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To the Tangkoko National Park

(updated on 25-1-2007)

At the first time, in 2001, Peter, a Swiss Traveller and I accepted the offer of a guide (journey with a hired car including driver). A two-day tour through the Minahasa Highland followed on our jungle walk. It was pleasant: We were picked up from the harbour of Manado and could get out there again at the end of the tour. Our guide had the car stopped on the road in many places and pointed out things to us away from the street which we would have overlooked otherwise.  We also appreciated the much various background information. It was a natural fact that we also had to bear the relatively low expenses for meal and drinks of the two sirs, besides the fixed price agreed on. As a rule, the accommodation of them was for free. Altogether, we were very content and the price-performance ratio was o.k. -compared particularly with European conditions.

I had sufficient information now to lead my family to the same places a year later myself. To reach the Tangkoko national park, we went at first with the public bus to Bitung. We changed into a private pickup there and drove with it the rest of the way to Batuputih. I already knew accommodations in the village, too. Since with "Mama Roos" (well-known from the "Lonely planet") all cottages were already full we moved in with "Tangkoko Ranger Homestay" just besides that. The owner of the house (quite below last picture) is also one of the Rangers. These are official guides without whom one is not allowed to enter the National Park. He informed us that he would pick us up for the "Tharsius tour"  even before the beginning of the twilight.


You see a couple of snapshots here from the years 2001/2002. They were completed or replaced by photos of the following years. You find background information about the flora and fauna under North Sulawesi - Flora & Fauna and a lot of advice on The Tangkoko Nature Reserve (very recommendable!).


Sandwiched in a pickup to Tangkoko Nature ReserveIn front of our accommodation

The loading space of the pickups is provided with wooden benches. The journey can seem to you interminably, sandwiched between further passengers, rice bags, fish, poultry and vegetables.


  The Cottages are not only accommodation but also meeting place of experienced Sulawesi travellers and thus a source of all necessary information.  
Waiting for nightfall near an big old rainforest treeTharsier sitting on a branch
After half an hour walk on path through the jungle we sat down on the ground in front of an old and hollow tree and waited for the nightfall. We had become a group of 8 visitors in the meantime. Everyone waited curiously for the moment when the Tarsiers would wake up. These little animals are regarded as the smallest prosimians of the world. Meanwhile the guardians of the Nature Reserve lit a cigarette....     The patient waiting was finally rewarded. It got alive on our tree. A dark little head peeked from the tree hole and moved a moment later swiftly to the outside. Soon one member of the family after the other appeared and jumped like a squirrel from branch to branch for hunting on the neighbouring bushes. While the Rangers were pointing helpfully their strong torches at the animals, as big as a rat, I took the chance of some snapshots. It was astonishing that the night active creatures with their big and ghostly eyes hardly noticed us intruders.


Rainforest treeHuge Strangling FigWürgefeige (Innenansicht)
The next morning our ranger had arranged to meet us already at 4:30am. We hoped to catch sight of one of the Hornbills with its great yellow beaks and colorful fethering. Regarding this I wasn't lucky in the year before. In the picture above I am just popping up a rainforest tree (German: "Brettwurzelbaum") Who knows its name in English?


  I suddenly heard the loud sound of something flying. The Ranger said that it comes from a Hornbill and I actually could watch little later, how a couple of them sat down in the crown of this Fikus . We had plenty of time for the observation. But with my digital camera I was not well prepared for a photo at this distance, though. Instead I could take these masterpieces of nature photographically (above). Once here stood a tree, which was wrapped by the strangling fig in the course of time until it finally perished and only left a cavity. How that happens, you can find out here.
Strange Vegetable ShapeMe in front of a fan palmThe first Black Macaque appears
The Rangers led our group further to an area in which a family of the "Black Makakas" climbs every morning off the trees in search of food. On our way we let be ourselves impressed by many peculiar vegetable shapes, which the nature has here created. How much would you have to pay for such a specimen of a fan palm in a market garden? In the distance we already heard the screaming of the monkeys and soon we could watch how the black bodies skilfully approached the floor from branch to branch.


  After all the first animal appeared in the thicket and watched us just as curiously as we did. One noticed very soon that these Black Macaques are used to visitors, because the family was not flappable at all at its dayly routine. So we could approach them except for few steps ..
Couple of MacaquesCouple of Macaques during their morning toilet

After they had borne us company and given us opportunity to watch their lively hustle and bustle during their morning toilet for approx. 1 hour, they suddenly left us again and went on their foray into the surrounding area - as if by unhearable command.


Minahasa Girl fighting spots and blackheadsOur son Philip sunbathing in hot black sandFire clearance in the Nature Reserve
Back in the Homestay we were during the breakfast informed how one fights spots and blackheads in this country in a traditional way.


  We spent the rest of the day on the beach of Batuputih (= white stone). The black sand was so hot that one could not go on this without shoes any more than a couple of metres. To sunbathe, Philip had to lie on palm leaves.   What we must see on  the return journey through the national park the next day almost broke our hearts. "Smoking and Open Fire Forbidden" on the signposts everywhere. But who observes it? A vegetable field or a coconut plantation will presumably be seen here next year.


Our group taking pictures of the tharsiersTharsier, close-upRangerRanger
  2005: The longed-for moment has come. The little creatures slip out from the inside of their tree.     I have forgotten the names of the Rangers but you better decide for the one on the right in the photo, if you have the choice. He is friendly and not yet tired of his job.

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