07-14 May 2010

By Dave F. and Paul C. (MAF Pilots, Tarakan, East Kalimantan)


Day 1:

  • MAF flight from Tarakan to Long Alango (50 minutes)
  • 30 minute hike along a path upriver past various large rapids
  • Ketinting ride approximately 2 hours upriver to Apau Ping.  Various small rapids, ancient burial grounds with large stones.  Beautiful and relaxing! 


  • (….)
  • 1st Night: Pondok Ekowisata (Long Tua). Nice rustic “cabin” with several small sleeping rooms, complete with thin mattresses. Large open porch area with benches and tables to relax while enjoying the evening.  Fresh water and outhouse. 


Additional notes:  Plan to get to Long Tua by mid afternoon at the latest, so you can enjoy the nearby grasslands in the early evening.  Around 5:00pm a short, 15 minute walk takes you to the gorgeous grasslands with opportunities to see, among other things, the famous wild banteng (wild cattle) grazing on the slopes.  We saw several Banteng, many beautiful birds, a deer, a monkey and many flowers and insects.  The sunset was also amazing and the breeze very refreshing.  It would be nice to spend several days here.


Day 2:

  • Start about 7:30 am by hiking back to and then through the grasslands. Moderatly steep hills to climb up and down in the grasslands, but within 45 minutes, back in the jungle.  Seems to be lots of wildlife in the grasslands early in the morning.
  • The next +/- 1 ¼ hours has you criss-crossing a small stream in jungle, with slight elevation changes up and down. 
  • Then a steep, continuous climb for more than an hour (probably the most strenuous, continuous climb of the entire hike—but still manageable even if not in top shape.)
  • (…..)
  • 2nd Night: Arrival at Mangau Apui late afternoon. This camp sight is located at the intersection of a small creek and a little mountain river. 

Day 3:

  • Started about 8:15 am. Initially a very steep, but short ascent up to the top of a ridgeline and several hours of hiking mostly along ridgelines – fairly easy and enjoyable.
  • Sungai (River) Mangau – a gorgeous, small jungle river that definitely fits the “deep in the heart of Borneo” look.
  • Several times we encountered fruit trees in this area with amazingly delicious fruit of various kinds. Apparently there used to be some small villages here until the ‘70’s. This was a fascinating section of trail.


  • 3rd Night: Found a place alongside the Mangau river and set up camp in a pouring rain.  Very much enjoyed dinner—roasted pork and rice, with fresh pakis (stems of a fern that grow along rivers) and wild mushrooms fried in pork fat. 

Day 4:

  • Started about 8:15 again. Generally a fairly easy day of walking, with larger trees and less undergrowth.  Many small streams.  (….) We spotted large groups of gibbons, numerous deer, and several packs of pigs, as well as hornbills, larger Payau (large deer) and other monkeys. 
  • (…..)
  • Throughout the afternoon the hiking continued to be similar—ups and downs, but generally nothing to strenuous, steep or continuous. More mature jungle, with larger trees and less undergrowth.  Lots of animals!
  • 4th Night: camped by a very small creek at the bottom of a fairly tight ravine.  Saw numerous hornbills, several noisy packs of monkeys, and a few deer. 


Day 5: 

  • Got a bit of a late start due to heavy rains all night
  • Very old forest. HUGE trees all over the place, standing and fallen.  Very Jurassic Park feeling.  Several gorgeous cascading mountain streams, one with a small cave underneath.  Relatively easy hiking and very scenic in this area.
  • Around noon we passed a large overhanging slab of rock where people have traditionally camped when doing the long journey to/from Malaysia.
  • Most of the afternoon involved a slow and steady ascent towards the top of the saddle that separates the Bahau Hulu area from the Krayan Hulu area of northeast Kalimantan.
  • (…..)
  • 5th Night: We chose to camp near the top of the saddle, by a very small mountain creek, right in the middle of the cloud forest.  Every living and non living thing was covered in thick moss.  It was a cold and damp evening, with much difficulty making a fire.  Still, it was a unique experience that we were very thankful to have.


Day 6:

  • Started about 8:30 am, gentle hiking through the saddle, in the cloud forest, before beginning a gentle descent into the Krayan Hulu region.
  • (…..)
  • Mostly a continuous (very slippery and muddy due to all the rain) descent throughout the morning with occasional climbs over spine ridges on our way down into the Pa Bulu river valley.
  • Approaching the river valley, there are several areas riddled with huge rocks and boulders, all covered with moss and very slippery. An intriguing area, but definitely a place to exercise caution when walking.  
  • (…..)
  • The next few hours were easy hiking, mostly flat to gently down-slope, through wet, swampy jungle alongside the Pa Bulu River. Once again, the look and feel of this part of the jungle was unique to the rest of the hike, and we found it very interesting.


6th and 7th nights: Additional night in the forest as, due to very heavy rains, the people from Pa’ Upan could not pick us up at the campsite that afternoon. They met us the next day, but we had to camp two nights in a row at the same site because of heavy rains.


Day 8:

  • Packed up camp and started down river about 8:oo am.
  • The downriver journey in the motorized canoes was very exciting…and wet!
  • We arrived in PaUpan about 10:30 am that morning and were picked up by MAF in teh afternoon.






We thoroughly enjoyed this hike, as it offered an opportunity to experience a wide variety of flora and fauna.  Each day dealt up a new and unique experience and scenery.  We saw many different animals each day, and the forest varied greatly with altitude and region. 


Although this trek was very remote and ventured through deep jungle, we appreciated the fact that there was a good level of “certainty” as to the outcome of our trek. It would be wise for anyone planning to do this trek to allow a minimum of at least one to two extra days beyond what is needed, for unexpected events like high/low water, possible injuries, etc.  A good measure of the success and level of enjoyment of a trek is whether or not a person would consider doing it again.  Not only would I highly recommend this trek, but would be thrilled if the opportunity were presented to do it again myself.  It was certainly an experience I’ll never forget!