Orangutan habitat Tanjung Puting National Park proposed as ‘New Bali’ destination

A young orangutan chills out in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Photo: iStock

Officials from Tanjung Puting, a national park in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, are arguing that it ought to be considered as one of the country’s next “new Bali” destinations.

Back in 2016, the Jokowi administration identified 10 Indonesian locations that were dubbed the “new Bali” destinations. These “off the beaten path” destinations would get fast tracked for tourism development. They would not try to compete Bali, but would offer alternative trip choices to try and help the country reach Indonesia’s ever-expanding national foreign arrivals target.

As the world’s largest natural habitat to the amazing endangered orangutans, Borneo is bursting with potential, said Central Kalimantan Province Secretary, Fahrizal Fitri S. Hut MP, speaking from Jakarta on Monday.

“Tanjung Puting National Park is the largest habitat for orangutans in the world. When talking about the three ‘A’s’ (attractions, amenities, and access), we are ready,” Fitri said, as quoted by Okezone.

The current locations tapped as the alternative Bali’s are Borobudur Temple, Thousand Islands, Lake Toba, Tanjung Kalayang Beach, Tanjung Lesung, Mandalika, Bromo Tengger Semeru, Labuan Bajo, Wakatobi, and Morotai.

In that list, there is no destination representing Indonesia’s amazing rainforests, argues the secretary.

“From the 10 New Bali program, there is a lake, then for culture or religious tourism, there is Borobudur. The mountain in Bromo Tengger. And the ocean options are abundant. But for adventure tourism or rainforest nuances, there isn’t one yet. Tanjung Puting National Park can be an option,” he said.

The national park, located on the western tip of Central Kalimantan Province, really has easy access going for it, he argued, explaining that the airport and Kumai Port can be reached in just 15 minutes. As for amenities, tourists can rent “klotok boats” to cruise through the park on the river, whichs offer an interesting accommodation experience.

Sunset cruise in Tanjung Puting. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Sunset cruise in Tanjung Puting. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“There are three airports that can be used by tourists. The flight route is also quite diverse, you can come from Jakarta or Surabaya. For the lodging, tourists can stay on klotok boats. The price is adjusted to the facility, starting from IDR1 million (US$67) to IDR3 million (US$201),” Fitri said.

With a land area of about 415 hectares, the park has plenty of space for more visitors, says Tanjung Puting National Park director, Ir. Helmi, who added that the most interesting activity for tourists is seeing and directly feeding the orangutans.

“The most popular thing is certainly to see the orangutans,” he said.

The national park has 127 certified guides on location.

“That number will continue to increase. Because of the 25,000 tourists who come to this place, 70 percent are foreign tourists,” he explained.

Without an official statement from the Ministry of Tourism yet, it’s unclear how realistic it is for Tanjung Puting to get added on to the “new Bali” list, especially since the government seems to be really focusing on the quick development of fewer spots, not more.

Since the identification of the 10 “new Balis”, the government even narrowed their focus to accelerate the development on just four of the destinations: Mandalika in Lombok, Tanjung Kelayang in Belitung, Tanjung Lesung in Banten, and Morotai in Maluku.

These four spots have been given the special status as “Tourism Special Economic Zones” or SEZ, Kompas reported

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