Baluran National Park: Java’s savanna
Java has a number of national parks and reserves that are Java’s best kept secret. One of them is Baluran National Park. Baluran is on the dry north-eastern tip of Java and is one of the most easily visited parks in Indonesia. It has grasslands reminiscent of Africa or Australia. This drive-in park is noted for its buffaloes, wild cattle banteng, deer and birdlife. Baluran harbours 444 species of flora, of which 37 grow in the mangroves. In Baluran there are also 47 animal species which are protected by law, among which 32 species of birds. Baluran is home to 189 species of birds.
A sence of Africa: biggest savanna in Java
Baluran National Park covers an area of 250 square kilometres. Mount Baluran (1,247 m) in the centre of the park, formerly overlooked extensive savanna grasslands. The park is still rich in wildlife but a great deal of the grasslands have gone, due to encroachment by Acacia thorn shrub. Nowadays the savvana covers an area of 100 square kilometres, of which 3 square kilometres are real good for spotting wild- and birdlife. The best time of the day to do so is at dawn or dusk.
Wildlife and birds
Baluran supports internationally important populations of banteng, rusa deer, muntjak (barking) deer, two species of monkey, wild pigs, leopards and other small carnivores. The best time to see wildlife is in the dry season, because the animals congregate near the waterholes. Grean peafowl, red and green junglefowl, hornbills, bee-eaters and kingfishers are still easy to see birds. Near Bekol and on the main road to Bama you can find two birdwatching towers. And, hiking from Bekol to Bama (a 5 km track) gives you the opportunity to see more birds and the banteng. Up north, near Bilik and Sijile, offers also good spots to see some birds.
Hiking and trekking
It is possible to hike in two days from Bekol to the mount Baluran together with a ranger. You need to camp at the foot of Baluran. At the top you get a wonderful view, a 600 metres wide caldera and a water source that runs year round. While trekking you pass several types of vegetation. There are around six tracks that lead you to the top.
Hiking offers a good opportunity to do some birdwatching.
There are six beaches in Baluran. At Bama beachyou can rent snorkel and diving gear, and canoes. There are actually two spots for snorkling; one at Bama and the other one near Bilik in the north. Up till now there were 97 fish species detected of 26 different families. If you are really really lucky you can encounter dolphins or whales.
At Bama the coastal forest – mangrove – has numerous waterholes and is a good place to see water monitor lizards, monkeys and birds. There is also a bridge to walk actually in the mangrove forest.