Pandaw Kapuas River Cruise

Tour Code: PAN1
Duration – 8 Days/7 Nights

RV Katha Pandaw



The Kapuas River system is the largest in Borneo flowing over 1100 km (700 miles) through Western Kalimantan which is in the Indonesian part of the island. The river basin is surrounded by mountain ranges and filled with rainforest.

The Borneo rainforest is 140 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world. There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo. There are about 440 freshwater fish species in Borneo (about the same as Sumatra and Java combined). It is the centre of the evolution and distribution of many species of plants and animals.

The Borneo rainforest is one of the few remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean orang-utan. It is an important refuge for many forest species, including the Borneo elephant, the eastern Sumatran rhinoceros, the Bornean clouded leopard, the Hose’s palm civet and the dayak fruit bat.

Our one week expedition will cover the upper part of the Kapuas between Sanggau and Lanjak, a voyage of over 500km that includes traversing the Denau Sentarum system of lakes that connect to the river that are now a national park. This will be a truly pioneering expedition into a rarely visited area where the main attraction will be the scenery, wildlife and tribal village life.

The Kalimantan authorities have embraced this project enthusiastically and have been very supportive during the planning stages. Likewise, the tribal communities we have met are very excited about our visit and are already planning elaborate welcome ceremonies.

Your expedition ship, the RV Katha Pandaw, with sixteen well appointed state rooms, is the perfect ship for such an expedition. With open deck dining, self service bar and panoramic round ship promenade decks, there could be no more appropriate vessel for such an environment.

RV Katha Pandaw Staterooom

RV Katha Pandaw Staterooom set up with twin beds

Pontianak is actually situated on the equator. Temperatures are the same year round at between 30-32C. It also rains year round with October to December the wettest, averaging 350mm a month, and Jan to September drier with an average 250mm per month.

Passengers can fly in via Kuching in Sarawak (in Malaysian Borneo) which has excellent connections to Singapore and KL. Or via Pontianak, the capital of Western Kalimantan, with daily flights to Jakarta. Kuching is a highly recommended stop over with its Brooke Raj colonial buildings, amazing museum and colourful China town. There are a number of other extensions including the Mulu caves in Mulu National Park.

Pandaw operated on the Rajang River in Sarawak from 2009-2011, but had to withdraw due to shortcomings in the shore excursions and some environmental issues. The Kapuas River offers a far more interesting experience with vastly more impressive scenery and a less spoilt human and natural environment.



You will join the ship after driving from Kuching in Sarawak (4-5 hours) or Pontianak in Kalimantan (2-3 hours) at Tayan on the Kapuas River. Lunch and a walk about this attractive river town, then set sail to Sanggau, where you will arrive in time for an evening walk around this bustling river port.



From Sanggau you will make a long boat trip up the Sekayam river to see the waterfalls and hot springs in the jungle. Other waterfalls near Sanggau at Pancur Aljit can be reached by car. Sail on to Sekadau for a walk about this lively town with busy boat traffic coming into trade. Visit the Lawang Shrines by local pernambang boat. The shrines are set on rock face and sacred to the Malays, Dyaks and Chinese alike.



Sail through the day and ashore again at Sintang. Here you will see a kraton, or old palace, in the picturesque old town where the Mewali river joins the Kapuas.



At Sintang you will visit an orang-utan rehabilitation centre run by the Jacobson Foundation set in a traditional house decorated with traditional handicrafts. In the afternoon you will head off on a 20km drive in local trucks to the rock monolith of Bukit Kelam, said to be the second largest rock in the world after Uluru (although there is a large rock in Swaziland which might rival Bukit Kelam), which the fit can scale by rope ladder. For the less adventurous there is a 100 year old long house at Ensaid Panjang which is a centre of Dayak weaving.

Cast off and you will take the ‘Japanese Short Cut’, a canal dug by the Japanese in the war to connect the main river with the lakes and moor overnight at Selimbau, perhaps the most delightful of these pretty river towns, and completely built on stilts, so there is not a car in sight.



A morning walk around Selimbau and then you will leave the Kapuas River and connect to the lake by a tributary channel. You will explore this little known water world lake and may go ashore for an evening walk. There will also be the possibility of a visit to an orang-utan rehabilitation centre.



Traverse the lake system to spot wild life including proboscis monkeys and perhaps orang-utans, not to mention crocodiles. There is the opportunity to go fishing or explore the extraordinarily diverse botany. Bird life is profuse.



Further explorations of the lake system and a visit to Pulay Melayu island with its animist shrines. You will see honey farms along the shores and visit fishing villages with smokeries. Trekking is also available as an optional excursion.



Disembark to transfer to Kuching by road (Lanjak – Kuching travel time 4.5 hours).


The Downstream Itinerary is the reverse of the Upstream Itinerary – on the first day, you will transfer by road from Kuching to Lanjak; and on the final day you will transfer from Tayan by road to either Kuching or Pontianak.


There are generally two cruises of seven nights duration every month (the inaugural cruise was 16 July 2016), except December – one upstream, one downstream.

The Upstream departures are generally scheduled for the first part of each month – 16 July, 13 August, 10 September, 08 October, 05 November, 17 January, 14 February, 04 March. The Downstream departures are scheduled seven days after the upstream departure (23 July, 20 August etc).

Note that prices shown in this table are in US Dollars

Cruise Price Includes:

  • Coach transfer from Kuching or Pontianak to Tayan and from Lanjak to Pontianak or Kuching (or vv),
  • entrance fees,
  • guide services (English language),
  • gratuities to crew,
  • main meals,
  • locally made soft drinks,
  • local beer and local spirits,
  • jugged coffee and selection of teas and tisanes, and mineral water.

Cruise Price Excludes:

  • International flights,
  • port dues (if levied),
  • laundry,
  • all visa costs,
  • fuel surcharges (see terms and conditions),
  • imported beverages such as wines, premium spirits and liqueurs, fancy soft drinks such as Perrier, espressos and cappuccinos at bar, and
  • tips to tour guides, local guides, bus drivers, boat operators and cyclo drivers.

Photographs courtesy of Pandaw Cruises