Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 5 February 2014 • Blog
Rice paddies, volcanoes, and tropical forests are some things that I’m accustomed to growing up in Java. So, when I visited Baluran National Park for the first time, I didn’t think things would be any different, until I had to cover my eyes from the over exposure of the sun just beyond the dry forest off the main road. It was a sudden lack of trees and just flat terrain of shrubs. Have I just been driven all the way to Africa?
And I was like…
“Is this for real?”
Haven’t we all wanted to see the Africa? Wait, you haven’t? How come?! … How could you not want…
Never mind. I have always wanted to visit Africa because it seems so different to the green setting that I’m used to. The idea of a space so flat intrigues me, which also goes for my interests to see the outback of Australia. Moving on… But after finally seeing this savanna, I realized… I really really want to see Africa. I was in awe! No wonder they called it “the little Africa of Java”.
At a glance, it seemed like a levelled terrain bordered by trees in the distance. There were one or two trees in the middle of it all and it was hardly significant. I really wanted to run around with my hands in the air like a crazy person. I tried, but the fact is the ground isn’t as flat as I thought. The land was arid (especially in dry season) and there were remains of small puddles indicating the water didn’t go anywhere but down. Thus, the land was wavy. I really did try that running thing; didn’t really succeed. You can see here.
I’m going to throw a few nifty information just so you can save time in browsing further. The savanna is called Bekol Savanna that spans about 300 hectares of land. It’s located about 12 km, a fair amount of walking distance, from the main gate. A lot of the park’s main animals can be seen roaming this savanna from deer, peacocks, wild roosters, buffalos, to bulls, if lucky. Aside to the main gate, the rangers are also based in the office at Bekol Savanna.
An option that I consider obligatory is climbing the watchtower located just behind the ranger’s office. This tower overlooks most of the savanna, if not all. You can also get a better view of the Baluran Mountain, which stands out pretty obviously. Aside to that you can watch the buffalos at the water hole having a mud bath. Their black metallic bodies would stand out in such a pale yellow environment. Life is good with a mud bath!
I loved the savanna!
As much as I thought that I found a jewel for a destination, I had to accept that this savanna is not all in the clear. One information that I learned from my lectures during the field trip to Baluran National Park (yes, I picked the best major in the world!), is that the savanna is actually under a lot of threat from the Acacia or thorn tree. Geek up with me, people! Upon visiting, you’ll see shrubs with thorns in them. These are the Acacia. In the 1960s the Acacia was introduced to prevent the spread of forest fires that happened in the park. Unfortunately, it has dominated much of the savanna, including overlapping the local plants, which isn’t a good sign. Now, it’s one of the most important problems of the national park. There’s a moral to this story, kids. Just because you want to make things greener, doesn’t mean you can plant anything you want. *fix glasses*
Some of the Acacia in the distance.
So, if you’ve been to Africa, this savanna might be a drop in the ocean, but then again, I’m just assuming. However, if you haven’t, then it’s the first dive into appreciating dry wilderness and a new perspective to nature. I recommend visiting it during the dry season, which is around March to November. Don’t forget to bring a lot of sunblock ‘cause shade is the last thing you’ll find around this area.
Our trustworthy friends and regular visitors of the national park, Exploresolo.com, has just recently informed us that accommodation services is no longer available since January 2014. Unfortunately guys, visitors can only stay outside of the park until further notice. For the time being, this information will still be on here in case the decision about the accommodation changes.
There is a wooden house and a few bungalows where visitors can stay. I personally suggest that people spend a night at Bekol because the savanna has a beautiful view in the morning. The flat terrain is a golden yellow during dry mornings. And if you’re lucky, the blue skies will backdrop everything.
The rooms are rented for about IDR 50,000 / person / night. Go show check-ins can be done during weekdays or outside of holiday season. However, since there are limited amount of rooms, it would be wiser to book before you visit.