5 reasons to visit Danau Sentarum National Park, Indonesia

Patricia Hului

Danau Sentarum National Park is a unique seasonal wetland where the water levels can rise up to 12m during raining season.

Together with Betung Kerihun National Park and Kapuas Hulu District, the whole area was awarded the biosphere reserve certificate from Man and Biosphere UNESCO last July 2018.

Located in Kapuas Hulu Regency, West Kalimantan Province, Indonesia, the park lies at the upper Kapuas River vasin.

It is a vast floodplain with 20 seasonal lakes, complete with picturesque freshwater swamp forest and peat swamp forest.

Here are five reasons why you should make your way to Danau Sentarum National Park:

1. Explore a maze-like peat land like no other

Travelling over the blackish water of Danau Sentarum is something that needs to be experienced at least once in your lifetime.

When dry season comes (June till September) and the water recedes, some of the lakes turn into narrowing channels while the channels turn into grasslands.

With all the trees that look almost alike and its winding channels, cruising through Danau Sentarum feels like going through a maze.

Plus, the vast floodplain leaves visitors wondering if there is something beyond the horizon of the lake.

The national park covers 127,393.4 hectares whereby half of the area are lakes while the other half is swamp forest.
2. Do some birding activities

Pack your binocular and telephoto lenses to engage in birding activities at Danau Sentarum National Park.

About 240 bird species have been sighted at Danau Sentarum which include  the black hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus), great argus (Argusianus argus), Storm’s stork (Ciconia stormi) and crested gowshawk (Accipter trivirgatus).

Catch some birds on binoculars at Danau Sentarum.
3.Observe the trees and wildlife (on camera) along the way
Like any other national park, do not litter at Danau Sentarum.

Danau Sentarum National Park is located at the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative area. It is a government-led and NGO-supported programme that was initiated by a joint declaration by the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia in 2007.

Today, it is one of the largest transboundary rainforests remaining in the world.

The whole island of Borneo is home to 6% of the global biodiversity though it only covers 1% of the world’s land area.

One of the areas which contribute to the high biodiversity of Borneo is Danau Sentarum.

It is home to 675 species of plants of which 13 are endemic to Borneo. Additionally, the park provides a natural habitat for orangutans, proboscis monkey, sun bears and arowana fish.

If you are lucky, you will catch a stork landing on one these village jetties.
4.Watch sunrise and sunset over a floodplain
A cloudy sunset view of Danau Sentarum from Bukit Tekenang.

Thanks to its flat geographical feature, Danau Sentarum National Park gives picturesque views during sunrise and sunset.

And the best place to catch this view is at Bukit Tekenang.

Lonely Planet called Danau Sentarum a “photographers haven”,advising visitors to bring that extra memory card during your visit.

5. Learn about the Malay and Dayak cultures of Danau Sentarum
Dusun Kedungkang, an Iban longhouse located near Danau Sentarum.

What makes Danau Sentarum National Park a unique place to visit is the people living in its area.

There are about 3,000 people living in the 20 villages enclaves within the park. About 90% of them are Malay while the rest are Dayak Iban people.

The Malays live in high-stilt houses connected by bridges while the Ibans live in traditional longhouses.

The residents are very welcoming and visitors should fully utilise their visit to Danau Sentarum by visiting at least one of these traditional villages.

A Malay village at Danau Sentarum.