We’re a little bit late making this post, but life after a holiday can get pretty hectic, especially if the weekend after you get back you head off and climb another 3,000 m + volcano. The end of Ramadan is ideal time for a holiday escape from busy Java, and we’ve been planning a trip to Flores since we arrived in Indonesia. Finally we made it there and it was well worth the trip.
Having spent the last year on the organizing committee of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation 2010 meeting (and doing very little else in the last 3 months!), we took advantage of the pre-conference trip to Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan. The Research Station in the park is usually off limits to everyone apart from researchers so this was a very special opportunity to visit the Station and view wild orangutans, populations of monkeys, gibbons, birds, fabulous primary lowland rainforest and pristine rivers. The park is famous for its variety of habitats, including lowland peat and fresh swamp forest with huge trees, riparian forest, lower montane forest, and montane forest near the summits of Gunung Palung and Gunung Ponti. The folklore character Pontianak (which gives her name to the town of Pontianak) is a female vampire who comes at night and drinks the blood of her victims; the Malay believe that women who die in childbirth will rise again as Pontianak.
[simage=1804,200,n,left,]We decided to escape from our German and Dutch friends who were smugly still enjoying the World Cup, with both their teams playing quarter final games. Actaully, we managed to watch Brazil lose to the Netherlands before leaving on our trip, leaving the Dutch celebrating in the pub. We decided to return to PP Linkungan … [Read more…]
For the long weekend at the end of May we decided to head to central Java to climb Gunung Merbabu and to take in the sights of Solo. We flew into Semarang on Thursday night and took a taxi directly to the hill village of Kopeng, where we met our trip organiser Pak Totok. It was straight to bed as we arrived late and we were aiming for a 5 am start the next morning. We dragged ourselves out of bed at 4.30 am and forced some fried rice down our necks before setting off for the trailhead in an angkot with our two porters. By 5.45 we were already on the trail. After about 15 minutes the porters stopped for breakfast; we knew then it wouldn’t be a record breaking climb in terms of speed. Andy and I hiked on ahead and waited at several points for the porters to catch up, including a 1.5 hour break with a nap at lunchtime! We learned our lesson on Tambora – don’t get too far ahead of the porters, especially if it looks like rain, as they might decide to stop for the day without bringing your tent to where you are waiting! The forest was pretty along the way, not too dense and as we got higher it turned into grassland with sparse trees. We got some good views of Gunung Sumbing and Gunung Sindoro to the west.