On the previous article, we have already explained that Betung Kerihun National Park consists of many ecosystems. This wide wildlife sanctuary has so many attractions to offer. Therefore, the management had decided to divide the national park into four regions of watershed; Embaloh Watershed, Sibau Watershed, Mendalam Watershed, and Kapuas Watershed. Each region has complete package of adventure. That is why we would like to discuss each region one by one. Let us start with Embaloh Watershed.
Embaloh Watershed is the region located at the most western side of the national park. This region is best for animal observations such as orangutan and rangkong bird. There is also observatory tower to accommodate this activity. The nature formation of this region includes Embaloh River, Utik River, Sedik River, Laboh Atoll, Pajau Cave, Naris Rapid, Mount Betung, and Mount Condong. This region also has a camping site called Camp Derian. And as for the culture tourism, you can visit the Pinjawan Villages where the Dayak Iban sub-tribe lives.
Embaloh River is the main attraction of this region. The river has great rapids which is perfect for white water trekking and rafting. Visitors who like water sport would never miss this wonderful river. Besides the river formation is fun and challenging for rafting, this object is also perfect for animal observatory. There are many kinds of animals living at the environment surrounding the river. By trekking through this river, you have the chance to see several kinds of wild orchids between the solid trees. You can also see several unique birds such as Kingfsiher, Oriental Darter, and White-beaked Hornbill. If you are lucky enough, you will also see Borneo endemic primates hanging on the trees such as Kelampiau and Borneo Monkeys.
Next to Embaloh River, there is a wide atoll providing stunning panorama. Laboh Atoll consists of Laboh River and two wonderful waterfall; Big Laboh Waterfall and Small Laboh Waterfall. The river is perfect for canoeing or body rafting. You can also camp at this place as being at this atoll, every direction you see will give you scenic panorama. Climb up a trail track to the hill where you can find an observatory tower. This way, you can enjoy the panorama of Mount Betung in the distance. Next to the tower, there is a mating site for Kalimantan Peacock.
Camp Derian is a site specially provided for camping purpose. To reach this site, you can challenge yourself by traveling with a longboat through the rapids of Embaloh and Tekelan River. The passage of this river track will get narrower as you approach the camping site. And when you are so close to end of your track, an extreme rapid will take you by surprise.
Tourists sometimes visit this site not for camping, but only for resting after a wild adventure on those two rivers. This camp feels more comfortable as it is bordered with two rivers and thick formation of Ensurai trees. This formation provides enough fresh air and scenic view to enjoy.
While enjoying your stay at Camp Derian, you can also watch the primates that live around it. There are Kelampiau (Hylobates muelleri), Presbytis frontata, Presbytis rubicunda, Macaca fascicularis, and Macaca nemestrina. Orangutans sometimes also appear. Most of those primates would like to hang on the trees around the camping site. If you wish to watch them closer, you can walk on one of the trail tracks provided around the camping site.
One of those trail tracks on Camp Derian will lead you to Pajau Cave. Pajau Cave is a huge mountain cave that raises about 50 meters above the ground. At this cave, you have the chance to have a closer observation towards rhinoceros hornbills as the cave is their main habitat at this forest. Beside the rhinoceros hornbills, you can also see other species of wild animals.
After done exploring Pajau Cave, you can continue your adventure to Naris Rapids. This object is the last object on this track. Naris Rapids are not easy track for rafting as there are many big rocks scattered all over the river. The currents are swift there and the water is clear. This river is the main habitat of semah fish, a unique endemic fish in Borneo. If you visit this place during dry season, you would be able to see them clearly from above the water surface.
Mount Betung and Mount Condong
If the first track is dominated with rafting and trekking, this track will be dominated with climbing. Mount Betung and Mount Condong are two highest peaks at Embaloh Region. Both mountains can be reached from Embaloh River and Camp Derian. Mount Betung is about 1,155 meters high above the sea level. It requires about two days straight to climb up to the top. On the other side, Mount Condong is higher with 1,240 meters above the sea level. It will take you three days straight to climb up to the top and one day to climb back down.
Visiting Betung Kerihun National Park is not only about nature exploration. The park also offers you a unique experience of cultural lifestyle. Dayak Iban is a sub-tribe living at Pinjawan Village. Some of them also live around Utik River and Sedik River. People who live on Pinjawan Village are rather more modern that those live around the river. You can see it by the house they built for themselves where people in Pinjawan already use cement on the construction while the river people still live on the traditional long house constructed with natural components.
That traditional long house is called Rumah Betang. Nearby the Utik River, you can find an old one of those. This house is estimated to be built around 30 years ago. It is occupied by about 33 families. Around the Sedik River, there is also one Rumah Betang which is much younger. It is about 13 years old, but is occupied by about 30 families.
One of the most unique Dayak Iban’s ways of life is the way the treat the nature. Around the Utik River, they have a traditional forest that they take care using the customs they learn from the ancestors. This method works really well that Indonesian Ecolabeling Institute (LEI) granted it with a sustainability award.
Besides that, Dayak Iban sub-tribe also has several unique rituals and events, such as Pamole Beo (an after-harvesting festival) and Gawai (the traditional cerebration of Easter Day). Mostly, tourists will like to join the Pamole Beo as there will be many unique handicrafts available for sale to tourists. This festival usually takes place around April or May.
Now that is what you will get if you visit Embaloh Watershed in Betung Kerihun National Park. To have an ultimate adventure, you can have a tour package via the management office of this park. If you need a more comfortable place to stay than a camping site, you can go to Tourist Information Center at Area I Management Division Office. There, there are homestays provided for tourists. In Matasso district, you can find more homestays and even several restaurants.