Deep, dark and exotic, the very notion of Borneo rouses something in the subconscious. Summoning visions of mythical people and ancient forests, it tugs at the adventurer within. It’s a romantic notion, but the world’s third-largest island has managed to keep some of her secrets and most of them lie in the impenetrable interior of Kalimantan.
Occupying two-thirds of Borneo’s primeval land mass, Kalimantan is one of Indonesia’s least-visited provinces. A void on the tourist radar, it’s a red flag to those hungry for the unknown. Mountains, forests and mighty rivers stretch across the interior, influencing the culture, history and livelihoods of villages throughout. Although the logging and mining industries have had a 30-year feeding frenzy, the fury of the chainsaw and the tide of wasteland is beginning to slow. But you need to be quick – Kalimantan’s hidden world continues to diminish.
The once mysterious Sungai Mahakam is now a highway of river traffic, yet treacherous rapids still protect the customs of traditional Dayak villages. Even the urban jungle begs exploration. Dawn canoe rides to Banjarmasin’s floating markets and dusk journeys through its enigmatic canals imbue travellers with a taste of modern culture.
You can trek in Kayan Mentarang National Park, the Apokayan Highlands, and around the eastern reaches of the vast Sungai Kapuas. And with little effort you can come face to face with orang-utans, macaques, proboscis monkeys, bird life and maybe even the odd sun bear.
Kalimantan destination guides
The botanist's guide to the sexiest plants of the world
Plants can be sexy. Raise your eyebrows if you will, but to a plant lover, certain plants possess an undeniable allure.
Phang Nga Bay Tour by Speed Boat from Phuket
Travel by speed boat to Phang Nga Bay through the emerald waters filled with more than 100 islands and rocky, limestone outcrops. Visit James Bond Island, enjoy lunch with the Sea Gypsies and relax on a secluded beach.
Derawan Island and the Sangalaki Archipelago
With a new international terminal at Kalimantan’s Berau airport in Indonesian Borneo opening in April 2012, newly proposed routes from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore may soon make the Sangalaki Archipelago – a group of desert islands off the east coast of Borneo – easier to access.