The ultimate guide to Borneo adventure; Exploring the Kapuas River
If you are an adventure enthusiast, exploring the Kapuas River, the longest river in Indonesia, is absolutely a great Borneo adventure that you should do.
What will you get from exploring Kapuas River?
The 1.140km Kapuas River is a Highway into the hinterland, brings you to the Dayak Tribes, where you can explore the ecological wealth and traditional cultural treasures that survived deep throughout the years in the rainforest jungle of Borneo as Indonesia ’s largest island.
Exploring Sungai Kapuas meaning, you will also have opportunity to witness the wild flora and fauna, visit the magnificent and photogenic Danau Sentarum (Sentarum lake), and Bukit Raya, the tallest peak in Kalimantan.
The city that lies on the Kapuas River is Pontianak, where many houses are built over the waterline and are connected with each other by wooden bridges. Small boats sail up and down the Kapuas river to transport people and goods from one place to another.
How long does it take to explore Kapuas River in Borneo?
It depends on whether you choose a leisurely riverboat or a speed boat and how many stops you make along the way, allow 4-10 days to explore the Kapuas River and surrounds.
For a short duration Dayak longhouse experience, you can skip the lower parts of the river and sail straight to the Putussibau town nearly 600km’s upstream.
How to travel to Kapuas River?
First of course you need to travel to Pontianak, either by land or flying. Your next destination is the small town of Putussibau, and then heading to the last village on the river which is Tanjung Lokan village.
Travelling from Pontianak to Passibuan
Just like in other places in in Kalimantan, the easiest way to organise boat rides is to head down to the wharf and ask around. You can also arrange your trip with travel agencies located in Pontianak, they can help you out with boats and guides.
You can also take the Public Bus from Pontianak to Putussibau Regency, or by public ferry to Putussibau, and it takes about 2 days to reach the Upper Kapuas River. You can also travel there by a chartered car or speedboat to reduce one travel day.
A public bus and ferry departs most days from Pontianak, both trips taking a rather arduous 2 days. Travelling by private car or chartering a speedboat cuts the time in half. Alternatively, Putussibau is serviced several times weekly by regional flights from Pontianak.
Travelling from Putussibau to Tanjung Lokan village
From Putussibau, you can take a longboat all the way to Tanjung Lokan, the last village on the river. This section of the river hosts some of the last remaining traditional Dayak villages in Borneo. Those with plenty of time can continue on foot from Tanjung Lokan, trekking through the jungle into the Muller Mountains, dropping into some truly remote Dayak villages along the way.
If you have an appetite for river travel, rather than returning to Tanjung Lokan and Putussibau, consider trekking over the ranges to the upper reaches of the Mahakam River (5-7 days) and travelling downstream all the way to Samarinda on the East Kalimantan coast, thereby completing a true cross Borneo expedition.
Where to stay?
Depending on your journey duration and route, accommodation along the way varies from local inn (losmen) style, homestays, longhouses and jungle camping.
If you take a slow boat all the way from Pontianak you may even have a night or two on deck. The message here is to be flexible and bring a sleeping bag and sleeping mat with you.