Pelalawan, Natural Beauty with Various Excitement

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Pelalawan is a Regency of the Riau Province, currently one of the richest provinces in Indonesia due to its abundance of natural resources, making it the economic hub of the island of Sumatra. Pelalawan spans a variety of geographical conditions: dense forests, expansive plantations, peat bog plains and alluvial rivers. Simply the natural beauty of the region is enough to attract tourists, but especially catches the eye of the adventurer. With vast and diverse stretches of both terrestrial and marine charm, from the Kampar River to the Straits of Malacca, Pelalawan’s great outdoors are just waiting to be discovered.

Get There

To get to Pelalawan, one must first fly to Pekanbaru, Riau. The SSK II International airport serves international flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, local flights from Dumai, Rengat and Tanjung Pinang, and domestically, from Jakarta, Padang, Medan and  Batam.

From Pekanbaru, you can hire a car to take you to Pangkalan Kerinci, the Capital of Pelalawan. It is approximately 70 km away, or 1.5 hours drive.

Experience Pelalawan

Tesso Nilo National Park

Located in the Riau Province, the Tesso Nilo National Park is arguably the largest lowland rainforest on the island of Sumatra. Today the Park covers an area of 83,068 hectares, having grown twice as large from the former 38,576 hectares in 2004 when it was designated as a National Park.

Tesso Nilo stretches along 4 districts, namely the districts of Pelalawan, Indragiri Hulu, Kuantan Sengingi and Kampar. Tesso Nilo is planned to be expanded to cover 100,000 hectares to serve not only as the lungs for the Indonesia archipelago but also for the world. Riau used to have large tracts of jungle, however, because of large scale wild fires, and the building of palm oil plantations, almost two third of primary forests here has been destroyed.

For this reason, to stem further degradation, the government has mapped out the area as a National Park, while plantations already in the park are being reverted to the jungles. Even so, biologists assert that the Tesso Nilo Park still contains abundant tropical vascular plant species, surpassing those found in the Amazon region. The park is habitat to Sumatra’s endangered elephants, tigers, and tapirs. There are boars, deer, sun bear and other wildlife.

In 2012 Tesso Nilo counted some 150 elephants, while WWF found tracks of 50 Sumatran tigers. Nonetheless, the close proximity of the Park to human settlements still cause wild elephants to wander into villages and are, therefore, considered as pests by the local inhabitants. Illegal logging and wildfires also continue to threaten the Park.

Get There

To enter the Tesso Nilo National Park, one must first have a permit, signed by the Head of the Tesso Nilo National Park, which can also be obtained at the WWF Headquarters at Pangkalan Kerinci at Pelalawan, Riau at +62 781 494728.

Pangkalan Kerinci is about 5 hours from Pekanbaru, capital of Riau province. WWF can also arrange your tours and accommodation in the park. All visitors must be accompanied by a ranger. There are two check points before you enter the Park, where the permit and accompanying ranger are required.

From the WWF headquarters to the Park it takes about 3 hours by motorbike, passing palm oil plantations, farmland and cleared jungle. There are as yet no regular bus services from Pekanbaru to the Park. So best is to travel by car to Kerinci, and from there take a motorbike to the Park.

Kerumutan Forest Reserve

Kerumutan Forest Reserve is a Wildlife Reserve spanning over 1.3million hectares of lowland forests, and inhabited by hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The grand Kampar River runs along its border, lined with thick mangrove trees.

The reserve’s boundaries are the Kampar River, the Indragiri River, the East Coast of Sumatra, and Jalan Lintas Timur Sumatera, the Cross East Sumatra Highway. The forest extends across two regencies, Pelalawan and Indragiri Hulu, in the Riau Province, in the central part of Sumatra.

In addition to migrants from other parts of Sumatra, Java and the Malay coast, the area around the forest is inhabited by certain indigenous people, such as the Duanu Tribe and the Petalangan Tribe. Government census puts the population of the Kerumutan Forest Reserve at about 27,000 persons.

The forest consists of three main types of soil, and is therefore divided into three areas: Kawasan Inti, or Core Region, covering about 93,000 hectares, Peat Protected Areas, currently covering 52,000 hectares, but which may potentially be expanded, and the Non-Core Regions, a group of preserved forest ecosystems, covering 1,178,000 hectares. Despite being a National Reserve, much of this area has been designated towards industrial plantation development and the landscape is actively being drained and cleared.

Get There

To get to Pelalawan, one must first make way to Pekanbaru, capital of the Riau province. The SSK II International airport serves the International destinations of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Dumai, Rengat and locally, and domestically, Jakarta, PadangMedan, Batam and Tanjung Pinang.

From Pekanbaru, you can hire a car to take you to Pangkalan Kerinci, the Capital of Pelalawan. It is approximately 70 km away, or 1.5 hours. Kerumutan Forest Reserve is located in the Village of Kerumutan, Pelalawan. This is about 2 hours away by road, across rocky terrain, or alternatively, you could hire a car direct from Pekanbaru, which will take approximately 4 hours by road, followed by an hour by speedboat.

Surfing Kampar River’s Stunning Bono Tidal Bore

Kampar is a long river that rushes down from the Bukit Barisan mountain range that forms the spine of the island of Sumatra along its west coast. The river then meanders through the Riau Province, to finally pour out in the Malacca Straits, on the east coast of Sumatra. Along its long course the river divides itself into two large branches known as the Kampar Kanan (the right branch of Kampar) and Kampar Kiri (its left branch).

They then converge at Langgar in the district of Pelalawan at Kampar’s estuary. Here they are joined by many other rivers causing Kampar to funnel out into a wide river mouth. At each high tide, high waves from the sea flow in and meet the down stream current of the Kampar. Where the two opposing energies meet, and furthermore, caused by the funnel shape of the river, Kampar’s phenomenal tidal bores emerge, rushing deep inland reaching to over 60 km upriver.

These tidal bores are known locally as “Bono”, which rush in with loud roaring sound at a speed of 40 km an hour. The surf on the river can rise as high as 4 to 6 meters, at times creating barrels, the darling of surfers.

Best site to surf by the village of Teluk Meranti, although there are other spots like Tanjung Sebayang, Tanjung Pungai, and Pulau Muda, all in the district of Pelalawan. Although quite used to the phenomenon, local inhabitants are mostly scared when the Bono appears, which they believe are spirits of the Seven Ghosts. Many boats have sunk in this river when caught in the bore.

Get There

To get to Teluk Meranti one must travel through Pekanbaru, capital of the province of Riau.  As a busy business airport, Pekanbaru is served from most major cities in Indonesia, most often from Jakarta, Medan and Batam.

Internationally, Pekanbaru is served from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by Air Asia. It takes some 4-7 hours by car from Pekanbaru north to Teluk Meranti. There are car rental companies in Pekanbaru.

The ride from Pekanbaru to Pangkalan Kerinci lasts 1.5 hours, then from here to Teluk Meranti takes another 4 hours. Alternatively you can take a speedboat from Pangkalan Kerinci to Pulau Muda or Teluk Meranti, which takes around 4.5 hours.

Whereas, when you travel from or through Singapore, the journey to Teluk Meranti is by sea through a rather arduous route. From Singapore’s Ferry Terminal take a boat to Sekupang in Batam, then connect with a ferry to Tanjung Batu, in the Karimun islands, where you can find ferries to take you to Teluk Meranti.

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