Baluran National Park
This park is a forest preservation area that covers about 25,000 hectares of the north coast of East Java. The park offers some great scenery and has organised safari activities. Safari is a much misused term in Asian travel circles but in this case it is appropriate - there is something very African about the savannah grasslands of Baluran. Of the three large national parks in East Java, this is the easiest reached and by far the easiest to travel around.
The value and unique nature of Baluran was first recorded in 1928 by Dutch botanist AH Loedeboer. Official national park status was granted in 1984 since which time the tourism potential o the park has slowly developed.
The dominant feature of the park is 1,247 m high Mount Baluran, a dormant volcano. The park is mostly savannah grass and acacia scrub inland and monsoon forest with mangroves on the coast. 15 km from the main entrance there is beautiful white sand beach called Bama Beach with fringing mangroves and a healthy offshore coral reef. Some 40 km of the north coast of Java are within the boundaries of the park and include some areas with excellent, healthy coral reefs close to shore.
Flora and fauna
There is apparently a tiny remnant population of leopards here but it is extremely unlikely that you will see one of the handful (if any) that remain. Mammals more easily seen include wild pigs, Java rusa deer, three species of monkeys and the endangered java banten (buffalo).
Birdlife is diverse despite enormous trapping pressures for the cagebird trade before the national park was formed. Some poaching still occurs.
Aside from Madura, this is the driest corner of Java and from April to October it is very dry. The best time to visit is the latter half of the dry season (June to October) when the grazing animals are at their most visible as they congegate the well known waterholes. Outside of the dry season, the weather is very much like the rest of Java. It rains especially heavily in January and Febuary and during those months many areas of the park will be impassable due to flooding.
The nearest proper town to the park is Wonorejo on the north coast road between Banyuwangi and Probolinggo. The park entrance is no more than 30 minutes from the Banyuwangi ferry terminal by car or bus (take a Wonorejo-bound bus).
Rp 75,000 per person payble at the park office on the main road near Wonorejo.
This is a large area with a lot of access roads leading through the park. Therefore if you are travelling independently, a hire car is a good idea. Visitors arrive here having driven from Surabaya, Malang and Bali - all very feasible.
Ojeks will take you from the main park office/entrance area and from Bekol to Bama Beach.
Eat and Drink
There is a simple shop selling drinks at Bekol. Bring in your own food with you though.
There are about 16 simple rooms available at the Bekol savannah watchpoint. These are rarely full but you might want to make advance reservations via the park office in Banyuwangi.
Camping facilities are available in the park at Bekol.
Baluran National Park Office, Jl Jenderal A Yani No108, Banyuwangi. Tel: +62 333 24119.