In the remote south-western tip of Java, this Unesco World Heritage–listed national park has remained an outpost of prime rainforest and untouched wilderness, virgin beaches and healthy coral reefs. Relatively inaccessible, few people visit Indonesia’s first national park, but it is one of the most rewarding in all Java.
Ujung Kulon is best known as the last refuge of the one-horned Javan rhinoceros, one of the globe’s most critically endangered mammals – there are only thought to be between 50 to 60 remaining, all right here.
Numbers are thought to be stable and the rhinos are breeding, however they are an extremely rare sight and you are far more likely to come across banteng (wild cattle), wild pigs, otters, deer, squirrels, leaf monkeys, gibbons and big monitor lizards. Panthers also live in the forest and pythons and crocodiles in the river estuaries. Green turtles nest in some of the bays and the birdlife is excellent.
The national park also includes the nearby island of Panaitan (where Captain James Cook anchored HMS Endeavour in 1771) and the smaller offshore islands of Peucang and Handeuleum. Much of the peninsula is dense lowland rainforest and a mixture of scrub, grassy plains, swamps, pandanus palms and long stretches of sandy beach on the west and south coasts.
Most people visit Ujung Kulon on a tour organised through an agency, but it’s also possible to head to head to Tamanjaya village and access the park from there or to make arrangements directly through the park office, which will link you up with a boat operator.
The area is covered with lowland rainforest, swamps, mangroves and grasslands. The peninsula has coral islands and coral reefs.
The National Park includes the volcanic island group of Krakatoa and other islands including Panaitan, Handeuleum and Peucang on the Sunda Strait. Krakatoa is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It suffered a major eruption in 1883, when the combined effects of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ashes, and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. The official death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at more than 120,000.
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