Discover East Kalimantan

Samboja - Mahakam cruise - Balikpapan


East Kalimantan is home to the reforestation site of Samboja. Stay here and learn about their initiatives before boarding a boat to cruise the hinterlands of the Mahakam river. Meet the local communities living on the shores and spot rare dolphins.


Tour itinerary Discover East Kalimantan


Day 1: Arrival Balikpapan, transfer Samboja
Day 2: Samboja Lodge, nature walks, explore by jeep/car
Day 3: Samboja Lodge, transfer Samarinda, start boat trip Mahakam river
Day 4: Makaham trip
Day 5: Mahakam trip
Day 6: Mahakam trip
Day 7: Finish boat trip, transfer Balikpapan
Day 8: Flight out

This tour is an example, the program will be tailor made to your wishes for an unforgettable travel experience. For more information, please contact us.

Optional extensions

Extend your stay in East Kalimantan on tropical islands for relaxing, fantastic snorkelling and divine diving:

Discover more tours in other destinations:

tour themes

  • wildlife
  • local life
  • nature

highlights discover east kalimantan

  • reforestation site of samboja

    • One hour from Balikpapan lies the reforestation site of Samboja. Samboja Lestari comprises an area of 2000 ha which used to be all tropical rainforest. Due to illegal logging, shifting cultivation and the drought and fires caused by El Nino most of this forest was destroyed. The Bos Foundation (Balikpapan Orangutan Survival Foundation) concerned with both the natural habitat as well as with its inhabitants, bought this area and planted it with all sorts of indigenous tree species, flowers and fruiting trees.
    • The Samboja Lestari project has the mission to recreate the rainforests that once stood in this area thereby creating a natural habitat for the orang utan and other wildlife. The project has also created many jobs for the people of Samboja village and neighbouring villages.
    • There are several nature trails that allow you the chance to spot some of the animals that have returned to this regenerating forest: many bird species, snakes, small mammals (deer, pigs) and several wild primates (gibbons, 2 species of macaques, proboscis and red leaf monkeys). The area is also the home of the world’s largest sun bear project as well as of an extensive orang utan rehabilitation centre. Visitors are encouraged to assist the local staff in their daily activities. Samboja Lodge and BOS adheres to a strict ‘no contact policy’ regarding orang utans and sun bears, which means you only observe these animal at a reasonable distance.
  • mahakam river cruise

    • The Mahakam river is one of the longest rivers in Kalimantan. It finds its way through the lands of several Dayak-tribes, known for their mystical practices, their silent stalking through the deepest darkest jungle, their longhouses and their appearance with long earlobes and heavily tattooed wrist and ankles. Although quite modern these days still a lot of the old mystic can be traced and some of the older men and women still keep their long earlobes and their tattoos. The smaller children are still carried in often beautiful decorated typical baby carriers to the fields and forests.
    • Explore this not often visited area by a boat trip that lasts 5 days. Near its estuary the Mahakam is quite broad but it gets smaller and smaller the more inland you travel. The first part of the river is the main highway. Relatively small tug boats pull enormous barges full of coal and wood down river to Samarinda, and there is a lot of boat traffic with passengers traveling down and up streams. Once you are ‘out of town’, the scenery changes and becomes more and more rural. You pass small villages with lots of activities taking place at the riverbank, including people fishing in canoes, women beating clothes on river stones and once in a while a floating toilet that passes the boat. Explore everglade-type wetlands. Entering a creek you will find yourself surrounded by much higher and dense vegetation and will have the opportunity to spot some wildlife like birds and the proboscis monkeys with their funny nose. The Irrawady dolphin is constantly monitored at another part and therefore the location of the animals is known precisely. With this information the chance of seeing a dolphin is around 60% (also depending on water conditions).
    • You will also leave the boat at villages to visit old longhouses and explore small villages. Afterwards you continue to a waterfall and have a swim in a refreshing pool at the base of the waterfall.