What to do in Baluran National Park

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

“It was in June last year when my friend posted an article about a national park in Baluran, Banyuwangi, East Java Province in his blog. His suggestion that the national park was a piece of Africa in Java had stuck in my head since then.

December last year, I came to the national park and soon found out that the park was more than just a resemblance of Africa. What follows is a list of things I recommend that everyone do whenever they go to this place.”

1. Where to Stay

There are two places to stay in Baluran National Park. One is at Bekol, close to the vast savanna where in the summer, the grass will turn yellow and give you the impression that you are being in Africa. There you can see the sun sets behind the Mount Baluran.

The other one is at Bama, close to the sea, where you can see the sun rises in the morning. There is also a food stall here, and it is the only food stall you can find in the national park.

Bama sounds perfect for a place to stay in the national park, but there is no signal for your cell phone. So, whenever you need to call or text a message, you have to go to Bekol, about three kilometer westward.

2. Sunset at Bekol

I am not keen on landscape photography, but that afternoon, on the day I arrived in the national park, I couldn’t help but pointing my camera at Mount Baluran where the sun set behind it.

It was unfortunate however that I couldn’t really get the impression of being in African savanna as all the grass was green in December.

3. Watch Tower

The other thing you can do at Bekol was climbing up the watch tower. There you can see the entire savanna. Sometimes, when you are lucky, you can watch a group of deer and buffalo run across the savanna in the late afternoon.

4. The Unpaved Road

The savanna at Bekol and the beach at Bama is linked with an unpaved road, stretches about three kilometer. Walking along the road in the daylight, you will experience different types of nature. From west to east, you will start with savanna, forest, and end up with the beach.

Be extra careful with the monkeys if you bring food in your hand while walking along this road. They can smell it from far and will run after you to grab it.

5. The Beach at Bama

People say we can watch the sunrise from this place. Sadly, I missed it due the cloudy sky. So, instead of capturing the sunrise, which was not my favorite thing to do, I decided to walk along the shore. And I was right; all beaches were just the same.

6. Mangrove Trail

Not far from the cottages at Bama, there is a thick mangrove forest where we can walk through its path. It was not the high humidity or mosquitoes I was worried about while walking along the trail, it was the monkeys.

Obviously, the mangrove forest was a home to hundreds of monkeys. It was like entering their kingdom. They kept shouting and staring at us. We really had to watch our belongings, because otherwise they would grab them.

What's interesting was the boardwalk bisecting the forest. It would lead us to a mini hut built on the sea.

7. Bird Trail

The most enjoyable attraction I experienced in the National Park of Baluran was trekking in the Bird Trail. Although I didn't see any rare species of bird along the trail, as I had expected before, I was fortunate to find a very rare flower in its spring.

I was advised that I take the tour with a guide so as not to get lost in the woods. That day, I was guided by Pak Poerwanto, a ranger who had worked in Baluran National Park for years.

What you can see in this trail is the sacred old water spring of Sumber Manting. Anyone drinks the water or washes their face with it is believed to be forever young. I won’t recommend this as the water seems dirty and not hygienic.

I spent three days and two nights in the park. I saw a group of deer and buffalo, and so lucky to see a wild peacock, even though it was just once. Overall, it was a nice place to visit in Banyuwangi. You just have to come in the right season to get the impression of Africa of Java.

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