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Kalimantan is the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, which is shared with Malaysia and Brunei. Unlike these countries, the Indonesian part is less developed and travelling through the interior is still quite an experience, yes even an expedition if you like.
Kalimantan's total area is 544,150 square kilometres. Kalimantan is divided into five provinces:
Kalimantan has a hot and humid tropical climate. Temperatures are usually between 25 °C at night and around 30 °C or a little more during the day. There is little variation regarding temperatures throughout the year, and even rainfall is possible in all months. There is no real dry season, but rainfall is highest between October and April and somewhat lower from June to September. The interior is both wetter and cooler than the coastal areas.
There are several airports in Kalimantan with flights to for example Jakarta and several other destinations in Indonesia. By far the busiest airport though is Sepinggan International Airport (BPN) near Balikpapan on the eastcoast of Kalimantan. It has flights to Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Manado, Kota Bharu, Makassar and Singapore.
The airports near Banjarmasin and Pontianak serve as the main gateway for the the south and west of Kalimantan respectively, with at least flights to Jakarta and also to Kuching in Malaysian Sarawak from the latter. Kalimantan has no connections with Kota Kinabalu in Sabah or with Brunei.
The only crossing over land is the road between Kuching in Malaysian Sarawak and Pontianak in West Kalimantan.
Buses connect Pontianak with Kuching, usually leaving in the morning and arriving around 9-10 hours later during the late afternoon or early evening.
Pelni, the main ferry operator in Indonesia, has connections to a number of cities/islands, including Sulawesi and Java (Jakarta and Surabaya). There are ferry connections from Balikpapan, Samarinda, Banjarmasin, Pontianak and Kumai. Catching a cargoship might be an option as well.
There are also connections between Tawau in Sabah and both Nunukan and Tarakan in East Kalimantan.
There are quite a few airports apart from the major three mentioned above. Most of them have daily connections, including a few airstrips in Central Kalimantan. Dirgantara Air Service (DAS), Batavia Air and Trigana Air have most flights, but routes and airlines change quite frequently, so ask around.
Hiring a car with driver is recommended and quite cheap, especially if you are with 2 or 3 persons. Driving yourself, unlike in Malaysian Borneo, is not recommended in Kalimantan.
Buses travel regularly between Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan and both Balikpapan and Samarinda in East Kalimantan. West Kalimantan has no services to/from South or East Kalimantan, you have to go trekking and take river boats or take a flight. There are buses however between several places in West Kalimantan, from Pontianak both inland and in northern and southern direction. Central Kalimantan has few roads.
One of Kalimantan’s highlights is to travel up the Sungai Mahakam river on a longboat. This bascially is a narrow vessel with two large outboard motors at the rear and bench seats in a covered passenger cabin. They still ply the river on a daily basis despite more and more roads opening up for buses and 4wd vehicles.
Small motorised canoes and speedboats are common modes of transport at the smaller rivers in the central parts of Kalimantan and river taxi's in more remote areas.
Along the Sungai Kapuas river in West Kalimantan there are large large cargo-cum-houseboats (called 'bandung') that take up to a month to move upriver to Putussibau!
There are also a few boats travelling all around Kalimantan's southern coastline, mostly ferries en route to other islands, stopping in various ports on Kalimantan.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Kalimantan searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Kalimantan and areas nearby.
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