With more than 17,000 islands (17,508 to be exact) visitors to Indonesia can only expect the wide and marvelous array of flora and fauna that every island has to offer.
Being mainly of mountainous terrain, a lot of Indonesia’s terrestrial animal population is endemic; living on just one particular island or area. There have been theories of a now submerged Sunda Shelf that helped these animals migrate. Well, whatever it was, they sure do make for good wildlife tours around Indonesia!
They’re big, scaly, and when they’re hungry, you better not be in their sights. The Komodo Dragons or the giant lizards found only on the Island of Komodo have long been the subject of behavioral studies. After all these years, scientists have hit on their behavioral pattern already: eat, sleep, hunt, eat again, and sleep again. Exciting huh?
Nevertheless, these creatures can be pretty awesome upon first sight growing up to three meters in length and 140 kilograms in weight. And no, they don’t breathe fire.
The one-horned Java rhinoceros can only be found on the western tip of Java. Having once been under the threat of extinction, their numbers now continue to flourish in the Ujung Kulon Nature Reserve.
The Orangutan, also known as the “Man of the Forest,” is found on Kalimantan and Sumatra. Careful, they spit.
Other known species scattered round the country are the banteng wild ox of Java, the rusa deer, the dwarf buffalo or “anoa,” babi-rusa (small wild pig with curved tusks) and civet cats found in Sulawesi.
All these are protected under the administration of the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHPA.)
One of the most volcanic and seismically active regions in the world, Indonesia is home to 400 volcanoes, 128 of which are still active. The best known of these are the twin volcanoes Gede and Pangrango in West Java, Semeru and Kelud in East Java, Merapi in Central Java and Rinjani in Lombok.
There have also been occasional expeditions to the snow-covered summit of Jayawijaya Range Carstensz Top at Irian Jaya. But of all of these, nothing beats the reputation of Krakatoa in the Unda Strait between Java and Sumatra. Its calamitous 1883 eruption where the Indonesian island of Rakata almost vanished, was commemorated in 1983.
Tourists wanting to take in a bit of mountaineering may ask around for scheduled climbs at the mountaineering clubs in Jakarta, Bandung, and other big cities and university towns.
Lying within the botanical region of Melanesia, Indonesia boasts of over 40,000 species of plants or about 10-12% of all the plant species in the world. These are mainly used in the traditional Indonesian herbal medicines or as part of the traditional rituals and ceremonies.
Entering nature reserves usually require government permits. Ask your travel agents if they can facilitate these. Facilities in the reserves are generally under developed with transportation being on foot or horseback. Some of the more important reserves are:
Found in North Sumatra, the Gunung Leuser reserve has two research stations that function as orangutan rehabilitation stations. A boat trip on the Alas River is also a good way to see the rain forest home of endangered species of rhinos, orangutans, tigers and elephants. Gibbons, forest deer, hornbills and otters may also be seen on occasion.
An ideal spot for bird watchers, Penanjung Pangandaran includes beaches, coral gardens, caves, and an old Japanese World War II fortress.
The last refuge of the nearly extinct Java tiger. Coffee plantations abound in the lowland and thick forests of Meru Betiri. Turtle rookeries may also be found on Sukamade Beach. Two species of the parasitis rafflesia flower may also be found around the area.
Tangkoko-Dua Saudara showcases interesting volcanic scenery and wildlife, which include anoas, macaques, tarsiers, pygmy squirrels and hornbills. Megapode birds lay their eggs in areas of volcanically heated sand.
Found in Central Kalimantan, the trip to the reserve includes an interesting boat trip on the Kumai and Sekunir Rivers. Various water fowl, swamp forests full of avian life, and the occasional Bornean proboscis monkeys visible from the riverine trees and identified by their huge, pendulous noses are just few of the sights one can expect to see on the trip and around the reserve.
Early reservations are required to stay on in the reserve guesthouse. Bring canned food along for your stay. A nature trek on foot, tourists may expect to see fine lowland and mountain forests, streams, and wildlife which includes the anoa (dwarf buffalo), babi-rusa, and black macaques. There are no facilities in the area though accommodations may be found in occasional villages of the Western Toraja people.
What to bring
- Insect repellent
- change of clothes
- comfortable shoes/sandals
- necessary medicines
- canned food
- first aid kit for camping treks
- good hat.
Ask your travel agent to facilitate the necessary permits, trekking schedules, and reservations way ahead of time to avoid any hassle.