Deep forest trekking through the Heart of Borneo, Betung Kerihun National Park

Betung Kerihun National Park in Kalimantan on the island of Borneo is home to more than 1,200 plant species (75 which are endemic to Borneo) and 48 mammal species, including the endangered orang-utan. The Kapuas River, which at 1,143km is Indonesia’s longest river, starts in the park In the case of Betung Kerihun National Park, dubbed as the heart of Borneo and containing some of the most intact forest in the world, trekking for beginners isn’t as easy as a walk in the park.

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Betung Kerihun takes its name from Mount Betung in the west and Mt. Kerihun in the east. It is known as a place of pristine nature and extreme adventures. Its four main river catchments: Embaloh, Mendalam, Sibbau and Kapuas Hulu – hold in store a nature-loving experience at advance level. Treks are available but invisible, as is the case of the Embaloh River catchment area. Walking through the jungle would require the assistance of our expert guide to lead the march.

The trek is nature to the fullest. The humid air is a consequence of the tropical climate within its forests. Though heavy, the air is clean, as you would expect it to be, being in the lungs of the earth. As well as the leeches, you’ll encounter myriad birds and other wildlife.

Almost 56% of Kapuas Hulu has been designated as protected areas. That includes Betung Kerihun National Park (800,000 hectares, proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Danau Sentarum National Park (132,000 hectares, also a Ramsar Site) and some other smaller forested areas. This is approximately 20% of West Kalimantan’s total area. It shares a common border with Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo).

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Betung Kerihun represents some of the oldest rainforest in the world and last remaining natural habitats of Kalimantan. Many are endemic to Kalimantan such as the endangered Orang Utan, Muller’s Borneon Gibbon and Maroon Leaf Monkey.

Danau Sentarum is an important water catchment for upper Kapuas. The park area is 132,000 hectares which include the lakes, peat swamp forest, hill ranges, lowland and heath forests. This is the largest floodplain in Asia.

The view at the turning point is spectacular, making worthwhile the hard work. A deep breath or two and it’s time to clamber down the steep side of the hill, challenging the strength of your knees, balance and concentration.

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It’s a rewarding trek, bringing people so close to a natural area as important as the Borneo forest. The Betung Kerihun National Area alone consists of 800,000 hectares of intact forest, one that may never have changed since the beginning of time.

On a larger scale, Betung Kerihun National Park is only part of an extensive natural sanctuary, extending across the border into Malaysia. It’s part of the first proposed trans-boundary UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and Batang Ai National Park in Malaysia.

The end of the rainbow is a pot of clean stream water. Just across the gushing Embaloh River after reaching the riverbank is a creek with clear water, unlike the main river, which is filled with sediment from upstream.

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Activities

  • The Muller Range: This forms part of the national border. Mt. Kerihun and Mt. Betung are good places for climbing.
  • Tekelan, Sibau, Mendalam, Embaloh, Kanyau rivers: Kayaking/canoeing, observing animals and plants, and cultural tourism.
  • Riam Lapan and Riam Matahari: Hardy souls can test their whitewater rafting skills on numerous rapids, rated at class III-IV in difficulty, climaxing at class V in Riam Matahari.
  • Sedik, Batang Pilung and Jaan rivers: Waterfalls, observing animals and plants, and cultural tourism.
  • Tanjung Lokang: Located in the western part of the Park, there are steep slopes and limestone caves suitable for caving and also sites of cultural interest.

Getting there

Pontianak-Putussibau by four wheel drive, about 18 hours; or by small plane (Cessna), about 2.5 hours. Then, from Putussibau along the Kapuas, Sibau and Mendalam rivers by semi-longboat, about 5 hours, or alternatively, from Putussibau up the Kapuas and Embaloh Hulu rivers by speed boat, about 3 hours; and then up the Embaloh Hulu river by semi-longboat, about 9 hours.

For more information and reservation write booking@topindonesiaholidays.com

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