When the invitation to participate in 11 days’ trip under the Trip of Wonders campaign came in, excitement was beyond imagination. I have been to Indonesia more than 20 times and this is the first collaboration with Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia. During the Trip of Wonders journey, I visited Makassar, Lombok, Banyuwangi and Bandung. I extended my stay by visiting the largest city in South Kalimantan, Banjarmasin. For the next few weeks, you have to expect my travel chronicles in Indonesia.
As we arrived in Jakarta quite late the first day and only had time for dinner, the real journey began on the second day when we reached Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi and the largest city on Sulawesi Island.
Our first destination was Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park, which is located in Maros regency. As we were coming directly from Sultan Hasanuddin Airport Makassar, the bus ride took 30 minutes to Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park. It is easy to notice the entrance to Bantimurung National Park as the gigantic monkey statue welcomes the visitors.
Derived from two Bugis words, Banti means water and Merrung means roaring. Bantimurung means roaring water. The word Bantimurung has also been taken to mean “smashing one’s gloom” ie it is here that the visitors can release their depression.
The souvenir shop lined the street leading to the waterfall area. Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park was teeming with local weekenders having family picnic as well as school children having a day out. The star attraction in Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park is the waterfall which drops from 15 metres height.
Youngsters with adrenaline rush sat on rubber tubes at the drop of the waterfall to be moved along the currents. A daring father held his toddlers tight as the rubber tube they were on swayed in the current. There was not a hint of hesitation as they laughed when the rubber tube bumped.
It was not just the happy locals that caught my attention. The colourful butterflies roamed freely and without fear in Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park, which is also known as the Kingdom of Butterflies. There are 250 species of butterflies in Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park. A handful butterflies of different species flew close to the surface of the water and got away whenever a person approached.
There was a flight of steps to the left side of the waterfall which would lead to the caves through the jungle walkway.
As I was left behind (that was happened to you when you were busy talking pictures and lost in time), I walked alone for 30 minutes until I met the mouth of the cave. Sound of the jungle resonated, I found it most peaceful there. The karst wall leaned on the edge of the pool of turquoise water, reminding me of Lake Plitvices, Croatia. From afar, I heard voices and laughter of my friends. I wanted to catch up but I saw opportunity to photograph and film the beautiful butterflies.
The thing about photographing small and fast moving bugs like butterflies is that you really have to be patient. A second late, they would fly away. The photography affair should not be interrupted by trivial things like stepping into tree branches and breathing loud. So, there were instances I had to stand like a statue so that the butterflies landed on a subject close to me. Oh yes, the beautiful ones are the most difficult to capture.
Due to constraint of time, I later walked on a faster fast to reach the mouth of the cave. There was another pool with a small waterfall near the cave mouth. I went up to the steps and met our tour guide who informed me that I had to pay to enter the cave which is known as Gua Batu (Rock Cave) since he would be only picking up the entrance fee if there were four of us. Basically, it is a 100-metres long cave with stalactites and stalagmites. It used to be a sacred place for pilgrimage during the ancient time. The Rp30,000.00 was meant for entrance and rental of the head lamp. [Tips : Bring your own headlamp if you want to go into the cave.]
When coming down from the butterflies sanctuary, I got to know Sunshine Kelly who is the most polite blogger of the trip. She is a seasoned lifestyle blogger in Malaysia. Go, check her out here. We joined the rest for lunch near the picnic area with small huts lining the side of the stream. Interestingly, the locals prefer the ground than the huts which are available for free.
We had packed lunch – nasi campur. Indonesians like to eat their rice meal with snacks known as kropok which come in many flavours.
[Tips: Always have small change for parking charges and toilet charges; normally it costs Rp2,000.00
Near the parking area, there are many stalls selling food, drinks and souvenirs. Colourful butterflies specimen are boxed as souvenirs.
For more info on Makassar, please visit Indonesia Travel.
This trip to Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park was made possible by the invitation of Ministry of Tourism Indonesia for Trip of Wonders – Wonderful Indonesia campaign.