Head into the jun­gles of East Kal­i­man­tan.

Those pre­fer­ring a chal­lenge in their jour­ney through na­ture should put Bukit Bangki­rai, or the Bangki­rai Hill tourism area, in East Kal­i­man­tan, on their list of places to visit.

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Contents - Words Brata Kusuma

The con­ser­va­tion area is lo­cated around 20 kilo­me­ters from the Sam­boja sub­dis­trict, 58 kilo­me­ters from the city of Ba­lik­pa­pan, and 150 kilo­me­ters from the city of Sa­marinda. It was in­au­gu­rated as a tourism area in 1998 and is cur­rently man­aged by state-owned forestry com­pany PT In­hutani I.

It takes around one-and-a-half hours to get to this area from Ba­lik­pa­pan if you are us­ing a pri­vate car. The first hour is a smooth ride, but the next half hour be­fore ac­tu­ally en­ter­ing the for­est area calls for ex­tra pa­tience as the road con­di­tions are sub­stan­dard; pot­holes and all.

Try to dis­tract your­self by en­joy­ing the wild sur­round­ings.

The 1,500 hectares of trop­i­cal rain­for­est of­fer fresh air and the lively sounds of birds as well as other for­est an­i­mals.

The Bangki­rai tree, which can be as old as 150 years, as tall as 50 me­ters and as wide as 2.3 me­ters in di­am­e­ter, dom­i­nates the for­est. The tree is of­ten used as ma­te­rial for bridges, wooden boats and for other con­struc­tion needs.

Here also you can find 45 species of or­chids, with one of them be­ing the stun­ning black orchid, as well as a va­ri­ety of for­est an­i­mals in­clud­ing over 113 species of birds, long tailed mon­key wild boars, müller’s bornean gib­bons, pig-tailed macaques, fly­ing squir­rels and sam­bar deers.

En­joy­ing the area’s mag­nif­i­cence, how­ever, re­quires some pa­tience and ef­fort, be­cause, as well as the chal­leng­ing ride, you will also have to do a bit of hik­ing.

The tourism area has seven hik­ing tracks with lengths vary­ing from 150 me­ters to 6 kilo­me­ters.

Bangki­rai Hill’s most mem­o­rable built fea­ture is its canopy bridge, stretch­ing 64 me­ters at the height of 30 me­ters above the ground, con­nect­ing five bangki­rai trees.

The ma­te­ri­als of the bridge, which was built in 1998 and fin­ished in the United States, in­clude wood, ny­lon mesh, ca­bles and stain­less steel. It is the first in In­done­sia.

Get­ting on the bridge re­quires another up­hill ef­fort climb­ing up the stairs to the tower and the whole af­fair is not sug­gested for those with an acute fear of heights.

Those whose fear of heights merely in­volves a slight flut­ter­ing of the heart, how­ever, can over­come the tin­gling feel­ing by tak­ing it easy once they are at the top of the tower.

In­hale the fresh air deeply, soak up the scenery and try to spot the for­est’s in­hab­i­tants, who might be hang­ing around, lit­er­ally.

Orig­i­nally pub­lished on jak­post/ travel.com.

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