Danau Sentarum National Park represents lake wetland, freshwater swamp forest, and tropical rain forest ecosystems.
Danau (Lake) Sentarum, a seasonal lake, is located in part of the Kapuas River Basin, about 700 km from the estuary that flows into the South China Sea. Surrounded by hills and highland, Lake Sentarum forms an important water catchment area, and at the same time regulates the water flow through the Kapuas watershed. All the areas downstream are therefore highly dependent on the fluctuating water level of the lake.
Like other areas of West Kalimantan, this Park has some peculiar and endemic species of plant, including tengkawang (Shorea beccariana). Lowland forest plants like jelutung (Dyera costulata), ramin (Gonystylus bancanus), meranti (Shoreaspp.), keruing (Dipterocarpus spp.), and kayu ulin (Eusideroxylon zwageri) can also be found.
Danau Sentarum National Park has a variety of fish speciesit is estimated that there are about 120 species. Among them are the Asian bony tongue (Scleropages formosus), belida (Notopterus chitala), toman (Channa micropeltes), betutu (Oxyeleotris marmorata), jelawat (Leptobarbus hoeveni), ketutung (Balantiocheilos melanopterus), and the beautiful clown loach (Botia macracanthus).
Other animals like proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), orangutan (Pongo satyrus), estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), false gavial (Tomistoma schlegelii), siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), great argus (Argusianus argus grayi), and wooly-necked stork (Ciconia episcopus stormi) also inhabit the Park.
The drainage system from this freshwater lake and flooded forest makes Lake Sentarum quite distinct from other lakes. Its reddish-black water is a result of the tannin from the surrounding peat swamp forest. In the rainy season, the depth of the lake may reach 6-8 metres, flooding the surrounding areas and forest. During the dry season, when the level of the Kapuas river gradually drops, water from Lake Sentarum flows into Kapuas to restore the water deficit and keep the water level of the river relatively stable. Eventually, when the dry season reaches its climax, Lake Sentarum and the surrounding areas become a vast stretch of dry land, the fish from the lake inhabiting small, scattered ponds.
Danau Sentarum National Park has been declared an International Wetland Site under the Ramsar Convention in 1992.
The local people around Danau Sentarum National Park belong to the Dayak tribes like the Iban, Sebaruk, Sontas, Punan and they still live in a very traditional way. The characteristic longhouses (betang) vary in size according to the number of people occupying them. This could be between five and 30 families. A typical longhouse occupied by fifteen to thirty families would have an average length of 186 metres and a width of 6 metres. The local way of life is fascinating for tourists; the atmosphere of the betang is harmonious, simple, and friendly, and visitors will usually be treated to a traditional Dayak dance.
Interesting locations and attractions:
Bukit Lanjak and Nanga Kenelang: views over the lake, boating on the lake, and watching birds.
Bukit Tekenang: research facilities, including a laboratory.
- Pontianak – Sintang-Semitau by four wheel drive, 11 hours;
- Sintang – Semitau by longboat, 7 hours.
- From Semitau to the Park by public boat heading for Lanjak.
- Pontianak – Putussibau by plane, about 2 hours;
- From Putussibau to Nanga Suhaid by longboat, about 7 hours.
Best time of year to visit: June to September
Temperature: 26° – 30° C
Rainfall: 1,200 – 1,500 mm/year
Altitude: 37 – 40 m asl.
Geographical location: 111°56′ – 112°25′ E; 0°39′ – 1°00′ N
Source: The Ministry of Forestry, Republic Indonesia