Hidden Gem in Jakarta

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August 31st 2013
Published: September 1st 2013
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It's always nice to be surprised. Heading to Jakarta's last mangrove forest my expectations were rather low which isn't always a bad thing. Before I go any further this particular blog is more for the birders and wildlife enthusiast. That's because Muara Angke Nature Preserve is a splendid little spot, but it's a bit of pain to get to for the independent traveler. From central Jakarta it takes 30-45 minutes by taxi. Most drivers will not have heard of the reserve, but here's how you say it in Indonesia, "Suaka Margasatwa Muara Angke." My Google searches didn't reveal this name, but thankfully I had an Indonesian friend to call on when our taxi driver was ready to give up. Thanks Pak Hendi! Now that I've been there I would like to share some landmarks and signage that will be ever so helpful. There a few places you can tell your taxi driver to get you in the right area. One, it is near Mall Pluit. Two, it is on Jalan Pantai Indah Utara II. This road name apparently translates to 'beatiuful beach road.' Not quite, but once you have found this road you are nearly there! Coming from the central Jakarta way you'll first see Taman Resort Mediterania positioned just off a roundabout and this is where I first saw the aforementioned road posted. Not more than three or four hundred meters down the road you'll see a brown sign posted in the median which reads Taman Suaka Marga Satwa Muara Angke. The reserve entrance is hidden in the foliage. The taxi driver will have to go down and make a U-turn so that he can come back to this sign and drop you off on the north side of the street.

There won't be anyone at this entrance. First you walk along the board walk for about 50 meters before you come to the ranger station. Now if you are with a tour your guide will have a handy little paper called a "simaksi." If you have hours and days to kill, you could even get it yourself somewhere in the wilds of inner Jakarta. If you don't have this paper or the time to get it, here's the basic Indonesian you need to get in, we'll assume you are coming in the morning. Selemat pagi (good morning). This should be given with the huge smile you usually reserve for ice cream or carnival rides. It's likely your smile will be matched if not surpassed by these lovely, smile happy Javanese. Next tell them you want to watch birds. Saya ingin menonton burung, according to Google translator. Now they will probably ask or show you the permit you need to enter the reserve. Follow up with, "Saya hanya bisa bicara Bahasa Indonesia sedikit" (I can only speak a little Indonesian). With that same million dollar smile pull out 20,000 rupiah (the green note) and offer it up. The ranger asked us to speak with someone else who we again offered the money and he promptly opened the gate and invited us in and telling us, "hati hati." This means be careful and he was referring to the boardwalk, which is in dire need of maintenance.

I didn't begin birding till 8:15, but still managed to see over 20 species of avifauna. My most notable miss was the Sunda coucal, but I had a well rounded list by 11 am highlighted for me by the Small blue kingfisher, Sunda woodpecker and a small flock Small minivets. The outrageously colored minivets were observed from the tower at the beginning of the boardwalk. This gets you a good 10 meters up at the canopy height where the minivets gave chase to reach other and foraged within 5 meters of the tower. Long-tailed macaques lounged in the trees next to us, posing for some fantastic shots. Their appeared to be two troupes, one living near the headquarters where they are likely fed and another troupe encountered at the very end of the board walk amid the mangroves. They were fantastic to watch with a few leaping from the trees into the water and swimming across to the next mangrove patch. I also had a very small, unidentified snake slither across the boardwalk. On the way out of reserve I spotted a meter long monitor lizard swimming up the canal. All in all not bad for a half day excursion to Jakarta's greenest of gems. Full photography credits to my lovely wife.

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7th September 2013

Hi from Mom
Love the beautiful pictures and your blog. I almost feel like I am there.

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