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Indonesia’s two-thirds of Borneo Island, Kalimantan, is not for the casual traveler on a budget with a short time frame. Its vastness, relatively few English-speakers and lack of infrastructure make getting from Point A to Point B a hassle that will try even the most patient spirit. That said, if you are the type who savors adventure, traveling by public ferries and small canoes through vast rivers and small channels in order to catch a glimpse of a wild rainforest critter or a tattooed Dayak tribesman with long earlobes living the way his ancestors have for hundreds of years, this is the place for you. East Kalimantan’s Mahakam River is the ...

Indonesia’s two-thirds of Borneo Island, Kalimantan, is not for the casual traveler on a budget with a short time frame. Its vastness, relatively few English-speakers and lack of infrastructure make getting from Point A to Point B a hassle that will try even the most patient spirit. That said, if you are the type who savors adventure, traveling by public ferries and small canoes through vast rivers and small channels in order to catch a glimpse of a wild rainforest critter or a tattooed Dayak tribesman with long earlobes living the way his ancestors have for hundreds of years, this is the place for you. East Kalimantan’s Mahakam River is the easiest (loosely speaking) place to visit traditional Dayak villages, some still populated with longhouses where extended families reside. Central Kalimantan’s Tanjung Puting National Park, with its orangutans and peat swamp forests teeming with exotic birds and creatures, is well known internationally. Least known is West Kalimantan, whose Dayak villages are not as frequently visited by foreigners. An expert’s advice? Arrange all expeditions within Kalimantan through an experienced local tour operator. Choose one area and explore it thoroughly. Next time choose another.

Linda Hoffman
About the Expert

Linda Hoffman is a contributing editor for five Periplus guides, including Bali (two editions), Papua, Java, Nusa Tenggara, and eight editions of Insight Guides Indonesia and the Indonesia section of their Southeast Asia guidebook.

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Linda Hoffman for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Indonesian portion of Borneo, north of Java Island
  • Language: Indonesian, Banjar, Malay
  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Dry season (April – October)