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West Kalimantan expedition set to explore Indonesia's longest river

Severianus Endi

The Jakarta Post

Pontianak, West Kalimantan  /  Fri, January 13, 2017  /  04:36 pm
West Kalimantan expedition set to explore Indonesia's longest river

A kapal bandong is pictured on a waterway. The traditional boats were a popular mode of river transportation in the 1970s for both people and goods. (JP/Severianus Endi)

A water tourism expedition in West Kalimantan beginning on Jan. 27 is set to take visitors hailing from Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei on a five-day and six-night trip along the country's longest river, Kapuas, which stretches 1,143 kilometers.

Initiated by the regency’s nature and culture lovers’ community, the Lake Sentarum-Kapuas River Cruise Adventure will pass through six regencies and stop in villages that boast historical, cultural and culinary richness.

"The trip will use kapal bandong, a traditional boat that was once a popular mode of transportation from the city to remote Kalimantan," community coordinator Sutomo Manna told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

From an initial target of 100 participants, which is the maximum number of passengers that the boat can carry, 60 people have registered to join the expedition, all from Malaysia and Brunei.

(Read also: Indonesian researcher in geological expedition to Antarctic)

West Kalimantan Youth, Tourism and Sports Agency head Kartius said the Kapuas River had much unexplored tourism potential despite being Indonesia's longest river. "Many people know that the Kapuas River is the longest river in Indonesia, but not many know what to explore there. In addition to natural beauty, it is also home to rare fauna like arwana fish and orangutans and people can marvel at locals' traditional lives on the riverbanks," he said.

Lake Sentarum National Park is located in Kapuas Hulu regency, West Kalimantan, covering 132,000 hectares. Situated in the border area between Indonesia and Malaysia, it is home to various rare fish like arwana, hornbills and orangutans.

Meanwhile, kapal bandong were a popular form of river transportation in the 1970s for people and goods. The wooden boats have a unique design like a house and are equipped with diesel engines. 

The expedition will kick off in Lubok Antu, Sarawak, East Malaysia, which has a land border with Nanga Badau in Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan. It will then move to Lake Sentarum, followed by the Kapuas River, before arriving in the West Kalimantan capital of Pontianak at the same time as Chinese New Year celebrations. (kes)