All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Adventure in the Heart of Borneo

This past weekend, Britton and I went on an incredible jungle adventure, deep in the heart of Borneo. I've been planning this trip since July, but for various reasons it got delayed until now. The wait was worth it! We had an absolutely fantastic time! Some of the best memories of my childhood were the camping trips that my dad took me on when I was a kid in Brazil--just me and my dad! We took our little boat down tiny rivers, penetrating the heart of the Amazon jungle, where we fished and camped and did guy stuff. That time, and those memories...well, they're priceless. I hope that this was one of those type of experiences for my son.

I'll break it down into several posts with lots of pictures to show you what we did.

Below is a picture of our desitnation--the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Lalut Birai research station. It had it's hay day back in the 90's and early into this decade, but for a few years now it's been essentially abandoned. Since it's surrounded by virgin, old-growth, beautiful jungle, it's the perfect place for a wild adventure!

To get there, you start by taking a 50 minute flight to the very short and marginal airstrip at Long Alango (or you could take a long boat ride for two days from the coast--if the water is high enough, which it's not right now.) From there, you hop in motorized canoes, for a 30 minute ride past the village of Alango, and into the beautiful, rugged jungle that surrounds.

Then you start the hike. The first thing you do is to cross a suspension bridge above the smaller Sungai Enggeng (Enggeng River,) that flows by the research station. Then it's about a 30 minute hike from there, on a very nice trail that passes by many giant, towering canopy trees, and various other interesting things. Our guide was a wealth of information, pointing out all types of flora and fauna as we went along.

The research station used to be used by scientists from around the world, who studied the unique ecosystem (plants, animals, weather, etc. etc.) found here in an effort to promote conservation of this part of the jungle. Today, the station has the look and feel of an abandoned "mad scientist's" hideout on a movie set. Britton and I think it actually adds to the experience, since a fancy and flashy place would feel odd in the middle of the jungle. Yet, you can tell that once upon a time there were people hard at work here--old glass beakers, bottles, scientific instruments of all sorts scattered around, blanketed by a thick layer of dust and cobwebs. It was a treasure trove of discoveries for a budding little biologist. In addition to all the specimen jars full of amphibians of every sort and variety, there were also plenty of aged specimens of snakes of all kinds. Britton especially loved those! One can we opened contained a HUGE cobra specimen. According to our guide, it was over four meters long and as thick as a man's arm!

There were also plenty of skulls--mostly pig skulls, but other types as well.

And tons of insects!!! We found plenty of strange and wonderful insect creatures of our own, that were alive and well in the jungle. I have some sweet shots of those that I'll show you in the next post. I'm told that they found and cataloged many new species of insects here, which I believe based on the shear amount of these critters. It was amazing!

And this was the favorite frog specimen. We're told they get much bigger.

After taking a quick look through the old science building, we got to work setting up our hammocks. There was a small sleeping building we could have stayed in, but Britton was determined to sleep IN the jungle. So we went to work cutting a path and clearing a spot under the canopy. He was having a ball cutting his way in to the dense undergrowth.

Thanks to our Hennessy hammocks, we were set up in no time, side-by-side, safe from the weather, bugs and escpecially leeches, of which there were plenty!

Now that we had our camp set up, it was time to explore. And exlpore we did! The fun was just beginning. Next post I'll show you some of the stuff we did.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I can't wait for the rest of the story and pictures. What a wonderful adventure for you and Britton. You might say you did it for him but I know you Dave, you love these adventures now as much as you did when you were a little boy in the jungles of Brazil.


theda said...

That's some amazing stuff! Way to go, dad!

Jennifer said...

Sounds Awesome!