West Bali National Park
West Bali National Park is the only national park on the island of Bali in Indonesia, with almost 200,000 acres of arid forests and mangrove swamps, Bali Barat (West Bali) National Park is a valuable natural treasure. The park is home to several very rare species; foremost is the Bali starling, the island’s mascot. Also known as Rothschild’s mynah, this soft, white bird has a blue band around its eyes; the world’s last 50 or so of these winged creatures are here, and an on-site breeding program is trying to save the species. Less rare but still of interest are several species of deer including the mouse deer and the barking deer and several types of monkeys, leopards, and civets.
Lush forests still grow on Bali’s southern and western slopes. West Bali National Park (covers 50,000 hectare on the western tip of the island. It also includes another 7,000 hectares of coral reef and coastal water. Considering in the small size of the island as a whole, the National Park is a major commitment towards attempting to preserve the wildlife found on Bali. The forest in this area has been determined as ” Nature Park” – later on known as Taman Perlindungan Alam Bali – based on the decision of ” Raja-Raja di Bali” (Kings in Bali) dated 13th August 1917 noE-1/4/5. This regulation is intended to preserve the flora and fauna in this area.
The region is watered by clear streams and traversed by footpaths, which offer often steep but relatively easy walking. Explore the forested hills, scrub acacia near the coast, and the unspoiled reefs and dense mangrove swamps along Teluk Terima and the bays to the East.
The area of Taman Nasional Bali Barat (West Bali National Park) situated at the Edge of north Bali Island is the stretch of green ground along the 150 km road that link Gilimanuk and Denpasar or Gilimanuk and Singaraja. It is located between district of Gerokgak in Buleleng regency and district of Melaya in Jembrana regency. It is reachable from Gilimanuk as the main entrance to West Bali, and from Denpasar. This 77,000-hectare park was established in 1941.
FLORA & FAUNA
One hundred and sixty species of bird have been recorded in the park, including the near extinct Bali Starling, Bali’s only endemic vertebrate species, and a key reason why this national park was created in the first place. By 2001, as few as six individuals were thought to survive in the wild, all of them in this park. Since then captive breeding and re-introduction efforts have continued apace, but poaching pressures are a large problem. With that in mind, a seconf re-introduction program was started in remote regions of Nusa Penida in 2004. Keen birdwatchers can find a checklist of likely species and their status here
Mammals found inside the park include Banteng, a species of wild cattle from which the familiar Bali cows are descended. Java Rusa and Indian Muntjac deer are quite widespread, and Menjangan Island is in fact named after these (Menjangan means deer in Bahasa Indonesia). Wild Boar and Leopard Cats are both quite common but seldom encoutered.
A Bali Tiger (a full sub-species of Tiger) was shot here in 1937, and despite rumours to the contrary, that is the last ever confirmed sighting of an animal considered extinct since that moment.
Not noticeably different from the rest of Bali or eastern Java, but it may feel a little hotter and drier in the dry season here than in southern parts of Bali. Bali is always warm, humid and tropical, remaining around 30-35°C (85-95°F) all year round. The April-October dry season and November-March rainy seasons are only relative, with plenty of rainfall around the year, but the Balinese winter is cloudier, more humid and with a higher chance of thunderstorms.
Most visitors to the park arrive along the north coast road from Lovina (about 90 minutes) or Pemuteran (about 15 minutes). Others come from the south via Gilimanuk (about 15 minutes).
All visitors should check in at one of the two park offices (PHPA) for information, and to purchase permits and arrange guides. The headquarters is at the village of Cekik just south of the Gilimanuk in the west. The other is at Labuan Lalang on the north coast from where boats to Menjangan Island depart. The main ranger station is on the road between the two offices at Sumber Klampok. The park staff are welcoming, helpful and will arrange guided tours for you.
Only a small percentage of the total area of the park is open to visitors, and this rule must be respected. There are two key ways to explore the park: either hiking the trails or concentrating on marine aspects. Walking the trails must be done with an official guide from one of the national park offices (most normally the one at Cekik). Boat trips to Menjangan and around Gilimanuk Bay can be organised in advance (ask at your hotel), or by charter on the day you arrive.
Permits and obligatory guides are available at the park headquarters at Cekik and the office at Labuhan Lalang. The official permit charge is Rp 25,000 per person. The cost of a guide is negotiable. Use your common sense and do not be tight. A sensible range would be about Rp 50,000 to 100,000 for a half to full day.
ATTRACTIONS & ACTIVITIES
The official park trails should be explored with a guide recommended by the national park ofice. This is actually a rule but it is sometimes ‘quietly’ ignored. Please do not do this nor encourage the practice, despite the very irresponsible advice given in some printed travel guides to do so. If you are unwilling to pay reasonable guide fees, then do not come here.
The Tegal Blunder Trail is most popular with birdwatchers, and it is an easy two hour walk. The ranger checkpoint is at the village of Slumber Klampok about 20 minutes west of Cekik. From the same checkpoint you can take the more strenuous Gunung Klatakan Trail to the south east. This is tougher walking for about five hours, but it takes you through some memorable rainforest. There are other trails and opportunities for interesting hikes, but these are the two most popular and the easiest. Ask guides about other opportunities at the time, particularly those involving hiking deeper into the Prapat Agung Peninsula.
The uninhabited Menjangan Island is a must-do for any visitor to Bali interested in marine life, snorkelling or diving. Boats leave from the beach at Labuan Lalang at the northern edge of Teluk Terima bay, and can chartered on the day. Groups of tourists often club together at Labuan Lalang in the mornings for that very purpose. Any boat charter must be accompanied by a guide, and you must purchase a permit (Rp 25,000 per person) from the national park office in the main Labuhan Lalang car park. Many of Bali’s dive operators based in the southern tourist regions offer dive excursions specifically to Menjangan. The snorkelling here is probably the best on Bali with good clear water and calm seas.
There is a notable temple on Menjangan called Puri Gili Kencana which is certainly worth a visit. You can walk around the whole of Menjangan in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you take it slower though there is plenty of natural coastal beauty to absorb.
Gilimanuk Bay snakes into the south western tip of the Prapat Agung peninsula, and the park office can arrange a guided boat trip for you in a traditional outrigger. Expect to pay about Rp 300,000 per hour including guide fees. The bay is quiet and supports a rich diverstity of marine life. There are some notable areas of mangrove forest fringing the bay, and these act as a natural nursery for the diverse fish life in the area.
Aside from the Waka Shorea luxury resort there is nowhere to eat inside the national park, so bring food in with you. If you arrive along the north coast road, there are lots of hawker stalls at Labuhan Lalang. If coming from Gilimanuk there are many restaurants, small shops and hawker stands in the town, and around the national park headquarters at Cekik.
There is one official high end resort inside the boundaries of the national park on the Prapat Agung peninsula. There is no other accommodation inside the park. Visitors on a lower budget day trip the park from Gilimanuk, Pemuteran or Lovina where there are ranges of accommodation to suit all budgets.
Not permitted inside the national park, but there is a basic campsite at the park headquarters in Cekik. Facilities are limited but do include passable toilets and bathrooms. Bring your own camping gear. A small donation to the helpful (and underpaid) park staff is in order.
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