometimes spelled Klemantan, was derived from the Sanskrit word Kalamanthana, which means "burning weather island", or island with a very hot temperature, to describe its hot and humid tropical climate. It consists of the two words kal (time, season, period) and manthan (boiling, churning, burning). The word Kalamanthana is spelled Kalmantan, and then the indigenous people fixed it into Klemantan. It has been said that Kalimantan is a word that means "river of diamonds" in Malay. That is not true.

Kalimantan has a very small population. It accounts for 28 percent of Indonesia's area but only 5.5 of the population, and accounts about 16 million of the 23 million people that live in Borneo. Most live on the coast in the west. Most of the population is made of Malay Indonesians. Chinese have controlled trade in the region for centuries. Many residents are from or are descendants of people that came from elsewhere in Indonesia — most Javanese and Madurese — as part of Indonesia’s Transmigration effort to move people from overpopulated areas to thinly populated areas.

Kalimantan covers 544,150.07, square kilometers. Its population grew from 12,541,554 in 2005 to 14,297,069 in 2010 to , 15,320,017 in 2015. The population density (people per square kilometer) is 28.

Provinces of Kalimantan: Province, Area (square kilometers), Population (2005C), Pop. (2010C), Pop. (2015C prelim), Pop. density/square kilometers, Provincial capital, Largest metro
West Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat), 147,307.00, 4,042,817, 4,393,239, 4,783,209, 32.5, Pontianak, Pontianak
Central Kalimantan (Kalimantan Tengah), 153,564.50, 1,913,026, 2,202,599, 2,490,178, 16.2, Palangkaraya, Palangkaraya
South Kalimantan (Kalimantan Selatan), 38,744.23, 3,271,413, 3,626,119, 3,984,315, 102.8, Banjarmasin, Banjarmasin
East Kalimantan (Kalimantan Timur), 129,067, 2,840,874, 3,550,586, 3,422,676*, 26.5, Samarinda, Balikpapan
North Kalimantan (Kalimantan Utara), 71,176.72, 473,424, 524,526, 639,639, 8.5, Tanjung Selor, Tarakan


Palangkaraya is the capital and largest city of Central Kalimantam. It is home to around 250,00 people and lies at the center of a major transmigration area, meaning there are many Javanese and Madurese living there. There is a museum with some interesting displays on the local tribal people .There are some guides that speak good English but generally English is not widely spoken so it is a good idea to learn a few words of basic Bahasa Indonesia to get around. There is also a model of a longhouse and a rehabilitation center for gibbons. A local delicacy is freshwater crawfish.

Palangkaraya means “Holy Container” or “Honoured and Sacred Great Place” in the Dayak language. Built on the site of Pahandut, a small stilt village on the banks of the Kahayan River, city was designed from built from scratch in the 1960s according to plan by Indonesia’s first president Sukarno, who wanted the city to be Indonesia’s capital. After Sukarno was stripped of his power and died,Palangkaraya was left to deteriorate: the tiny, back water capital in a new, thinly populated province. In the 1970s and 80s many outsiders from overpopulated Java were relocated here as part of Indonesia’s transmigration program. In recent years has developed into a congested Indonesian city. There has even been serious discussion of moving the Indonesian capital here from Jakarta.

Palangkaraya can easily be reached from Jakarta, Banjarmasin, Samarinda, Balikpapan and other points on the island by air. The town has become the center of government, trade and education of the province. The Regional Museum of Palangkaraya contains a collection of historical and cultural interest from all over Central Kalimantan.

Palangkaraya is a natural starting point for exploring the interior of Borneo, linked by numerous daily flights to and from Java and other places in Indonesia as well being at the center of a web of public roads and navigable rivers used to reach a variety of places in Central and South Kalimantan. Eco tourism has yet to develop in the mountains, but it has in lowland areas, where orangutan and river eco tourism is very much alive.

The Museum Balanga in Palangkaraya, the provincial museum, contains a fascinating collection of artifacts tracing the everyday life of Dayak peoples from birth, through adolescence, engagement, marriage and death. There are fine collections of masks, carved totem poles, Mandau or swords, and traditional cloth. The museum is open Monday through Friday mornings. A walk around the city should include stops at original stilt villages and traditional markets. Explore Pahandut on foot or by becak, a three-wheel pedi cab. Navigate the maze of raised board walks built on high stilts to escape the flooding river waters during the rainy season. Normal Indonesian dress standard applies; women ideally should wear long sleeves and have their legs covered with trousers or longer skirts.

Accommodation, Restaurant and Getting to Palangkaraya

Hotels in Palangkaraya include: 1) Amaris Hotel, Jalan S. Parma (0536) 322 3888; 2) Aquarius Boutique Hotel, Jalan Imam Bonjol (0536) 322 0565; 3) Batu Suli Hotel, Jalan Raden Saleh (0536) 322 6535; 4) Batu Suli International, Jalan Raden Saleh (0536) 322 6535; 5) Dandang Tingang Hotel, Jalan Yos Sudarso (0536) 322 1805; 6) Grand Global Hotel, Jalan Cilik Riwut kilometers 1 (0536) 322 2888; 7) Lampang Hotel, Jalan A. Yani (0536) 322 0003; 8) Luwansa Hotel, Jalan G. Obos (0536) 324 2828; 9) Mahkota Hotel, Jalan Nias (0536) 322 1672; 10) Rungan Sari Resort Hotel, Jalan Cilik Riwut kilometers 36 (0536) 333 3878; 11) Sakura Hotel, Jalan A. Yani (0536) 322 1680.

Restaurants: There are many restaurants which serve local grilled food, Javanese foods, satays, Padang spicy foods and some western style foods. A special feature of Palangkaraya is the tent city of food stalls set up every night in Jalan Sudarso, near the big roundabout. Stroll by these animated stalls under the twinkling lights for a wide choice of local and Indonesian specialities. Among the favorites are grilled corn, wedang jahe (hot spicy ginger drink with added sweet tid bits), fresh fruit lassis, hot, sweet coffees, and the ubiquitous satay.

Most souvenir shops are located in Jalan Batam, near the traditional markets. This is the central shopping area for traditional handicrafts, foods and cheaper clothing. The Palma Mall has some boutiques, a bakery, coffee shop, food hall and cinema.

Getting Around: Airport taxis are available on arrival to transport travelers to the hotels in Palangkaraya. There are numerous transport companies that are usually willing to rent out the car plus driver for differing periods. These transport companies also operate services to most towns and cities in Central Kalimantan. The larger hotels can assist guests obtain transport. Small orange mini buses service the city and environs on established routes from 6:00am to 4:00pm. After this time, you should bargain for your trip.

Getting There: Flights depart daily for Jakarta and Surabaya. Current airlines operating services into Palangkaraya are Garuda Indonesia, Sriwijaya Air, Lion Air and Batavia Air. Flights from Palangkaraya to Surabaya are operated by Batavia Air.

Near Palangkaraya

Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s Education Center (30 kilometers from Palangkaraya) is located in Nyaru Menteng, near Tangkiling, along the Cilik Riwut Road. The Education center is open to the public on Sundays, and permits visitors to view adolescent orangutans, waiting to be released, behind glass. Entry is by donation. Taman Alam, near Tangkiling, is a small wildlife park in the shadow of Bukit Tangkiling. Its most interesting exhibits are the local crocodiles, captured in nearby water ways.

Bukit Tangkiling (35 kilometers out of Palangkaraya) is a hill that is approximately 150 meters in height and is easy climb. At the top, you are rewarded with a wonderful vista of vast flat flood plains and peat swamp forests, as far as the eye can see. Before the climb, have a look at the jumble of spirit houses, built for wandering spirits and also used by locals putting offerings for their special requests. Brilliantly painted, the yellow banners are believed to attract the good spirits and guide them to these places of refuge. Bukit Batu (70 kilometers from Palangkaraya) is one of the rare rocky outcrops or magmatic extrusions in the mostly flat peat swamps. Revered by Dayaks as the place of contemplation of their local and national hero, Bapak Cillik Riwut, it has a fascinating history.

Kasongan (80 kilometers from Palangkaraya) is the regional capital of the Katingan regency situated at the crossroads of the great Katingan River and the Cilik Riwut Road. Famed for production of timbers, rattan, gold, zircon, fruits, rubber, oil palm and much more, the township has interesting Dayak sandungs, traditional houses, rattan processing factories, markets and is said to be the best place to eat giant river prawns. After Kasongan is the road heads north to Tumbang Samba and the hinterlands.

Tumbang Manggu longhouse and Dayak cultural centre (5 hours by local roads Palangkaraya) requires crossing both the Katingan and Samba Rivers by barge, to reach. Located behind a tiny river village is a relatively newly built long house buily according to traditional principles. It sits on enormous tree trunks, has the ancient niched logs as ladders, and the huge internal communal area for performances. The owner is a local Dayak elder, and acknowledged artist, who maintains dance and music performance at a high level, and welcomes visitors into his home and village to learn more about these ancient arts.

The village also houses an impressive number of the bone houses or sandungs, used to store the ancestors’ bones. Decorated by extravagant carvings, totem poles and painted brightly, these sandungs are reminders of the ancient Dayak heritage.

Nyaru Menteng: Orangutan Re-introduction Center near Palangkaraya

Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Re-introduction Center (28 kilometers from Palangkaraya) is a lesser known orangutan re-introduction center but no less important than Tanjung Puting. Near Palangkaraya, the center is located within the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum, which was originally meant only for rare plants. Today the reserve also includes a forest conservation area where captured primates are released to find their way back into the wild.

The Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Center was founded in 1999 by Lone Dröscher Nielsen and Odom Kisar. Today it is home to more than 600 orphaned and displaced Borneo orangutans under the care of the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation. Since its humble beginnings, the center has now become the world's largest orangutan conservation facility with numerous cages, islands, clinics, vehicles, training forests and hundreds of staff. The Head of the project is Lone Dröscher-Nielsen. Lone spent four years volunteering in Tanjung Puting, caring for small infant orangutans, before deciding to go out on her own and open the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Project.

“Nyaru Menteng” means “Gallant and Brave” in the local Dayak language. The clinic, quarantine facilities and socialization cages are inside a fenced area of 1.5 ha, while mid-way housing is at the farthest end of the Arboretum. The forest around the center is undisturbed by regular visitors and serves as the perfect place where the young orangutans are taught how to survive in the wild. Five small islands in the river nearby are used as the first home for the orangutans as they begin their new lives without their caretakers. The larger orangutans are placed on half-way islands in the Rungan River, located eight kilometers away by road. On these islands the orangutans are free to roam and learn important forest survival skills. The center also has its own fruit-plantation and a big nature reserve, where the orangutans can be released into once they are ready for a life in freedom.

As a conservation center, The aim of the Nyaru Menteng Project is to rescue orangutans (and other protected primates) displaced from their habitat or held in captivity as illegal pets, and through quarantine and half-way housing release them back into their natural environment. Nyaru Menteng also aims to help protect large areas of untouched forest for this purpose. The Center has also been the subject of a number of TV series including BBC’s Orangutan Diary and Animal Planet’s Orangutan Island. More Information is available at:redapes.org and orangutans.com.au

As a site where certain special and rare vegetations are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes, the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum was established in 1988 on a 65.2 hectares area which was previously exploited for logging since 1974. Nyaru Menteng has a wide collection of rare vegetation such as: the Terentang (Camnospermum sp), Mentibu (Dactylocladus stenostachys), Bintangur (Callophyllum sp), Jelutung (Dyera costulata), Agathis (Agathis sp), Bangkirai (Hopea sp), Gelam Tikus (Melaleuca leucadendron), Jambu-jambu (Eugenia sp) dan Tumih (Combretocarpus rotundotus). The Arboretum also 4 types of tropical pitcher plant (Genus Nepenthe), including: Nepenthes raffesiana, N. maxima, N. ampullaria dan N. Gracilis. Based on data of the Natural Conservation Office of Central Kalimantan (BKSDA KALTENG), the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum has 43 families and 139 species of vegetations.

In Palangkaraya, there are a lot of accommodation options. Nyaru Menteng Arboretum is administratively located at Tumbang Tahai Village, Bukit Batu Sub-district, in the city of Palangkaraya. The Arboretum lies pleasantly on the Palangkaraya-Sampit intercity route or to the east of the Tjilik Riwut raya Road,easily accessible by rental cars or cars hired with a driver or public transportation.

Visiting Nyaru Menteng Rescue and Rehabilitation Center

At Forest School 103 at Nyaru Menteng Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, led and founded by Lone Droscher-Nielsen, rescued orangutans are taught to form their own society and then set free in the forest. With helicopters, mapping and other logistical support from the world's largest mining company BHP Billiton that operates a coal mining concession in Central Kalimantan, Nyaru Menteng released 36 adult orangutans in 2007, and 25 in 2008, filmed for Orangutan Diary. A planned airlift of 48 orangutans scheduled to take place in July 2009 was cancelled as BHP Billiton intended to withdraw from the area for strategic reasons. Orangutans that have been released have tiny radio transmitters placed under their skin to monitor their movements.

Reporting from palangkaraya, Indonesia , where the center is located, Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: Over the past decade, Droescher-Nielsen, a former Scandinavian Airlines Systems flight attendant, has saved nearly 600 orphaned orangutans in Borneo from almost certain death. Funded by donations from abroad, she has given the apes food, shelter and better health care than many humans in these parts ever get. Now, the 46-year-old Dane is preparing for a more difficult — and controversial — task: returning tame orangutans to the wild. "They were born wild, and they deserve to go back in the wild again," said Droescher-Nielsen. "That is our ultimate objective." [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post , November 14, 2009]

“Some experts wonder whether orangutans raised by humans will be able to hack life in the forest and whether diseases they might have caught in captivity will harm kin that never left the jungle. Droescher-Nielsen, whose project has grown into the world's largest primate rescue effort, expects most to make it. "The ones we set free are not going to be wild, but they can manage," she said. It will take a couple of generations for bad habits picked up in captivity to be completely purged. Disease, she added, shouldn't be a problem because the area selected for the trial release doesn't have a viable orangutan community of its own. Droescher-Nielsen initially hoped to start returning orangutans to the wild years ago, but, as forests kept retreating, it became increasingly difficult to find a safe place to put them. The task was further complicated by the fact that rehabilitated apes don't fear humans — a big problem when many humans see them as a menace and want them dead.

“Keeping orangutans fed and sheltered is expensive. The Nyaru Menteng project has a staff of about 200 people. Salaries, food, medicines and other expenses mean that it costs about $2,000 a year for each of the nearly 600 apes in residence. That is more than twice the average annual income in the area. An additional 400 or so of the primates are being cared for in other rehabilitation centers in Borneo. "I'd like to be an orangutan," joked Nordin, a local environmental activist, who like many Indonesians uses one name. "They get given meals, and when they get sick they get sent to hospital."

“Droescher-Nielsen's center has a well-equipped clinic. Adult orangutans spend much of the day in a nearby peat-land forest that is off-limits to loggers and oil palm growers. Each afternoon, dozens come out of the trees for a "social hour" in the main compound. They munch fruit, climb on a jungle gym and play on swings. At night, they are escorted to a cluster of cages; the younger primates are piled into wheelbarrows and taken to a separate sleeping area.

“To survive in the wild, the orangutans will have to forget their pampered past lifestyle. Droescher-Nielsen's staff members have devised a number of techniques to try to help prepare the animals for life on their own in the forest. About 125 apes, for example, have been moved onto islands in a nearby river, where they have little contact with humans. Most of their food is still provided, but they have to work much harder to get it: It has been placed in trees, not simply left on the ground. Some of her center's orangutans, Droescher-Nielsen said, have scant chance of surviving in the wild, so they will have to stay put until they die. This could mean decades, as the animal's average life expectancy is 40 to 45 years. Those likely to stay include the blind, the maimed and apes "just too plain stupid to make it."

“Some question whether protecting apes in captivity will contribute to the long-term survival of the species. Rescuing baby orangutans is a "welfare issue, but it is not good for conservation," said John Burton, head of World Land Trust, a British conservation group. He's against returning orangutans that might be carrying human diseases to the forest and thinks that keeping them in expensive rehabilitation centers is "not cost-effective" as it only adds to a "world surfeit of captive orangutans." The main focus, he said, should be on protecting forests and the wild apes that live in them.Droescher-Nielsen agrees that the fundamental problem is the destruction of trees. But she also says humans must take responsibility for the havoc they've already caused. "I don't look at this with my brain. I look at it with my heart. I cannot leave these victims," she said. "We're the cause of their becoming orphans. What should we do, just euthanize them? Should we just kill them and say, 'I don't really care?' "”

Sebangau National Park

Sebangau National Park (outskirt of Palangkaraya, entrance 20 minutes by car) embraces one of the last remaining peat swamp forests in Borneo. Spread out between the Katingan and the Sebangau Rivers, this vast park covers 568,700 hectares and is home to over 6,000 orangutans, forming one of the world’s largest populations in the wild. Aside from its rich biodiversity, the forest is also known for its special ecosystem: the black water ecosystem created from decomposing organic matter living in these peat swamps, resulting in the blackened water and the unique variety of organisms.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia campaigned to establish the park, which was gazetted in 2004, and the organizaton remains at the forefront at involving nearby residents in low-impact logging, home industry, reforestation and ecotourism. Thus, providing balance harmony between the preservation of Orangutan and the community.

Aside from being the home of huge communities of orangutans, the park is also habitat to 35 species of mammals, 116 species of Borneo typical birds, 36 species of fish, and about 166 species of flora. Some of the particular animals that roam freely in these forests include: orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), Southern pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina), kelasi (Presbytis rubicunda), proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus), Forest cats (Felis bangalensis), Chipmunks (Exilisciurus axilis), hornbills or enggang gunung (A. undulatus), enggang gading (Buceros vigil), enggang badak (Buceros rhinoceros), Swamp Heron (Ciconia stormi), pecuk ular (Anhinga melanogaster), cangak merah (Ardea purpurea), cangak laut (Ardea sumatrana), Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis), Catfish (Clarias sp.), papuyu (Anabas testudineus), kakapar (Belontia hesselti), and sambaling (Betta sp). Among some of the flora found in the park are: jelutung (Dyera lowii), belangeran (Shorea belangeran), pulai (Alstonia angustifolia), ulin wood, Deer Horn orchids and black orchids.

Amidst the peat swamp forests, the National Park also offers beautiful scenery of pristine hills. From the top of Bukit Batu or Rock Hill, one overlooks the Sebangau National Park and all its fascinating scenery. The hill is also the perfect spot for bird watching since white Herons, swallows, Green Cucaks, Keruang, Kepodang, and Bald Eagles are among some of the exotic birds that nest here on the hills. A long and challenging trek is available at Bukit Bulan or the Moon Hill. As trekkers make their way up the hill, they will be presented with refreshing trails along the Sungai Bulan, or Moon River. A unique ecosystem of peat swamp and granite rocks is observable at Bukit Kaki or Foot Hill. The granite rockz cause a dry environment, and thus the trees are different from those in the surrounding environment.

In the Sebangau National park are also crystal clear, refreshing, fresh water lakes. These lakes are also habitat to various species of fish and other distinct flora and fauna, and are the best place to watch nature‘s process at its finest. These magnificent lakes are known as Bulat Lake (Round Lake), Punggualas Lake, Jalan Pangen Lake, and Panjang Lake (Long Lake).

Along with Tanjung Puting, the Sebangau National Park is a perfect representation of the pristine tropical forests of Central Kalimantan. Guarded by endless preservation efforts and the ancient local wisdom of the Dayak, these tropical forests form an important part of the world’s environment, supplyig vital oxygen for the entire planet.

Visiting Sebangau National Park

There are no hotels or bed and breakfast establishments within the national park area. Camping is possible in some places. Consult the officer in charge for designated camping areas or other accommodation options. There are many accommodation options in Palangkaraya. It is hard to get around the park as much of it is swampy peat forest, which is difficult to walk and not that conducive to boating either except on the main rivers and streams.

As a national park, there are certain procedures that you must comply with for your visit to the Sebangau National Park. Here are the procedures as quoted (and translated) from the park official website: Visitor’s Obligations: 1) Bring personal identification (Passport, Visa, other Ids); 2) Every visitor must pay entrance fee and other optional fees upon entering the Sebangau National Park. Fees in Sebangau National Park are: Visiting Fee, Research Fee, Picture Taking Fee. Report to the officer in charge upon arrival and departure Visitors must comply with all rules, regulations, and guidance from the field guide/officer

Visitor’s restrictions: 1) Visitors are prohibited from carrying firearms or tranquilizer guns, sharp weapons, pets, seeds, biochemical, liquors, or illegal drugs. 2) Visitors are not allowed to play music or any loud noises such as playing guitars, tape recorders, and other musical players or instruments that can disturb the animals. 3) Visitors are prohibited to behave in such a way that can damage the integrity of the area and all its inhabitants (flora and fauna) Visitors are not allowed to hunt, catch, and take animals or any part of them, dead or alive, unless for approved research purposes. 4) Visitors are not allowed to harm or kill animals, unless their life is threatened. 5) Visitors are not allowed to tear down, cut, or take plants or any part of them, dead or alive, unless for approved research purposes. 6) Visitors must dispose of their garbage at designated facilities only. 7) Visitors must not conduct activities outside designated areas. 8) Visitors are only allowed to light a fire at designated areas. 9)Visitors must use available routes/treks and are prohibited to open new routes.

Getting There: From Palangkaraya, you can use land transportation or rental cars or cars hired with a driver which take about 20 minutes to Kareng Bangkirai (the Entrance to the Sebangau National Park), alternatively you can take the Katingan river entrance, which is a 90 minutes’ drive from the airport. Keep in mind that public transportation may not be as many as those found in other parts of the country. So make sure you’ve made your travel arrangements prior to arrival.

Traveling on Rainforest Rivers of Central Kalimantan

Central Kalimantan’s northern mountain chain, the Schwaner Range, is the source of 11 mighty rivers. the vast lowland peat swamps in the south are the outlet to the sea for these rivers and is the home of crocodile infested mangroves and estuaries. Wildlife found in the peat swamps includes orangutans, proboscis monkeys, red leaf-eating monkeys, many bird species, deer, clouded leopards, porcupines, sun bears, giant pythons, magnificent hornbills, monitor lizards and civets.

Palangkaraya-based eco tourism pioneers Kalimantan Tour Destinations introduced the idea of transporting travelers around a comfortably remodeled traditional ‘rangkan’ river boat. Cruises encompass the natural beauty and magnificent fauna, particularly the orangutan, of Borneo and visit Dayak villages. An effort is made to bring benefits local communities by generating alternative livelihoods and teaching new skills that contribute to the development of a sustainable local eco-tourism economy (click wowborneo.com for details).

Trips are offering in Sebangau National Park and other places. Some of the cruises are on the Rahai’i Pangun, a beautiful re-modelled traditional ‘rangkan’ complete with five comfortable cabins, three bathrooms and a huge viewing deck, with 360 degrees views from comfortable rattan sofas. Relax and enjoy up to five days aboard, served fusion cuisine by our on board chef and stopping en route to visit villages, explore magical black water lakes by canoe and to see orangutans released on river islands.

Dayaks of Central Kalimantan

The indigenous people inhabiting the dense tropical rainforests of Borneo are collectively called the Dayaks, but in fact they comprise many tribes that are diverse in culture as well as in language. The word “Dayak” actually means “inland” or “upriver”, especially where the Indonesian part of Borneo, - called Kalimantan, - is cut by many long and wide rivers as well as many tributaries, that are used as transportation highways.

The most prominent Dayak groups that live in Central Kalimantan are the Ngaju Dayaks, the Lawangan, the Ma’anyan and the Ot Danum, known as the Barito Dayaks, named after the Barito river. Among these, the most dominant are the Ngaju, who inhabit the Kahayan river basin by the present town of Palangkaraya. The Ngaju are involved in agricultural commerce, planting rice, cloves, coffee, palm oil, pepper and cocoa, whilst, the other tribes still mostly practice subsistence slash and burn agriculture.

Although many Dayaks have modernized and converted to Christianity and Islam, the majority still adhere to the original Kaharingan belief, which is a state recognized faith called Hindu-Bali Kaharingan by the Indonesian government.

Kaharingan belief focuses on the supernatural world of spirits, including ancestral spirits. For this reason, funeral rites and structures are elaborate. Most essential, however, are the secondary funeral rites, called tiwah, when the bones of the deceased are exhumed, cleaned and placed in a special mausoleum, called sandung, which are placed next to remains of their other ancestors. These coffins are normally beautifully carved and adorned. The tiwah is believed to be a most essential ceremony to allow the soul of the deceased finally to be released to the highest heaven.

When visiting the Dayaks upriver one can also see many funeral poles. While best examples of funerary art are found on the upper reaches of the Kahayan River at Tumbang Kuring. In Dayak village that welcome tourists, accommodation is provided in homestays. While staying there, you can learn things like how to make local crafts and cook traditional dishes.

Visiting the Interior of Kalimantan

Traveling Into the interior of Borneo and Kalimantan can be arranged from Palangkaraya. It is difficult finding spots that have not been logged. Destinations include the Muara Tweh area and Tumabm Mahuroi. Getting to these places often requires various kinds of boats or a motorcycle and is often expensive. Illegal logging has taken its toll on the region and it of difficult to find places that haven’t been disturbed.

Kuala Kapuas (40 kilometers from Banjarmasin) is located at Kapuas River. Telo Island is a pleasant fishing village and port. You can go white-water rafting on challenging rapids of Gohong Rawai. The gold mines of Teweh and Batu Api in Rungan district are interesting sites. . In this region, gold mining is a major source of income for people, many of whom pan for the gold using traditional methods.

Sampit is the biggest timber port in Kalimantan. The Orchid Park of Pembuangan Hulu is home to a number of rare and beatiful orchid varieties. Hunters can engage in their favorite pastime in hunting park of West Kotawaringin. Make sure to visit the old Palace of Pangkalan Bun, constructed completely out of ulin (iron wood). It is the only Banjar royal legacy found in Central Kalimantan. Tanjung Puting National Park is a well-known nature and wildlife reserve in lowland and swamp forests, inhabited by orangutans, owa-owa, bekantan and other primates. One can visit the Orang Utan Rehabilitation center which is supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Visiting the Dayaks

To get to Dayak villages in Central Kalimantan, you need to make arrangements in Palangkaraya for a boat, a car with a driver or a tour. The guide know which Dayak villages will be best to visit based on the weather, time of the year and the conditions of the roads and rivers. The following are some places you should visit while going to or from the Dayak village.

Visitors interested in trying the traditional fishing methods of local fisherman can do so. Fishing techniques range from using fishing rod to using their unique-style seine. It is also possible to hunt deer and or wild boar with Dayak tribesmen who generally to not actively pursue animals but rather like to hunt in clearings drawing the animals to them. They have a unique method for attracting deer: they imitate the sound of a young deer. Since does (female deer) always protect their young, if the call is done well enough the female deer will approach as soon as they hear the sound for help. In hunting, Dayak have traditionally used lances or blowpipes. A blowpipe very is long and can be fitted with a kind of bayonet so it also functions as a lance. Blowpipe darts used for hunting are smeared with poisonous concoction that paralyze or even kill prey. Blowguns are especially good for hunting monkeys and other animals in the trees.

Visitors to Dayak villages are often entertained with Dayak traditional dances and music made with plucked stringed instruments and drums. The Ngaju Dayak, the dominant tribe along the Kahayan and Kapuas Rivers, are known for their arts, especially their wooden-coffins at elevated cemeteries, ships of the dead and funeral poles.

The Ot Danum tribe inhabits a region of the Kahayan River, north of areas occupied by the Ngaju and south of the Schwaner and Muller mountain ranges. They live in long houses built on two- to five-meter-high meter pillars above the ground. One exceptionally lathe house has around 50 rooms. These longhouses are locally known as betang. The Ot Danum are known for their skill plaiting rattan, palm leaves and bamboo. Even today they still continue to follow the ways of their ancestors.

The Ma’anyan Dayak tribe retain their traditional beliefs about the spirit world and continue to practice old agricultural rituals and complex mortality ceremonies and employ shaman as healers. Their cemeteries indicate social hierarchy. The cemetery of the nobility is located in the most upstream position of the river, followed by warriors. Ordinary folk are buried further downstream, slaves further still.

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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