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Sentarum Lake National Park
Danau Sentarum National Park (DSNP) is located in Kapuas Hulu, a remote district of the upper Kapuas River in West Kalimantan, a province of Indonesian Borneo. Situated close to the border of Malaysian Sarawak, Sentarum was acknowledged as a Ramsar Site in 1994.
The park consists of seasonal lakes and freshwater swamp forest. Surrounded by mountains; Lanjak in the north, Muller in the east, Kelingkang in the west and the Madi Highlands in the south, the park is like a basin which functions as reservoir. During the rainy season, the basin floods, and in the draught it dries, creating areas of bare land. At high tide, the waters’ depth can be between 6 to 8 meters. The water is reddish-brown due to the high level of tannin from the decomposing leaves and branches of various trees. This unique water condition exerts a strong influence on the lives of its people, plants and animals.
Most of the vegetation found in Lake Sentarum is unique, and fish have different appearances. Some famous fish are abundant in the lakes including Arwana Super Red (Sceropagus formosus), Botia macracantha, and Colus microlepis which are endemic to Danau Sentarum. Another fascinating feature of the national park is the existence of a type of vegetation endemic to the Amazon Jungle, the Crateva relegiosa, known to the locals as the Pungguk Tree.
As a place with such a diverse wildlife and beautiful natural surroundings, there are a lot of things one can do in communion with nature in Lake Sentarum National Park. For bird watchers, two of the best spots to observe Lake Sentarum’s birds are Nanga Kenelang and the Lanjak Hill. The vast and fascinating interconnecting lakes also make observing wildlife by canoe an enjoyable activity. For those wishing to learn more about the national park, a research lab is available at Bukit Tekenang.
During dry season when fish are abundant and easy to catch, people from outside of the park come to the lakes to catch the fish. However, when rainy season are due, they leave and only the locals stay. Wild honeybees have always been a mainstay of the local economy, which currently produces 15-20 tons of organic, wild bee honey certified by the Indonesia Organic Association.
Within the vicinity of the national park, about 6 Km from the county of Lanjak, you can also discover traditional Dayak Longhouse, called the Rumah Betang. Melayu, Dayak Iban, Dayak Kantuk and Dayak Embaloh are 4 tribes who have been living in the park since time immemorial. They have been harvesting fish and honey from nature sustainably and are very concerned with the preservation of the park. If you wish to experience and learn more about the philosophy behind the harmony of life living within nature according to the Dayak way, you might want to try to spend time with them.
Fly to the capital of West Kalimantan, Pontianak. From there you either take a connecting flight to the nearest airport to Lake Sentarum, which is Putussibau, where you can get the Bandung boat for 7 hours to the National park. Or you can rent a car in Pontianak to go to Lake Sentarum through the Pontianak-Sintang-Semitau route, which will take approximately 11 hours. For a more interesting experience you may want to take the river course, by taking a 7 hours Bandung boat ride from Sintang to Semitau. From Semitau, the only transportation option available to get to the national Park is by boat. You must negotiate the fare of the speedboat to Mount Tekenang from Putussibau, but please consider the price of fuel in remote areas is understandably dearer.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to visit Lake Sentarum is between June and September. One should keep in mind that during rainy season between October to May water levels are quite high. During that time the lakes of Danau Sentarum national park may become single water mass and many swamp forest areas are inundated. As a consequence one may only spot the canopy of the lower swamp forest areas. A boat trip during that time over the lake offers an impressive experience though.
During dry season between June and September many lakes may dry out entirely. By the season’s end the landscape may be grasslands with islands of forest traversed by small rivers. During dry season one has a good opportunity to explore all areas of the swamp forests. If you are also interested in the living culture and traditions of local communities around the park, April to June is a good time to come to Kapuas Hulu. During these months many communities have their traditional “Adat” festivals.
WHERE TO STAY
For that ultimate experience, you might want to arrange an accommodation option within the national park with the management, or for an even more unique sensation you can also stay with one of the Bandung boats or one of the floating traditional houses called Lanting. For those looking for hotels and inns, the town of Putussibau is the nearest place where you can find these accommodation options. Here are some of the hotels and inns you can find at Putussibau:
Aman Sentosa Hotel
Jl. Diponegoro No. 14
Phone: (+62) 567 21691
Jl. Melati No. 3
Phone: (+62) 567 21125
Harapan Kita Guesthouse
Jl. Sembatan Pelita No. 3
Phone: (+62) 567 21157
Uncak Lestari Guesthouse
Jl. Lintas Selatan
Phone: (+62) 567 21822
Locals use rain water and the brown river water and if you are uncomfortable with make sure you bring enough drinking water and drink enough to stay hydrated in the heat. Wear appropriate sun screen, especially if you are traveling in a boat, you will probably continuously be exposed to the sun. Make sure that you have a broad brimmed hat and you are wearing cool, long sleeved clothing. It is very humid and one tends to perspire all the time even in the rainy days. There is no electricity during the day, as the only source of electricity comes from generators which are turned on in the night. Make sure you have your battery fully charged in time.
Before you visit the park you have to apply for a permit at the office of Danau Sentarum national park and pay the entrance fees. For a permit you are obliged to show your passport and admittance letter from the police at the office. The park offices will then process and issue the permit.
ECO TRAVEL TIPS
To experience the life of the locals you can live with a local family and bath in the river and eat whatever your host serves. You will enjoy unique local fish dishes that you will never find elsewhere. You can also purchase local village products such as, smoked fish, salted fish, fish crackers, wild bee honey, or a weaved bemban mat. It goes without saying that the purchase of local village products supports their sustainable livelihoods.
USEFUL CONTACTS AND IMPORTANT NUMBER
Sentarum Lake National Park Office in Pontianak
Jl. Abdurahman Saleh 33
Pontianak, West Kalimantan
Tel. /Fax. : +62-561-734613
Sentarum Lake National Park Office in Lanjak
The office is located close to the boat docks. On the way to the boat docks on the left hand side.
TRAVEL PACKAGE AND GUIDE INFORMATION
Address: Jl. Kenanga Komp. Ruko Pemda No. 3D, Putussibau, West Kalimantan
Mobile: (+62) 856 500 2101
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
WWF Indonesia Office in Putussibau
Address: Jl.Komodor Yos Sudarso No.143 Putussibau, West Kalimantan
Phone: (+62) 567 22258
Fax: (+62) 567 22787
Kapuas Hulu Tourism and Culture Office
Address: Jl.Pendidikan No. 3 Putussibau, West Kalimantan
Phone: (+62) 567 21051
Borneo Eco Adventure
Address: Jl. Pakumpayan 26, Angkinang, Hulu Sungai Selatan, South Kalimantan
Phone: (+62) 517 5516064
Mobile: (+62) 813 495 45994
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