Venturing into the Heart of Central Kalimantan
Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan is a remarkable place – a protected tropical coastal heath and peat-swamp jungle that is the home of the unique, iconic Bornean orangutan and other rare species of wildlife.
The remote region was originally declared a game reserve in 1935 and became a national park in 1982. Orangutans are the primary reason why tourists and nature lovers venture into the park, made famous by the meticulous work of the Orangutan Research and Conservation Program at their research station, Camp Leakey.
The park’s dense jungle can only be accessed by ‘klotok’ – a traditional flat-bottomed riverboat – from the busy port of Kumai on the mangrove-lined Sekonyer River. The boats offer guests a uniquely comfortable experience, with wide unimpeded viewing decks and comfortable cabins, air conditioning and en suite bathrooms.
Soon after leaving Kumai travelers quickly begin to see troops of foraging proboscis monkeys and macaques, along with numerous bird species and even the occasional saltwater crocodile. Tanjung Puting is also home to clouded leopards, civets, sun bears, mouse deer, barking deer, sambar deer, wild boar, banteng, as well as many species of rare butterfly.
With access only possible by boat, three days is the minimum recommended time needed to explore the forest pathways and observe the orangutans at Camp Leakey, where you can enjoy the evening chorus of proboscis monkeys and catch the pulsating fireflies.
Camp Leakey was founded in 1971 by Dr Birute Galdikas as a haven for orphaned orangutans. Dr Galdikas is one three women – the other two being Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey – who studied great apes under the distinguished anthropologist Dr Louis Leakey. The camp is aptly named after him.
Today Camp Leakey’s work is primarily research of these highly intelligent creatures and the daily feeding of wild orangutans is one of the key attractions for visitors to the station. Once you arrive at Camp Leakey the primary forest is easily accessible from the jetty along sandy pathways.
Walking through the forest around the research station can yield many sightings of animals and birds, including, of course, the wild orangutan in their natural habitat. Walks are tailored to one’s level of fitness so discuss the different options with your guide before you set out.
Visitors to Camp Leakey can also stop by at Pondok Tanggui, another rehabilitation center that is home to pre-wild and adolescent orangutans. In fact it hosts a number of species including deer and wild boar, and is in an area that is popular for exotic bird watching.
Getting to Tanjung Puting National Park and Camp Leakey is not as difficult as you might expect and trips there can be easily combined with traveling to Java or Bali. The town of Pangkalan Bun is only a 20-minute drive from Kumai and is served by Iskandar Airport, with daily flights from Jakarta, Semarang, and Surabaya.
For bookings or more information about this and other Indonesian tours, get in touch with us at: [email protected]hiri.com.