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Kalimantan Activities

What to do in Kalimantan

Kalimantan is one of the globe’s last strongholds of untouched wilderness. The rainforests of the Kayan Mentarang National Park, Apokayan Highlands and the eastern reaches of Sungai Kapuas beg to be explored – with little effort you can see orang-utans, macaques and sun bears. If you’re looking to encounter indigenous tribes, then the longhouse villages in the interior are your best bet – the treacherous rapids protect the privacy of the Dayak villages, so you’re in for an adventure. Meanwhile, boats and simpler craft with putt-putt engines can take you upriver or along the mighty Sungai Mahakam. Alternatively, dive off the east coast along Pulau Derawan or canoe down Banjarmasin and visit its water villages and floating markets.

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Apokayan Highlands

Located within the 1.36 million-hectare Kayan Mentarang National Park – the largest forest area in Southeast Asia – the Apokayan Highlands are protected by a long section of rapids that happen to be Kalimantan’s wildest white water along the Sungai Kayan. It’s the place to head to for some great trekking due to a landscape that’s well worth a bout of exploration.

  • Location: East Kalimantan
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Betung Kerihun National Park

The 800,000 hectare Betung Kerihun National Park is named for the two Muller Range peaks. The park is a combination of eight types of forests including montane and lowland varieties and is home to over 1,200 tree species as well as more than 300 bird species. You can trek, kayak, white-water raft, canoe and explore the caves here.

  • Location: Western Kalimantan
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Bukit Baka-Bukit Raya National Park

Named after two of Kalimantan’s highest peaks, Bukit Baka-Bukit Raya National Park is home to montane forests, waterfalls and snaking rivers. More importantly the area is a good trekking spot and there are plenty of tourist facilities. The rafflesia blooms every March but you can see the world’s largest flower almost any other time of the year as well.

  • Location: Western Kalimantan (approximately eight hours from Sintang)

Ketapang

Ketapang is home to the 100,000-hectare Gunung Palung National Park which plays host to 10% of the world’s wild orang-utan population. Alternatively Kendawang – located 80km south of Ketapang – has relatively undeveloped beaches with picturesque fishing communes.

  • Location: Western Kalimantan
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Sangalaki Archipelago

A world-renowned diving destination, the Sangalaki Archipelago is well worth the trip to Kalimantan. There’s a range of mantas, rays, green turtles and sea horses that call this sliver of ocean water home; Pulau Derawan is the nearest inhabited island and the island village plays host to a clan of Bajau people.

  • Location: East Kalimantan

Putussibau

Boasting a diminutive population of only 15,000, Putussibau is the last sizable town in the Kapuas Hulu area. Kompakh – a joint effort between the local government, national park authorities, WWF and villagers – makes its home here. The ecotourism organisation exerts its influence to protect the surrounding forest but they can also organise longhouse visits, river cruises, jungle treks and even white-water rafting expeditions.

  • Location: Western Kalimantan

Sebangau National Park

Home to one of the world’s largest populations of wild orang-utans, Sebangau was gazetted in 2004 and is home to 35 mammal species, 100 birdlife species and several forest types. The 568,700-hectare park is located between the Katingan and Sebangau Rivers south of Pelangka Raya. If you’re reasonably fit you can take part in daytrips that track wild orang-utans.

  • Location: Central Kalimantan

Sungai Kapuas

Located in Western Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat), Sungai Kapuas is the region’s longest river. It’s the jumping-off point to visit the interior of the Kalimantan Barat’s luxuriant rainforests and indigenous communes in the eastern highlands.

  • Location: Western Kalimantan

Sungai Mahakam

The 920km-long Sungai Mahakam is a good jumping-off point to visit the indigenous tribes and observe their traditional culture. You’ll need to charter a boat – guides are relatively knowledgeable, so discuss the trip with them ahead of time. On the south side of Sungai Mahakam, be sure to catch a glimpse of Samarinda-style sarongs that line the banks of Samarinda Seberang. Also you can stop over at Tenggarong – once the capital of the Kutai Sultanate – the Mulawarman Museum here merits a visit.

  • Location: East Kalimantan

Tanjung Puting National Park

Located in Central Kalimantan, Tanjung Putting National Park is said to be the world’s best place to see orang-utans in their natural habitat. The rehabilitation centre’s got excellent family-friendly facilities and you’ll likely see a wide variety of wildlife ranging from sun bears and pythons to leopards and wild boars as you trek across the park.

  • Location: Central Kalimantan
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