Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 16 August 2015 • Destination
Bantimurung Waterfall, part of for Bantimurung Bulusaruang National Park, is the number one spot the local Makassar people would recommend you to see when in the area aside to Samalona Island. It’s the Merlion statue to Singapore, the Petronas Tower to Kuala Lumpur, the Uluwatu of Bali. I’ve been traveling in and out of Makassar to visit relatives and out of family consensus; I’ve always been choosing food over Bantimurung. Only after 30 years of persuasion, I decided I might give Bantimurung Waterfall a go, also because my metabolism is now different to what it used to be. I thought more activities would be better than indulging high calories of food, so the national park it is.
The main attraction is a huge waterfall, with an impressive high and wide wall for water to gush down on. The norm is to just sit under the waterfall and have a splash, or sit on an inner tube and flow down the river. Because it’s still very natural, the amount of water running down depends on the season itself. I visited when there was mild rain in the area, making the waterfall a little nastier than what it would be during ‘summer’ or dry season.
Aside to flocking the base of the Bantimurung waterfall, people would be found strolling around and having a picnic on some of the rented mats around the river area. It’s a very pleasant area and pretty much explains the high recommendations. It’s green, shaded, and at the same time, fun; great for a getaway from the heated Makassar. However, it’s super packed during the weekends with all sorts of people. So, while visiting the Bantimurung waterfall might be the main attraction, people watching would the most occupying activity, with them in every corner of the place. And I visited on a Friday.
If somebody tells you that there are no butterflies left in Bantimurung National Park, they’re wrong. Butterflies are abundant, but in glass frames, which indirectly says that they’re allegedly out there and somebody is able to catch them. It’s kinda like Bigfoot; they say he doesn’t exist but people have casts of his foot prints. Oh yes, he’s out there, you can ask Mulder!
My aunt standing in front of another butterfly-selling stall.
Maybe that’s a little bit exaggerated ‘cause you do see a few butterflies fluttering around, but the number is hardly what would blow the mind of Alfred R. Wallace to dub it the ‘Kingdom of Butterflies’. Having to learn Biology and the function of butterflies, this is a sad sight to see. In some way, pollination is decreasing to some extent, which roughly means the seemingly healthy forest surrounding the area might not last too long now.
What’s that monkey doing there?
So, to those that would like to visit Bantimurung, please please don’t buy the butterflies and bugs in fame glasses because it promotes more captures. And honestly, why would you? Bugs are everywhere in Indonesia, even when we don’t frame them. If you really must have one, I’ll catch the cockroach that flies around my house and frame it for you.
On the side of the waterfall, a stairway leads me to a hermitage spot. The continuing path winds on the side of the calm river that falls on Bantimurung Waterfall. The path runs through lush green forest and parts of it were a little submerged with river overflow when I visited the area. It felt very natural.
At the edge of the path is Gua Batu or rock cave; pretty explanatory. One should have a flashlight in hand when entering, and is available for rent at the mouth of the gate. A guide is recommended to find the space behind the small short door that leads to the place of meditation.
There’s a vacant space, through a hole deeper in the cave. When flashlights are off, the cave is pitch dark; classic meditation spot back in the days. The air is very cool and rocks damp of water vapor. Once flashlights are on, you’ll see the stalactite on the ceiling carved with vandal carvings. D’oh!
I hated the sight. But it came to mind; can you really blame wall vandalism? ‘Cause it seems that it runs in our genes to justify our presence in this world. Graffiti, bathroom scribbling, hieroglyphics, all the way to prehistoric paintings, all were done on walls, including that of caves. One of the prehistoric paintings was found not too far from this place, but that’s for another story. Which made me think, are we still primitive?
Can’t remember the cost of guides and flashlight precisely, but I do remember it didn’t cost more than USD 10. Guides are very informative and I think they have someone that can speak English.
My visit to the national park was pretty short and as typical. I didn’t venture more around the area, as the amount of people present and the mismanaged site overwhelmed me. From the looks of it, I can say that if things were managed right, I can imagine the Bantimurung – Bulusaruang National Park being a serene and beautiful place. Waterfalls, butterflies, lush forest and traditional history underneath, it’s all a picture perfect destination, the kind that you would see in tourism ads for people traveling to Makassar.
Overall, Bantimurung – Bulusaruang National Park, Maros, is quite nice but I think the best time to visit the waterfall has to be on the weekdays, when there were less people and more for the nature. Be prepared to get wet for the heck of it and a littler dirty should you walk through the soggy path to the Gua Batu. Also, be prepared for oddities and surprises while your at it.
So, mixed feelings about Bantimurung Bulusaurang National Park. How did you do?