Monday, May 12, 2014

Sulawesi’s Tankoko Nature Reserve: Tarsiers, Black Macaques, and Cuscus’s.

The oddly shaped Sulawesi.  Tangkoko is located at the NorthEastern-most tip of this island near the city of Manado. 

I highly recommend taking an intense hike through the jungles of northern Sulawesi’s Tangkoko Nature Reserve.  This is the place to be if you want to see primates, birds and giant insects in their natural, and protected habitat.  
Sulawesi is the oddly shaped Indonesian island that straddles the equator.   The park is located in the northern tip, about a two-hour drive from the large city of Manado.  There are regular flights from other Indonesian islands, as well as Kuala Lumpur and the island’s nearby neighbour, Philippines.
One of the many tarsier's that we met in the jungle 
Treks can be arranged through the hotels which surround the park and are usually 5-8 hours starting at $20 per person, including a guide who knows the forest like the back of his own hand.  I decided to go for the shorter, five-hour hike which starts at 4:00am.  The hike must be early as it is when most animals are active.  Unfortunately it is the time when humans are inactive and it was difficult to exert that much energy so early in the morning.
A curios cuscus looks down on us.
With flashlights in hand, we walked for several kilometres through the thick tropical jungle in complete darkness.  As the sun rose we found ourselves at a tree with five tarsiers jumping from vine to vine.  It was a magical experience to see these small, avocado-sized primates in person, only one meter away! (It has been a dream of mine to see tarsiers in the wild since I was seven years old!)  The sun came up, the tarsiers went to sleep and we proceeded deeper into the jungle. 
Standing in front of Mama Roos home stay at the entrance of Tangkoko national park. 
A large group of black macaque monkeys decided to walk with us.  These monkeys are famous for taking their own photos after they stole some cameras, so they seem quite comfortable with people.  Unfortunately these primates are critically endangered as their meat is a local delicacy.  It is comforting to know that the monkeys are safe in Tangkoko, but upsetting to know that there is an exotic meat market in the nearby town of Tomohon, which itself is a main tourist attraction within the region.  Obviously, not for vegetarians…
A black macaque says "pagi!" (good morning!) to us at 5 am.  
Food in the park is AMAZING!  Hotels in the park area include 3 meals in their price per night (around $30 when I went in 2012). And the cooking is delicious, clean, full of flavour and variety.  
If you are into seeing animals in the wild and up for a 15-20 kilometre trek at 4 in the morning, Tangkoko Nature Reserve is a must see while in Indonesia.  

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