The nature of Indonesia is home for many kinds of unique species. One of those places is the Tangkoko National Park at the city of Blitung, North Sulawesi. This park is a nature reserve for many species of flora and fauna, including the unique Tarsius, the smallest species of primate in the world. Tangkoko National Park lies at the foot of Mount Dua Saudara. It covers the area of 8,718 hectares.
To Get There
Tangkoko National Park is located on the city of Blitung. Reaching this city is easiest from Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi. To reach Manado, you can get a flight to Sam Ratulangi International Airport. Flights are available from Singapore, Jakarta City, Surabaya, Bali Island, Makassar, Papua, and Balikpapan.
The distance between Manado and Blitung is about 70 kilometers. It is about one hour drive. From the city of Blitung, you need to drive another 45 minutes to reach the national park. You can rent a car from the airport for about $18.75 to $30. For more comfortable journey, also hire a driver who is already familiar with the road.
If you do not bring your own vehicle, you can get a public bus from Pal II Manado to Tangkoko Terminal at Blitung. The bus will cost you about $1.5. The trip will take about one and a half hour. After that, continue using public transportation to Tangkoko National Park. This will cost only $0.4 to $0.8.
Around the area of Tangkoko National Park, you will find several choices of cottage and homestays with varied rates. Some of those are:
- Tangkoko Dove Village
- Mama Roos Inn
- Tangkoko Lodge
The nature reserve of Tangkoko National Park covers the area of 8,718 hectares. The area consists of three types of land; coastal area, highland, and mountain area. If you look around, you will see three peaks of volcanic mountain. One is the peak of Mount Tangkoko and the other two are the peaks of twin Mount Dua Saudara, which literally means “Mount of Two Sisters”. Still within the area of this national park, there is also a pristine beach which is very beautiful.
From so many species of flora and fauna living on this nature reserve, Tarsius is the most unique one. Tarsius is a small primate with only 10 to 15 centimeters of body length. The weigh is only about 80 grams. There are 9 species of Tarsius in the world. Two of them are in Philliphines and the other seven are in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Some species of Tarsius live in Tangkoko National Park are ghost monkey (Tarsius tarsier), dwarf tarsius (Tarsius pumilus), and tangkasi (Tarsius spectrum). From all the species, dwarf tarsius is the smallest one. The body is only about 93 to 98 milimeters long.
Tarsius has blood type of O, similar to human. Its head can rotate up to 180 degrees. Although it has tiny body, Tarsius is able to jump from one tree to another up to 3 meters of distance. The unique thing is Tarsius is not able to walk on ground. If it falls from tree, it will immediately jump back to tree and climb up.
Tarsius is a nocturnal animal. It spends most of its day for sleeping and hanging on a tree branch, and then goes hunting for food at night. It has huge eyes, probably even bigger than its brain, to help it see better at night.
Even if Tarsius considered as rare species, it is very difficult to conserve them. They are very shy that they tend to run away when encounter with human. It is also impossible to breed them on a conservation area, outside their natural habitat because they will get stressed out. If a Tarsius got stressed out, he would hurt himself and commit suicide.
Not just Tarsius, there are many other species of flora and fauna at this nature reserve. There are about 26 species of mammals in this national park with 10 of them are considered endemic. There are 180 species of bird with 59 of them are endemic. There are also 15 species of reptile and amphibian.
One of the unique species beside Tarsius here is Maleo. Maleo is a very rare species of bird from Macrocephalon single genus. In 1861, a scientist found plenty of Maleo living on this forest. But later, due to human’s hunting, the population of Maleo degraded significantly.
Now Maleo is declared endangered and protected. If you are lucky enough, you could probably see them while visiting this nature reserve. Other species of fauna living on this forest are cobra (Naja naja), kuskus (Phalanger ursinus), yaki (Macaca Nigra), anoa, squirrel, oriental whip snake, and much more.
As for the flora, this national park is dominated with rainforest where you can easily find forest mango (Buchanania arborescens Bl.), ares (Duabanga moluccana), coro (Ficus septica Burm.f.), and much more. Still inside the area, there is also a moss forest dominated with tropical pitcher plant (Nenthepes maxima) and edelweiss (Anaphalis javanica). Nearby the beach, you will find many coastal plants such as pandan, teak, palms, and macaranga.
Beside the exotic forest that you can explore, there are other objects that are also wonderful and worth exploring, such as:
- Mount Dua Saudara
Mount Dua Saudara (Mount of Two Sisters) is a volcano with double peaks. It is about 1,109 meters high above the sea level. To climb this mountain, you need to be accompanied by a guide because the mount is rarely climbed so you would need someone who is familiar with the tracks to assist you during the climb. We recommend starting the hike at 16.30 so you have a great chance to meet Tarsius on your way up. Nearby the mountain top, you would see a large caldera. Be careful not to be so close to it as the sulfur may give you dizziness.
- Tangkoko Beach
On the area of Tangkoko National Park, there is also a beautiful beach called Tangkoko beach. It has black sand and straight view to the mountain. The black sand of Tangkoko beach was used to be a place for Maleo bird to lay eggs and breed. Black monkeys also like to chill and hang out around this place. It is forbidden to swim on this beach because the topography is steep and the current is strong. But this is such a beautiful place to enjoy the nature.
- If you want to see Tarsius, it is most recommended to do the trekking at night because they tend to be more active at night.
- Prepare a flashlight before departing to this nature reserve because you would likely need it.
- Do not do something that might scare or shock the Tarsius. If you encounter one of them near you, move slow and natural so it does not feel threatened.
- Put on comfortable and safe clothes. The track is quit tricky and dangerous if you are not properly dressed.
Exploring the forest is such a great adventure. Not only you would have healthier air to breathe or more beautiful scene to see, but also you could find many majestic species of flora and fauna that you would not ever find in the city. Meeting the cute tiny Tarsius or maybe even a Maleo would be such an unforgettable moment while exploring the nature.