|Inspecting forest habitat in Kalimantan with Khiri Travel Indonesia. |
Orangutans and sun bears are making a come back due to conservation efforts
After arrival in Balikpapan by air (there are direct flights from Singapore), highlights of the trip include boat rides through mangrove forests, hikes in majestic triple-tier canopied jungle, waterfall discoveries, a canopy bridge walk, insights into the 2000-hectare Samboja Lestari rainforest rehabilitation project, and an inspection of the Sungai Wain protected forest, where the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation has successfully rehabilitated and released dozens of orangutans since the 1990s.
Deforestation is a hot topic. The WWF reports that Kalimantan lost 29,000 km2 of lowland tropical forest – an area the size of Belgium – between 1985 and 2001 alone. The indigenous forests are still being rapidly cut for timber. The forests are replaced by palm oil plantations and fast-growing trees, mainly for the pulp industry. Massive forest fires in recent years have exacerbated ecological problems.
However, there are glimmers of hope for both protection of the remaining forests and rehabilitation of the seemingly unusable ‘grass steppes’ that result from years of soil-depleting monoculture forestry.
In the first two days of the tour, guests learn how the International Timber Corporation Indonesia (ITCI) is now a pioneer in sustainable agro-forestry. It is building alternative forest management projects that are much more sustainable than monoculture logging and burning.
On the trip, guests sleep overnight in a lodge at the ITCI Basecamp, an hour and a half by boat and car from Balikpapan. From there they hike to protected parts of the forest, swim in waterfalls, and learn about the ecology of tropical rain forests and wildlife release plans.
Visitors then move to the simple but charming Samboja Lodge, from where many nature trails radiate into the forest. It is here that sun bear and orang-utan rehabilitation takes place carried out by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. A percentage of the resort fee is invested in the forest restoration project.
“Our Kalimantan tour has been created for people with an inquisitive mind who love forests and don’t mind simple accommodation,” says Herman Hoven, General Manager of Khiri Travel Indonesia. “The whole experience provides insights into the issue of massive deforestation on Kalimantan, while contributing to local efforts to help nature and wildlife conservation.”
Khiri Travel says the Kalimantan trip combines easily with other Khiri tours in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Prices for the Kalimantan trip start from US$300 per person on a twin-sharing basis, excluding air tickets.
For a full itinerary, which can be adapted for special interests, and a list of inclusions, contact Khiri Travel Indonesia.