Borneo, location, what to do, places to visit, geography

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Where is Borneo

Borneo is the third biggest island in the world, covering 747 000 square kilometers. It comprises three countries – Malaysia as well as Brunei on the north side and Indonesia on the south. The Indonesians refer to their part of the island as Kalimantan and is locally known to be an excellent place to explore stretches of tropical rain forest where mighty rivers flow through.

The Dayak tribe is the indigenous people of Borneo and there are tribes within the Dayak. They live together in long houses and boasts a community feel where each member is crucial to the livelihood of the family. Their surrounding area offers thick rainforest with a unique variety of floras and faunas including rare black orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants and seventy meter trees. There are over 600 species of birds and roaming through the rainforest are a range of animals that includes orangutans, probosics monkeys, gibbons and species of monkeys, Argus pheasants, snakes including the three species of flying snakes and sun bears.

What should be visited


Balikpapan is an oil town - big, modern and relatively expensive. The modernization of Balikpapan is all a product of oil money. The discovery of coastal oil and gas here in the late 1960s quickly transformed traditional village life in the area, making Balikpapan the major economic transport center of East Kalimantan. The city's central distric at the waterfront sprawls up the hills to the northwest. There is not much here of interest to the visitor except for a hillside overview of the Pertamina Oil Complex. Americans, Australians, Europeans and high-placed Indonesian live on hills overlooking the town. Balikpapan has much more nightlife than anywhere else in Kalimantan,and better restaurants and accomodations. There are many souvenir art shops specializing in Dayak handicrafts and Chinese porcelain.


More than 450 years old, Banjarmasin is renowned for its floating houses and network of criss-crossing rivers, streams, and canals. Banjarmasin is below sea level, and the water level rises and falls with the tides. Situated on the banks of the Martapura River, 22 km upriver from the sea, this city is a convenient base for Central and East Kalimantan.


"The land of the equator" is the most popular name for the provincial capital of West Kalimantan, Pontianak which lies exactly on the equator. The city lies on the junction of the Kapuas and Landak River. Just 25 km north of the Kapuas River, Pontianak is a good starting place for trips to interior Dayak villages. Chinese are now primarily traders, restauranteurs, and shopkeepers, comprise more than 60% of the population. Most of Pontianak's highlights are concentrated in a relatively small area, and in a day or two you can explore the city's various points of interest. To reach Malaysia, you can fly or take the bus. Direct buses to Kuching, first reaches the Indonesian border town of Entikong, then crosses the border and stops in the Malaysian town of Serian.


The capital of East Kalimantan is, Samarinda, is the point of departure for all river travel inland on the Mahakam river and its tributaries, as well as for flights to the interior - to the upper Mahakam and to the Apokayan region. There are plenty of hotels in various price ranges, as well as restaurants. Samarinda is a busy place, with lots of traffic, art shops for bargain hunting, and a sports complex with a swimming pool and tennis courts. The Mahakam River, which is here almost half a mile wide and as much as 90 meters deep, splits the town in half. Recently, a bridge has been built across the Mahakam, joining the two halves of Samarinda.


The capital of Berau Regency is Tanjungredeb, a secondary harbor since WW II. This waterfront town is 59 km from the mouth of the Berau River.

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting is located on a peninsula that juts out into the Java Sea. The area was originally declared as a game reserve in 1935 and a National Park in 1982. Consisted of 3,040 sq km2 of low lying swampy terrain punctuated by blackwater rivers which flow into the Java Sea. Tanjung Puting is highly important for the well-being of the surrounding local human population. The wetlands provide vital ecological services such as flood control, stream control regulation, erosion control, natural biological filtration system, and seasonal nurseries for fish which are the major source of local animal protein. Tanjung Puting is recognized as one of the most important and outstanding provincial treasures in Kalimantan Tengah. The national government has also made a strong commitment to protect the forest, its wildlife and to manage the park wisely.

Camp Leakey

Located in the Tanjung Puting Reserve in Central Borneo (Kalimantan Tengah), Camp Leakey was established in 1971 by Dr. Biruté Galdikas. Originally consisting of just two huts, Camp Leakey is now an assemblage of permanent wooden structures designed to provide a base for scientists, staff, students, and PHPA guards.


Domestic flight to see the camp leakey is Pangkalan Bun whick is accessible from Banjarmasin or Semarang the airport of central Java. While to go to Semarang you can fly from Jakarta or Bali via Surabaya.

Fliying to Semarang need an overnight in this city asA schedule of flights provided are subject to change at any time.

Routing Departure Arrival Flight Number Days of Service
Jakarta to Semarang

Flight scheduls are subject to change

Rivers are the main transportation arteries in this island since Kalimantan is crisscrossed by giant rivers, including the Mahakam, the Kayan, the Barito, the Sampit, and the huge Kapuas.

Travelling to Tanjung Puting National Park

On arrival in Pangkalan Bun, you will need to go first to the police to register (just a formality). Take four (4) passport size photos and two (2) photocopies of your passport. If you plan to spend the night in Pangkalan Bun and check in at a local hotel, the hotel staff may be able to register you with the police on your behalf as a courtesy.

Next stop is the PKA office in Pangkalan Bun (this used to be in Kumai but moved earlier this year) for Park permits. Again you will need two (2) photos. From here you can organize your kelotok (riverboat) for the 2-2.5-hour journey up the Sekonyer River to the Tanjung Harapan (Cape Hope) area. Here you will find the Rimba Lodge and the Eco Lodge - your base while exploring the area. Overnighting at Camp Leakey is not permitted. It is also possible to sleep aboard the kelotok outside of the Park boundaries. In order to travel in and out of the Park, it will be necessary to keep the kelotok or use a speedboat. Kelotok travel to Camp Leakey is a further 2.5 hours up river with the Pondok Tengui Orangutan Center located between the lodges and Camp Leakey