Sembilang National Park is a natural coastal wet land area with various forest ecosystems of peat moss swamps, fresh water swamps, mangrove forests and mud flats. Administratively, it is part of Banyuasin district and has been a national park since March 19th 2003, when it was separated from the Berbak National Park in Jambi. This area is called Sembilang because it has many Sembilang fish (Plotosus canius).
The Banyuasin Peninsula, located on the east coast of South Sumatra, is a haven for water birds. Its muddy lands and sands border mangroves resulting in ideal habits for various types of invertebrates such as worms, mollusks, and crustaceans. The actual peninsula sticks out into the sea for 1.5 kilometers which makes this land an ideal stop for migrant birds from Asia and Europe from October to December.
Kuntul Cina (Egretta Eulophotes), Trinil-Lumpur Asia (Limnodromus Semipalmatus), and Pedendang Topeng (Heliopais Personata), are among 30 species of migrant birds visiting the Banyuasin Peninsula. These birds seek a temporary home to avoid cold seasons in their primary habitats in Siberia, the Korean peninsula, and Japan. Their final destinations are sub-tropical areas of Australia.
You will find very exotic scenery in the far north of Betet Island because some of its swamps are famous for its snakes, crocodiles and rare orchids.
After buying or catching fish, you can pay local residents to cook them because it is not possible to make a fire in the settlement area. This is because all homes are above rivers. No visit is complete unless you try the Sembilang fish.
You can buy fish, crabs and swallows nests from the local community for less than the market price in Palembang.
Since it is still very natural, you can only stay and take a rest at the guard houses of Sembilang National Park on Sembilang and Betet Island.
Enjoying the beauty of mangrove forests in Sembilang National Park is another attraction in the swampy areas along the rivers and sea. You can ask officials to take you to crocodile, snake, and bird nests, or to marvel at the endangered plants. You can also fish here catching five kilograms of fish within one hour according to local inhabitants.
To explore this area, you can take a speed boat or barge except when you wish to explore swampy areas. It will be more fun if you use a canoe. To visit the transit area of the migrant birds, you have to walk 500 meters to the sea through mud because the water level is only as high as an adult’s chest.
You can take a speed boat of 40 (PK) capacity to reach Sembilang National Park. There are two routes to this area; from Sungsang, the capital city of Banyuasin II sub-district which will take you about two hours, or from Palembang which will take you about four hours.
To travel around the national park, you must first obtain a permit from the office of Sembilang National Park at AMD street, Kelurahan Talang Jambe, Sukarami subdistrict, Palembang. This offices purpose is to provide you with guards to take rivers, bays and seas. It is best if you contact the management office at least one week in advance, so as to enable them to prepare your needs. The waves in this area are very dangerous and if your boats crew is not experienced, your speed boat may turn upside down.
There are some useful tips for those of you who wish to visit this area. Please bring along a rain coat, big plastic bags, food and fuel. Avoid night journeys, unless you like to see crocodiles.