It’s always nice to travel and work at the same time. Challenging myself to accept an offer from my dad’s friend’s travel company, I worked as a French tour guide. I went with Frederic, Jerome, and Tanguy to Bromo and Ijen via Sukamade. I’ve never been to Sukamade before. So, besides of earning more money, I also grab this opportunity to make survey for my own adventure tour operator company. What else could be better than getting to know new place, making survey for free, meeting and learning from new people, and getting paid? It was perfect! 🙂
Sukamade is the name of a beach in Meru Betiri National Park, Banyuwangi, where turtles usually put their eggs on. During certain time, turtles seek some beaches to put their eggs, bury them deeply under the sand, and let the eggs naturally hatched. However, due to human’s greedy nature, many eggs were stolen from the beach, and being sold in black market trade. Thus, Meru Betiri National Park was making a hatchery for the turtles. The eggs will be brought to the hatchery center, and buried until they naturally hatched. The baby turtles then are put into an aquarium for 7 days as “adaptation” phase before they will be sent to the beach.
I visited this beach as a guide of an organized tour, thus I came there by private car. I started the journey from Kalibaru, Banyuwangi by taking 4 wheel drive jeep, and it took like 5 hours to reach Sukamade. You can reserve a 4 wheel drive jeep at Kalibaru. Most of the hotels have this kind of service, and they even organize a tour to Sukamade. So far, renting private car will be the best and easiest option. However, I was amazed that there were some European guys coming with public transport to Sukamade. I had no idea how they got there, but maybe they got ride from a truck that went to rubber factory near to Sukamade. Those guys had style, man!
What To Do?
- Bird watching and (shallow) swimming. I went to a river in the late afternoon to get some refreshment. Remember : it’s not Amazon, the river’s depth was not more than my knee. The guys went swimming while I did bird watching. We found some toucans and bats flying home that afternoon.
- Waiting for the turtles to come to the shore. Well, it was nice activity, anyway. I went there when it was full moon, so it was pretty romantic to watch the moon with a handsome French boy… who was 12 years old. Ahahaha 😀
- Watching the turtle delivering its eggs. if you’re not brave enough to see human delivering their baby’s birth, watching a turtle lying its eggs is more than enough.
- Watching turtle bury her eggs and go back to the sea. People normally went back to their lodge after they watch the turtle lying her eggs. However, if you want to be a bit more patient, you can see how turtle made camouflage to keep her eggs safe. Watching the “turtle mama” going back to the sea also gave me a touching feeling. I know what she thought was more or less like this; “Kids, be safe there. I’ll find your daddy. He has to pay the bill!”
- Animal watching. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll be able to see some animals hunting foods in the night. I saw some deer and pigs. In the day, you can see some species of monkey hanging around on the trees. They were photogenic. Trust me 🙂
- Releasing turtle. Well, it may look interesting to release baby turtles to the sea. However, we have to know that baby turtle doesn’t eat anything until they lost their placenta. It took like 7 days. Sometimes, because the demand is high (and the economical income so), the ‘under aged” turtles were released. It will kill them, because they are not ready enough to hunt any food before the placenta has totally gone.
- Visiting Teluk Hijau (green bay). This is what we call as paradise! It was so calm, quiet, and “untouched”. It has white sands and in the rainy season, there will be a waterfall there. We were like in our private beach, minus the party :p
We don’t have many options regarding accommodation. The youngsters prefer to set the tent. While I stayed at a lodge. It was basic accommodation with typical Indonesian “bak mandi” way of taking bath. There are two choices of lodge. The first one is called “wisma pantai” (beach lodge), which is closer to the Sukamade beach. I prefer to stay at “wisma kebun” (garden lodge). It has a mini restaurant with quite peaceful environment.
How Can I Feed My Appetite?
You better carry food yourselves if you choose to stay at wisma pantai or setting tents. But if you stay at wisma kebun, they will cook for you. It costs around IDR 40.000,-/pax
Is there any notice I should pay attention to?
Bring your mosquito repellent. When I was there, there was no single mosquito. But just to let you know, mosquitoes are everywhere in Indonesia. Just be prepared 🙂 And yes, please bring some sarong or mattress, or whatever available as a layering. You’ll wait for hours for the turtle to come. You may fall asleep, too. Thus, bringing a linen to lie down is a good idea 🙂