Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
If there were one thing a person cannot do by him/herself, it’s hugging the giant ironwood tree at Sangkima Nature Reserve. It’s so huge, with 247 cm or about 8 ft in diameter, only the elastic Mister Fantastic can do it alone.
Sangkima is a part of the Kutai National Park, located in the middle of nowhere for those unfamiliar with Kalimantan. Kutai National Park itself is decreasing in coverage over the time, due to deforestation for settlement and farms. We visited Sangkima Nature Reserve, one of the tourists spots within the national park, located in the East Kutai Regency. It houses a giant ironwood tree in the midst of its many kinds of conserved biota.
Upon entering the forest, a long wooden path welcomed us. There is also another trek, more for the adventurous kind, if you wanted to see other biota. If you just wanted to see the giant ironwood tree like we did, because we had seen orangutan in Sebangau, follow the path for about 800 meters. Do watch your steps because some of the wooden planks are brittle and some are missing. When you get to the hanging bridge, do what the sign says: only 5 people tops are allowed to get on the bridge at the same time. Else, the bridge could break and y’all would fall and, well, possibly break some bones.
After hours of sitting in the car, walking on the wooden path was quite a nice change, eventhough the air was very humid. When we finally got to this 1,000 year-old tree (or older), I must say that it wasn’t as big as I expected, having seen photos of it on the Internet.
You might think I’m crazy or hard to please for thinking that this 45 m tall giant ironwood tree with impressive diameter is not big enough. The thing is, it’s located in the middle of dense forest – which is a good thing – and we weren’t not able to see the top clearly, hence it wasn’t clear how tall and big it was. Only when we tried to circle-hug it together that I realized how gigantic it was because we needed eight average-sized Asian people to do that. Eight!
I promised to myself not to make this kind of photo because it looked lame when I browsed on the net – almost every news article or blog posts about this specific ironwood tree has a picture of several people circling the tree. But when I was there.. well, when in Rome, right?
Ironwood trees can also be found in Sumatra and in the Philippines, but this one in Sangkima is the Borneo ironwood and the biggest ironwood in the world to date. It is called ‘kayu ulin’ (ulin wood) or ‘pohon ulin’ (ulin tree) in Indonesian, and Eusideroxylon zwageri in Latin. Ironwood is a favorite to be utilized for outdoor usage, such as to build houses, dock construction, and the famous Pinisi boats, because it’s said to have high density and workability, as well as high resistance to insect, bacterial, fungal, marine borer attack. Awesome, isn’t it?
Sangkima is located about 150 km north from Samarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan. We drove about 3 hours from Samarinda to get there, following the road sign to Sangatta.
Don’t worry, Sangkima is also accessible by public transportation.
From Samarinda, take a bus at Lempake terminal that takes you to Sangatta. Tell the driver that you’re going to Sangkima and they’ll let you hop off right in front of the park gate. It costs IDR40,000/pax. Parts of the road will be bumpy but most of it is asphalted.
Dual prices apply, like in other many other tourism places throughout Indonesia. It sucks, I know.
For foreign visitors it costs IDR150,000 (wd) and IDR225,000 (we). For domestic visitors it’s IDR5,000 (wd) and IDR7,500 (we).
The park is open 24 hours. But if you – for some reason – decided to visit in the middle of the night, make sure you have made an appointment with the rangers.
The ranger said there is no orangutan at Sangkima, but they could arrange a tour for you to see orangutans at Tripat. From Sangatta, take a yellow taxi to Kabo Jaya, and then the rangers will pick you up at a river and you’ll continue the trip with a katinting (a long narrow boat).
*This trip is fully paid by Astra Daihatsu Motor in exchange of blog publication, but the opinions are my own.