Indonesian Kalimantan makes up two thirds of the island of Borneo. Well sheltered from wave damage and volcano-free, Kalimantan’s legendary rainforests have grown soaring trees housing a myriad of rare endemic species, including orangutans, gibbons and hornbills, as well as a long list of exotic flora. Borneo’s rivers are one of its most important features, both for wildlife and for communication’s sake. Kalimantan’s indigenous tribes, known as the Dayak, live along the banks of these waterways in longhouses and travel largely by river. The influence of outside cultures means the island has a rich cultural combination of Dayak, Malay, Javanese and Chinese.
Kalimantan is divided into four main sections. East Kalimantan is the oldest of Indonesia’s Hindu kingdoms and as such is home to ancient archaeological sites, cloaked in 80% forest threaded with the longest river here; the Mahakam. South Kalimantan has rich, fertile land split by the Meratus mountains. Central Kalimantan is the largest province, covering some 150,000 sqm, while West Kalimantan is nicknamed ‘land of the equator’ due to its capital Pontianik lying precisely on the equator, and is made up of mostly lowland plains featuring swamps, lakes, rivers and villages.
Throughout Kalimantan, visitors will find ample activities, from diving to rafting, caving, trekking, cruising and wildlife spotting. This island’s rich natural resources make it a target for exploitation, with three-quarters of its forests destroyed for mines and oil palms, but the magical wilderness of Kalimantan is well worth visiting, even if its future hangs in the balance.
WHEN TO CHARTER A YACHT: Kalimantan is best visited during the dry season between July and September, although it can be visited year round with abundant fruit bringing the orangutans into plain view between December and March.