I would never ever regretted my impromptu decision to get short getaway to Tanjung Puting National Park (TPNP), Central Kalimantan. It’s the perfect place to be surrounded by nature. Besides, this is the first and the biggest orangutan rehabilitation center in the world. You need to go on tour to get there. Yet, you won’t miss its adventurous side.
From the beginning, I have been excited as it was my first step in Kalimantan ever. I went by myself and joined with three others who fortunately were nice and friendly people. We soon became friends. I am happy my first one is in Tanjung Puting because it is one of natural wonders of the world. Three days is not enough.
Here, why I seriously want to revisit Tanjung Puting:
1. Luxurious accommodation
After meeting the guy from beborneotour.com at arrival gate of Pangkalanbun Airport, we were transferred to Port Kumai by airport taxi. There were four of us, but he took two different taxis for us, while he rode his motorcycle.
Port Kumai is the main gate to TPNP. Here, we’re welcomed by our guide. He immediately took us into our klotok (local term for the wooden boat) and introduced us to the other crews: captain, second captain, and our cook lady.
The boat named SPIRIT was clean and spacious for four people. We loved it. There was a set of dining table with four chairs, two mattress covered by sheet and cushions, and carpet on the floor. Didn’t forget benches and plastic chairs at the end of the boat to enjoy Sekonyer River.
“Oh my God. This is gonna be fun.” I talked to my self.
Shortly, after the crews dismissed to their area underneath and we adjusted the situation by looking around, they came up with our lunch. Yeah, our flight delayed and we showed up nearly lunch time. Having this service, made me had a good feeling about this vacation.
Speaking of food, our cook really can cook. Aside meal time, we had snacks and soft drinks every time we came back from seeing orangutan.
All crews were nice and skillful. When it’s raining, they quickly pulled down the shield. Our guide, additionally, was knowledgeable about issues of orangutans. He was also master of bird as he recognized most of bird’s name and their sound. He and the captain really knew how to give us the best experience along cruising down the river. The boat sometimes stopped or moved slow when they thought there were animals that we had to see.
Bed time is my favorite part. Each of us got our own mattress, and we slept under mosquito nets. When they prepared it, I didn’t know how would they set the net until I saw it. The boat transformed to be like honey moon cabin. The nets had a big ring and a hook hanging on the roof and then spread around the bed. Seeing this, I knew I would have a good night sleep.
In the morning, two of beds and the nets were put aside, and would be reset at bed time by the crew. What I appreciate about this was, they changed the sheets.
Another luxury was, we had a bath room with a huge barrel of fresh water for shower and ‘toilet business’. We also got electricity to charge out phone and camera batteries, but we got to ask for that, since they had different line for this. When it rained, they got us umbrella, and the guide always brought water in case we’re thirsty while watching orangutans.
2. Abundantly fresh and pure oxygen
As Tanjung Puting is a national park, green is on the both sides of the river. Once you leave the port, the right side is the protected area. People are not allowed to enter without permission. The left side is the contrary. The forest is like side by side with palm oil plantation and settlement. At first night, we could heard dangdut music from where we parked our boat.
I was happy there was no smoker in the group. Waking up and seeing the greens around were so great and peaceful. My lung must be excitingly pumping getting the fresh and clean air for those three days.
Getting close to Camp Leakey, we were through the dark water. Instead of dirty, it is the cleanest water because it contains of tannin, organic compound produced by the roots of the plants around. It’s cold and pure. I even could see the roots under the water, and we took a bath with this water.
3. Attractive wildlife
It was really true if you’ve ever heard that Kalimatan or Borneo is heaven for nature lover. I found many animals and plants that I have never seen or only I saw on television. I saw Nasalis larvatus (bekantan – mascot of Dunia Fantasi, Ancol, Jakarta), birds, long-tailed macaque (monyet ekor panjang), beautiful spiderweb, firefly, Nepentes (Tropical pitcher plants – kantung semar), etc. Surely, each animal I found seemed to be interesting to see. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good camera to capture them.
We missed crocodile though.
4. Beautiful silence
I visited Tanjung Puting in the middle of March, and it was low season. It is good for me as I am kind of that season traveler.
The boat is going slowly. I could wholly enjoyed the view and freely absorbed the fresh air. Anchoring at marina of the camps was smooth and people were less crowded, so I could freely take pictures from every angle I want.
We were lucky got two nice nights with clear and beautiful sky. I was even able to identify planets among the million of stars. At the second night, we parked not far away from a tree full of fireflies.
In fact, I was able to survive without internet, telephone signal, and tv, for two nights. There were only sounds of unknown wild animals and current.
5. Orangutan is cute and entertaining
The best time to get close to orangutans is at their feeding time. We visited three camps: Tanjung Harapan, Pondok Tanduy, and Came Leaky. We had to hike into the jungle for few minutes to get feeding area. I enjoyed it, though, as our guide was well informed about plants and animals we encountered along the path.
There were always rangers prepared banana and sugar cane on a wooden stage-alike at feeding area. Orangutans will come in every day, otherwise the rangers will yell to call them. You can do it as well if you want. Visitors should be patient to wait for orangutans. When they’re coming between the trees, believe me, your waiting is worth it.
It was entertaining looking orangutans during the feeding time. The small ones were getting awkward to get the food because the bigger one was there. The other ones were sneaking and taking the canes and banana, then climbing the trees to eat them up there.
The are smart animal. They know how to manage their food on mouth, hands, and feet, while climbing and swinging. They peel banana. Interestingly, when they had rambutan at Pondok Tanduy, an orangutan first coming, almost finished all of it. He looked missed it, as if banana and sugar canes were boring meals after day and day. When the others coming, they also grabbed rambutan first. The amazing thing for me, they peeled it and didn’t eat its seed.
It is said that their DNA number is nearly to human’s. No wonder they act like us, including sound of their cough and fart. Lastly, there was a fun show before my group leaving Camp Leakey at 4 pm. We saw how a male approached a female orangutan. Like a man, he started with kissing. LOL.
Well, I miss Tanjung Puting.