This park is a forest preservation area that covers about 25,000 hectares of the north coast of East Java. The park offers some great scenery and has organised safari activities. Safari is a much misused term in Asian travel circles but in this case it is appropriate – there is something very African about the savannah grasslands of Baluran. Of the three large national parks in East Java, this is the easiest reached and by far the easiest to travel around.
The value and unique nature of Baluran was first recorded in 1928 by Dutch botanist AH Loedeboer. Official national park status was granted in 1984 since which time the tourism potential of the park has slowly been realised.
The dominant feature of the park is 1,247 m high Mount Baluran, a dormant volcano. The park is mostly savannah grass and acacia scrub inland and monsoon forest with mangroves on the coast. 15 km from the main entrance there is beautiful white sand beach called Bama Beach with fringing mangroves and a healthy offshore coral reef. Some 40 km of the north coast of Java are within the boundaries of the park and include some areas with excellent, healthy coral reefs close to shore
Flora and Fauna
Mammals present include leopard cat, wild pig, Java rusa deer, three species of monkeys and the endangered java banteng (buffalo).
Birdlife is diverse despite enormous trapping pressures for the cagebird trade before the national park was formed. Some poaching still occurs.
Aside from Madura, this is the driest corner of Java and from April to October it is very dry. The best time to visit is the latter half of the dry season (June to October) when the grazing animals are at their most visible as they congegate the well known waterholes. Outside of the dry season, the weather is very much like the rest of Java. It rains especially heavily in January and Febuary and during those months many areas of the park will be impassable due to flooding.
National Park Office
Baluran National Park Office : Jl.Jenderal A Yani No : 108, Banyuwangi
The nearest proper town to the park is Wonorejo on the north coast road between Banyuwangi and Probolinggo. The park entrance is no more than 30 minutes from the Banyuwangi ferry terminal by car or bus (take a Wonorejo-bound bus).
Fee / permit
The entrance fee is Rp 150,000 during the week, 225,000 during the week-end and holiday per person payble at the park office on the main road near Wonorejo
This is a large area with a lot of access roads leading through the park. Therefore if you are travelling independently, a hire car is a good idea. Visitors arrive here having driven from Surabaya, Malang, Banyuwangi, and Bali – all very feasible.
Ojeks will take you from the main park office/entrance area and from Bekol to Bama Beach.
- Bekol Savannah, (12 km inside the park. Ask for free map from the main park office). This is the main viewing point for the herds that gather to drink at the water hole. You really will believe you are in Africa here gazing across dry savannah against the backdrop of Mount Baluran. There is a also a tower which allows panoramic views of the whole area.
- Bama Beach, (3 km from Bekol). Nice white sand beach with good live coral close offshore. Decent snorkelling spot. There is some basic accommodation here. There are usually ojek riders waiting at Bekol to ferry visitors across the Bama Beach
- Climb Mount Baluran. Not a high peak by Javanese standards but the views from the top are excellent in all directions including across the ocean to Madura. You can see Bali on a clear day.
Eat and Drink
There are simple shops selling drinks at both Bekol and Bama. Bring in your own food with you. If you are camping or staying at the simple lodges, you can stock up with food in Banyuwangi (recommended) or at the simple stores in Wonorejo.
There is limited, if at all, mobile phone coverage so be prepared to stay disconnected. After all, your main purpose of visit would be to enjoy the wilderness.