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BATANG AI
National Park


Batang Ai National Park is located on the upper reaches of the Batang Ai and Lubang Baya river, about 15 km upstream from the Batang Ai Reservoir. The trip to the reservoir takes you along rubber and pepper plantations. At the reservoir you get into a longboat. The trip on the lake takes about 1.5 hours and another hour on the fast-flowing Batang Ai river.
In low water times you have to jump out into the crystal clear water and push the boat along a small rapids. It is all part of a fascinating Batang Ai experience.
The Batang Ai reservoir is about 275 km from Kuching. The park has a Malay and an Indonesian part. Most visitors come as part of an organized tour group where all transport is included. It is almost impossible to travel by public transport because it takes too long to get there.
Visitors usually stay in one of the nearby Iban longhouses, or at the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, which is approximately 1 hour and 30 by boat from the Park HQ. The park has no canteen facilities and visitors must bring sufficient food and drinking water.
The Batang Ai national park has a rich flora and fauna with honey bears, civet cats, hornbills, gibbons, porcupines, langurs, muntjaks and wild boars.

The Iban of Batang Ai have been living in and around the park for more than 400 years. They form an integral part of the ecosystem. They have played an important role in the preservation of orangutan in the past. They have a strict taboo to hunt or hurt these animals. Some Iban tribes believe that in the orang utan the soul of deceased ancestors lives, while local legends also claim that a female orangutan has learned the skills of the midwife.
The Iban are former headhunters. The men are beautifully tattooed and the women wear colorful dresses with beads and coins. When visiting their longhouse, enjoy their dance performance and music, provided by a four-person, female house orchestra with gongs and xylophones. You will not soon forget a visit to the Iban tribe in the Batang Ai national park.
The Iban benefit from employment in the park and transport and housing. The guides also show the excellent manual work, which is then bought by many visitors.
The local Iban population collects more than 140 different types of medicinal plants in the jungle and eats 114 different wild fruits and 36 varieties of vegetables. Woodlands and plants are also important as a source: wood, fibers, rattan, bamboo and aromatic resins.

 

rang utans are mainly fruit-eaters and spend most of the day wandering in the forest in search of food. They especially love the wild figs and the pungent smelling durian. Although fruit is their main source of food, they feed on young leaves, insects, bark, flowers, eggs and small lizards. Every orangutan builds a new nest for the night. Occasionally also for a nap during the day. They build a safe resting place at 12-18 meters high in the trees.

An adult adult roams over a vast area of forest. Every day looking for enough food to satisfy his healthy appetite. Males are sexually mature when they are 15 years old. The life expectancy of orangutans in the wild is unknown, but probably less than in captivity. Some have become more than 50 years in captivity.
Deforestation, degradation of their habitat by the people, random hunting and the living trade in the Orang Utans: these are all factors that have contributed to a decrease in their number.


Orang Oetan

There are five different hiking trails in Batang Ai, which highlight every aspect of the park with their vegetation. In addition to flora and fauna, you will also see ancient cemeteries scattered throughout the area. Visitors are always accompanied by a registered guide or park ranger at all times.

 

Trail Name (Path) Length Difficulty level Time(ca.)
Padalai Trail 1.8 km Easy

1.30 min

Bebiyong Trail 4.0 km Easy 2.30 min
Bilitong Trail 4.6 km Moderate 4 hours
EnggamTrail 8.2 km Difficult 6 hours
Sium Trail 7.6 km Difficult 5.30 min

From a travelblogue:

"We were picked up by our guide at our hotel in Kuching and after a 5 hour drive we arrived at the Batung Ai lake. Here we were met by 2 members of the Iban tribe and we continued our trip by boat across the lake and later into the jungle to arrive at the Nanga Sumpa Lodge after almost 2 hours. What a great location !! It is fairly primitive, but there was pressure on a new wing. I hope that does not detract from the atmosphere.

A few weeks before our arrival, this Long House is completely burned down next to the Lodge and BA has accommodated many members of the Iban tribe and it was not possible to stay here. We have still visited the place where the Long House stood, but it offered a very sad sight. Partly because of this tragedy it was a bit messy with workmen and noise, but that did not bother us.

The jungle trekkings were great and the Bamboo BBQ at the waterfall a super experience. We were the only guests that night and had a delicious meal.
Because we could not go to the Chief, the Chief came to us to drink a self-fired drink which was very welcome, because only coffee, tea and water is available here.".


 

 

 

   Ben van Wijnen

 

 

 

 

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