A planned holiday to Bali ended up a detour into the Javan jungles, looking for the elusive Javan rhino. (When planning a family holiday with Rocco Oliver, this is the type of change to itenary that should be expected, given his adventurous streak.)
Although my final destination was Bali and I was thoroughly looking forward to the beaches, shopping and all the island has to offer, Java ended up to be an adventure worth sharing. After landing at a very crowded Jakarta airport on the 1st of June 2015, we took on a wild four hour drive (South African taxi drivers will need nerve of steel to drive here) to Cinde Wulung Bed & Resto, a cosy five star guesthouse a few meter from the beach. We met up with members of the Friends of Rhino movement over dinner and I could feel the excitement I have been feeling for a while turning into a real adventure.
The next morning, we travelled for a few more hours to get to the Unjung Kulon National Park to start our safari through the park with an incredible team of rangers assigned to our mission, consisting of a tracker, cook and translator. The tracker, Serian, is someone whose survival skills are to be admired. He turned a coconut into water and a snack in minutes, knew which plants to use for dry eyes and even knows a cure for cancer. We have also learned from him that a Javan rhino always steps in her front tracks with her back feet, but finds it harder as her tummy grows when pregnant. This enables him to tell that there will soon be a new baby rhino. Read more about the javan Rhino of WWF’s website.
The views were also spectacular. Our first day walk was only a few kilometres of which most were in the jungle but with the sounds of the waves nearby and with glimpses of the ocean through the leaves of trees and creepers. The regular sightings of rhino tracks increased our feeling of excitement but we were not lucky to see any rhino on day 1. We slept at a cabin at Karangranjang, a stone throw from the beach where fireflies turned the night into a fairy wonderland.
We covered quite a long distance through the jungle on day two, walking through beautiful jungle scenes. We did not see many animals due to the thick vegetation, but were lucky to spot two species of monkeys, flying geckos and komodo dragons. We made camp later in the afternoon, after which we attempted to see rhino again on a 16km beach walk to explore a regularly visited rhino wallow next to the — river. Just when we started to accept the fact that we might not see the rhino at all on our expedition, we saw a glimpse of a rhino disappearing behind a dune in the thinning light. This served as proof that the rhino were there, around us … and it was with high spirits that we reached the camp, once again surrounded by the lights of a thousand fireflies.
On the last day of our expedition, we had to walk for another five kilometres to where a speed boat awaited us and were taken to the Ayung river to further enhance our chances of seeing rhino. We were taken up the river by canoe and stopped to visit more rhino wallows but we were not lucky enough to catch them during their daily mud bath.
Our disappointment for not being able to find a well-behaved Javan rhino, posing for a photo shoot was short lived, as we closed in on our snorkelling destination (with the breath taking experience of flying fish venturing across our boat), the last item on our agenda… a gorgeous little island surrounded with coral and colourful fish. What more can any adventurer ask for?
If you love rugged adventures, and like to go on an expedition to search for this highly endangered species with qualified guides you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.