West Bali National Park
West Bali National Park (Taman Nasional Bali Barat in Bahasa Indonesia) is the most north-westerly point of Bali. It includes the whole of the Prapat Agung Peninsula and large swathes of land around the towns of Gilimanuk, Cekik and Banyuwedang. The official area inside the park boundaries is 190 square kilometres with a further 580 square kilometres of protected reserve in the highlands to the east. In total this accounts for some ten percent of Bali's total land area.
The park was first officially recognised as an area of importance in 1917 when the council of Bali rulers designated it as a nature park. It was fully established as an Indonesian National Park in 1941.
The habitat is very varied with rainforest, dry savanna, acacia scrub and lowland forests as well as more montane forests in the higher centre. There are also some pockets of dense mangrove forest.
In the north of the park there is an obvious north jutting peninsula called Prapat Agung. Around this peninsula there are long stretches of protected beach and offshore coral reef as well as a small offshore island called Menjangan. The latter is a very popular diving destination.
There are several long extinct volcanoes in the protected reserve area to the east with Mount Patas (1,412 metres) and Mount Merbuk (1,388 metres) being the highest points. These peaks are dominant visual landscape features from within every area of the park.
Flora and fauna
One hundred and sixty species of bird have been recorded in the park including the near extinct Bali Starling, Bali's only endemic vertebrate species and a key reason why this national park was created in the first place. By 2001, as few as 6 individuals were thought to survive in the wild, all of them in this park. Since then captive breeding and re-introduction efforts have continued apace but poaching pressures are a large problem. With that in mind, a 2nd re-introduction programme was started in remote regions of Nusa Penida in 2004. Keen birdwatchers can find a checklist of likely species and their status here .
Mammals found inside the park include Banteng, a species of wild cattle from which the familiar Bali cows are descended. Java Rusa and Indian Muntjac deer are quite widespread and Menjangan Island is in fact named after these (Menjangan means deer in Bahasa Indonesia). Wild Boar and Leopard Cats are both quite common but seldom encoutered.
A Bali Tiger (a full sub-species of Tiger) was shot here in 1937 and despite rumours to the contrary, that is the last ever confirmed sighting of an animal considered extinct since that moment.
Bali is always warm, humid and tropical, remaining around 30-35°C (85-95°F) all year round. The April-October dry season and November-March rainy seasons are only relative, with plenty of rainfall around the year, but the Balinese winter is cloudier, more humid and with a higher chance of thunderstorms.
All visitors should check in at one of the two park offices (PHPA) for information and to purchase permits and arrange guides. The headquarters is at the village of Cekik just south of the Gilimanuk in the west. The other is at Labuan Lalang on the north coast from where boats to Menjangan Island depart. The main ranger station is on the road between the two offices at Sumber Klampok.
The park staff are welcoming, helpful and will arrange guided tours for you.
Permits and obligatory guides are available at the park headquarters at Cekik and the office at Labuhan Lalang. The official permit charge is now Rp 25,000 per person. The cost of a guide is negotiable. Use your common sense and do not be tight. A sensible range would be about Rp 450,000 to 630,000 for a full day and about Rp 200,000 for a 2 hour hike.
Only a small percentage of the total area of the park is open to visitors and this rule must be respected. There are two key ways to explore the park: hiking the trails or concentrating on marine aspects.
Walking the trails must be done with an official guide from one of the national park offices (most normally the one at Cekik). Boat trips to Menjangan and around Gilimanuk Bay can be organised in advance (ask at your hotel) or by charter on the day you arrive.
The official park trails should be explored with a guide recommended by the national park ofice. This is actually a rule but it is sometimes 'quietly' ignored. Please do not do this nor encourage the practice despite the very irresponsible advice given in some printed travel guides to do so. If you are unwilling to pay reasonable guide fees, then do not come here.
The Tegal Blunder Trail is most popular with birdwatchers and it is an easier 2 hour walk. The ranger checkpoint is at the village of Slumber Klampok about 20 minutes west of Cekik. From the same checkpoint you can take the more strenuous Gunung Klatakan Trail to the south east. Tougher walking for about 5 hours but it takes you through some memorable rainforest. There are other trails and opportunities for interesting hikes but these are the two most popular and the easiest. Ask guides about other opportunities at the time particularly those involving hiking deeper into the Prapat Agung Peninsula.
The uninhabited Menjangan Island is a must-do for any visitor to Bali interested in marine life, snorkelling or diving. Boats leave from the beach at Labuan Lalang at the northern edge of Teluk Terima bay and can chartered on the day. Groups of tourists often club together at Labuan Lalang in the mornings for that very purpose. Any boat charter must be accompanied by a guide and you must purchase a permit (Rp 25,000 per person) from the national park office in the main Labuhan Lalang car park.
Many of Bali's dive operators based in the southern tourist regions offer dive excursions specifically to Menjangan. The snorkelling here is probably the best on Bali with good clear water and calm seas.
There is a notable temple on Menjangan called Puri Gili Kencana which is certainly worth a visit. You can walk around the whole of Menjangan in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you take it slower though there is plenty of natural coastal beauty to absorb.
Gilimanuk Bay snakes into the south western tip of the Prapat Agung peninsula, and the park office can arrange a guided boat trip for you in a traditional outrigger. Expect to pay about Rp 300,000 per hour including a guide fee. The bay is quiet and supports a rich diverstity of marine life. There are some notable areas of mangrove forest fringing the bay, and these act as a natural nursery for the diverse fish life in the area.
Aside from hiking and birding on the trails, the tropical waters surrounding the park are full with activities, ranging from snorkelling and scuba diving to sailing in a simple traditonal outrigger. The crystal clear waters around Menjangan Island are some of the best for diving, and you can arrange a trip there with local dive operators in Pemuteran (just 10 km to the east) or at almost any dive centre on the island, given sufficient notice. For an easy boat trip, take a boat tour of Gilimanuk Bay with a guide from the national park office.
This region of Bali is not particularly known for its shopping :)
Aside from the Waka Shorea luxury resort there is nowhere to eat in the national park. Bring food in with you.
If you arrive along the north coast road, there are lots of hawker stalls at Labuhan Lalang. If coming from Gilimanuk there are many restaurants, small shops and hawker stands in the town and around the national park headquarters.
There is nowhere inside the national park to purchase any drinks including water. Bring in ample water with you.
There is one official high end resort inside the boundaries of the national park on the Prapat Agung peninsula. There is no other accommodation inside the park. Visitors on a lower budget day trip the park from Gilimanuk, Pemuteran or Lovina where there are ranges of accommodation to suit all budgets.
There is popular budget accommodation about 2 km north of the Cekik park headquarters on the road to Gilimanuk called Pondok Wisata Lestari, tel: +62 365 61504.
Not permitted inside the national park, but there is a basic campsite at the park headquarters in Cekik. Facilities are limited but do include passable toilets and bathrooms. Bring your own camping gear. A small donation to the helpful (and underpaid) park staff is in order.
Nothing available inside the national park.
Bring plenty of water with you as you will dehydrate quickly.
If you are exploring the park via a base in the north west (Pemuteran or Lovina) then you may wish to continue your journey around Bali to the south and west via Gilimanuk. The reverse is of course also the case.