Eco-Tourism in Gunung Palung

By Terri Breeden, GPOCP Program Director
Recently, I was invited along with Natalie Robinson, our new Research Assistant, and Wahyu Susanto, our Research Director, by Pak Ari, the Gunung Palung National Park head, to join a river tubing trip at Riam Berkinjil near the village of Laman Satong in Gunung Palung National Park. The day was full of excitement as I wasn’t really sure what we were getting ourselves into! We started out waking up early and heading to Siduk, a small town along the border of the National Park, to meet Pak Ari and Pak Bambang, the head of the Sukadana branch. We sipped on some super sweet coffee and discussed the plans for the day and then headed to meet some of the local villagers. Soon after that we met with Panji Petualang, the Indonesian version of Steve Irwin. Panji is especially passionate about snakes, reptiles, and adventure. The National Park is working with the community of Laman Satong to implement eco-tourism and develop Riam Berkinjil as a campsite. They invited Panji along to explore the area and make a YouTube video to share and promote Gunung Palung National Park.
Terri at the entrance to Riam Berasap and Riam Berkinjil.
The campsite is about a 6 km hike in, but we made the trek by motorbike! It was extreme and it was muddy, but it was fun. There were many times we had to get off, push the bikes through, and cross small wooden bridge passages. Along the way, our guides pointed out different trees, described the different habitats, and told stories of how the fires in 2015 had destroyed the forest but they have been working hard to restore those areas.
The crystal clear waters flowing by the campsite.
Once we made it to the campsite, I was amazed by the beauty and serenity of the area. The water was so clean and clear, it looked like air, you couldn’t tell where the water ended and the land began. We were surrounded by large trees and were even greeted by a rare hornbill. If it is your first time to visit this area, it is customary for the local people to bless you with a ritual ceremony. They say a prayer, you drink a little bit of salty water, and then they put a smudge of dirt on your forehead and some moss in your hair. After that, we had a traditional Indonesian lunch of white rice, BBQ chicken, and curried vegetables.
Our tubing group at Riam Berkinjil.
Once we were full from lunch, we made the short hike to Riam Berkinjil, the waterfall. Here you have two options, 1) you can take the easy way and get in below the rocks or 2) you can get in a little below the waterfall and take your chances of capsizing your tube. I chose option 2 and capsized on the small drop, but so did everybody else!
Safely back in my tube after capsizing over the rocks. Photos credit Wahyu Susanto.
Once we all had our fun with the waterfall, we made our way down the scenic river. We just floated along, taking in nature and enjoying the refreshing water. Our guides were there to tell us stories about their culture, the forest, and even about their families and life in their village. The journey took about an hour and once we made it back to the campsite, we changed into dry clothes and had some fresh coffee by the campfire before making the journey home.
Overall, this was a fun, adventurous day! Panji made a YouTube video which is posted below. The video is in Bahasa Indonesia, but you can see the beauty of the forest and the fun we all had. I hope more people are able to see this majestic forest and respect Mother Nature for all that she has to offer. If you would like to find out more about visiting Gunung Palung National Park visit their website, or email the national park office at, or send us an email at
Panji’s video of our river tubing expedition at Riam Berkinjil in Gunung Palung National Park.