In Kalimantan Timur Indonesia you can still enjoy authentic tropical forests; very difficult in Bali indeed; but without luxury hotels. Make a trade off: leave your comfortable holiday the tourist centers of the island of the gods and experience genuine tropical forests in wood cabins or tents for a few days and travel to Balikpapan for this unique excursion.
The most attractive of all the features Bukit Bangkirai Ecotourism Area has to offer is definitely the Canopy Bridge deep inside the jungle. The location is about half way between the cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda. Turn off the main road at km 38 Samboja; travel 13 km along this road until you see the sign for Bukit Bangkirai. Then you will drive through quite thick forests and pass by occasional settlements. Be advised: the road is clearly marked but depending on weather could be muddy.
Since 1998 Bukit Bangkirai serves as research, conservation, education, and ecotourism center. You need to walk for about 10 minutes up through the forest, over roots and stones to the main attraction. Many of the trees and plants you pass by are researched and some of them have been adopted and supported by well-known people and also the wider public.
Walking the Canopy Bride high up in the tree tops, about 31 m above ground we can enjoy the beauty of nature and the view. But before you can do that you need to climb the many stairs. No, there is no elevator. For this trip, please wear good walking shoes and comfortable clothes, it can be hot and also windy. You have the opportunity to walk the four bridges of a total of 64 m connecting five Bankirai trees (Shorea leavis)but.. it is quite scary.
There are only a limited amount of guests permitted at any one on the platforms for safety reasons. Walking the hanging bridges made out of wood, cables, and ropes one needs courage, especially on windy days when they swing back and forth. Of course, there are guards situated at important points to keep everybody safe.
We came here during Idul Fitri public holidays and there were quite some guests and it was noisy out here. If you decide to visit on quiet days you should have more luck observing some of the 113 forest animals living around here like squirrels different kinds of monkeys, wild pigs, and deer.
If you are interested in botany, book a forest walk to learn about indigenous plants, trees, orchids especially the unique black orchid and many medicinal plants.
To really experience the jungle stay a night or two either in one of the cottages, the guest house or camping ground. Do not worry, as everywhere in Indonesia here too is a restaurant offering refreshments and a limited menu of the usual rice and noodle dishes.
We truly enjoyed this fantastic chance first the hike through the forest and then balancing along hanging bridges high up in treetops of huge tropical trees, it was a bit scary and was definitely worth the trip from Balikbapan.
Balikpapan has several business and chain hotels along its seashore; an easy choice to stay here comfortably.
Ubud is a good place to enjoy some nature if you stay outside the tourist center, Kathy stayed at Gino Feruci Villa. A bit more to the west in the Tabanan mountains you find Kebon Villa with an authentic garden. A village feeling is present at Vidi Villas in Batubulan. In the same village a bit more upscale is the Bumi Linggah Villa Hotel.
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