If you want to have a memorable adventure, you should travel to East Java and head to the Baluran National Park, which offers an affordable alternative to an African-like savanna. The 25,000-hectare national park is strategically located on the border between Situbondo and Banyuwangi, in the north-east of Java. There, you can enjoy different landscapes, such as serene white-sand beaches and dense mangrove forests. Here are the five things you should do while visiting Baluran National Park, all extremely photo-worthy.
From the entrance gate, you have to drive for about 45 minutes, getting through a lush evergreen forest before arriving at the Bekol savanna, nicknamed Africa van Java, with the small dormant Mount Baluran in the background.
During the rainy season, the grasses are green, but in the dry season (usually from April to October), the plain turns yellow and you can take in the iconic yellowish vegetation with scattered trees. Large Javan water buffaloes and deer roaming and grazing on the grasses are a common sight in the 300-hectare savanna—the largest savanna in Java. If you’re lucky, you can spot green peafowls and leopards, too. The semi-natural grassland at the national park is also a place for repopulating the endangered Javanese banteng. Get a view of Baluran’s beautiful scenery and observe wildlife from afar in the Bekol viewing tower if you’ve got the time.
Most people take a day trip at the savanna by car, but you can also opt for trekking or hopping on a bike to explore and sightsee around the region.
Located at the edge of the national park, the peaceful and uncrowded Bama Beach offers a mesmerizing scene, with a sparkling ocean. Go explore the sea on a canoe, or book a snorkeling or diving session to discover the marine life and stunning coral reefs. If you’re not in the mood for going into the water, make sure you catch the ocean breeze, put your toes in the white sand, and let the small waves wash over your feet. There are a lot of wild long-tailed monkeys at the beach, but don’t feed them.
The beach is also surrounded by mangroves. If you walk along the footpath, you can move on to the next adventure to explore the mangrove trails.
Enter the maze of mangroves and be amazed by the thick above-the-ground roots of the majestic mangrove trees. You might feel like tiny fairies—imagine Thumbelina and Cornelius—strolling through the forest, among the giant trees. The lush forest can be the perfect place for a gentle walk, or to have an intimate conversation with your travelling companion. If you’re all alone, wander and get lost in your own thoughts. After a roughly ten-minute walk, you will find a port at the end of the mangrove forest. Enjoy the scenery while getting some fresh air and savour the moment.
If you’ve never done bird-watching before, this is your chance! There is a bird-watching trail near Bama Beach, where you can find birds like the oriental-pied hornbill, yellow-vented bulbul, racket-tailed treepie, green junglefowl, black-winged starling, and Javan kingfisher.
Of course, you don’t have to go to the bird-watching trails if you want to observe birds in their habitats. You might come across exotic and endemic birds, including the most sought-after species, at any corner of the national park. Test your knowledge of birds and count how many birds you can spot. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars for the best experience!
Too tired to go home after a full day of vacation adventures? Book a room at a budget resort nearby! Although many tourists visit the Baluran National Park for a one-day trip, you definitely can choose to slow down your journey here and witness the enchanting night under the Baluran sky.
There are several resort options available. At the Bekol savanna, for instance, Rusa Guest House offers double rooms starting at about Rp 100,000 per night. Room rates at Merak Guest House and Wisma Merak range from Rp 100,000 to Rp 150,000 per night. You can also stay at Banteng Guest House, which accommodates up to four persons for Rp 400,000 per night. Get ready to spend the night resting while gazing at the endless stars.
Eager to catch the beautiful sunset and watch the sunrise on the beach? You should consider staying at a seaside resort. Book a room for you and your travel companions at Kapidada Guest House or Pilang Guest House, both located at Bama Beach. The rates of these budget resorts start from Rp 250,000.
Bear in mind that there will be limited signal and no electricity after 11pm. In other words, it’s completely okay to forget about work and immerse yourself in nature instead. Early-risers shouldn’t waste the opportunity to catch the morning stars before sunrise and get spectacular views of the pre-dawn sky.
All prices are subject to change without notice, and you can only reserve a room by texting or calling the national park service centre at (+62) 82332213114.