1.TANJUNG PUTING KLOTOK TOUR (access from Palangka Raya/Kumai)
The starting point to the famous Tanjung Putting National Park is Kumai where all the tours and cruises can be booked, and local guides can be hired. Tanjung Puting is regarded to be the easiest place on earth to spot orang-utans and proboscis monkeys in their natural environment, and the prices are equivalent to this fact.
The coastal swamps and pristine mangroves were turned into a national park in 1982; ever since the conservation area has attracted adventurous travellers and nature lovers from all over the world.
The tropical rainforest is home to diverse fauna and flora, such as 9 species of primates, clouded leopard, sun bear, barking deer, sambar deer, crocodiles and more than 200 different species of birds, including the rare hornbills.
The vast wetland has such diverse fauna, and lush flora that is was given an epithet “Garden of Eden”. The major point of interest is Camp Leakey – an oasis for orang-utans, that can be reached by a traditional klotok boat.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN TANJUNG PUTING
2.KAHAYAN AND SABANGAU RIVER TOUR (access from Palangka Raya)
The Central Kalimantan`s capital city – Palangka Raya, spreads along the banks of two rivers – Kahayan and Sabangau, both meandering for several hundreds of kilometres to the far swampy inland in the Central Kalimantan.
The territory is far from being a tourist destination, and perhaps that is the reason for being more authentic. Taking a boat tour upstream either of the rivers will take the visitors to some of the most isolated regions of Borneo.
WHAT TO SEE & DO ALONG THE KAHAYAN-SABANGAU RIVERS
3.CRUISING BARITO RIVER (access from Banjarmasin or Kualakapuas)
Barito River meanders from the heart of Borneo, 900 kilometres through entire Central Kalimantan, to join the Java Sea at Kualakapuas and Banjarmasin. The river can be travelled upstream from either of the towns by booking a boat tour to Muara Teweh.
There are several interesting towns and Dayak villages to stop by on the way as well as plenty of natural attractions to enjoy albeit this is one of the Borneo`s least trodden paths (perfect for adventure seekers who don`t mind getting out of their comfort zone).
WHAT TO SEE & DO ALONG THE BARITO RIVER
4.MARTAPURA RIVER TOUR (access from Banjarmasin)
Officially belonging to the South Kalimantan, the city of Banjarmasin is set on a web of the canals of Martapura River and it is dotted with mosques. It has become famous for its colourful boats, stilt and raft houses and the world`s last remaining genuine floating market.
Banjarmasin is often called the “River City” for its far-reaching waterways, and although it has got a long Buddhist and Hindu history, the population is almost entirely Muslim.
Besides, the city has always been renowned as a centre of gem trading, particularly rubies and diamonds that are exquisitely brilliant. Nevertheless, much of the city life takes place on the water, and the whole tourism industry turns around the floating markets (klotok boat tours available at any guesthouse or hotel).
WHAT TO SEE & DO ALONG MARTAPURA RIVER
5.KAPUAS RIVER HOUSEBOAT TOUR (access from Pontianak)
The capital city of West Kalimantan – Pontianak, lies right on the equator, on the junction of the Landak and Kapuas Rivers and their murky waters indicate that one arrived in Borneo. Kapuas River is the longest river on Borneo, and with its length of 1143 km, it is one of the largest rivers in our planet.
WHAT TO SEE & DO ALONG THE KAPUAS RIVER
6.MAHAKAM RIVER JOURNEY (access from Samarinda)
Boating upstream the Sungai Mahakam, Kalimantan`s second longest river (more than 900 km), Islam becomes less evident, and the indigenous Dayak tribes still dominate the jungles. Various boat tours from Samarinda run throughout a year.
The historic town of Tenggarong and the tribal villages at Tanjung Isuy and Mancong are definitely recommended locations to spend a few days at, and further up the river, the rural region of Melak greets the visitors in a friendly way.
Those who wish to continue to explore the outlying Apo Kayan Highland Plateau will get a chance to appreciate Long Bagun – the largest towns on the Mahakam River with lively markets, and Long Iram at the heart of Borneo. Here, a good guide is more than essential and the less you carry, the better for yourself.
There are two ways how to explore the Mahakam River:
1.Public Ferry from Samarinda (Terminal Sungai Kunjang) that are typically crowded, less comfortable but cheap and adventurous (you will likely need to let the pilot know where to stop not the ticket collector). You can construct your own itinerary or just get lost on the public boats and follow the locals.
2.Private Boat Tour from Samarinda – expensive but more comfortable (bookings at most of the guesthouses and hotels – always negotiate the price). There are various tours, but commonly the itinerary is as follows: Samarinda-Kota Bangun-Muara Muntai-Tanjung Issuy-Mancong-Melak-Long Iram-Long Bagun and back (4-7 days, depending on your budget and you should count on 100+ USD/per person/per day)
7.BOATING THE SESAYAP RIVER (access from Tarakan)
One of the Borneo`s least accessible places and one of the last wilderness areas on Earth, the Kayan Mentarang National Park is the newest destination in Borneo that has opened to tourism. Its isolation contributed to the area`s outstanding perseverance.
It is right here where the last surviving Pygmy elephants hide in their natural habitat and few remaining individuals of the Bornean rhinoceros have survived, sadly only in captivity.
Besides, the indigenous Dayak communities have persisted in their ancestral way of life for centuries. This is still an authentic and pristine region in Borneo, with rivers at their cleanest, the forest at its healthiest and life at its purest.
The easiest way to visit the Kayan Mentarang National Park is booking a river tour along the Sesayap River from Tarakan to Long Bawan (via Mentarang).
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) is generally recommended to visit between June and October, during the dry season. In fact, many reserves and protected areas are only accessible outside the rainy season.
HOW TO GET HERE
Daily flights to Kalimantan are from Jakarta, Medan, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Kuching.
There are 5 major airports in Kalimantan: Pontianak, Banjarmasin, Balikpapan, Samarinda and Berau.
For all domestic flights check out the Indonesian flight companies Wings Air, Susi Air, Kartika Airlines, Lion Air, Silk Air, Sriwijaya Air and Garuda Indonesia.
Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive useful articles and special offers. This monthly email is sent out on the first of every month.