Bali/Borneo Recording Trip - Travel Preparations
13 December 2013
I have finally had some time to look at the Borneo leg of my trip in a bit more detail. The ladies in the travel agency wanted to send me to the Northern/Malaysian part, landing in Kota Kinabalu. When I told them that I want to record birds and wildlife in remote locations they wanted to send me to some tourist hot spots. I don't think they quite understood what I meant when I said 'remote' and 'no humans'. So after looking at a couple of websites, I found that the South/Indonesian part of Borneo/Kalimantan, is much more interesting than the northern part, at least from a sound recording and nature photography perspective. There just seems to be more wilderness and much less concrete but this might be a superficial impression gained from wikipedia and a couple of glances at some other website.
Either way, when I saw this website (http://www.borneotourgigant.com), I was instantly hooked and South Kalimantan it is going to be.
However, there are of course a couple of downsides. One is that the flights are about $500 more expensive than if I had gone to Kota Kinabalu and the flight times are absolutely terrible with 38 hours of waiting time on my flight from Borneo to Germany. On the other trip to Borneo, I am flying with Garuda Airline now, which has been on the European black list of airlines that are not allowed into the European flight zone. However, since 2009 they have been taken off the list, so I hope that it is ok to fly with them.
The really bad part is that south Borneo is Malaria country, not something I would like to get. This risk of Malaria means that I will have to take preventative medication with the current favourite being Malarone, which I need to start taking 1-2 days before landing in Syamsudin Noor in Kalimantan, during my stay there and 7 days after I leave. There are some side effects, however, I am sure they are far less dangerous than playing host to a Malaria virus! So I will actually take them. I have also just had my second session at the vaccination clinic and I am on my way to hopefully being immunised against Hep A & B, Typhoid, Tetanus, Diphteria, Whooping Couch and Rabies. Gee, that Typhoid vaccine made me tired for 3 days. Luckily that was only one jab. So one last needle session for the Hep's and Rabies on the 2nd of January and I'll be as prepared as I can be.
Apart from the above tour operator I have also found http://www.borneo-discoverytours.com and have sent them an enquiry with my preferences for bird, animal and nature recordings in general. I'll have to see what they come back with and then make a decision. Another, cheaper alternative would be through this website http://birdingpal.org that provides contacts for volunteer or small business bird watchers who are keen to show you their country and share their local knowledge.
From my previous experience of living in tropical Darwin for 6 years I was a bit concerned about this time of year because it is usually the wet season, however, I discovered that in Kalimantan it is not really that much difference and February when I will be there is in fact the month with the lowest rainfall in the wet season. So I think I am actually quite lucky. But the weather has been fairly unpredictable there in last few years, so who knows.