Tangkoko National Park is in the Sulawesi region of Indonesia.
Located at the foot of Dua Saudara Mountain, the area is comprised of rolling hills and valleys with a variety of hardwood trees and unusual plant life.
The animal life is also quite varied, and one can often view Tarsius tarsier(world's smallest primate), black tailless monkeys, Maleo Birds, wild pigs and kuskus (marsupial family). Tangkoko Batuangus Reserve offers a suitable protective environment to help prevent these animals from becoming extinct. Please note that visitors are recommended to visit with a local tour operators to ensure an enjoyable journey and to take advantage of an experienced guide who can assist in spotting the wildlife. Losmen (simple guesthouses) are available for overnight stays.
The first conservation area at Mount Tongkoko has been established in 1919. To this the Duasaudara area has been added in 1978, and the Batuangus and Batuputih areas in 1981, together encompassing a total of 8,718 hectares. Visitation is only allowed in the Batuputih area.
Flora and fauna
Tangkoko Nature Reserve protects at least 127 mammal, 233 bird and 104 reptile and amphibian species. Of these 79 mammal, 103 bird and 29 reptile and amphibian species are endemic to the island.
Threatened mammals include the Celebes crested macaque, of which about 5,500 remain on the island, the Sulawesi bear cuscus and Sulawesi dwarf cuscus.
There are two climatic zones in North Sulawesi based on the ratio between dry and wet periods. The eastern part of North Sulawesi has ten to twelve months of wet months and less than two dry months, while the western part shows more seasonality with seven to nine consecutive wet months and three or less consecutive dry months. Rainfall is higher between November and May when the winds are from the north. During this period, monthly rainfall averages 314 mm. The period from May to November is characterized by hot and dry conditions as a result of southeasterly monsoon winds. Temperatures often reach as high as 35 C and rainfall is low with a monthly rainfall of 72 mm.
Tangkoko is located in the northern sector of Bitung, and takes about 1 - 2 hours to reach from Bitung or Manado, respectively.
The park is actually closer to the KBR resort, so if you're on both sides of North Sulawesi visit from the Bitung area rather than from Manado. Private car should be around Rp. 100,000 per person from Manado and Rp. 25,000 from Bitung.
Public transportation is also possible. From Manado center you can take a mikrolet to Terminal Paal 2 for Rp. 4,000. From there are very frequent bemas to Bitung for Rp. 10,000. From the Bitung bus station you need to take a mikrolet to Girian (Rp. 4,000). And from there there are private/public cars leaving to Batu Putih (Tangkoko). Prices are around 12,000 to 20,000 depending on how nice the vehicle is.
Local Guides/Rangers currently charge Rp. 200,000 per person for a morning hike through and around the Nature Reserve (~4 hours) and Rp. 100,000 for an evening hike (~2 hours) (Sept 2016). Can be bargained to lower. These prices do not include the entrance fee to the Reserve, which is Rp. 100,000 for foreigners (Rp. 5,000 for Indonesian residents).
The tarsiers are the top attraction, but they don't come down from the trees until dusk; so you need your dive lights for the hour walk out of the woods.
Spending an overnight is also worth doing. ☎ (431) 853265,
DAY 01. (1-2 PM) Transfer by Safari Tours bus or AC 4 pax vehicle to Nature Reserve. The 2-hour drive to the 9000-hectare National Park is quite scenic as we pass through small villages. Upon arrival, immediately check in to a homestay. You will then be guided by local forest rangers (and Safari staff) in search of the Black Crested Macaque (Black Monkey indigenous to North Sulawesi), hornbills, and couscous as well as other fauna specific to the reserve. Depending on what time it gets dark, you will head into the denser part of the jungle as the sun is setting, where you will (most likely) be able to get photographs of the Tarsius Tarsier (the world's smallest primate). After it is completely dark and the Tarsier have departed for their nightly foraging, you head back to the homestay for a basic traditional dinner.
DAY 02. Rising early, you will again hike into the forest with local rangers where you will have the best opportunity to view more birds and certainly the Black Crested Macaque as these monkeys are earlier risers and are searching out food along the coastline at Tangkoko. After several hours it's back to the homestay for a traditional breakfast and prepare to go back to Manado or Bitung. Arrive in Manado between 9 -11 AM.
- Crested Black Macaque (Macaca nigra) is the most conspicuous mammal species in the reserve. It is endemic to the forests of North Sulawesi to Gunung Ambang Nature Reserve near Kotamobagu. Crested Black Macaques (as the name suggests) are entirely black, except for their hind parts which are called ichial callosities (sitting pads that are very hard, very much like the calluses on human hands). Older adult males sometimes have slightly grey backs, like silverback mountain gorilla males. Early natural historians called them 'black apes' because of the apparent lack of a tail. However, they posses very short tails. Adult females are easily recognized by their inflated red bhind which indicates that they are in estrus (sexual swelling). When their behind looks like a big red balloon, it means they are at the peak of estrus--around tow weeks after beginning their menstrual cycle. Newborn babies up to two months old have thin sparse fur and cling to their mothers.
- Spectral Tarsier (Tarsius spectrum) is a Sulawesi endemic species, comprised of four subspecies, that is distributed throughout Sulawesi but whose population is found in pockets in North, Central, and South Sulawesi. They are called tarsiers because of their elongated tarsal region in which their tibia and fibula bones are fused thus allowing their great leaping ability. They are tiny animals (their head and body length at approximately 10 cm weighing approximately little over 100 g). The ears and eyes are enormous. The tail is much longer than the body and nearly naked except for the last third portion of the tail that is tufted. They have nails like humans except for the 'toilet claws' on the second and third digits of their feet. These toilet claws are used for grooming. The tarsier is a nocturnal animal (i.e. animal whose activities take place mostly at night and early mornings before dawn), hunting for insects like katydids (i.e. long-horned grasshoppers), crickets, and roaches. They often cling to a tree trunk and use their highly sensitive eyes and mobile ears to detect their prey. Once the prey is located, thou pounce upon them with their grasping hands. Their social group is made up of a mated pairs and their infant. Tarsiers occur mostly in lower elevations in scrub and lowland rainforest habitats. At evening you will hear the vocal duets and choruses in early evening and before dawn.
- Bear Cuscus (Ailurops ursinus) is one of two endemic cuscus species belong to the Phalangeridae family that occur on Sulawesi.It s a marsupial (females lacking a complete placenta, and most species having females with an abdominal pouch in which the infant is carried). It's body and head length measures 56 cm and the tail which is prehensile (i.e. grasping) measures 54 cm, and can weigh up to 8 kg. The body is mostly dark brown and grey with the upper chest cream colored. It has the tiny ears and dark brown eyes. Bear cuscus occupy the high strata of the forest structure feeding on leaves and fruits. The social group is comprised of only the mother and her infant (up to 8 months). Otherwise, the adult males and females are solitary except for mating.
- Sulawesi Dwarf Cuscus (Strigocuscus celebensis). For night viewing, you can take your flashlight/torch to look for them along the beach trail and in gardens along the Batuputih roads. As with the Bear Cuscus, they are marsupials. The head and body measures 30-4- cm, the tail approximately 35 cm, and it weighs 1.5-2 kg. It has orangish brown fur on its back and a black stripe across the top of the head and neck. Its underside is cream colored. It has tiny ears and blue eyes with black pupils. Unlike the Bear Cuscus, the Dwarf Cuscus is primarily frugivorous. Little information is available on which fruits they feed on, but they are known to raid crops to feed on bananas, mangoes, and papaya. Its social grouping is though to be a mated pair.
- Bats. Sulawesi is the single most important island in the world for fruit bats. The island is home to 22 species, including many rare and peculiar forms. Very little is known about the bats living at Tangkoko, partly because no-one has looked! The two commonest species are Sulawesi Rousette (Rousettus celebensis) and Lesser Dog-faced Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) and one occasionally catches sight of them in a spotlight beam. The rousette is the larger species with a wingpsan of some 50 cm and is dark brown in color; it roosts in caves along the coast from Pos 3. The Lesser Dog-faced Fruit Bat is smaller with a wingspan of about 40 cm, and has a ruff of bright orange fur which is particularly striking in males. This species makes its roost in trees and small groups of 5-10 bats can be found hanging under the large leaves of palm trees and, in scrub forest, banana plants.
- There are two types of squirrel that are commonly seen in the forest, both of which are endemic to Sulawesi. The first species, the Northern Dwarf Squirrel (Prosciurillus murinus) is a small, has brown fur and a gray belly. It is very common at Tangkoko and can often be seen running on the ground or racing up tree trunks. Pale Dwarf Squirrel (Prosciurillus leucomus) is also brown with a grayish belly but has a very obvious band of silver-gray fur on the back of the head extending on to the ears. Again this is a common species at Tangkoko, but it spends less time on the ground that its cousin the Northern Dwarf Squirrel. Both squirrels are very noisy and their repetitive, high pitched chatterings are a common sound at Tangkoko.
- Sulawesi Forest Pig (Sus celebensis) is thought to be a relatively recent arrival to Sulawesi. It measures 90-150 cm. Coloration varies between dark gray to black. The body is covered with thick long bristles with the tail covered with short hairs. They are mostly found in closed canopy forests traveling in groups of 2-5. They feed mostly on fallen fruits, roots rhizomes, and tubers, but also go after agricultural crops. The best chance of seeing them in on the Puncak trail.
- Babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa) is one of the most bizarre looking animals in Sulawesi. This species comprised of three subspecies is distributed over north, central, and Southeast Sulawesi as well as on satellite islands such as Togian, Sula, and Buru. The head and body measures 85-100 cm and the tail measures 25-30 cm, and weighs up to 100 kg. Its skin is rough with virtually no hair, and is grayish in color. Its most striking feature is its tusks--the upper tusks grow through the top of the muzzle and then curve back toward the eyes. Some researchers have suggested that these tusks can be hooked over the lower tusks of the opponent. Babirusa travel in small groups and vocalize by giving out low grunting moans. Unlike other pigs, babirusa females give birth to only one or two infants. Babirusa are thought to be primarily nocturnal although they travel and forage during daytime. They do not root like other pigs do but eat fruit and break open dead wood to obtain beetle larvae. Babirusas are extremely rare in Tangkoko. Only three have been spotted between the early 1980s and mid 1990s. Their decline at Tangkoko is most likely due to the intense hunting that took place during this period.
- Timor Deer (Cervus timorensis) is thought to be an introduced species from Java and Bali. The head and body length is 1.4-1.8 m and the tail length is approximately 20 cm, and it weighs around 70 kg in males and 50 kg in females. The antlers are lyre like and have three tines. The coat is dull brown in color. They are quite rare in the reserve; the last sighting of a large deer group was a few years ago of twelve animals along the alang-alang grass fields past Pos 1. They also occur along the coastal edges where they feed on shoots, grasses that come up after a fire has occurred, and the charred debris of sodium. The also feed on herbs and shrubs, and have been reported to drink seawater. Breeding occurs throughout the year with a mating peak June to August and a birth peak around March to April.
- The Do’s of Tarsier Tourism, Tangkoko Nature Reserve, ☎ (431) 853265, . Tarsier tourism as it exists now basically takes two forms: tracking wild tarsiers (mostly in Tangkoko, North Sulawesi, Indonesia), and viewing captive and semi-captive tarsiers (mostly on Bohol, Philippines). The do’s and don’ts are similar for both, with some slight variation for captive versus wild tarsiers. The Do’s: 1) Do pay the all the listed fees: guiding fee, park entrance fee, etc. 2) Do view wild tarsiers between dusk and dawn, not during the day. 3) Do view tarsiers in small groups, 4-5 persons including guide, and do not exceed the maximum number of tourists per guide. 4) Do maintain a safe distance from tarsiers, 1 m for captive tarsiers, 2 m for wild tarsiers 5) Do take the time to read information brochures or posters in the reserve or visitor center about tarsier biology to better appreciate tarsiers 6) Do respect the environment they live in by making sure we don’t litter and trample on plants. Stay on the foot trail at all times 7) Do require that your guide respects all of the rules and guidelines. 8) Do take lots of beautiful pictures of tarsiers, keep wonderful memories of your time spent with tarsiers, and tell the rest of the world how beautiful and valuable these wonderful animals are! 9) After your visit, think about tarsier conservation, and do make contributions or donations to established, legitimate, reputable tarsier conservation efforts, to help maintain reserves. Do your homework so that your money is well spent. edit
- The Don'ts of Tarsier Tourism, Tangkoko Nature Reserve, ☎ (431) 853265, . 1) Do not haggle with the guide for a discounted guiding fee, sneak into the park without paying etc. 2) Do not talk loudly when viewing tarsiers especially during day time when they are supposed to be sleeping and even at night because they are busy hunting for food. 3) Do not use a flash if closer than 2 m, and do not shine strong lights directly in their eyes for extended periods. 4) Do not throw garbage on the ground, this includes cigarette butts 5) Do not touch or hold tarsiers unless you are a professional with a permit to do so, and never disturb sleeping tarsiers. Take pictures of them as they are. 6) Do not be disrespectful to wildlife and local cultural values. For example, do not take pictures or videos of tarsiers while they are mating and then post them on Youtube and label the video “Bohol Scandal!” 7) Do not disturb lactating mothers and their babies. Avoid these when captive and semi-captive, and double your distance for wild tarsiers that are nursing. This means keeping 4 m back and not blocking the progress of a mother and infant. A “parked” infant can be viewed and photographed at normal distance, 2 m, but should NEVER be touched. 8) Do not feed wild tarsiers, even as a means of getting a better photograph unless you are a professional who has especially arranged for a permit to do so. 9) Do not ask your guide to violate the rules and guidelines in exchange for a large tip 10) There are NO legal sources of tarsier pets anywhere in the world; NEVER take one as a pet! Report to the proper authorities if you are offered a tarsier for sale. edit
- Botanica Nature Resort, Botanica Nature Resort, ☎ (438) 2230178, . Nestled between two mountains along with incredible views of Lembeh Strait, Botanica Nature Resort is located in the village of Danowudu in Bitung, only one hour away from Sam Ratulangi International Airport and half an hour away from Tangkoko National Park. The Resort aims to provide an outstanding experience of local life in Northern Sulawesi combined with modern comforts such as King Koil beds, free WiFi, private parking, and an open air cafe. edit
- Tangkoko Hill Cottage & Resto, Tangkoko Nature Reserve, ☎ (431) 853265, . Tangkoko Hill Cottage & Resto is a resort in Batu Putih village, next to Tangkoko Nature Reserve. Established in 2012, this accommodation is served by friendly staff to ensure the best experience for each guests. All rooms have air-conditioning, cold water showers, tiled floors, a daily bottled water. edit
Before you set out on your walk, be well prepared!
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Bring along some insect repellent. Tangkoko is brimming with microscopic mites called 'gonone' which love to squirm past your clothes and onto your body, especially the warmer parts. Spray or apply generous amounts of insect repellent onto places where there is little ventilation such as armpits, underneath your sock, belt lining, and crotch.
- Do not wear sandals and shorts; the mosquitoes and thorny plants will gleefully attack you.
Bring along your logistics such as:
- A pair of binoculars
- Rain jacket
- A large bottle of water
- Snacks (such as fruit or candy bars)
- Notebook and pen for note taking
Rules & cautions:
- Do not enter the reserve unless accompanied by an official guide. Once you have paid your admission fee, the ticket guard will call a guide for you.
- Do not throw trash in the forest. Please try to pack out what you packed in. Not only is it unsightly, but also rubbish left by people presents a health hazard for animals.
- Do not attempt to rouse an animal by throwing objects or making noises at it.
- Do not get too close (< 5 m) to macaques or feed them. Macaques carry viruses known to be fatal to humans.
- When viewing tarsiers, do not get too close to the tree (no more than 5 m from the tree), crowd around the tree (no more than 5 people around the tree), nor shine torches/flashlights at the animals (they have sensitive eyes which can be damaged by powerful light). Ask for your tour guide to provide a red or yellow colored cellophane cover for your torch/flashlight).
- Do not enter designated research areas (i.e. research station Pos 3 and areas indicated either by flagging tapes or posted signs).
- Stick to the trails and do not go trotting off by yourself, even with your guide close by. Even though venomous snakes are rare at Tangkoko, you don't want to be the one people use as an example of the 'tourist who got bitten by a viper and had to get medi-evaced out'.
- If you swim near the coral reefs, do not touch or stand on the corals.