WEST KALIMANTAN (Kalimantan Barat)
One of the main attractions of West Kalimantan is the culture of its Dayak ethnic groups.
Most Dayaks live in long houses along rivers which criss-cross the land. This province covers an area of 146,807 square km. Its low plains are swampy with more than 100 rivers playing a vital role in communications and the economy.
Scattered across the swamps are several lakes and villages, often linked by bridges. The provincial capital, Pontianak lies exactly on the Equator. It is a fast growing city divided into three parts by the Kapuas and Landak Rivers. Pontianak is the main gate to enter this province through Supadio Airport, 18 km from the city.
The Kapuas River, at about 1143 km, is the longest river in Indonesia, connecting Pontianak with the Sanggau, Sintang and Kapuas Hulu Regencies. Among the branches of the Kapuas River are the Landak, Kubu, Punggur, Melawi and Sekayam Rivers. It is also the world’s longest river on an island.
The population of West Kalimantan consists of the Dayaks, Malays, Chinese and some other Indonesian ethnic groups.
Dayak dances express respect, heroism, welcome and cure. It is recommended to take a river trip and make overnight stops at villages where dance performances are organised on advance notice.
Kapuas River in Pontianak
PLACES OF INTEREST
As the capital of West Kalimantan, there are some interesting places to visit, among others the Equator Monument, Istana Kadriyah Sultan’s Palace in Kampung Dalam, the State Museum, the Kapuas and Landak Bridges with a river view and floating market. You can also simply relax in the recreational park Tirta Ria. The beach resort of Kijing and Temajoh Island are good places for diving, fishing and sailing.
Istana Kadriyah Sultan's Palace
On the outskirts of Pontianak is a Dayak traditional long house at Saham village, 158 km from Pontianak. The longhouse is huge – 186 m long and 6 m wide, and is inhabited by 269 people! There is no tourist accommodation available here.
Saham Village Betang
Pasir Panjang Beach at Singkawang
It lies 17 km from Singkawang in the Sambas regency. There is a beach resort, ideal for swimming. Comfortable cottages are available equipped with a tennis court. In the vicinity of Singkawang, the Gunung Poteng hill resort with its fresh air is a good place for nature lovers.
National Park and Nature Reserve
The Gunung (Mount) Palung National Park located in the Ketapang regency is home to miscellaneous flora and fauna. The National Park covers an area of about 90 000 ha. The Raya Pasi mountain located in the Singkawang regency is also an interesting place to visit in order to see the Rafflesia. Around the mountains Gunung Palung (1116 m) and Gunung Panti, you will find untouched mountain forests.
On the coast there are beach and mangrove forests, and at areas between the mountains and the coast, peat and freshwater swamp forests and lowland rainforests are to be found.
At Gabang Panti is a research station established by Harvard University, however, it is not possible to visit the installation.
It is believed that orang-utans at Gunung Palung constitute one of the most dense and largest orang-utan populations on Borneo.
Singkawang is also a nature reserve. The forest of Sanggau is worth a visit where hot springs, lakes and caves can be found. The other nature reserves are the forests of Baning and Kelam Hill in the Sintang Regency. While in Kapuas Hulu, there is the Bentuang
West Kalimantan has recently been developed for tourist traffic, however, Pontianak has two three-star hotels, each with modern amenities and also facilities for conventions.
Photographs courtesy of “Lovelos” (Sweden – www.pbase.com/lovelos/kalimantan) and Liono Setiowijoso, Ken Ratihn (bamboo rafting), Asmat (Saham Longhouse), Mimi of Vitual Tourist (Mahakam River and Lamin House), Ieke Vierdag – www.dayak.nl (Tanjung Isuy)
Much of the Information on this page has been derived from various Indonesian Embassy links