This national park in the extreme south-western tip of Java on the Sunda shelf includes the Ujung Kulon peninsula and several offshore islands and encompasses the natural reserve of Krakatoa and Panaitan Island. It is Indonesia's first national park and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 for containing the largest remaining lowland rain forest in Java. It is the most protected national park in Indonesia. In addition to its natural beauty and geological interest – particularly for the study of inland volcanoes – it contains the largest remaining area of lowland rain forests in the Java plain. As a tropical jungle, it is not a forest similar to the pine forests in Northern Europe or North America, and it is a refuge for rhinos, which usually remain hidden from human beings. You can explore the national park with your tour operator, but unless you are a registered researcher, you are forbidden from making new trails.
The mainland part of Ujung Kulon was formerly farmland until it was devastated and depopulated by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa after which it returned to its original forested state.
Flora and fauna
The most precious of all the animals in the parks is the Java one-horned rhinoceros, the rarest large animal on earth. It the only remaining home of the critically endangered Javan Rhinoceros. A population of fifty to sixty live in Ujung Kulon. A smaller population lived in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam, but the last remaining member of this population, and its entire subspecies, died last year at the hands of poachers.
Once found across much of south east Asia, the first accounts of the Java rhino date back to China’s T’ang dynasty (A.D. 618-906) when Java was noted as a source for rhino horns. In Java during the 1700’s rhinos were so numerous and damaging to the agricultural plantations that the government paid a bounty for every rhino killed, bagging five hundred within two years.
Ujung Kulon’s rhino population is now estimated at around fifty individuals and they were believed to be the last remaining Javan rhino in the world until a small population was recently discovered in Vietnam. However, the Vietnamese subspecies, Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus, is now known to be extinct, so Ujung Kulon remains the last home of this magnificent Perissodactyl. In appearance the Javan rhino is closest to the Indian rhino, both having a single-horn and skin folds or plates but there are distinct differences between their neck plates and skin textures.
The Javan rhino also has a long prehensile upper lip which extends below the lower allowing it to grasp foliage. The body shape of the Javan rhino is designed to push aside the undergrowth and only the male Javan rhino has a prominent horn while the female has a lump similar to a halved coconut. Earlier this century Javan rhinos were measures as being over 170 cm. At the shoulders, more than 3 metres in length and 2,200 kg. In body weight but a recent photographic survey indicates that the largest rhino in Ujung Kulon may be around 150 cm. in height. Rhinos range over a maximum distance of 15 to 20 kilometres a day in the densely forested lowlands of the Ujung Kulon Peninsula and to the east of its isthmus.
They are most mobile at nights, like wallowing in mud pools and sometimes venture onto beaches and grazing grounds. Although actual sightings of rhinos are rare, their prints and droppings are often found on the trails, sometimes unnervingly fresh. Javan rhinos are believed to be capable of running as fast as a person and so advice to visitors, should they happen to come across one, is to climb the nearest tree and take a photo - in that order.
Lowland tropical rainforest.
The easiest way to get in is by purchase a tour from a resort in Anyer. The price will be around Rp 1.5 million-3 million depending on the length of stay. The price goes down if the number of the people joining the tour increases. It takes around 3-4 hours from Anyer to Peucang Island where the accommodation and national park office are situated.
The cheapest way to get here is by public transport. The journey can start from Kalideres bus station in the West Jakarta. The bus is green heading in the direction of Labuan. The cost is around Rp 25,000 one way. It takes 3 hours to arrive in Labuan from Kalideres bus station. From Labuan, the journey will continue to Sumur or directly to Taman Jaya the last point before Ujung Kulon National Park. In Labuan, a lot of touts telling you there is no bus to Sumur or Taman Jaya. They offer ojek (motorcyle transport) for the transport and off course more expensive than the bus. There are buses to Sumur every hour, but only one bus go directly to Taman Jaya every day. The bus to Taman Jaya leaves at noon around 12.00 AM, so it is better to leave Kalideres in the morning around 7.00 or 8.00 AM. The bus to Taman Jaya is not parking in the bus station. It usually park outside the bus station around 20 meters on the left side of the bus station. The bus will leave after full with the passengers. The bus fee to Sumur is Rupiah 25000 (USD 2.8) and to Taman Jaya Rp 40000 (USD 4.5). It will not easy drive. Most the road along 98 km is in bad condition. The journey to Sumur takes 3 hours and to Taman Jaya 4 hours. If you cannot manage go to Taman jaya, the trips suppose to be continued by Ojek from Sumur. The cost will around Rp 30000-40000 (USD 3.5-4.5) depend on negotiation.
Actually, there are also options to get a tour in Sumur and Labuan, but most of the local budget traveler will be heading to Taman Jaya to get the cheapest option to travel to the Ujung Kulon National Park. In Taman Jaya, there is a famous local people even in Sumur and Labuan named Pak Komar. He organizes transport (boat) and trip to Ujung Kulon. The price for the boat is Rp 1000,000 (USD 105) for one way. It is better to organize a trip here. Take a trip for 3-4 days with boat in Ujung Kulon. If you are lucky to have more than 10 persons,the price will not higher than Rupiah 1000,000 (USD 105) for 3-4 days trip. The price will include guide, food (local offcourse), park entry fee, accommodation in Peucang Island and boat. There is also organized jungle trekking from Taman Jaya to Ujung Kulon for 4 days to 1 week. All the price are negotiable and cheaper.
Mostly the visitor working on the permit In Peucang Island. it's about Rp.25.000 per person just to enter the Park. there is also extra fees if you are planning to roam the Lowland forest and areas which also includes insurances.
Get around in the park is mostly done with a help of a ranger or tour guide. The local ranger and tour guide know where to camp and where to find water. You can walk along the coastline with a breathtaking view and attractions, starting from Taman Jaya village to Tanjung Layar in 2 or 3 days. A guide or ranger is a must.
To save time, walking along the coastline from Taman Jaya to Cidaon/Cidaun is discouraged for ordinary tourists, except for flora enthusiasts. The coast has no sandy beach and only a thin layer of mangroves, but in the night, there are many fluorescent mushrooms with very dim light. However, as general practice walking in the forest at night is not wise; it should be done only at daytime, except for those who know the trails well and usually do night trekking. Most visitors will prefer to head directly to Peucang Island by boat. Peucang Island is good for sunbathing.
10 to 20 years ago, most of the tourists were serious tourists who loved fauna and flora, but today with many tour operators, most tourists are not big flora and fauna aficionados, so they usually they spend their time at Peucang Island, see banteng at Cidaon and go back to Peucang Island. Some tourists who have enough stamina go to Cigenter to see the high, powerful waves of the Indian Ocean and go back on the same day to see banteng at Cidaon. Cidaon to Cigenter and back requires 4 to 6 hours, depending on foot speed.
From Cidaon to the light house at the tip of Ujung Kulon is relatively easy trail with mostly without shade and need about one and half hour. The best moment at the light house is when the lamp of the light house is on. Although see the lamp from a distance not more than a meter, it is not starring the eyes, because the lenses in front of the thousands watts lamp make the light disperse. Go back to Cidaon at night is also relatively safe beyond starry sky, if there are no clouds.
The Cigenter to Karang Ranjang trail along the Indian Ocean is not for ordinary tourists, although it is a great trek for nature lovers and maybe the best part of Ujung Kulon. Start early in the morning from Cigenter to Karang Ranjang and then to Taman Jaya for a total of 20 kilometers: This trek requires 8 to 12 hours, and there is almost no shade at all. Some forest rangers claim that the trail can be finished in 5 to 6 hours, but don't try to rush, because the trail has different gradations of sand from loose to grainy. Loose sand can bury half of your boots, making it difficult to keep moving, so you should frequently open your boots and remove the sand, as volcanic sand can be sharp. The easiest part of the trail is flat bedrock.
There are no roads in Ujung Kulon. You can either walk or get on a boat.
You can see a Banteng (Bos javanicus) and Peacock in Cidaon Meadow. Monkeys, Timor Deer, and wild boar in Peucang Island. It is easier to see Banteng in the afternoon rather in the morning, because they stay longer in the meadow. Banteng can be seen from the viewing tower or from the rim of the meadows below the viewing tower. But to close to Banteng it is very difficult to spot them because they have very sensitive noses and always hide in the bushes when they smell people within 30 metres. Peacocks cannot be seen in the middle of the meadow, but frequently fly or walk in the rim of the meadow near the forest far from viewing tower. A camera with superzoom is necessary to have a better chance at good photos.
The Javan Rhino is a rare sight but most of the prints and feces of the animal are on the south beach.
Tanjung Layar is a historical site with 2 ruined lighthouses that were made by the Dutch and the Portuguese and one new one (see below). An abandoned Dutch prison is also located here; the prison walls are still standing but the roof and doors are missing. A great view of Tanjung Layar can be seen from the new lighthouse. Ask permission from the lighthouse guard before you try to enter and ascend to the top.
- Canoeing. Canoeing at Cigenter River where usually one horn Jave Rhino seen is an interesting experience, but the rhino is hardly to see. The rhino is easier to see on dry season from April to October. You can see also some snakes hanging on the tree and swamp crocodile. You will be guided by the ranger on your canoeing journey. It takes around 45 to 1 hour exploring the river by canoe.
- Snorkeling and Diving. There are some spots for the snorkeling and diving but don't expect much because most of the reef is damage.
- Jungle Trekking. If you want to have jungle trekking, it is better to arrange it from Taman Jaya. Pak Komar, the owner of Sunda Guesthouse can arrange it for you depend on how long you will explore the jungle. The jungle trekking will start from Taman jaya and end up at Peucang Island (crossing by boat from mainland to Peucang Island. The price includes the guide and food.
It is not much choice here. There is only one restaurant belonging to the park at Peucang Island. The group tours usually bring their own cook.
Camping can be done anywhere in the park. In Citandahan River and Cikeusik Luhur River there are some crocodiles.
Ujung Kulon is still considered as an endemic malarial area. Consuming malaria pills before and while exploring the park is advisable; consult your doctor at least a couple of weeks before your trip for more specific advice.
Leeches are very very rare, but mosquitos are very abundant. Mosquito repellent is a must to avoid mosquitos and also to avoid sting of Banteng flies, which suck the blood painfully.
It has been reported that there have been some muggings in remote areas of the park. Make sure that you are accompanied by a jagawana (forest guard) before exploring deep into the jungle. Use only a boat with at least three engines to sail in open ocean because of the high waves and hard current, and do not visit the park in the very windy west monsoon season (December to February), because some trails are under water and impassible.