Ujung Kulon National Park, One of the World’s Most Pristine Natural Ecosystem

Ujung Kulon National Park is situated about 300 km from the capital city of Jakarta, or about 140 km from Serang, the capital city of Banten Province, Ujung Kulon National Park encompasses a total area of 122,955 hectares consisting of 78,619 hectares land area and 44,337 hectares of seas. The national park stretches across the Ujung Kulon Peninsula, Panaitan Island, Peucang Island, Handeleum islands, and Honje Mountain Range. Administratively, Ujung Kulon National Park is located within the Sumur and Cimanggu districts, in the Pandeglang Regency, in the province of Banten. Ujung Kulon National Park is one of the world’s most pristine natural ecosystem and Indonesia’s prime national park.

With scarcely any human interference, the national park has a very well preserved ecosystem of flora and fauna. Its most precious feature is the one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sundaicus) or more commonly known as the Javan Rhino, which is regarded as the icon of both the national park and the province. This majestic creature is known as one of the rarest mammals on earth and is classified as critically endangered in the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.

Aside from the Javan Rhino, Ujung Kulon National Park is also home to many other special wildlife such as the owa Jawa monkeys (Hylobates moloch), surili (Presbytis aigula), dhole/wild dog (Cuon alpinus javanicus), banteng bull (Bos javanicus), silvery gibbon (Hylobates moloch), Javan lutung (Trachypithecus auratus), long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas), Java mouse-deer/kancil (Tragulus javanicus), deer (Rusa timorensis), and more. There are also over 72 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 240 species of birds that make Ujung Kulon their home.

Ujung Kulon National Park is one of only few areas which feature vegetation profiles from sea-coastal to tropical mountains. There are over 700 types of flora within the national park, of which 57 are classified as rare in Java and quite possibly the world. Among some of the flora that are known to grow solely in the area include the Batryohora geniculata, Cleidion spiciflorum, Heritiera percoriacea, and Knema globularia.

Get There

There are two ways to enter Ujung Kulon National Park: By chartered boats from Carita Beach and overland by car via Labuan to Tamanjaya or Sumur. If you take the sea route, It is approximately 2-3 hours boat ride from Carita Beach to Peucang Island where the accommodation and national park representative office are situated.

If you take the overland route, from Jakarta you can head out to Serang, the capital of Banten via the Toll road for about 2 hours drive. From Serang, you continue westward to Labuan, in Pandeglang Regency for roughly about 2 hours. The little town of Labuan is where the main office of the Ujung Kulon National Park is located (at Jalan Perintis Kemerdekaan No 51). From Labuan, the road continues to Panimbang, Sumur, and Tamanjaya for a little over another 2 hours. Some of the road may be narrow and are not in good condition, so drivers must be prepared and. Remain watchful.

The Office of Ujung Kulon National Park area II Handeleum and Tamanjaya provide the entrance tickets, insurance, and general information about the National Park. The office is located in the Tamanjaya Village near the dock of Tamanjaya. All  requirements for  tourist activities such as boat rentals, local guides, porters and more, can be arranged at the office.

The Amazing Wasur National Park

Situated at the most eastern end of Indonesia, directly bordering Papua New Guinea, the Wasur National Park forms part of the largest wetland in the province of Papua and is recognized as the least disturbed by human activity. Playing host to a large number of flora and fauna, the natural park is dubbed “The Serengeti of Papua” for its astonishing high value biodiversity.

Part of the Trans-Fly biome that straddles the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, Wasur is a low lying area of savannahs, swamps, forests, and slow moving rivers that inundate much of the land during the wet season. The dominant plants here include mangroves, Terminalia, and Melaleuca species.

The park provides habitat for a large variety up to 358 bird species of which some 80 species are endemic to the island. Fish diversity is also high in the region with some 111 species found in the eco-region and a large number of these are recorded as originating in Wasur. The Park's wetland also provides habitat to various species of lobster and crab as well. Highlighted with various species of birds including Trans-Fly specials and many Australian migrants, the national park is an absolute paradise for bird watchers.

During August to November, the national park experience the arrival of thousands of migratory birds from Australia and New Zealand, such as gray storks, pelicans, ibis, Royal Spoonbills, and more. This is a special feature of the park since it only occurrs once a year. Other fascinating rulers of Wasur’s skies include the Southern Crowned Pigeon, New Guinea Harpy Eagle, Dusky Pademelon, Black-necked Stork, Fly River Grassbird, Greater Bird of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Red Bird of Paradise, and more. The national park is also home to at least three species of wallaby, nocturnal cuscuses, sugar gliders, cassowary, Papuan fresh water crocodile, saltwater crocodiles, and more.

Get There

To reach Wasur National Park, you can take airplanes from Jakarta to Merauke, at the southern-most part of Indonesian Papua near the border with Papua New Guinea. From Merauke to the entrance of Wasur National Park takes a 2-3 hours drive on the Merauke-Jayapura main road. Alternatively, the town of Merauke is also accessible by a 1.5 hour flight from Jayapura’s Sentani Airport, capital city of Papua Province.

Sebangau National Park, Pristine Tropical Forest

The Sebangau National Park in Central Kalimantan is one of the last remaining peat swamp forests in Borneo. The vast national park covering approximately 568,700 hectare is home to over 6,000 orangutans, forming one of the world’s largest populations in the wild.

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.

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 rocks 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).

Get There

The Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya serves flights from and to Jakarta and Surabaya. Once you reach Palangkaraya, you can use land transportation or rented cars 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.

Nyaru Menteng, Home for Borneo Orangutan Survival

A lesser known orangutan reintroduction center but no less important than Tanjung Puting is the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Center near Palangkaraya, capital city of Central Kalimantan. The Center is located within the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum, which was originally meant only for rare vegetations. Today the reserve also includes a forest conservation area where captured primates are released to find their way back into the wild.

Sited within the arboretum, 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. 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. 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.

Located within the vicinity of Palangkaraya, there are a lot of accommodation options you can find within the close range to Nyaru Menteng. For more information on accommodation in Palangkaraya you can refer to our to stay and find a hotel in Palangkaraya.

Get There

Situated approximately 28 km from downtown Palangkaraya, the 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 rented cars or public transportation. There are more flights available to Palangkaraya than to Pangkalan Bun, the staging point for a visit to Tanjung Puting.

Relax on board your boat and take in the sights of monkeys jumping from tree to tree. The park is home to around eight species of monkeys including the very distinctive proboscis monkey, with its distinctive long nose it is sure to grab your attention. Try to spot wild orangutans swinging through the thick and lush vegetation. Remember to keep your eyes out for crocodiles too, they might be hard to spot but they’re definitely there! As well as this, the park is also a haven for over 220 species of birds.

Camp Leakey, the Orangutans Preservation

One of the main attractions of Tanjung Puting is Camp Leakey, the orangutans preservation. The camp was founded in 1971 as a haven for orangutans rescued from domestic capture. Today the camp remains a center of research of these amazing animals. Learn more about orangutans at the Camp Leakey information center. The daily feedings of wild orangutans will be the highlight of your visit as you will most likely get to see wild orangutans up close in their natural habitat. Camp Leakey was named after Dr Louis Leakey, the mentor of one of the camps founder’s Professor Birute Galdikas.

Pondok Tangui is also a rehabilitation center for ex-captive orangutans located in the park which has daily feedings of the apes. At both center, you will get the chance to see these amazing primates up close and learn more about how we can protect this endangered species of Borneo island. The park is also home to monkeys, birds and other wildlife, not to mention the pristine vegetation of the jungle itself. This is a world famous natural treasure which attracts a growing number of international visitors each year.

Get Around

In the jungle there is no other option but to get around by foot so a visit to Tanjung Puting will involve walking in the great outdoors. As you trek through the tropical surrounds you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for orangutans, monkeys, bush pigs and wild deer as you go. Search for native wildlife sites including the great bird life while you take in the sights of a truly exotic tropical jungle.

Walks can be tailored to your level of fitness so discuss the different options with your guide before you set out. While you are staying on the river, traditional boats called klotoks will transport you around.

Get There

To explore the park, visitors must take a boat down the Sekonyer River from Pangkalan Bun. These boats will accommodate you for the duration of your stay in Tanjung Punting. Flights run from Jakarta and other major cities to Pangkalan Bun daily.

A number of tour operators run cruises from Pangkalan Bun down the river. If you pre-arrange your tour, the tour operator will pick you up from the airport and transport you straight to the river.

The Bekantan and Mangrove Conservation Park

The Bekantan and Mangrove Conservation Park is located about 1 km from the city center of Tarakan in the province of North Kalimantan, and just along the highway out of the city. This site has as its chief inhabitants a large family of proboscis monkeys, called Bekantan. These long nosed and large bellied monkeys are endemic to the island of Borneo, mostly found on the Indonesian side called Kalimantan. They are reddish brown and are often referred to as Arborial Old World monkeys. They usually live near water sources, and are good swimmers. Since they are not aggressive, Bekantans are now on the IUCN Red List as Threatened Species. Their habitat in Kalimantan are, among others, at the Danau Sentarum National Park, Gunung Palung National, Tanjung Puting National Park and the Kutai National Park.

The Conservation Park was started by the first mayor of Tarakan, Jusuf SK, who determined that the city needed to protect a 9 hectares mangrove forest. At first there were only two proboscis monkeys living in this forest, but these soon multiplied to the present 35 comprising of adults, youngs and babies. The animals in the Tarakan Conservation Park are used to humans, despite the fact that bekantans are normally shy animals-they do not run away when they see visitors, so that it is quite easy to take pictures of them in action from a close distance of only 5 meters.

The Walkways are pretty wide between 1.5-2 meters. Best time to watch Bekantans is between 11:00 PM - 02:00 PM Central Indonesia Time, since this is the time that they come down from the forest to eat the extra bananas specially given to them by rangers.

Climb Majestic Mt. Merapi Volcano at the Center of Java

Mt Merapi, located near Yogyakarta, is one of the most active volcanoes on earth. It is one of some 500 volcanoes in Indonesia, from which at least 129 are active in the volcanic arc spread along the Asia-Pacific islands called the Ring of Fire.

Living in the shadows of an active volcano is like sitting on a time bomb, especially when it is called the Fire Mountain or Mount Merapi, the volcano that dominates the center of the island of Java.

Climb Majestic Mt. MERAPI VOLCANO at the Center of JAVA

Despite its frequent eruptions, Mt. Merapi is very central to the lives of the Javanese people and kings. For through its eruptions Merapi spews lava, ash, and minerals to the surrounding areas. These provide nutrients to the soil, making this one of the most fertile areas in the world, and consequently the most densely populated.

This majestic, perfectly cone-shaped volcano, with its peak at 2,911 meters above sea level, has also determined the lives of kings and realms. In the early 11th Century, the once-mighty ancient empire of Mataram mysteriously disappeared, and power suddenly shifted to East Java. Scientists surmise that a violent eruption of Merapi in 1006 AD was the ruin of the empire.

Climb Majestic Mt. MERAPI VOLCANO at the Center of JAVA

This massive eruption also buried the nearby Borobudur temple in ash. Most recently at the end of October-beginning November, Merapi erupted catastrophically killing 353 people mostly by its Pyroclastic flows, the worst ever after the one in 1870.

Since then the mountain has been quieter, but the people here have befriended the mountain and accept its rumblings and coughs as part of normal natural phenomena.

Climb Majestic Mt. MERAPI VOLCANO at the Center of JAVA

The Merapi volcano also plays a central part in the accepted cosmos of the Javanese sultans. The Keraton of Yogyakarta faces the mountain in one direct line. Merapi is also guarded by spiritual "guards" who give offerings to the mountain.

Local people respect the awesome power of this volcano. Annually, on the anniversary of the Sultan's coronation, offerings (Labuhan) are brought from the Keraton of Yogya to Mt. Merapi, together with similar offerings carried to the Indian Ocean to the south, to appease the spirits of the mountain and the sea, in order to bring welfare to the inhabitants of Java.

Climb Majestic Mt. MERAPI VOLCANO at the Center of JAVA

Today Merapi is continuously monitored by a number of earthquake posts, that warn inhabitants of imminent eruptions. Nonetheless, despite frequently giving out smoke, the mountain still attracts hikers and climbers and lately adventurers who love to retrace the hot lava flow of the last eruption, although now the lava has cooled down considerably.

Whether you are a professional or avid vulcanologist, or love the adventure of climbing or riding in off-road jeeps up dangerous slopes of Merapi, here are a number must-do activities:

1 | Learn about volcanoes at Museum Merapi

Your introduction to volcanoes is at the Museum Merapi. This Museum at Kaliurang, on the slopes of the volcano, is located some 25 km. North of Yogyakarta, and is dedicated to scientific studies of volcanoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. It was unveiled for the public on October 1, 2009.

Occupying a land area of 3.4 hectares, the 4,470 square meters building consists of two floors. The first floor contains rooms with themes, such as Volcano World, The Merapi Volcano Trail, Man and the Mountain of Fire, Earthquake and Tsunami, Disaster Movement of Soil, Diorama and Extra-terrestrial Volcanos.

Meanwhile, the second floor is used for the screening of images and films on Mount Merapi. It also highlights the National Personalities who have visited the victims during the last devastating eruption. At the west hall, is information about tremendous volcanic eruptions around the world. One of these was the Krakatau Eruption in 1883 that killed thousands, caused by Pyroclastic clouds and its ensuing tsunami, while its eruption darkened the skies for 3 days across Asia, US and Europe.

Address: Jl. Kaliurang km.22 Banteng, Boyong, Harjobinangun, Pakem Sleman, Yogyakarta

Climb Majestic Mt. MERAPI VOLCANO at the Center of JAVA

Image by markomorciano

2 | Get awestruck by mighty Mt. Merapi at the Kaliurang Observation Tower

There are many spots established as viewing points overlooking the mighty Merapi. But your best vantage point is at Kaliurang's Observation Tower, located only 7 kilometers away from the crater, ensuring a relatively safe distance. There is an extensive garden surrounding the 2-story tower, where you can linger in the cool air while sipping a warm Wedang Ronde – a warming ginger drink -to revitalize your energy.

Address: Desa Hargo Binangun, Pakem, Sleman, Special Region of Yogyakarta

3 | Take an Adventurous Lava Tour at Kaliadem

If you are very adventurous and are dying to know how a volcano erupts and see for yourself its dire aftermath, take the Lava Tour up Mt. Merapi and follow in the lava's deadly path.

You will find many Jeep communities at Kaliadem who can offer you an off-road adventure of the devastated area covered by ash and lava in the last eruption. The tour will always be led by professional drivers who double as guides. The rushing feeling of adrenaline will keep in as your Jeep zig-zags over the trail.

The tour usually includes visits to important landmarks such as the Mini Museum "Sisa Hartaku" (translated meaning: My Remaining Treasure Museum) that serves to inform about the impact made on the people living in the area during Merapi's the latest eruption in 2010. There is also an underground bunker that was the last refuge for 2 volunteers, but who sadly died by the extreme heat of the lava. There's also the Alien Stone, a unique rock that resembles a human face.
Be sure to pack a sweater against the cool mountain air. You can also take the tour by riding your own off-road motorcycle if you're skilled enough to ride over challenging rough terrain.

Address: Desa Kepuharjo Kecamatan Cangkringan, Kabupaten Sleman, Provinsi Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta

The Mighty Mount Rinjani

The mighty Rinjani mountain of Gunung Rinjani is a massive volcano which towers over the island of Lombok. A climb to the top is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have in Indonesia. At 3,726 meters tall, Gunung Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia. The climb to the top may not be easy but it’s worth it, and is widely regarded as one of the best views in the country.

Within the mountain is a crescent shaped lake, the breathtaking Segara Anak which is a spiritual place. The Balinese come here each year and perform a ceremony to the mountain spirit. The Wetu Telu people also regard the lake as holy and come here to pray on full moon nights. This lake of sulfur is located 600 meters below the crater rim. Rising from the waters of this lake is a new volcano, Mt Baru, which is a result of a series of eruptions during the 1990’s.

Mt Rinjani lies within the Gunung Rinjani National Park. The park covers 41,330 hectares and sits inside a major bio-geographical transition zone (Wallacea). This is where the tropical flora and fauna of South East Asia meets that of Australasia. This National Park was established in 1997 and is one of over 40 throughout Indonesia.

Three-day Rinjani route from Senaru to the crater rim, down to the Crater Lake then on to Sembalun Lawang, is considered one of the best treks in South East Asia. More adventurous trekkers may want to head all the way to the summit of the volcano. This is best reached from Sembalun Lawang and takes four days, finishing up in Senaru.

Get Around

The most popular way to climb Rinjani is through a four or five day hiking expedition, starting at Senaru and finishing at Sembalun Lawang. Trekkers begin from Senaru hiking to the stunning crater rim, down to the incredible crater lake and then onto Sembalun Lawang. More information about trekking up Mt Rinjani is available at the Rinjani trekking club website.

Get There

Senaru and Sembalun Lawang Villages are the two starting points to climb Gunung Rinjani. Senaru Village is a three hour drive north of Mataram, while Sembalun Lawang Village is approximately a four hours drive to the east of Mataram. You can get to Senaru by taking public transport to Bayan and then walking.

Green Canyon, A Piece of Heaven in Ciamis

Green Canyon is located at the Kertayasa Village, in the Ciamis Regency, West Java Province, about 31 km or 45 minutes drive from Pangandaran Beach. Originally called “Cukang Taneuh”- the local Sundanese meaning for Soil Bridge- Green Canyon has a 3 meters wide bridge made up of soil above the twin cliffs on both river banks. This natural wonder is surely a spectacular scene that you will not find anywhere else. The name Green Canyon is believed to have been dubbed by a French tourist who came to the location in 1993. It is said that the clear green water of the river and the abundant green moss on the cliff had given it its popular name.

As you arrive at the main entrance, which is the parking lot of Green Canyon, you will see a row of wooden boats popularly called “Ketinting” lining up by the river. The ketinting will then take you on a ride down the river, splitting the clear green water and creating small wave on both sides. From the boat, you will see green forest trees along the banks, and sometimes snakes or lizards jumping into the river, or come up to surface.

Located not too far from Pangandaran, Green Canyon is a must for those who plan to visit Pangandaran. “A piece of heaven on earth”, as those who have been there describe it. A true Natural Wonder hiding behind the thick bushes and trees of Pangandaran’s forests. If you think you have never heard about this place, it is only because Green Canyon is the best kept Secret of Pangandaran.

Get There

You must first fly or travel by car or train to Bandung. There are direct international flights from Malaysia and Singapore to Bandung. A number of “City Trans” companies operate comfortable, sometimes luxurious buses between Jakarta and Bandung.

From Bandung, the means to get to Pangandaran is by bus, or rented car. If you use public transportation, from the Pangandaran Terminal you can take a minibus headed to Cijulang Terminal. From the Cijulang terminal, the trip continues on ojek popular bike taxies found almost everywhere in Indonesia.

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