Covering two-thirds of the island of Borneo, Kalimantan is coated in lush jungle, steamy forests, snaking rivers and rugged countryside, making it the perfect home for some of the world’s most iconic species, including the endangered and auburn-haired orangutan, the acrobatic gibbon and the primordial hornbill.
Located in the southern part of Borneo, which is split between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, Kalimantan covers around 73% of the island. Protected from both tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, the rainforest here is said to be around 130 million years old and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the much-loved and endangered orangutan, as well as indigenous tribes, known collectively as Dayak people.
With few roads, the waterways are the main way to explore the jungle, see the spectacular bird and wildlife, as well as observe the daily lives of the Dayak, whose longhouses line the riverbank. Owing to the success of the conservation work here, this is one of the few places left in the world to see orangutans in the wild, either trekking on foot through the rainforest, or on a chartered klotok (traditional wooden boat), cruising through the network of rivers that flow through the dense jungle landscape. The most popular destination in Kalimantan is Tanjung Puting National Park, where you are almost guaranteed to see these beautiful creatures swinging through the trees, while the crocodiles cruise the rivers below and the hornbills patrol the skies.
For those interested in traditional culture, there’s the opportunity to see Dayak villages, where the people still practise the ancient Kaharingan religion, including ceremonial buffalo sacrifices, as part of the funeral ritual. The longhouse is the mainstay of Dayak culture, where a shaman, chief and governing committee preside over up to 200 families, for whom it is home. For another perspective of Kalimantran, we’d also recommend a visit to Palangkaraya, the capital city of the central region, with the impressive landmark Kahayan Bridge. Here you can explore the area’s rivers, waterfalls and lakes, as well as visiting the majestic Rumah Betang, a Dayak longhouse, one of the city’s main attractions.
Kalimantan is one of the world’s least spoilt natural environments, with fascinating indigenous tribes, spectacular hornbills and a prime location for seeing orangutans in their natural habitat.