The name Balikpapan comes from an overloaded ship, which capsized near Tukung Island. A Dutch geological map of 1870 sings a small village with the name Balikpapan Bay.
Nowadays Balikpapan is East Kalimantan’s leading oil town, and crucial in Indonesia. During World War II Balikpapan was the target of many assaults, both by the Japanese and the Allied forces.
Balikpapan is the main gateway to East Kalimantan province. It has grown in importance for tourists since the opening of the International flight routes. Balikpapan town has a population of 600.000.In Balikpapan, there are 2 major sections. The first one is the old Dutch-built section of the city. The other is the newer part that as grown as a result of recent development efforts in the oil industry.
Most destinations, such as the Dayak settlements in the hinterland along the big rivers, can be reached from Samarinda. Moreover, a visit to Kalimantan does not seem complete without a visit to East Kalimantan. The forests of East Kalimantan contain a wealth of rare flora and fauna. The Black Orchid (Clogena pandurata), Nephents Amularia and Rattan vines growing in the forest up to 200 meters long. So do various species of valuable tropical hardwoods trees.
Among the animal species typical of Kalimantan, living in the forests are Orangutans, chimpanzees (Pongee pygmaeus), bekantan (Nasalis Larvatus), Mahakam fresh – water dolphins or pesut (Orcela fluminalis) and many bird varieties.
The cultural and artistic traditions of the island’s indigenous Dayak population are still preserved in this region, especially in the hinterland of East Kalimantan. When sailing up the streams near the Malaysian border, one can still meet Traditional Dayak settlements that seem to have been little touched by the modern society.
Recommended time for a visit is 1 or 2 days
Sungai Wain & Sunbear Rehabilitation with an education center
Sungai Wain is a conservation area, with swamps and mangrove forests, home to orangutans, and sun bears. The Sun bear is the mascot of Balikpapan City and is a threatened animal nowadays. The Sun bear lost about 30% of its population over the last 20 years in Borneo. The Rehabilitation Center at 28 kilometers from Balikpapan is a few hectares of forest where up to five sun bears can be rehabilitated in a natural habitat. Besides the Rehabilitation Center, there is an education center to learn more about the sun bears and their nature instincts
Interests & Things to do:
- Manggar Beach (north of Balikpapan city, is the most famous beach and relax place at Balikpapan, about 15 km from the center of the city)
- Japan Monument (Reminder of the Japanese invasion, can be found in the center of the city)
- Crocodile Farm (near Manggar Beach is a tourism object for mostly local visitors to see crocodiles and the farming system)
- Bukit Bankirai, or Bankirai National Park. Located on the way to Samarinda, orang utans, monkeys, wild orchids and another kind of tropical flora and fauna including several types of timber trees can be found here. You can spend the night in the resort of Bankirai, to experience the sounds and the jungle by night.
- Canoeing the Black River Forest for wildlife
- Sungai Wain, a small jungle area for trekking with wildlife spotting opportunities
Where to stay
- International and simple Hotels are available in Balikpapan
- Javanese, Buginese, Kutai, and Dayak Mix
Flora & Fauna
- farming, plantations, and lowland Rainforest can be found outside of Balikpapan
An overview of our trips in Kalimantan can be found here