About Mahakam

About Mahakam

About Mahakam river east Kalimantan

Mahakam River is a intriguing history of Sultan Kingdoms and traditional Dayak Tribes, with a wealth of ecological and cultural treasures that survive deep within the rainforest jungle of Indonesia is largest island. It’s the highway into Kalimantan is dense jungle to discover the rich Dayak Culture .

The grand diversity of exotic flora and wildlife from black orchids to fresh water dolphins and orangutans are part of tourist attraction during cruising up the river. The Mahakam River is the most important traffic route in East-Kalimantan. Between the spring in the mountains and the delta along the coast, the river measures somewhere 1.000 kilometers. In between several big rivers mouth in the Mahakam River. .


The Mahakam springs in the 1500 to 2000 meter high Muller Range, not too far from the border with Sarawak. Before streaming down about 100 kilometers to the first Dayak village, Long Apari, three side-rivers – Apari, Hubung and Kasau – join the Mahakam. After several dozen small mountain villages, the river falls down about 150 meters through several dangerous rapids.

Besides several noisy longboat there is no other traffic here. The Dayak along the Upper-Mahakam mainly live from agriculture ( ladang cultures ).Incidental income are gained from birds nests, ratten and washed gold. Because of the hard and dangerous transport through the rapids, basic goods are extensively expensive.


The village of Long Bagun, on threehundred kilometers from the spring of the Mahakam, is the final destination of traffic on the river, besides several longboat. The river reaches the small city of Long Iram through several more than 150 km long valleys, this is the final destination of the organised, heavy traffic. A big part of the year, smaller ships will continue the trip to Long Bagun, but a period of drought in the hinterlands can cause the waterlevel to drop very fast and make traffic impossible.


After Long Iram, the river widens. The brown water turns through the endless lowlands to the sea. Slowly the small villages are replaced by small cities. Through the sky, the distance between Long Iram and Samarinda is about 175 kilometers but over water it’s about twice that distance.

Near Muara Pahu, where a big side-river flows in the Mahakam, the hungry traveller is welcomed by a long row of food stalls. Several hours downstream, the river lingers between four big lakes. After that is streams towards the north to meet it’s most important side rivers near Muara Kaman, the Kedang Kepala and Belayan.

Most boats will stop for a dinner on Senoni, about 30 km downstream from Muara Kaman. Senoni is the place to be for a culinair trip. Near Tenggarong, the governmental center of the Mahakam beaken, the river becomes a crowded traffic route for ships in all kinds and sizes. This lively crowd is kept until Samarinda, where the seaworthy ships make themselves ready for departure to Makassar Strait, 60 km to the east.


Tenggarong is 39 kilometers away from Samarinda. It is the capital of the Kutai regency, and is almost two centuries old. Up to 1960, the regency was know as the special District of Kutai. The remains of the Kutai Kertanegara Kingdom are found in this town. The old palace is now the State Museum of Mulawarman.

The center of the Kutai Kingdom is presumed to have been in the vicinity of Muara Kaman. Due to fear of foreign incursions, it was moved upstream , to Jembayan village. The King acting on divine advice given to him in a dream, later again moved the Kingdom’s seat of power, to what is now the town of Tenggarong. It has a Museum of the Sultans history and is Building a Tourism Park at the Island “Kumala” which will become a sight show of East Kalimantans wealth in Culture and Nature.

- Oranghutantours.com

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