Balikpapan is the second largest city in East Kalimantan, a province in Indonesia bordering Sarawak in Malaysia. The coastal city is situated on the east coast of Borneo and is mostly known for its palm oil, coal mining and oil refineries.
Balikpapan is a little off the beaten and track for most tourists. Whilst it’s not your everyday tourist destination, there are quite a few things to do and see around Balikpapan, including a Borneo rainforest walk.
Volunteering with orangutans
I was there as a volunteer at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan and Sun Bear Sanctuary, just outside the village of Samboja. Volunteering is a unique way to holiday as aside from working with these beautiful but sadly endangered animals, we also had the opportunity to see what else the surrounds had to offer.
One of our extra-orangutan curricular activities was a walk in the tropical Bangkirai Hill Borneo Rainforest. The forest is not far from Samboja, and 58km from Balikpapan.
For the other volunteers who were not from Queensland (or similar sub-tropical and tropical regions) a walk in this Borneo rainforest was an opportunity to experience the tropics in all its splendour (and leeches).
Borneo rainforest walk
Close to the renowned Canopy Bridge Walk was the start of many forest treks.
We paid our entrance fee and took a local guide to accompany our group of 12 volunteers.
Off we set.
Light rain rapidly turned into a heavy tropical and steamy downpour, typical of a Borneo rainforest.
Thank God for the $3 poncho I had stuffed into my non-waterproof daypack. It turned out to be a life saver.
Our Borneo rainforest walk wasn’t so much of a walk but a jungle scramble, up and over large wide fallen tree trunks.
We constantly fell over trip hazard vines that grabbed your shoe or ankles.
Wait-a-while tendrils held onto our soaked clothing, many times ripping my protective poncho armour.
Fear of leeches
Once the rain stopped everyone breathed a sigh of relief, but the humidity heightened.
I have a morbid fear of leeches. I refuse to have anything share my blood. No one hops on me for a free ride, if I can help it.
Our guide simply could not understand why I refused to take my poncho off after the rain.
The fear of something grabbing or attaching itself to me in the dense undulating thicket was enough to make me sweat litres under that poncho. And I wasn’t about to take it off for anyone!
I knew about opportunistic acrobatic leeches leaping off leaves onto unsuspecting trampers. I wasn’t about to become a victim.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo Rainforest Adventure Walk - Borneo Kalimantan.