Located in a tropical environment scattered over 17,000 separate islands, Indonesia’s natural magnificence is a breathtaking paradise for both inhabitants and tourists alike. Its national parks encapsulate the essence of the country’s culture and history. Crossing the Indian and Pacific seas, you can see how dynamically diverse the landscape can be. You can climb volcanic hills covered in lush green vegetation or dive into crystal-clear blue waters to see how vibrant the marine life can be.
Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the strait between the Indonesian islands of Sumbawa and Flores and is the native home of the Komodo dragon, the world’s biggest lizard.
According to the American Museum of Natural History, this massive carnivorous monitor lizard is among the world’s oldest animals, and it is a near descendant of the dinosaurs who roamed the globe 100 million years ago. Visitors are only permitted on Komodo and Rinca islands, despite the fact that there are dragons on two other adjacent islands. This is done to conserve natural populations.
The experience of witnessing the dragons in their natural environment highlights each visit to the national park. The most popular trip on Komodo is a 2km (1.2 miles) walk to Banunggulung, which takes about an hour. Suppose you want to view more of the elusive reptiles away from the throngs of tourists. You may proceed beyond Banunggulung to Poreng, in the northeastern section of the island, or as far as Sebita on the coast if you make arrangements in advance.
Alternatively, shorter hikes from the ranger station at Loh Liang to Kampung Komodo, located in the southwest, are also available. Trekkers on both islands must be accompanied by a park ranger, which is useful for his or her knowledge of animal behaviour and knowledge of where to seek for and observe animals. The rangers are also in charge of ensuring the safety of visitors to the park.
Besides having some of the greatest diving and snorkelling in the Asia-Pacific area, this isolated corner of Indonesia is home to some of the world’s most amazing reptiles.
At low tide, reefs packed with colourful fish may be seen quite close to the coast at Pantai Merah (Red Beach), near Komodo Island. Divers may see a variety of reef-building corals and many fish and marine animals, such as manta rays, sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and whales, all of which are visible.
Ujung Kulon National Park
Ujung Kulon National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated south of Carita on the southwest point of Java and is a popular tourist destination.
It is a 420 square kilometres (260 square miles) reserve that protects the Javan one-horned rhinoceros, critically endangered. Only around 70 individuals survive in the wild and various other forest species. The region has some of Java’s most extensive lowland rainforests, home to hornbills, deer, wild boar, black panthers, and green turtles, among other animals.
There are also leopards, macaques, leaf monkeys, crocodiles, and indigenous wild cattle in the park, among other animals.
However, although most of the region is covered in deep lowland rainforest, there are open woods and wetlands, which are ideal birding sites and beaches in the north and south. Krakatau Island, located offshore, is also included in the park’s boundaries.
In the months of April to August, migratory birds swarm to the surrounding islands of Pulau Dua and Pamojan Besar in Banten Bay, where they spend their summers. Between April and September is the greatest time of year since it is the dry season in that region.
Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park
The Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, located in North Sulawesi, is one of Indonesia’s less-visited national parks.
Many uncommon, indigenous Sulawesi creatures, such as babirusas (Sulawesi ‘pig-deer,’ shy anoas, and Sulawesi warty pigs, may be found in this large mountainous rainforest, which is abundant in fruit-bearing trees like durian, nutmeg, and figs.
Wildlife Conservation Society, a nonprofit organisation in New York City founded in 1895, collaborates with a local conservation group to maintain three of the biggest communal nesting areas for maleo birds in the park. There are no known beach nests for this endangered land bird on the island’s southern shore, which makes it the final known location for them.
Kerinci Seblat National Park
Kerinci Seblat, located in West Sumatra, is another of Indonesia’s lesser-visited parks.
It is home to Sumatran elephants and tigers, clouded leopards, Malayan sun bears, tapirs, hundreds of bird species and some of the world’s largest and tallest flowers, among other animals and plants. There are no orangutans in Borneo, but sightings of the enigmatic orang pendek, a bipedal ape that looks similar to an orangutan, and the mythological sigau, a half-lion, half-tiger, have been recorded on occasion in the country.
The park is one of Indonesia’s greatest reserves, spanning an astonishing 14,000 square kilometres (5,400 square miles) of forest and mountains. It is one of the world’s largest protected areas. Gunung Kerinci, the tallest mountain in West Sumatra, may also be found here.
A significant task awaits climbers willing to take up Kerinci, Indonesia’s second-highest volcano after Mount Bromo. Trekking adventures in the forest and mountain climbing expeditions are led by local guides who conservation organisations in the area have educated.
Way Kambas National Park
Way Kambas, located in South Sumatra on the island’s southwest coast, is a refuge for Sumatran elephants and rhinoceros, ensuring that tourists have a good opportunity of seeing the animals.
The park has estuaries, marshes, and open grassland. It is home to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, a crucial element of the continuing battle to preserve the Sumatran rhino from extinction. The Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary is located inside the park.
An excellent option for exploring the rainforest is the four-hour (one-way) boat excursion from Labuhan Meringgi, 12km (7 miles) south of the reserve, to the Way Kambas estuary, which takes place in the middle of the reserve.
Wild elephants, wild boars, and tigers may come to the river’s side to drink, making this a fantastic opportunity to view them. Birdwatching is also great, with resident kingfishers, lesser adjutants, woolly-necked storks, and pelicans among the many species to be seen here. As part of its operations, the park includes an Elephant Conservation Center, where the endangered beasts are raised and taught to patrol the park’s perimeter.
Tanjung Puting National Park
Located in Central Kalimantan, the wooded expanses of Tanjung Puting National Park are renowned for the abundance of species that can be found there, particularly orangutans.
Feeding sessions for these reddish-brown apes (check timings when you arrive) are held daily at one of the park’s three outposts (check times when you arrive). One of them, Tanjung Harapan, is a shelter for orphaned children and newcomers and houses a tourist information centre.
At Camp Leakey, which is by far the most well-known of the three, it may seem a little like a circus during peak season (June–August), with people less concerned with environmental protection clamouring to go down jungle pathways to view the hairy red apes.
Pondok Tanggui, a rehabilitation centre for orangutans, is a good place to see older orangutans, occasionally with their children.
Feeding sessions are held at Camp Leakey and Pondok Tanggui, where orangutans who congregate near the stations are provided with bananas and milk to help compensate the seasonal scarcity of food available in the forest.
Making it possible for tourists to participate in the experience has the added advantage of increasing awareness of the condition of orangutans, which is exacerbated by the loss of their natural habitat due to deforestation. It is a pleasure to sit quietly and observe as semi-habituated orangutans slog through the trees, hand over heavy, towards the feeding platforms.
Lorentz National Park
Lorentz National Park is located between the towns of Timika and Agats in Papua, in the western part of New Guinea.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, it is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and at 2.5 million hectares (6.2 million acres), it is the biggest protected area in Southeast Asia. Puncak Jaya National Park is one of the world’s most biologically diversified areas, including extensive swaths of tropical marine ecosystems and lowland wetlands, as well as Indonesia’s tallest peak, Puncak Jaya, which rises to a height of 4,884 meters (16,024ft) and is crowned by permanent ice fields.
The summit is the highest peak between the Himalayas and the Andes. It has one of the world’s only three equatorial glaciers, the other two being located in the Antarctic.
The exceptional biodiversity of the park provides a haven for a diverse range of unusual creatures. It is also home to various isolated tribes, such the Amungme, Western Dani, Nduga, Ngalik, Asmat, Mimika, and Somohai, to name a few examples.