There are still large areas, of completely undisturbed, virgin jungle in Kalimantan. I've had the wonderful opportunity to see much of it from both up high...
...and down low.
Some of it is just so unbelievably rugged, that it's completely untouchable. There's an area south of here where the flat jungle plains end abruptly in a wall of solid, vertical stone. It's strange. On one side--it's flat as far as the eye can see. And then, there's a shear wall, hundreds of feet high stretching in a perfect line for many, many miles. And on the other side of the wall...seemingly endless, extremely sharp-looking, spires--packed together so tightly that there's absolutely no way you could navigate through there.
The only signs of people are on the very outer edges of the walls. These rock formations are dotted by hundreds and hundreds of caves--from very small to absolutely massive in size! A few guys come by foot a very long distance to collect birds nests from the caves that are "accessible" on the outer edge. The small, translucent birds nests that are plucked from the high ledges of the dark caves are prized as a delicacy, eaten in soup by mostly the Chinese. They're worth a ton of money--I'm told, more than gold by weight.
But once you get past the outer edges, it's like a scene from another planet on the "inside".
This swampy lake is totally surrounded by a fortress of those rugged pinnacles. I have to wonder how many people, if any, have ever been there on foot?
Many of the villages we fly to are located in or near a large area of protected forest called the Kayan Mentarang National Park. This protected area is the largest in all of Borneo, and one of the biggest protected areas in South East Asia.
It's a highly diverse and beautiful area, sporting a wide variety of both plant and animal life.
I've had the unique privilege of hiking through some of the most remote parts of this wilderness. It's a truly beautiful place.
There are very few tourists who make it out this way...let's face it, we're a long way off the "beaten path". And getting to Tarakan is only the starting point. You still have to get interior, and then from there, to one of the locations from which a trek can begin. But all of my experiences have been very memorable. If you're interested in finding out more about this type of thing, I recommend you check out the Borneo Ecotourism Website.
You can also check out some of my posts from a few of the treks that I've taken over the past few years:
Half Alive--Borneo Trek 2011 (Part 1) - 9/13/11
Borneo Trek 2011 (Part 2) - 9/17/11
Borneo Trek 2011 (Part 3) - 9/26/11
Jungle Trek 2010 (Part 1) - 5/15/2010
Jungle Trek 2010 (Part 2) - 5/16/2010
Jungle Trek 2010 (Part 3) - 5/19/2010
Jungle Trek 2010 (Part 4) - 5/19/2010
We're Alive! Jungle Trek Day 1 - 5/23/09
Jungle Trek Day 2 - 5/26/09
Jungle Trek Day 3 - 5/29/09
Jungle Trek 4 - 6/4/09
Jungle Trek 5 - 6/10/09
Search my blog and you can find more--trips to Lalut Birai, hunting pigs, etc. etc.