A visit to Danau Sentarum National Park is not complete without a hike up to Bukit Tekenang.
With a towering height of 130m, the hill is one of the highest peaks in Danau Sentarum National Park.
The area was first gazetted as a wildlife reserve in 1982. Then in 1999, the area was declared as a national park.
Tourists can fly in from Pontianak to Putussibau, then take a four to four-hour-and-a-half hour’s journey to Semitau or Suhaid respectively.
From either Semitau or Suhaid, visitors can take a speedboat to Bukit Tekenang.
For Malaysians who are coming in from Sarawak’s Lubok Antu-Badau border, the closest way to get to Bukit Tekenang is from Lanjak town which takes about 40 minutes journey via speedboat.
It takes roughly 7 to 8 hours to drive to Lanjak from Kuching city.
At Bukit Tekenang, you will find a humble resort with basic amenities. So far the resort has welcomed both local and international tourists, especially from the UK and the Netherlands.
Not many locals live at Bukit Tekenang; the 20 families who do live there live by the lake on floating houses.
They are all fishermen living off the resources of Danau Sentarum (or Lake Sentarum). Apart from that, they also culture toman fish (Channa micropeltes) in cages.
Animals and plants who Danau Sentarum home
As for the wildlife at Bukit Tekenang, mammals such as proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), common treeshrews (Tupaia glis), and painted treeshrews (Tupaia picta) have been sighted at the area.
Overall, Danau Sentarum is home to about 240 bird species include the black hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus), great argus (Argusianus argus), Storm’s stork (Ciconia stormi) and crested gowshawk (Accipter trivirgatus).
Additionally, the vast floodplain is habitat to more than 20 reptiles such as the viper, false gharial, estuarine crocodile and monitor lizard.
The trees found at Bukit Tekenang are the itchy tree (Baringtonia acutangula), grey satinash (Syzygium claviflorum) and kayu tahun (Carallia sp).
Meanwhile, the whole national park includesw 20 seasonal lakes and 40 small islands. The islands have freshwater swamp forest and peat swamp forest.
Peat swamp is where waterlogged soil prevents dead leaves and wood from fully decomposing. This consequently creates a thick layer of acidic peat over time.
The acidic peat causes the water around it to be brackish which explains the dark-coloured water of Danau Sentarum.
A breathtaking view of Danau Sentarum from Bukit Tekenang
For the unaccustomed eyes, Danau Sentarum might remind you of 2007 British-Australian horror movie Black Water.
However once you get to on top at Bukit Tekenang, you will understand how the blackish water elevates the beauty of Danau Sentarum.
The blackish water serves as a mirror, especially when sun rays hit the pond at sunrise and sunset.
For photographers, it gives a golden opportunity to capture the perfect landscape of Danau Sentarum.
The hike up to the hill takes less than 30 minutes. Relatively an easy hike, it has a 500m staircase with resting huts located along the way.
Do take note that the water level ranges from 5m to 12m depending on the season. The rainy season is usually from October to May when the water level is quite high.
Meanwhile, during the dry season (June until September), some of the lakes may dry out and some parts of the channels turn into grasslands.
Although the national park is open for visitors all year round, different months of visiting might give visitors different kind of view from Bukit Tekenang.
If you are planning when to visit, imagine what kind of view you expect Danau Sentarum to have. It is either greenish forest swamp surrounded by water or greenery with patches of brownish grasslands.
Both views are equally mesmerising as long as you have Mother Nature on your side to give you clear weather.