Mar 29

Wild Deer in front of Mount Baluran, East JavaYup – in case you were wondering why nothing happened at this site for the last couple of days – we just came back from an Outback trip with the bare essentials. The location was Baluran National Park in Eastern Java.

It’s a mystic explosion of nature and wild life. African-style Savannahs, just without Elephants or Giraffes. No telephone signal, no internet, no TV, limited water and electricity supply – in one word – a Robinson Feeling like no other.

Baluran? Where the hell is that?

Mangrove Forest and SwampIt’s located at the north-eastern tip of Java and covers about 250 sqkm (or app. 25.000 hectares). It features the 1.200 meter high Mount Baluran – an inactive volcano – towering at its center and diverse vegetation as well as coral reefs and beaches.

Due to the dry climate the vegetation isn’t comparable with most other parts in the tropics, it has more lowland forests, dry river beds, plenty of mangrove forests/swamps/hills and savannah-style plains with huge tamarind trees and giant palm trees.

Until the 1960’s the area was home of the last remaining Javanese Tigers (or Javan Tiger); a species said to be extinct by now.

At least we didn’t see any. ;-)Silverleaf Monkey in tree

Wildlife abundance

But there is plenty other wildlife to see. An incredible 155 species of endangered birds – plus peacocks, wild deer, pigs, ox, squirrels, monitor lizards, civet cats, fruit bats, wild chicken, butterflies and several species of monkeys roam the park.

You can see them with minimal effort by simply walking around.

Mangrove SwampEspecially the wild deer is anything but shy and cross the small paths leading deeper into the park in huge herds any given time of the day.

Besides the normal Makake monkeys you can find anywhere else in Indonesia, there are several of silver-leaf monkeys in the park as well. They are of black color with some (silver-white) hair sprouts mainly on their heads, making them a funny bunch to watch.

Other kinds of monkeys here use their long tails to fish for crabs at the nearby beach!

There are a few Watch Towers which are mainly used by the Park Rangers, but are open for public visit as well. You can get an incredible overview over the park dimensions and can watch the wild life gathering at the many water holes without disturbing them.

How to get there?Dry River Bed in Baluran

From Bali it is a half-day trip getting here via the Ferry at Gilimanuk. When touching Java’s soil – simply turn north from Banyuwangi.

The funny thing about the 30 minute ferry crossing from Bali to Java – you will save 1 hour, literally arriving before you even left.

Peacock in BaluranThis is due to the timezone difference, although it doesn’t necessarily mean that the sun rises or sets an hour earlier or later. Of course you will lose that double again – making the ferry trip back more than double as long, if you are eager enough to adjust your watch at all. ;-)

Coming from Surabaya to the west it will take you about 5-6 hours to get to Baluran, depending on traffic.

After the park entrance you follow small roads through the park with only a handful of stations and guest houses, which seem to see only a few guests at the moment.

Anyone at home?

The park is preserved and maintained by only a handful of Park Rangers. Chatting with one of them – Dikar – revealed that life in a National Park can be quite a lonely task, even though they switch stations every 3 days. Their main task is to prevent and extinguish wild fires, which often occur in the dry season and look after the park’s facilities. Savannah-like landscape with Rainbow

We stayed at the Bama Beach guest house – electricity is basically generated for lights only between sunset and 11pm via a generator. Some battery storage system allows for some light halfway through the night. There is no TV, no refrigeration and you are out of luck, if you want to call you mama back home – as there is no mobile signal nor landline.

Makake Monkey with Pup in Baluran National ParkEverything has to be transported from Banyuwangi and more than often these guys run out of cigarettes, beer or whatever you could desire far away from Civilization.

You have to bring your own food, but can make a BBQ at the beach and are basically left to your own devices.

Living in the park for 3-5 months in a row – the Park Rangers learn to appreciate even the smallest amenities which find their way into the park. Of course the pace of life is way sloooooooowwwer here than anywhere else. It’s basically determined by sunrise and sunset.

That had me thinking a lot:Fire up your own BBQ

Okay – the pace of life in the Tropics is in general slower than in the Western Hemisphere.

Is it the heat?

Or the fact that earth spins faster around the equator than the outer continents, making one easier dizzy and encouraging slow movement? Maybe the Western World has to work harder and more, simply to catch up with the equator speed of living. Or just to keep the body temperature warm?

Oh well – I’m probably finished making sense here.

Go see it for yourself! Stay a few nights in one of the Park’s stations and walk or drive around. Avoid leaving garbage, but only footprints.

Feel the serenity and silence and make room for thoughts. You can surely do better than me above after a couple of beer. ;-)

Media Files:

Sunrise at Bama Beach in BaluranI had to compress the above pictures quite heavily, due to my increasing bandwidth requirements over the last couple of months. The above and even more pictures in better quality can be found here.

I uploaded 2 Youtube Videos as well, Butterfly Mating and Feeding the Monkeys.

Probably have to redo the last 2 some day, as I had to remove the Audio Track and they have some serious artifacts and blurred colors. Looks like I’m heavily tattooed. Haha! ;-)

Just at the moment I don’t have a chance to upload them in full quality, my upload bandwidth is simply not sufficient.

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written by Chris

8 Responses to “African-style Robinsonade in Java’s Baluran National Park”

  1. MikeNo Gravatar CHINA Says:

    Never heard of this place before. It sounds fantastic. Nice pics!

  2. DinyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Looks like a cool trip you did! Thank you for picking my country as your destination… would love to hear more Indonesia-adventure stories…

  3. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Yeah it is a fantastic but very quiet place!

    The good thing about Bali is, that it’s right in the middle of Indonesia, so currently we are trying to see a bit more of the surrounding region and islands. Besides Java, the next destinations are probably Lombok, Komodo or Flores. More to come step by step…

  4. ferdieNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    wow, i love your blog.. hope i can go to places you have been..

  5. devariNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    literally arriving before left, i like it

  6. dianNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    you know my country much much better than me. I never heard this place before I read this :-)

  7. Marc PoimirooNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Be smart, enjoy it every days just pucrchase a (4 years old) 150 m2 solid styled house, on a 1000 m2 land, trees, flowers, fish pools, at the very entry, Wonorejo…for peanuts !

  8. FreddyNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    I have been there!!!! YAY!! :D

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