Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 26 February 2015 • Destination
‘AAAKKK!’ was what I wish I could have screamed when the bulgy-eyed creature came out. But I couldn’t, so I just bit my tongue. The tarsiers at Tangkoko Nature Reserve are adorable. A repeated visit to the reserve was so worth meeting the smallest primates in the world, along with the bigger primates and travel mates, Vira and Vindhya. The tarsier adds to a long list of things to see around Manado, North Sulawesi.
The tarsier is, again, the smallest primate in the world. They’re about as big as an adult’s fist. Their babies are half the size and twice cuter. Their eyes are so huge, almost taking over their skull, necessary for the nightlife. They’re nocturnal, which means they start coming out from their nest within tree trunks late in the afternoon. What’s also adorable about them is that they can jump from tree to tree. Oh, I’d like to bite them because they’re so cute. The deal is, we had to be very quiet upon encounter, as they are a bit sensitive to loud voices a.k.a. my voice.
There’s one spot where you’re likely able to see them. At this spot, there are three trees where these cuties usually show themselves, or so our guide said. But like other wildlife, there’s no 100% guarantee that you’ll see them. Our guide (Lord forgive me for forgetting the name of such a nice man) says, there’s a 10% chance that visitors miss them, even though the guides have looked amongst the three trees. It’s just nature.
To specifically see the tarsier, private tours usually start at about 3-4 p.m. Visitors walk for about an hour through the rain forest before reaching the sighting spot. Along the road, visitors would be lucky to see some no-tail black macaques, endemic to the area. They’re pitch-black monkeys with white teeth and pink butts, a sign that God had a good sense of humour. You can also see and have fun with the giant palm leaves around the area. They’re huge and great as umbrellas or to sit on during your wait to see the tarsier.
To see the tarsiers of Tangkoko Nature Reserve, one must visit the park’s office and register to enter. Upon registration, a group will be assigned a local guide to lead the way to the tarsier nest. It would be nearly impossible to hunt them alone. They’re so small to be seen with the common eye.
A few notes:
– You can bring a flashlight but don’t aim at them directly. It will disturb them and change their behaviour. People might to be able to see them in the same spot in the future, so don’t be selfish.
– Don’t make too much noise no matter how much fun you have.
– Don’t insist on touching them.
– Tipping the guides is thumbs up!
Park guides can spot this in the dark. Guides there are awesome!
There is an amount of money that need to be paid for entrance, camera, and local guide fee (outside of tips). On the time of visit fees were about IDR 80,000 / person, which included camera fees. However, we’ve heard there are new national policies for national parks and nature reserves, which involve increase in fees. We have yet to obtain the information about these new prices.
We stayed at the Mama Roos homestay, one of the oldest homestays around. It’s pretty basic but the staff were really nice and it’s OK for a good rest. It’s also located really close to the Tangkoko Nature Reserve gate, so it’s convenient.
Each room had a bed with necessary mosquito nets. Our room was spacious with dim lights, the kind that can put you to sleep more than to do any activity. There’s an en-suite bathroom, which came with a squatting toilet and a huge bucket with the smaller one for baths. There’s also a fan in the bedroom to keep the air a little fresh and circulating.
I recall the rooms were pretty cheap although not remembering how much exactly, and included breakfast. Lunch and dinner can be provided upon request. We had our meals within the homestay and it was good enough for our likings.
The staff were exceptionally nice!
Because the reserve is on the other side of the peninsula to Manado, it takes about 3-4 hours to reach the area.
Take the bus to Bitung from the Paal Dua bus terminal in Manado, which would cost about IDR 15,000/pax. From Bitung, then take the public minibus to Batu Putih Village, not too sure about the fare on this lag. The driver can drop you at where ever you intend to stay.
The reserve can be accessed also by private car, which takes about 3 hours from Manado. It cost about IDR 200,000 / way. A return trip is possible by renting a car, which would cost about IDR 700,000 per day.