The Tangkoko Nature Reserve is a flora and fauna conservation area on Mount Tangkoko in the district of Bitung in the province of North Sulawesi, about one hours drive from Manado. The reserve is particularly attractive for its unique wildlife that can be observed roaming free in the forest.
The tarsiers, the black macaque monkeys, maleo birds, cuscus and the hornbills make this their habitat.
Tarsiers are the smallest primates in the world – only about a fist size – who make Tangkoko their last refuge and are found only in Sulawesi. Tarsiers (tarsius spectrum) look particularly cute because of their big saucer eyes. Locals know them as: tangkasi. Since these are nocturnal animals they can be observed only at night.
The crested black macaques (macaca nigra), endemic to Sulawesi, usually come in large social groups, and can be seen playing, fighting or grooming themselves. While the cuscus, a pouched animal can be seen among the trees when one is particularly lucky.
Located about an hours drive from Manado, you will first pass the Batuputih Nature Park that lies between Batuputih Bawah sub district and the Tangkoko Nature Reserve at Batuangus.
Covering an area of 615 hectares, the Batuputih Nature Park is a savanna suitable for camping, outbound activities and relaxing by the beach. Since Batuputih is mostly visited by tourists, it is therefore also the most well known, although it is only one of four conservation areas at Tangkoko.
In addition to the Batuputih Park, the Tangkoko Reserve covers a total area of 3,196 hectares, where the Batuangus Nature Reserve has 635 hectares (located between the Tangkoko Nature Reserve and Pinangunian village), while the Dua saudara Nature Reserve covers 4,299 hectares (which includes Mount Dua saudara and its surrounding areas).
If you do not wish to stay overnight, it is best to bring along your own food and drinks, especially if you want to walk around the forests in the Tangkoko National Park.
No souvenir shops are available to buy near this area since it borders the Batuputih Bawah village.
At Batuputih are inns and guest houses managed by local inhabitants for rent to visitors. Their rates vary depending on facilities.
In this conservation area you may travel by car from Post I to Post II. Before reaching Post II, you will find a secondary tropical forest where are trees and pioneer plants such as forest betels, flower wood and binunga. At Post II, you can park your car and walk to explore the forest. Here are groups of Sulawesi black macaques (Macaca Nigra) and going deeper into the forest, you can hear the singing of birds such as that of the Rangon, the Kingfisher, doves and many more.
From Batu Putih, you are nearing the border of the Tangkoko Nature Reserve. This border is not quite clear but your local guide will tell you when you reach it. Visitors who explore Batuputih or the Tangkoko National Park must be accompanied by a Park guide, except for those who are experienced mountain climbers or are local or foreign researchers.
Upon entering Batuputih, you will see tall trees, particularly at Post I or at its entrance gate. On the left, you can see beautiful beaches and rest areas. Entrance fee to Batuputih and the Tangkoko Nature Reserve, including guide fee is a minimum Rp 70.000.
At the second post, you will find temporary shelters for researchers, who are mostly foreigners. When traveling around the forest, you will find them observing animal behavior in Tangkoko such as that of the local black monkey (Macaca Nigra), the Tarsius Spectrum, the smallest monkey in the world and various bird species.
This conservation area for endangered species in Bitung is located some 70 kilometers from Manado. Tourists prefer to visit Batuputih, making it the favourite tourist destination of Tangkoko.
It takes about an hours drive from Manado to Bitung and a further 45 minutes from Bitung to Batuputih travelling by winding asphalt roads.
Here are some tips given by travel agents:
Dress appropriately. Wear light, breathable clothing that dries quickly. Drab colours are preferable; avoid whites and reds. Although it is hot, long sleeves and pants prevent scratches and insect bites. Use insect repellent and tuck your pants into your socks to minimize insect, leech and mite bites.
Carry good binoculars; without them even the most spectacular birds will be no more than a shiny dot in the canopy. Carry a waterproof bag big enough for binoculars and cameras in case of a downpour.
Go slowly, quietly and in small groups (no more than 5) so animals will be less likely to be disturbed by your presence.
Seek out fruiting trees, especially figs, or pools and streams. These are profitable places to sit and wait for wildlife, particularly birds.
Sit often and for long periods and search for the things that tend to go unnoticed like glossy beetles, graceful butterflies, velvety ants, and exquisite but minute flowers.
Be aware of sounds – the buzzing of insects, calls of birds, rustling in the underbrush. Quite often these cues are the first indication that something is about to happen.
Go early. Most birds and many mammals are active in the morning with their movements dropping off by midday. The afternoon peak is never as energetic as the morning but these are good times to visit streams and water sources.
When viewing monkeys, let them approach you on their own terms. If you stoop down and avoid looking directly in their eyes they will be less inhibited. Do not chase or pursue monkeys and never feed them. No matter how innocent they may look, wild monkeys bite and carry dangerous diseases.
When viewing tarsiers at night don’t forget your flashlight. However be considerate of their extremely sensitive eyes.