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Danau Sentarum National Park covers an area of 80,000 ha. in the flood plain of the upper Kapuas river in West Kalimantan. Some 700 kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Kapuas river the freshwater lakes and flooded forests of this remote area represent a unique environment. The site is one of the two Ramsar sites in Indonesia.
Danau Sentarum National Park is named after lake Sentarum but actually consists of a number of different lakes: Danau Luar, Danau Seriyang, Danau Sumbai, Danau Sumbu and Danau Sentarum, and the surrounding freshwater swamp. The site is the last large area of primary freshwater swamp of this type remaining in Borneo and is of great value for Bornean biodiversity. The lakes are of the so called black-water type: tannin rich almost black water with a low pH. They support at least 220 fish species and are of outstanding importance for Borneo’s fish fauna.
Within the 132,000 hectare BAPPEDA/Wetlands international boundary (1995) for the reserve there are 6860 permanent residents rising to 8945 during the dry season when seasonal fishing families flood into the Reserve. The inhabitants live in 45 permanent and 10 seasonal villages situated around the lakes and waterways. The area is home to two distinct ethnic groups: the Melayu fisher folk who make up the majority of the population in the Reserve (52 villages) and the Iban Dayak swidden cultivators who live primarily in the surrounding hills (2 longhouses).
You can reach Danau Sentarum National Park from Pontianak. Take a bus (7-8 hr.), boat or plane from Batu Layang, outskirts of Pontianak, bus station to Sintang. From Sintang catch a bus (2 hr) to Semitau or a boat heading for Putussibau and get out in Semitau. In Semitau you’ll find the local KSDA office.
Public speedboats from Semitau to Lanjak travel right through the area. The entrance of the reserve is where the River Tawang branchs off from the River Kapuas (click on the map above for more details). At Bukit Tekenang, just where the River Tawang enters the main lakes area, there is the head office and field centre for the reserve. During the drier months (July and August), it’s difficult to access the reserve, due to low water levels. Therefore the reserve is best visited in the other months.
The field centre has good facilities (the case in 1997) and visitors can stay there. The field centre was built with funds provided by the Overseas Development Administration (now Department for International Development) of the British Government. To enter the reserve you should have a permit from KSDA in Pontianak.
KSDA, Jl. Abdurrachman Saleh 33, Pontianak
All transport inside the park goes by boat. Inquire at the KSDA office in Semitau.
|Danau Sentarum National Park represents lake wetland, freshwater swamp forest, and tropical rain forest ecosystems.|
Danau (Lake) Sentarum, a seasonal lake, is located in part of the Kapuas River Basin, about 700 km from the estuary that flows into the South China Sea. Surrounded by hills and highland, Lake Sentarum forms an important water catchments area, and at the same time regulates the water flow through the Kapuas watershed. All the areas downstream are therefore highly dependent on the fluctuating water level of the lake.
Like other areas of West Kalimantan, this Park has some peculiar and endemic species of plant, including tengkawang (Shorea beccariana). Lowland forest plants like jelutung (Dyera costulata), ramin (Gonystylus bancanus), meranti (Shorea spp.), keruing (Dipterocarpus spp.), and kayu ulin (Eusideroxylon zwageri) can also be found.
Danau Sentarum National Park has a variety of fish species.It is estimated that there are about 120 species. Among them are the Asian bony tongue (Scleropages formosus), belida (Notopterus chitala), toman (Channa micropeltes), betutu (Oxyeleotris marmorata), jelawat (Leptobarbus hoeveni), ketutung (Balantiocheilos melanopterus), and the beautiful clown loach (Botia macracanthus).
Other animals like proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), orangutan (Pongo satyrus), estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), false gavial (Tomistoma schlegelii), siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), great argus (Argusianus argus grayi), and wooly-necked stork (Ciconia episcopus stormi) also inhabit the Park.
The drainage system from this freshwater lake and flooded forest makes Lake Sentarum quite distinct from other lakes. Its reddish-black water is a result of the tannin from the surrounding peat swamp forest. In the rainy season, the depth of the lake may reach 6-8 meters, flooding the surrounding areas and forest. During the dry season, when the level of the Kapuas river gradually drops, water from Lake Sentarum flows into Kapuas to restore the water deficit and keep the water level of the river relatively stable. Eventually, when the dry season reaches its climax, Lake Sentarum and the surrounding areas become a vast stretch of dry land, the fish from the lake inhabiting small, scattered ponds.
Danau Sentarum National Park has been declared an International Wetland Site under the Ramsar Convention in 1992.
The local people around Danau Sentarum National Park belong to the Dayak tribes like the Iban, Sebaruk, Sontas, Punan and they still live in a very traditional way. The characteristic longhouses (betang) vary in size according to the number of people occupying them. This could be between five and 30 families. A typical longhouse occupied by fifteen to thirty families would have an average length of 186 meters and a width of 6 meters. The local way of life is fascinating for tourists; the atmosphere of the betang is harmonious, simple, and friendly, and visitors will usually be treated to a traditional Dayak dance.
Bukit Lanjak and Nanga Kenelang: views over the lake, boating on the lake, and watching birds.
Bukit Tekenang: research facilities, including a laboratory.
Best time of year to visit: June to September.
How to reach the Park: Pontianak-Sintang-Semitau by four wheel drive, 11 hours; Sintang-Semitau by longboat, 7 hours. From Semitau to the Park by public boat heading for Lanjak. Pontianak-Putussibau by plane, about 2 hours; from Putussibau to Nanga Suhaid by longboat, about 7 hours.
a total area of 132,000 hectares
Altitude 37 – 40 m asl.