Kerinci Seblat National Park
One of the largest National Parks in Indonesia, the park protects almost 14000 sq kilometres of tropical rain forests in the Barisan mountain range and its foothills in central western Sumatra from lowland forests through to the peak of Mt Kerinci at 3805m. Unfortunately, as in many national parks, illegal forest conversion and poaching remains a problem in some areas. The national park is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site as part of the Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra.
The national park was formed from a collection of watershed protection forests (hutan lindung) and nature reserves
The park is dominated by the Barisan mountains and scenery in many areas is very spectacular with many active and dormant volcanos, including Mount Kerinci, at 3805m the highest mountain in Sumatra and Indonesia's largest active volcano. The national park forests protect the headwaters of some of Sumatra's most important rivers which flow from springs and peat swamps like Ladeh Panjang (Kerinci district) and Danau Kebut (Merangin district) high in the mountains and many lakes and wetlands. The Great Sumatra Fault runs through the centre of the national park and forms the densely populated Kerinci valley, which lies in the middle of and is surrounded by national park forests
Flora and fauna
Kerinci is most famous amongst bird-watchers as the best place to see most of the highland Sumatran endemic bird species including the Schneiders Pitta and Sumatran Cochoa, both considered extinct for much of the 20th century and more tha 370 species of bird have been recorded to date. The national park is also the most important location in Sumatra for wild Sumatran Tiger and one of the 12 most important tiger reserves in the world. Other fauna includes elephants (best seen in national park forests in Bengkulu), clouded leopards, tapirs, bears, at least seven species of primate while forest edge farmers continue to report occasional sightings of the mysterious orangpendek, a large, bipedal primate resembling an orangutan (which are not recorded in Kerinci Seblat). The national park also houses the biggest and the tallest flowers in the world, the monstrous, flesh red flower of the parasite Rafflesia arnoldi which can grow up to a metre in diameter and is best searched for in Bengkulu area of the park and huge Amorphophallus titanum and Amorphophallus gigas which can grow up to 4 metres in height.A remarkable flower at higher altitudes on Mt Kerinci and Mt Tujuh is the Javanese edelweiss Anaphalis javanica, which only grows on volcanoes. This shrub can reach more than two metres in height and is colored white-green because of its small hairs; the flowers are yellow with white
Rainfall is heaviest between October-December and from February-April while May-August is mainly dry but with some occasional rains, there are no major variations in seasonal temperature. Because much of the park is above 700m in altitude, evenings and nights tend to be cool while in the high mountains temperatures may occasionally drop as low as 5C at night.
Most visitors arrive from Padang's Minangkabau International Airport which offers quickest access for the Kerinci area of the national park (seven hours) however Bengkulu airport (domestic flights from Jakarta)is better for visits to North Bengkulu (elephants) and the Curup area of the national park (Rafflesia). There is an airstrip in Kerinci with twice-weekly flights from Jambi airport currently operated by Riau Airlines (RAL) although flight schedules are subject to change. You may want to call your hotel or homestay in advance to arrange for personal transport (you can hire a car, van, or bus) for your trip, however there are good 'Travel' minibus and Share Taxi services from Padang and Jambi and Bengkulu to district capitals which border the park. Padang to Kerinci (Sungaipenuh) or Bangko (Merangin district) is a six-seven hour bus drive, Jambi city to Bangko five hours, Bengkulu city to Curup three hours or four hours to the elephant sanctuary at Seblat.
It is also possible to take public buses or local angkot minibuses , although the ride may be uncomfortable as public buses are often crowded, may not have space if you are carrying a bulky backpack or luggage and make frequent stops.
You should prepare or bring a photocopy of your passport, which is to be given to the authorities and to process your National Park entry permit. It is also possible to get a photocopy made at the village of Kersik Tuo at the foot of Mt Kerinci. The price for entry to the national park as of May, 2010 is 20,000 Rupiah per person, or about USD 2.2. Buy tickets at national park headquarters in Sungaipenuh Kerinci, at Kersiktua, Curup (near Bengkulu) or in Bangko.
There are frequent Travel minibus services between district capitals, usually leaving in the morning or evening while angkot minibuses serve villages to and from district capitals. Roads in some areas are poorly maintained so travelling even a relatively short distance can take time especially in the rainy season. It is possible to hire a car and driver in many of the district capitals - expect to pay about $40 a day plus petrol and driver's food - or hire a motor bike or ojek motorbike taxi.
Tea plantations at Mt Kerinci - you can tour after getting permission from the locals. Hot springs at Mt Kunyit, Talang Kemuning, Kerinci or at Semerup, Kerinci. Traditional dance ceremonies and maybe a Tiger calling ceremony by a Kerinci shaman Lake Kerinci. The view of the Kerinci valley and Lake Kerinci from Bukit Kayangan (above Sungaipenuh) The elephant sanctuary at Seblat, Bengkulu (ask permission from KSDA Bengkulu first). Remote, rarely visited traditional forest-edge villages in Jangkat and Sungai Tenang and Muara Siau areas of Merangin district. Megaliths in the Kerinci valley and at isolated Renah Kemumu village in Merangin district. Lake Gunung Tujuh - South East Asia's highest crater lake and still surrounded by pristine forests.
The national park offers superb trekking and climbing opportunities for both novices and the more experienced as well as bird and wildlife watching
Climb Mt Kerinci: the popular trek up to either Camp 2 or 3 usually takes 2 days and 1 night, including the descent, Avoid rainy season months and weekends. Climb up to Lake Gunung Tujuh - one day return or camp over night by the lake. Avoid weekends. Trek (2 days, one night) to forests of Mt Kunyit (Kerinci area) to see sulphur pits and hot springs. More adventurous forest treks for the experienced include Lempur-Sungai Ipuh (in Bengkulu) five days; Lempur to Rantau Kermas via the ancient enclave village of Renah Kemumu (4 days) or stay in forest villages in Muara Siau, Merangin like Durian Rambun or Lubuk Bira. Tiger watching- unlike India it is difficult to see wild Sumatran tigers but national park officers will advise on areas where tigers are present and suggest experienced guides.
The Muara Imat area on the Kerinci-Merangin district borders is one of the best places to hope to see wild tigers, ask at the national park offices.
The national park office has a range of t-shirts designed by young national park officers. Never buy wildlife products or wild plants!
For visits to Mt Kerinci or Mt Tujuh stay at homestays in the village of Kersik Tuo. There are reasonable hotels and inns in Sungaipenuh, Bangko and Curup which are gateways to the national park and easily reached from provincial capitals.
- Homestay Pak Subandi - Tel: (0748)357009 or 0812-74114273. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pak Subandi can arrange for a guide to bring you up the volcano, or for specialist bird watching trips. The address is Jalan Raya Muara Labuh, Desa Kersik Tua, travel minibuses from Padang will drop you off. Hotel Mahkota in Sungaipenuh, Kerinci offers higher end accomodation with a swimming pool and tennis courts.
It is more advisable to camp with a guide, as there have been rare cases of people who disappeared while attempting to climb Mt Kerinci alone and you should always do forest treks with an experienced guide and will find it more rewarding. You can ask your local accommodation to arrange for a guide for you or request advice from national park officers. The national park's tiger protection rangers can be asked to act as guides during their leave periods (25-2 of each month) A highly recommended guide is Pak Ahmad, with around 30 years of experience bringing people up Mt Kerinci, Sahar, is another excellent trekking guide in the Mt Kerinci Gunung Tujuh area. He can be contacted through Homestay Pak Subandi. The homestays also provide equipment rental, and your guide, or porters if you choose to hire any, will bring his own (basic) equipment and tent.
The basic fee for a guide is about Rp 100,000 Rupiah per day.
It is also possible to explore the surrounding area in motorcycles, including the tea plantations. For real back country expeditions, in particular in national park edge villages in Merangin district, give yourself plenty of time. Once away from Mt Kerinci or district capitals homestays or losmen are few and far between, if staying in villages, ask the village headman to organise accomodation. Dont forget to make a contribution to your hosts
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