indonesia travel magazine

Kutai National Park

Kutai National Park


This park is a disappointment. The only reason to come here is if you want to see a wild orangutan and have no chance to do so anywhere else. The park’s once-vast acreage, long the target of natural resource exploitation, has now dwindled to 10km of trails, helping to concentrate its wildlife, so sightings are nearly assured (particularly if you call ahead, so the ranger can find one). The best time is April to August, when fruit is on the trees.

Access is gained by entering a foul river next to a sewage treatment facility, with a huge pipe pumping wastewater directly into it. You then follow this upstream in a canoe for half an hour until you reach Camp Kakap, the park’s lodge, located on an otherwise attractive bend. Do not attempt this at night, even if asked to do so: the combination of an overloaded canoe with gunwales inches from the waterline, large logs hurtling downstream and no flotation devices, is a recipe for disaster. The lodge is run down and basic, with bare rooms and a communal squat toilet. The trails need maintenance too. The picture is completed by the local gas exploration crews cutting through the forest in their grey jumpsuits.

To get here, take a bus from Samarinda to Sangatta (30,000Rp, three hours) and a taxi to Kantordesa Kabo Jaya (Kabo) where one of the rangers, Udin 081 3464 17675 or Mr Supliani 081 3463 48803, will meet you. Be sure to call ahead so they can organise your permit. The boat ride is 300,000Rp return. Park permits are 15,000Rp. Half- day treks cost 100,000Rp, full-day treks 200,000Rp.

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