Tangkoko

Tangkoko National Park Travel Blog

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grooming

Tangkoko is a tiny patch of forest nestled at the furthest end of the odd shaped peninsular which makes up Northern Sulawesi. This forest is home to an incredible array of creatures and we had decided to seek them out and enjoy the sights of Tangkoko for a few days. 

We stayed at a really nice home stay called Mama Roos and were stuffed full of Nasi Gorang, fish (sorry suz), eggs, papaya, pineapple at every opportunity. We got up sooooo early, actually toooo early to appreciate the forest! And before 5am we were stumbling bleary eyed over buttress roots and under spiky palm trees in the pitch black. Around us the forest was waking up, the cicadas following close behind the riot of sound caused by the birds.

on the beach
 

The first animal we encountered was a bizarre marsupial called a Cus cus; we couldn’t really tell you what they looked like as we could only see their arses about 30m up in the canopy! We did get a glimpse of a face and they were quite teddy bear like. They were pretty sluggish and so we left them to it as it did not look as if they were going to do anything interesting anytime soon.

We had come to see the Sulawesi black macaques. Tangkoko has the only viable population of these primates in the world, unfortunately they are hunted for meat and served up at weddings and Christmas, they are also threatened by habitat destruction. There is so little forest left in Sulawesi it is surprising there is any wildlife left at all.  We heard the sound of moving vegetation and came face to face with a troop of macaques strolling purposefully on all fours through the forest.

The beach - an no we didnt put that flower there, really....
There were about 80 macaques in the troop and we spent about an hour watching them feeding, playing and grooming. They were handsome looking animals, their black coats fairly uniform except a punk like quiff on their heads. They had striking orange eyes and huge canine teeth which they displayed frequently t one another by yawning or grimacing, their antics were so interesting to watch. We were also immersed in macaque speech they made strange yipping and yarring noises, squeaks and lip smacking sounds continuously. Again we felt so lucky to be so close to such critically endangered animals.

It was time to leave the macaques in peace and we continued our forest walk and spotted some of the other forest creatures which included a couple of species of kingfisher, some skinks and couple of flying lizards.

A little too close for comfort
The flying lizards were really active and flashed their orange wings and flicked out their yellow dulaps at us excitedly.

That evening we returned to the forest with out guide to see the Tarsiers. Tangkoko is home to the spectral Tarsier a tiny little primate with huge huge eyes and big bat like ears. We had already seen tarsiers in Borneo but a larger solitary species. Here in Tangkoko the Tarsiers are half the size and live in small family groups which shelter in hollow trees during the day time. Before we reached the Tarsiers resting point a load call alerted us to a pair of Red knobbed hornbills high above us in the canopy, we saw one bird toss up and catch a fig in her huge bill with amazing dexterity.  

At the Tarsier tree we sat and waited in respectful silence listening to the birds, lorikeets, parrots and cockatoos.

Waiting for the tarsier
Soon more tourists appeared and one of the guides started poking around in the tree and hassling the sleepy Tarsiers, we got into a bit of an argument and we had to leave, luckily there was another tree and when we got there a Tarsier had already made its appearance and was in the process of grooming itself before its night time bug hunting. From the back I have to say it was quite rat like, but its face was really really cute with a small upturned nose and huge amber eyes, its ears swiveled in the direction of any sound, they boinged from branch to branch with breath taking speed. The walk back was also interesting we saw several huge tarantulas on tree trunks and several small geckos. The puddles in the road were teaming with frogs, there were several huge fat things creating a deafening racket.
Tarsier

At Tangkoko the forest goes right down to a stunning beach. The black volcanic sand was baking but suz and I braved a walk to the edge of the forest and were rewarded with an hour of fun with the macaques on the beach. Most of the time they were lounging around feeding on seeds that had washed up, a bit of a fight kicked off and we nearly got to see their wicked fangs in action. It was a morning well spent.

Later on I went with our guide to a waterfall to try and find other weird and wonderful creatures. We startled a maleo fowl out from hiding. A chicken like bird which lay their eggs in mounds of vegetation. The maleo bird constantly checks the mounds temperature and will add or remove vegetation so that the mound remains at the correct temperature for the eggs to incubate.

tarantula
Like nearly everything else out here the maleo are in decline as people collect the eggs so we were pretty lucky to see the one bird. After half an hour of following a tiny path in the forest we reached the huge waterfall. We followed the river back the way we had come scrambling over boulders, buttress roots and rapids. We were rewarded with some cool finds, several skinks, a few species of frogs and feisty cobra so it was successful if slightly tiring excursion.

Once again our time was up all to soon and we headed off on the back of a crowded pick up for our mammoth journey to the Togean islands.

 

 

 

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grooming
grooming
on the beach
on the beach
The beach - an no we didnt put tha…
The beach - an no we didnt put th…
A little too close for comfort
A little too close for comfort
Waiting for the tarsier
Waiting for the tarsier
Tarsier
Tarsier
tarantula
tarantula
Sulawesi toad
Sulawesi toad
frog at waterfall
frog at waterfall
forest gecko
forest gecko
Snake
Snake
Tangkoko National Park
photo by: inikeke