Berbak National Park forms a nature conservation area for the largest unexploited swamp forest in southeastern Asia. The uniqueness of the Park lies in its attractive combination of peat swamp forest and freshwater swamp forest which stretches along the east coast of Sumatra.
Plant species in the Park include meranti (Shorea sp.) and various species of palm. The Park in fact boasts the largest number of ornamental palm species in Indonesia. Of these, a number are categorized as endangered, including daun payung (Johanesteijmannia altifrons), and a newly found species, Lepidonia kingii (Lorantaceae family) which has a large, red/violet flower.
Berbak National Park is also a habitat for the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis sumatrensis), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus), lesser Malay mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus kanchil), 300 bird species including Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes), lesser adjutant stork (Leptoptilos javanicus), all species of kingfisher (Alcedinidae spp.), white-winged wood duck (Cairina scutulata), Malayan giant turtle (Orlitia borneensis), and batagur turtle (Batagur baska).
Hundreds, even thousands of migrant birds can be seen in this Park, making an amazing sight when they are flying through the air in a flock.
The western entrance gate of the Park can be reached from the Air Hitam Dalam (deep black water) river, so-called because of the water’s coffee-like colour. At low tide, animal faeces, fallen leaves and so on from within the mangrove forests are carried by this river into the Batanghari river that eventually flows into the sea.
Berbak National Park is not only protected at a national level but has also been declared an International Wetland Site under the Ramsar Convention in 1992.
Air Hitam Dalam: observing plant and animal life from the river. The Air Hitam Dalam river forms a habitat for Sumatran tigers.
Simpang Kubu: conducting research or exploring the forest, and observing plants and animals.
Air Hitam Laut: conducting research or exploring the forest, and observing plants and animals.
Cultural attractions outside the Park include the Culture Parade on the Batanghari river at Muara Bulian, Jambi, each April.
Best time of year to visit: March to November.
How to reach the Park: from Jambi, by speed boat along the Batanghari river, then turn right along the Air Hitam Dalam river, about 2.5-3 hrs, or directly to Nipah Panjang, about 4’5 hours. From Nipah Panjang, head for Air Hitam Laut village, 5’8 hours via the South China Sea (the journey time depends on wave conditions).