Baluran National Park

A savannah safari in East Java

I never thought it is possible to do a safari in Southeast Asia with real Asian big animals, well, other than the one in Calauit in Palawan which are actually imported African wildlife, until we visited Baluran National Park with its extensive lowland forest and savannah which covers around 40% of its total land area. Although I know of big Asian mammals, I was with the impression that these are all forest species. But I was wrong! There is actually a real savannah in East Java, Indonesia and it has several animals that are worth seeing.

Baluran National Park is located in Situbondo Regency, East Java and covers a wide area, 25,000 hectares with Gunung Baluran, an extinct volcano it’s highest point. The national park has an extensive number of species of both flora and fauna and among the big mammals are the banteng, an Asian species of buffalo, the Indian muntjac, a kind of deer, the lutung, beautiful type of arboreal monkey, the mouse deer, a fishing cat, the Javan leopard and even a Sumatran dhole, a kind of wild dog.

We were a bit tired from the Kawah Ijen climb but after a brief lunch, we proceeded to the national park. From the main entrance, it’s still several kilometers to the main savannah observation area thus, along the way, along a rough road, one can already see interesting birds and several species of butterflies. There was a jungle fowl, a beautiful peacock with its fascinating tail but I just saw these two briefly as our bus passed.

READ MORE: Fear and loathing climbing to the crater of Kawah Ijen

There were several big animals in the savannah but because of the far distance from our observation point to where these mammals were actually grazing, it was difficult to tell other species but I think we just saw two: a herd of bantengs and Indian muntjacs. Good thing that I brought with me my supertelephoto lens but even with the around 300mm+ focal length, I was only able to take photographs enough to have a closer image. Other than that, a band of macaques were roaming near the park buildings, some were raiding the garbage cans while others, enticed with the bread the bus drivers gave, came closer.

I think to better appreciate the park and not just the savannah, exploring the low land as well as the mangrove forest should be done.

An extensive dry lowland forest at the national park

An extensive dry lowland forest at the national park

Gunung Baluran, the highest point of Baluran National Park at 1,247m elevation is an extinct volcano

Gunung Baluran, the highest point of Baluran National Park at 1,247m elevation is an extinct volcano

Indian muntjac stags and doe with a herd of bantengs

Indian muntjac stags, a doe and a herd of bantengs

A herd of Indian muntjac at the savannah

A herd of Indian muntjac at the savannah

A banteng (a kind of buffalo) skull

A banteng (a kind of buffalo) skull

A macaque with her infant scurrying around. These monkeys are a common sight in the national park.

A macaque with her infant scurrying around. These monkeys are a common sight in the national park.

Another group of Indian muntjacs

Another group of Indian muntjacs

A herd of wild bantengs, a type of Asian buffalo

A herd of wild bantengs, a type of Asian buffalo

Baluran National Park
Situbondo Regency, East Java
Indonesia

This trip made possible through the Wonderful Indonesia program of the Ministry of Tourism. Check out the official website, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But don’t forget to Like my Langyaw Media Facebook page for updates.

For stories during my WONDERFUL INDONESIA trip, click on the TRIP OF WONDERS tag.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

One Comment

  1. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    October 5, 2016 @ 12:46

    An asian #savannah #safari is possible in East Java @indtravel #TripOfWonders #WonderfulIndonesia #indonesia… https://t.co/uREArlrSFx

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