Thinking about the island of Borneo conjures up images of dense tropical rainforest teeming with wildlife and inhabited by a variety of indigenous communities - and this really is one place that lives up to the hype. While some of the more comfortable rainforest lodges sit within Malaysian Borneo, at the northern end of the island, Indonesian Borneo (or Kalimantan as it is known) is the rugged, wilder sister. Kalimantan holidays offer adventure and exploration on the world's third largest island, it’s one that’s home to a variety of endemic species, from the bulbous nosed, pot-bellied proboscis monkey to the Borneo Bay cat,
but perhaps the most famous inhabitant is the orangutan. These endearing, endangered species inhabit a select few locations in Indonesia and Malaysian Borneo, and the Tanjung National Park in Southern Kalimantan is one of our favourite spots. Tailor-made Kalimantan holidays offer remote jungles, winding rivers and jagged mountains that give keen travellers the chance to travel through spectacular rainforests, with the option for either gentle walks or more adventurous hikes. Kalimantan holidays have something for all abilities and travellers, with a trip to this secluded hidden Indonesian gem fast becoming a must-visit destination for those seeking an adventure with a difference...
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Holly made excellent suggestions and creates the perfectly balanced trip that ticked all our boxes. The Concierge was very helpful throughout and the absolutel highlights were seeing monkeys and deer on Manjangan Island, and watching the sunset from the magnificent tower.
What can you find in Kalimantan that you won't find anywhere else?
When considering Kalimantan holidays, we like to cast our minds back to the eccentric British explorer Alfred Russell Wallace - the often-forgotten partner in crime of Charles Darwin – who spent much time exploring the rainforests of Kalimantan in the 19th century. In fact, the sightings of flying frogs in the jungle canopy of Kalimantan were one of the triggers for his evolutionary theories. The equally eccentric Brit comedian Bill Bailey travelled to Borneo a few years back, to trace Wallace's steps, and bring the exoticism of Kalimantan back into the national psyche.
The great news for us is that parts of Kalimantan are really quite accessible, but still retain an air of mystery, and remain very much off the well-worn path. Some of the lucky so-and-so's here at Original Travel have explored many orangutan habitats within Malaysia and Indonesia, and Tanjung Puting National Park secures the top spot.
Tanjung Puting National Park covers over 1,600 square miles of ground and is home to the largest population of orangutans on the planet, estimated at around 6,000. Travellers will spend days exploring the pandanus fringed waterways of the Sekonyer river aboard a private Klotok houseboat. As the river runs from murky brown to inky black (concealing the crocs!), it connects a number of orangutan feeding posts, where travellers are rewarded with a close-up view of these incredible creatures.
And for those who like a dose of culture with their wildlife exploration, a river cruise along the Sungai Kahayan will include visits to traditional Dayak Villages – a tribe once renowned for their ‘headhunting' prowess. Thankfully, today, guests are welcomed with open arms, and leave with heads firmly attached. Their longhouses can be found near Kalimantan’s many waterways, creating a sense of community between the current that you’d be hard pushed to find elsewhere.
Why visit Kalimantan?
Its cities are humble in comparison to its expansive natural landscape and accompanying wildlife, but holidays to Kalimantan will soon reveal the sense of serenity and peace that’s felt here. It’s a slice of Eden-esq paradise, where seclusion is king and you can road trip your way around the island for weeks without meeting a fellow foreigner (so having some useful Bahasa Indonesian phrases in your locker might be handy). This is a place that feels like an ode to times gone by, championing a simpler and slower pace of life that can be felt rippling throughout the island - proving that holidays in Kalimantan aren’t solely about orangutans and rainforests. In fact, there’s plenty of exceptional diving spots and areas brimming with tribal culture to experience. It’s this slowly developing reputation that’s been drawing the adventurous travellers like moths to a flame, as they seek their own tailor-made holidays Kalimantan style.