THE JAKARTA POST
September 11, 2000
UJUNG KULON, West Java (JP) - : "Tomorrow," Tri Wibowo
smilingly told his guests, "you will make history. You will
cross Java on foot in only 45 minutes, from the Java Sea down to
the Indian Ocean."
The Ujung Kulon National Park manager cleared his throat, moved
aside to a map on the wall and pointed at the bottleneck at Welcome
Bay he was talking about.
Then he told the amused writers and travel operators a story about
people who jump in delight at finding a heap of rhino dung in the
jungle after an exhausting few days of walking.
"We have a team in charge of tracing rhino trails to estimate
the animals' population," he said. "This team is called
tim tahi (the dung team)," he quipped.
Tri was trying to promote Ujung Kulon, a world heritage site, as
a new eco-tourist destination, which offers a range of activities
from jungle trekking and diving to joining forest rangers on "rhino
census" expeditions deep in the wilderness.
The eco-tourism project is spearheaded by the World Wide Fund for
Nature (WWF) Indonesia, the Institute for Indonesian Tourism Studies
(LSPI) and Rhino TrustU -- a nonprofit organization for rhino conservation.
The project, still in its infancy, was initiated out of the belief
that the park could generate a lot more money to finance conservation
Official statistics show that between 4,000 and 5,000 people visit
the park annually, some 30-40 percent of those being foreigners.
That sounds fairly impressive. But don't let the figures dazzle
you -- the entrance fee is only Rp 2,000 per person and the money
is divided among the park management, the provincial government
and the central government.
Don't ask how much the park's share is; the officials won't tell
you on the grounds that they don't have the notes with them.
H. Kodhyat of LSPI says that the 120,551 hectare national park
(76,214 ha land and 44,337 ha seas) at West Java's western-most
tip, under Pandeglang, boasts a range of highly endangered species,
many of those endemic to Ujung Kulon. The most noted is the single-horned
Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sundaicus).
The rhinos' number is estimated at between 50 and 60, a population
size that has been more or less consistent for many years. The big
beast is found only in Ujung Kulon, where they have to compete with
an estimated 800 banteng (wild cattle or Bos javanicus) for habitat.
Kodhyat believes that the ecotourism project is promising because,
quoting World Trade Organization data, 10 percent of the world's
50 million to 60 million annual tourists are ecotourists.
Nazir Foead, project executive of WWF Indonesia, said the project
meant to adopt national park management principles used in Nepal.
In Nepal, he said, the money that the park generates was audited
by an independent auditor. Fifty percent of the money is used to
conserve the park and the rest goes to the local people in the form
of credit to start businesses related to ecotourism.
"The local residents should have a cooperative that serves
as a local tour operation," he said.
The national park consists of three parts, Gunung Honje Range,
Ujung Kulon Peninsula and Panaitan Island, each offering their own
Gunung Honje, for example, is home to the endangered Javan gibbons
(Hylobates moloch) and a large variety of birds. Many of the 19
hamlets found in the mountain range, home to 1,100 Sundanese families,
provide visitors with a valuable insight into indigenous Sundanese
The range is a haven for trekkers. The most common entry point
is Tamanjaya in the west. From the ridge of the mountain range,
you can admire a breathtaking view of Ujung Kulon's lush green forest
and the sight of Welcome Bay spreading out beneath you.
The Ujung Kulon peninsula is the habitat of the rhinos and wild
cattle, which are also legally protected. The area is touted as
the main attraction for ecotourists, where they can participate
in "rhino census" expeditions under the supervision of
trained forest rangers for six days. Do not rest your hopes too
much on bumping into a rhino. They are very shy and will avoid people.
The Ranger Tour package for three tourists is offered at US$ 900
and for two at US$ 775. The cost covers transport from Labuhan to
Ujung Kulon, insurance, meals, accommodations, guiding fee and other
essential needs. The number of participants is either two or three
per team of Rhino Monitoring and Protection Unit (RMPU).
Other places of interest are the banteng grazing grounds in Cidaon,
the Ciujungkulon river, Cibunar, Tanjung Layar and Ciramea -- all
are great for walks.
The peninsula also boasts some historical sites, such as the remains
of a lighthouse that the Dutch colonial administration built in
1805 and rebuilt after it was badly damaged in an 1880 earthquake.
Panaitan Island is well-known for jungle trekking. There is no
accommodation and visitors have to carry food, drink and equipment
The Panaitan waters is a popular spot for surfers. Some describe
the place as one of the best in the world.
The park also includes a host of uninhabited islets where you can
enjoy activities such as river trips.
Despite the many natural charms and adventurous activities awaiting
nature-loving holidaymakers, the area is still "isolated"
because of the inadequate roads and modes of transport.
Ujung Kulon National Park has three entrance points: Tamanjaya,
Peucang Island and Handeleum.
Labuhan, about three hours drive from Jakarta, is the main transit.
From here you can go either by boat or by car.
Going by boat is recommended. The trip by car is good only until
Sumur, some two hours drive from Labuhan. From Sumur, you'd be better
off chartering a motorboat to Tamanjaya for about Rp 300,000. Speedboat
is hired for Rp 2.5 million for a one-day round trip from Carita
Or, you can continue by car and risk having your buttocks flattened
when your van starts to jump up and down along the rough road which
is full of potholes. The road is especially torturous on rainy days.
If you want to get to Tamanjaya faster, you can hire an ojek (motorcycle
taxi) at about Rp 25,000.
The transportation problem is a concern to the travel agents the
national park management is trying to cooperate with.
"The inadequate infrastructure makes it expensive and time
consuming to go to Ujung Kulon. I don't think that many people are
interested in going there at the moment," a representative
of a travel agent who declined to be identified said.
Bad roads and the absence of regular buses or ferries to Ujung
Kulon park are not the only problems. The lack of adequate accommodation
Only in Peucang Island can visitors find a fairly good hotel. The
accommodation and its surrounding area is itself an attraction and
you can play around with monkeys and deer there. Other exotic animals
like iguana, snakes and birds can be easily found. You can play
volleyball in the spacious complex if you can stand the deer feces
that covers every inch of the yard.
Tamanjaya offers homestays. Dozens of humble houses are available
for rent at about Rp 75,000 per night. The traditional Lesung dance
can also be watched.
Travel agents said that the scheme is good only for those few people
who are rich, have plenty of time and love nature. Are you one of
those? If you are curious about the ecotourism scheme and tour package,
you may contact WWF Indonesia at 021-5671070; Yayasan Badak Ujung
Kulon 0253-803537 and Danu of Marina Water Sport Department at 0818170305.
Text by Pandaya