Java has a number of national parks and reserves that are Java's best kept secrets. One of them is Baluran National Park. Baluran is on the dry north-eastern tip of Java and is one of the most easily visited parks in Indonesia. It has grasslands reminiscent of Africa or Australia. This drive-in park is noted for its buffaloes, wild cattle banteng, deer, and bird life.
A sense of Africa: biggest savanna in Java
Baluran National Park covers an area of 250 square kilometers. Mount Baluran (1,247 m) in the center of the park, formerly overlooked extensive savanna grasslands. The park is still rich in wildlife but a great deal of the grasslands have gone, due to encroachment by Acacia thorn shrub. Nowadays the savanna covers an area of 100 square kilometers, of which 3 square kilometers are real good for spotting wild- and bird life. The best time of the day to do so is at dawn or dusk.
Baluran harbours 444 species of flora, of which 37 grow in the mangroves.
Wildlife and birds
In Baluran there are 47 animal species which are protected by law, among which 32 species of birds. Baluran is home to 189 species of birds. Baluran supports international important populations of banteng, rusa deer, muntjak (barking) deer, two species of monkey, wild pigs, leopards and other small carnivores. The best time to see wildlife is in the dry season, because the animals congregate near the waterholes. Grean peafowl, red and green junglefowl, hornbills, bee-eaters and kingfishers are still easy to spot. Near Bekol and on the main road to Bama you can find two bird watching towers. And, hiking from Bekol to Bama (a 5 km track) gives you the opportunity to see more birds and the banteng. Up north, near Bilik and Sijile, offers also good spots to see some birds.
Hiking and trekking
It is possible to hike in two days from Bekol to Mt. Baluran together with a ranger. You need to camp at the foot of Mt. Baluran. At the top you get a wonderful view, a 600 meters wide caldera and a water source that runs year round. While trekking you pass several types of vegetation. There are around six tracks that lead you to the top.
Hiking offers a good opportunity to do some bird watching as well.
There are six beaches in Baluran National Park. At Bama beach you can rent snorkel and diving gear, and canoes. There are actually two spots for snorkeling; one at Bama and the other one you can find near Bilik in the north. Up till now there were 97 fish species detected of 26 different families. If you are really really lucky you can encounter dolphins or whales.
At Bama the coastal forest - mangrove - has numerous waterholes and is a good place to see water monitor lizards, monkeys and birds. There is also a bridge to actually walk in the mangrove forest.
Accommodation Baluran National Park - how to make reservations
You can either spend the night in Bekol or Bama at the coast. You can make reservations for the accommodation with mister Hendri. Because of the remote area it's best to send him an sms at +62 81 358 126 144 or +62 87 857 315 515. If you arrive after four o'clock, it's best to make reservations. Then the security at the entrance of the park knows you are coming and those working at one of the accommodations can prepare your room and stay until you arrived. Most of the rangers don't spend the night in the park.