West Bali National Park (Taman Nasional Bali Barat) is one of the last truly wild destinations in Bail. This swathe of protected forest and sea covers an official 19,003 hectares of mangroves, savannah, rainforest, monsoon forest and the coral reefs ringing Menjangan Island. Although it hardly rivals the jungles of Sumatra or Borneo, it’s still worth exploring.
The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna: 176 species of plants including rare orchids, 17 species of mammals, 160 bird species, including the notably rare and endangered Bali starling (leucopsar rothschildi), and numerous reptiles and fish. A trek through the park and you will most likely encounter the ubiquitous (and sometimes boisterous and menacing) local macaque monkeys and prehistoric-looking giant water monitors (varanus salvator).
Those luckier may see some of the protected species including the timid ebony langur (trachypithecus auratus), the Javan rusa or Sunda sambar deer (rusa timorensis), banteng (bos javanicus) -- wild cattle from which Balinese domestic cattle are descended -- or the scaly Sunda pangolin (manis javanica).
Consider yourself exceptionally lucky if you catch a glimpse of the park mascot, the endemic Bali starling (you’re more likely to spot one on Nusa Penida) or a leopard cat (felis bengalensis). Unfortunately you won’t be seeing the now extinct Bali tiger (panthera tigris balica). The last one was spotted in the park on 27 September 1937, and shot.
While most of the park is reserved for conservation and research, you can trek official park trails which must be explored with a national park guide and prices are at a set rate. The forest is hot, humid and often drier than you may expect. At times it can be physically demanding so take plenty of water and a hat. Sturdy shoes and mosquito spray are recommended, and a moderate level of fitness is advised. Trekking can be arranged through any of the hotels in town or at one of the local shops advertising tourist services. They will provide an all-in-one service which includes transport, lunch, park entry fees and a guide and therefore has a marked up price.
Those with their own food and transport or using public transport can head straight to the visitors’ centre in Labuhan Lalang, 16 kilometres west of Pemuteran or head office in Gilimanuk and hire a park guide directly. Entry fee for the park is 200,000 rupiah per foreigner. Each activity incurs a separate fee per person (maximum 50,000 rupiah), and then a guide fee per group.
Guide fees are as follows:
Monsoon forest trekking (1-2 hours): 1-2 people 350,000 rupiah; 3-5 people 600,000 rupiah; (2-3 hours): 1-2 people 450,000 rupiah; 3-5 people 750,000 rupiah.
Rainforest trekking (5-7 hours): 1-2 people 1,500,000 rupiah; 3-5 people 2,000,000 rupiah.
Birdwatching (2-4 hours): 1-2 people 650,000 rupiah; 3-5 people 1,000,000 rupiah; best done early morning 05:00-06:00 or late afternoon 15:00-19:00.
Mangrove forest by boat (best before low tide, so check times) (2-3 hours): 1-2 people 700,000 rupiah; 3-5 people 1,000,000 rupiah.
Mt Parapat Agung animal spotting (3-4 hours): 1-2 people 700,000 rupiah; 3-5 people 1,000,000 rupiah. Bbest on weekdays as many worshippers visit the temple on weekends.
National Park guide Iwan is very helpful and speaks good English. He can be contacted directly at the West Bali National Park Office HQ in Gilimanuk to arrange trekking: T: (0819) 3167 5011; Whats App: (0896) 9124 4336; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
West Bali National Park Office HQ: Jalan Raya Cekik-Gilimanuk, Jembrana; T: (0365) 61 060; firstname.lastname@example.org; open daily 07:30-17:00.
West Bali National Park Visitors’ Centre (Menjangan Island departure point): Labuan Lalang; open daily 07:30-17:00.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 15th September, 2016.