Many of East Java’s forests have been serving as a national park for decades. One of them is Meru Betiri in Jember Regency, on the southern side of Java. Meru Betiri National Park covers an area as wide as 58,000 hectares. Its colorful wildlife shows on the land, up in the sky, and along the seashore.
This rich variety of life forms contributes to its other name; Home of Biodiversity. It has four different zones: Wilderness Zone, Intensive Utilization Zone, Rehabilitation Zone, Special Utilization Zone. Those have varied sizes: 22,622 hectares, 1,285 hectares, 4,023 hectares, and 2,155 hectares, respectively.
The largest, Wilderness Zone, is home to animals and plants of numerous species. In detail, there are at least 29 species of mammal and 180 species of bird. The wild native residents of Meru Betiri include Javanese bull banteng, boars, and green peafowls.
Some zoologists suspect there is a handful of Javanese tigers living in the area. Many experts believe that these kinds of Indonesian jungle have gone extinct long ago. As for the vegetation, there are approximately 293 species of plants growing in the conservation.
Meru Betiri National Park The First Steps of Baby Sea Turtles
The beach on the eastern end of Meru Betiri, Sukamade, has a sea turtle conservation. Here, visitors can see leatherback turtles, green turtles, olive ridley turtles, and hawksbill turtles. The officials take good nurturing care of the eggs, waiting for them to hatch.
They highly protect the eggs and keep them safe, away from poachers and natural predators. Once the eggs have hatched and baby turtles are born, the caretakers feed them well. They make sure that each baby is physically well-nourished before being released into the ocean.
After spending some time in a closely monitored environment, it’s time to let them go. Their “nannies” take these fragile infants to the shore and put them on the sand. Instinctively, the little turtles will crawl their way to the choppy sea. Leaving nothing but trails and memories, it is as heartwarming as it is sad.
Plenty of Beaches
Beachgoers will have lots of fun coming to Meru Betiri thanks to its panoramic beaches. Other than Sukamade Beach, it has Bandealit, Rajegwesi, and Teluk Hijau Beach. Each is stunning in its own way that separates one from another. Bandealit Beach offers pale gray sand and dark blue ocean, surrounded by green hills.
It is the perfect spot to do some bodyboarding, swimming, or simply sunbathing. Kilometers of soft warm sand and bright blue water greet everyone at Rajegwesi Beach. Since there are fishermen around the site, tourists can buy their freshly caught fish.
At Teluk Hijau Beach, gigantic rocks become natural wave breakers for the white sandy coast. Its crystal clear turquoise water invites everyone to take a plunge and make some splash. Only a few people go to the beaches, resulting in addictive tranquility.
Driving Through the Wild
Truck and jeeps are the best modes of transportation to explore Meru Betiri on land. That is due to the density of the forest and nerve-wracking terrains. The national park’s officials rent those vehicles along with a professional and experienced driver.
One truck (and the driver) costs Rp 500,000 whereas one jeep costs Rp 800,000. It is better to rent one of those rides with a big group of people. Hitching a ride on those vehicles really pumps up the adrenaline of the adventure. Crossing through shallow rivers and passing on bumpy dirt tracks are part of the sensations.
Adventurers should ask the driver to take them to see the endemic Rafflesia zollingeriana. This rare plant blooms into a beautiful flower unlike any other in the world.
Living in Religious Harmony
The nearby Sarongan Village is an example of living side by side with other religions. Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Buddha are four faiths practiced in the village close to the forest. Houses of worships of each religious teaching are within a short distance to one another.
However, the villagers show great respect and tolerance with those of different faiths. Thanks to its zero conflict and everlasting peace, many dubs it as Pancasila Village. When one of them dies, everyone is busy preparing the funeral regardless of their belief. They will all pray for the deceased in their own prayers to their own gods.
As the religious tolerance in some places in Indonesia fades away, Sarongan Village seems unaffected. Peace, respect, and tolerance remain the main values of this humble and quiet settlement.
Meru Betiri National Park Opening Hours
The National Park is open every day from 8 AM to 5 PM. To enter the conservation area, visitors can submit an online request through their official website. Or simply just filling the form in the office.
|Meru Betiri National Park Opening Hour|
|Every day||08:00 – 17:00 WIB|
Meru Betiri National Park Entrance Fee
For the foreign tourist, one has to pay Rp 150,000 on weekdays. On weekends and national holidays, the admission ticket for one foreign tourist is Rp 225,000.
|Meru Betiri National Park Entrance Fee|
|Foreign Weekday||Rp 150.000|
|Camping /day/person||Rp 5.000|
|Hiking and Climbing||Rp 5.000|
|Watching Wildlife||Rp 10.000|
|Scuba Diving||Rp 25.000|
|Canoeing or kayaking||Rp 25.000|
|Canopy Trail||Rp 25.000|
Just like national parks in general, Meru Betiri National Park has park rangers and guides. It provides simple motels at Sukamade Beach, Bandealit Beach, Rajegwesi Beach at an affordable price. Camping ground and water sports gears are also available at those beaches.
Bandealit Beach even has its own orchid greenhouse near the shoreline. Since the motels do not provide food and drink, guests have to bring their own. Also, please bear in mind that the power is out every 11 PM. Therefore, make sure to recharge the batteries of all electronic devices before.
However, the total darkness allows travelers to enjoy the pollution-free night sky. The stars are twinkling brightly alongside the moon subtle ray—what a night to remember.
How To Get To Meru Betiri National Park
To save up some time, explorers better rent a car or motorcycle to get here. The nearby Jember and Banyuwangi are the right points to start the road trip. From Jember, the route is Jember – Ambulu – Curahnongko – Bandealit, and it takes two hours.
After tackling this 64-kilometer distance, adventurers should arrive at Meru Betiri’s west gate. From Banyuwangi, the route is Banyuwangi – Jajag – Pesanggaran – Sarongan – Sukamade, about 97 kilometers (four hours).