So far, we only know Tanjung Puting National Park as a location to see Orangutans in Kalimantan or Central Kalimantan in particular. However, it turns out that other National Parks that have not been considered as a tourist destination for Orangutans also have enormous potential.
The name is Sebangau National Park, is only 20 minutes away from Cilik Riwut Palangkaraya airport we have arrived at the Kereng Bangkirai pier which is the entrance to this National Park. In the afternoon, Kereng Bangkirai pier is always crowded with local residents who want to relax, take a bath in black water to enjoy the sunset. It is estimated that around 6,500 to 9,000 wild orangutan populations are scattered in an area nearly the size of Jakarta which is dominated by peat forests.
Even though it is not far from home in Palangkaraya, recently I had the opportunity to visit this place in the context of a survey for the development of eco-tourism which is being pioneered by the national park.
As soon as we arrive at the tourist information center that is located right at the port, we immediately prepare to enter the national park area, life jackets and mineral water are ready on the longboat which we will use to explore the beauty of this peat swamp forest.
Longboats made of fiberglass cruising slowly on water that is red-black like tea, occasionally we have to duck when passing through the “tunnel” of nipah. Yes, one of the sensations when it comes to Sebangau National Park is taking a speedboat between nipah forests that grow in irregular clusters like a maze. For me who is coming here for the first time I will definitely forget whichever path we just walked, all look the same.
In some parts, there are traces of forest fires that occurred last year when a long dry season hit Kalimantan. The rangers who accompanied us said that humans were the main cause of the forest fires that occurred here, partly because the hunters forgot to turn off their bonfires, partly by the fishermen who deliberately set fire to open a path for fish, and the flames spread out of control.
A few moments before entering the trekking route, the borders of peat swamp forest and nipah forest began to appear separated by the Koran River, which became the border of the national park area. Some monkeys seemed relaxed and not bothered by our presence, and some were looking for fleas with their friends.
Finally we arrived at a hut built by WWF, but he said it would be handed back to the national park because WWF had no activities in this area. Next to the hut, there is a tower of view, although not too high, it is enough to see the situation at a glance, it seems most fitting to see the sunrise and sunset. The facilities are also quite complete in the lodge which can be used for these tourists to stay.
After being satisfied at the Sungai Koran post lodge, we returned to survey the trekking route, the high water flow made the path submerged, we tried to slowly enter using a longboat. When everyone was chatting, suddenly I saw a green snake perched not far from our longboat, one of the friends sitting at the front looked pale because the snake was only about 1 meter away from him. Finally, due to snake trauma, we finally agreed to cancel entry on this route.
The snake not far from the boat
Because there are several paths that are usually used for trekking, we finally tried another route, it turns out that from here we also have to first dive into the water, but not too far to walk in the water like the previous route. After about 50 meters the road finally dries up, although not completely dry because there is actually a lot of sand contained under this peatland. Our trekking was only for a while because there was no intention of going further, just knowing.
The second time I returned to Sebangau National Park with our guests along a small river which is only one and a half meters wide. The adventurous sensation is more pronounced because we are like going through a tunnel, several times we have to duck and align ourselves with the longboat rather than stumble on a low branch.
Now a wooden bridge has been built to facilitate trekking so that tourists who come do not have to walk in the water which is sometimes terrible because it is blackish in color and we cannot see the bottom. Trekking routes have also been prepared through areas that are habitat for orang-utans, camping ground will also be prepared for those who want to spend the night in the forest.
Hopefully, in the future Sebangau National Park, which is located not far from the capital city of Central Kalimantan, will become a tourist destination