Serene Sentarum Lake, West Kalimantan

Submitted by mumunmumun on 12 December 2014   •  Destination   •  Borneo

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Sentarum Lake, West Borneo

I tried to grasp the fact that I was standing at a spot that is usually flooded 6-8 meters high (source). I was at the brim of Sentarum Lake and I failed to see any significant amount of water. The lake was a solid green meadow, without any soggy soil or damp land. Could this really be part of Sentarum Lake? Is this black magic as most odd phenomenon is usually referred to in Indonesia? Or has global warming taken its toll?

Fortunately, the absence of water is a natural phenomenon of Sentarum Lake and is known as a reservoir for many of the surrounding rivers in West Kalimantan. It’s also an indicator of water supply for the following dry season. The faster it drains, the less water will be available within the next months.

 Sentarum Lake drying up

In the wet season, Sentarum Lake is immersed with water, reflecting everything perfectly. Or so they say. It’s also said to be one of the most beautiful peat lands in the world. The water would clear dark brown, as most of the rivers in Borneo. At this point, they’re just rumors, as I didn’t see any of it in front of me.

Small rivers still flow in Sentarum Lake during dry season

Sentarum Lake has dark brown colored water

Sentarum lake - The sky is in the water

During the dry season, it becomes a grass meadow, as it was upon our visit. We were able to enter the lake on motorcycles, as any local would do. The lake formed a super infinite meadow towards the middle. There are small hydrated streams that run in and out of the ground, throughout the lake. This was indeed fact. Either season is a phenomenon worth seeing. As a biology geek, I was happy with whatever state it was in.

Motor bike is the only transportation into the dry Sentarum Lake

Riding through the Sentarum Lake base

Sentarum Lake - This plant probably is only a few months old

I hardly heard anything, except a few ripples, once in a while, of moving fish trying to survive the shallow water and cries of birds. That’s just about it.

Life at Sentarum Lake

I’m trying to recall other places in Indonesia with the same ambiance, but I can’t seem to remember anything at the moment. Indonesia’s ‘silence’ is identical with sounds of insects or ocean waves. Hence, I really enjoyed this luxury, just listening to my own voice against slim or no sound at all. It was partly like diving, but dry. It’s an addictive ambiance.

 Sentarum Lake and the local kingfisher

And it had been a while since I felt this way. It was silent, serene, and peaceful. It’s not an often feeling, as I am a citizen of cities constantly trying to compete with the scattered noises. It was mildly lonely, when none of my present mates were speaking, but in a good way.

Sentarum Lake - hardly any sound aside to my own

Sentarum Lake - temporary houses for fishermen

Sentarum Lake - semi arid

Sentarum Lake is a perfect pair with the gate town, Lanjak, where people were nice and relaxed. Lanjak becomes a buffering little town that prepares you to face the serene ambiance, unless visitors come from similar stillness like, let’s say, the outback of Australia.

I love Sentarum Lake, even when it’s not a lake at all. I look forward to seeing it filled with water someday, and enjoy the peace in a different light.

 Need to come back to Sentarum Lake

Or maybe, I’ll find another place as serene as Sentarum Lake. Wherever the wind takes me.

How to get to Sentarum Lake is basically the same as how to get to Lanjak, which you can read at this link.

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