A trip to Central Kalimantan is a mystical river experience plunging you directly into traditional tribal life and connecting you to a profusion of wildlife. Take a cruise boat or a small dugout canoe and drift along the Kahayan River, discovering floating villages and stilted dwellings while getting an insight into Dayak daily life. You will feel as though you’ve found yourself in a timeless era as you greet the Dayak people wearing colourful traditional clothes, visit a longhouse along the forested riverside or meet the Bukit Rawi and Jabiren basket weavers working on their rattan craftwork.
For a close-up experience with local flora and fauna, choose Tanjung Puting National Park. Immerse yourself in the diverse soundscape; listen to beautiful jungle sounds and try to identify proboscis monkeys’ unique vocals and the distinct call of the tarsier. Venture to the depths of the jungle and enter the realm of orangutans, clouded leopards, sun bears and mouse deers. Orangutans and other primates may be the most famous inhabitants of this dense forest, but look up and you will easily spot exotic birdlife, among which you will find different species of hornbills, kingfishers and ibises.
If you happen to visit in May, visit Isen Mulang festival in Palangkaraya where all Dayak tribes of Kalimantan travel to display a colourful parade of traditional dances, music, food, fashion and rituals. Join the shouting crowd at sepul sawut game, where the football used is a coconut set on fire, or cheer the teams as they compete in blowpipe shooting, canoe racing or bare hand fishing. Be enchanted by Dayak dancers’ graceful movements as they engage in the hornbill dance with passion, wearing the heavy yet beautiful headdress and brandishing the mandau, the traditional Dayak weapon.