If you wish to see Sulawesi’s many strange animals, like the cute little tarsiers, the maleo birds, macaques and others, but do not have the time nor the patience to hike into the forests, then your answer must surely be a visit to the Tandurusa ZoologicalGardens in the city ofBitung, the harbor city of Manado, capital of North Sulawesi province.
The Tandurusa Park, located in the Tandurusa area in the subdistrict of Aertembaga in Bitung, was originally built by Boy Gumolung, and was at first aimed for commercial purposes, but the park was later taken over by the local government. The Park is often visited by domestic and international visitors. Locals also love to come here with their entire family and continue enjoying water sport and recreation on the nearby beach along the Lembeh Strait.
Despite its relatively small size, the Tandurusa Park boasts a rare collection of Sulawesi’s fauna. Here are black macaques, babirusa wild boars, tarsiers, toucan hornbills, kuskus bears, black cuckatoos, sea eagles, some species of snakes and a giant python snake. When walking in this Park through cool forests you will be greeted by the chirping of birds, and the screech of monkeys in the green foliage.
All the animals are kept in cages so that it is possible to see tarsiers, which are night animals, even during the day but since they are shy animals you must be patient to wait until they climb up a tree. While at the Tangkoko Reserve the tarsiers roam free and only come out at night.
The Tarsius monkey has become the icon of the province of North Sulawesi, It is tiny that you can easily hold it in the palm of your hand. They grow to between 10 to 15 cm, weighing only 80 grams. What sets them apart are their large saucer eyes that are unusually large for their small size. Their long arms and fingers allow them to jump great distances from one tree to the other. Tarsiers are faithful animals, taking only one mate throughout their lifetime. And even when the mate dies the remaining tarsius will continue to live alone.
The city of Manado and its surroundings are famous for thier unique and delicious cuisine, without exception the town of Bitung. Stop at the old market, the Pasar Tua in the subdistrict of Bitung Tengah (Central Bitung), and try the delectable ikan woku belanga. This is finely sliced grouper fish drenched in a thick sauce, a mix of various ingredients like stir fried shallots, basil leaves, pandanus leaves, red chilli, turmeric, ginger and candlenut. Eat this with a plate of steamed rice.
In 2013, the Mayor of Bitung also officiated at the opening of the Dapoer Sagerat restaurant, the largest in this city, situated at Jalan Sagerat-Tanjung Merah, standing on an area of 2 hectares, the restaurant serves mainly fresh seafood and barbequed fish.
Bitung’s abundant fish catch makes fish products the ideal food to take home. These include fried tuna sambal, or tuna in woku sauce prepared in tins. There is also fish called kornet ikan oles or kornet sliced tuna. These cost between Rp 7,000 to Rp 9,000 each per tin.
Do pass by Girian, where you can see people busy smoking tuna that can be eaten at site or taken home, the dish is called cakalang fufu. The grouper is sliced in two halves, its intestines taken out and cleaned then both halves are lanced with a bamboo stick to keep them together. The tuna fish, here called cakalang is smoked to make it last and to rid it from bacteria and of course for its special taste.
The nearest hotel to Tandurusa is the Kungkungan Bay Resort. Other hotels in Bitung are Fatamorgana Hotel, Hotel Nalendra,Hotel Melati Krista, Hotel Nice Bambu and Hotel Phoenix.
The Tandurusa Zoo is a favorite with the whole family, where children get educated and become familiar with wildlife. Distances between cages are not too far, and it is only some 200 to 300 meters away from the Lembeh Strait coastline. Satisfied with watching the animals, take a dip or snorkel in the clear blue sea, or just watch the enchanting sunset over Sulawesi.
The journey from Manado, capital of the province of North Sulawesi to Bitung takes approximately 2 hours by car. Public buses ply Manado-Bitung route with fares costing Rp 7,500. Upon arrival at the Tangkoko Terminal at Bitung, take bus C1 or C2 into the center of town, which costs Rp 3,000. From here you can continue by bus route H, or take a motorbike taxi – ojek – to the Tandurusa Zooligical Park, The fare is around Rp 10,000 to Rp 15,000.