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West Bali National Park and Reserve


Much of Bali's natural landscape has been altered by the hand of man. Dense tropical forests that once covered the island have mostly now been cleared; and the land molded into spectacular rice terraces and sprawling village settlements. But on the westernmost tip of the island, extensive Montana forests, coastal swamps and marine waters have barely been disturbed by human presence. Today these areas comprise the Bali Barat (West Bali) National Park, officially gazette in 1984 as one of ten national parks in Indonesia.

Several distinct environments are to be found within the park's 76,312 hectares. Forested mountains ranging up to 1500 m stand in the park's central and eastern sectors. Their southern slopes are forested with tropical vegetation that is green year round. The north is much drier than the south, hosting deciduous forests. Palm savannahs and mangrove swamps are found in the coastal areas. Four nearby islands surrounded by coral reefs are rich in sea and bird life.

Jalak BaliThe park is home to two rare species wildlife. The Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi), found only in Bali, is a small white bird with black wingtips and a brilliant aqua blue streak around its eyes. A hundred or so individuals still live in the wild here, mainly on Menjangan Island, and the park is sponsoring a project to train birds donated from zoos around the world for re-release to their natural habitat. The project's training center is located at Tegal Bunder Research Station

Another rare species is the wild Javan buffalo (Bos javanicus). Only 30 to 40 deep inside the park grounds. Other mammals here include rusa deer, barking deer mouse deer, leopard, civets, macaques and several species of monkeys.

The National Park's stated goal is to balance conservation with human needs, now and in the future. Portions of it will be preserved as a wilderness resource. Other areas bordering on existing human settlement, e have been designated "buffer zones" and continue to provide these communities with needed forest resources. Several coconut and eucalyptus plantations will be reconverted to natural habitats. Still other areas are being exploited for timber. The park is also intend for controlled recreational use by Indonesian and foreigners alike.

Within the park's boundaries are two well known tourist sites. The Banyu Wedang hot springs are considered to have medicinal properties by those who believe and bathe in them. Also found here is the holy grave of Jayaprana, a nobleman sent on a fatal mission so the king he served might wed his new bride

Hiking in Bali Barat

The best source for information on hikes and facilities is Park Headquarters at Cekik, by the intersection of the main roads from Singaraja and Denpasar, just south of Gilimanuk. A small library with exhibits and a knowledgeable staff are available to help you. Since this is a government office, it closes at 3 pm, Monday through Thursday, at noon on Friday, and is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

There are many interesting trails, but to enter Bah Barat you must first obtain a permit and be accompanied by a guide. Permits are available free of charge at Cekik and at Labuhan Lalang, or at the Forestry Department offices (Departemen Kehutanan) at J1. Niti Mandala, Renon in Denpasar (tel: 235679). The cost of a guide is $5 for 1-2 hours.

Shelters are available for overnight stays, but you must provide your own bedding, mosquito protection, food, water and utensils. If You plan to stay overnight, it is best to notify the park staff in advance so that your guide and facilities will be ready when you arrive. If You wish to spend several days exploring the Park without camping, you can stay in simple bungalows at Labuhan Lalang, or in hotels in Gilimanuk or Negara.

Diving off Menjangan Island

Menjangan IslandThe most beautiful, unspoiled coral reefs in Bali are located off the coast of Pulau Menjangan ("Deer Island"). Comprising hundreds of species of coral, these reefs extend 100 to 150 m from the shore, then drop 40 to 60 m down to the ocean floor. Menjangan and the nearby mainland are excellent places for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. A 45 minutes nature walk on Pulau Menjangan, which is uninhabited except for the Java Deer, affords beautiful panoramic views of the mountainous mainland.

To reach Pulau Menjangan, hire a boat at Labuhan Lalang, just opposite the island on the north coast of Bali. 'Me round-trip cost is about $20 for 6 people. Snorkeling and scuba equipment are not available here, but you can organize this through one of the many diving tour operators in Kuta or Sanur (see "Practicalities" for these areas). The boat will stop wherever you want, and the boatmen are experienced guides. It is forbidden to spend the night on Menjangan, but food and simple lodgings are available at Labuhan Lalang.

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