Balikpapan Rainforest Canopy Walk | Borneo Travel

Jungle adventure in East Kalimantan

Balikpapan Rainforest Canopy Walk | Borneo Travel

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

Balikpapan Indonesia
Canopy Bridge view. Photos: Irene Isaacson

Balikpapan in East Kalimantan on the east coast of Indonesian Borneo is not exactly your everyday tourist destination.

It is mainly frequented by international workers involved in the currently booming coal and oil mining projects.  

Balikpapan Shopping Centre

Others include a few tourists who visit the Samboja Lestari Orangutan and Sun Bear Sanctuary. This is one of the more easily accessible places to see rescued animals in a natural tertiary forest environment in Indonesia.

Orangutan Samboja Lestari

Bangkirai Hill Rainforest – a nature lover’s delight

One hour from the Samboja Lestari Ecolodge, or 90 minutes north west of Balikpapan, is a primary rainforest, Bukit Bangkirai or Bangkirai Hill.

The 15km road to the entrance is not sealed and can be rough. You need your own mode of transportation as there is no public transport to access it.  

Canopy Bridge entrance

There is a small entrance fee so have some loose cash with you.  Note also that the only toilets in the area are at the entrance.

The Canopy Bridge near Balikpapan

There are many treks through the rainforest for visitors.  But a short walk from the entrance is the highlight. The Canopy Bridge is high up in the forest canopy.

Canopy Bridge sign

It is a system of linked rope bridges at a height of 35 to 40 metres.

Interspersed impressive solid platforms give a great vantage point to see local wildlife.

If you are lucky you may spot hornbills, gibbons, leaf monkeys, macaques and maroon langur monkeys.  

Binoculars are a definite asset. And don’t forget to insect repellent as the mosquitoes are fierce.

Canopy Bridge

The Bridge

The bridge was built in 1998 from imported materials from the USA. The only local material used was the timber.

The sign at the entrance describing the construction was written in funny Indonesian English. 

Balikpapan Indonesia
“This canopy bridge was built in January 1998 by 6 men from canopy contraction associated with USA with helped from local people.  Finished on February 1998, so its only one month to make it stand and ready.  Except wood, all materials are import from USA. It could be 15-20 years old as long as the tree’s life. Very safety for the family even the grow enough children”.


Balikpapan Indonesia
Canopy Bridge information sign

Views to die for

The early morning started out with bright sunshine that changed to a tropical downpour as we approached the Canopy Bridge entrance.  

Balikpapan Indonesia
Canopy Bridge huge tree

Although we persisted with the walk, the rain sent all the wildlife scurrying for cover so our visit was fairly wildlife free.  

Balikpapan Indonesia
Canopy Bridge tree sign

It was still worthwhile as the thrill of negotiating the swinging canopy walk in the rain and wind was a challenge, especially when trying to take photos.   

Balikpapan Indonesia
Canopy Bridge rope crossing

The forest impacts on the local climate by increasing rainfall and reducing the ambient temperature by several degrees.  

From the canopy we could see huge clouds rising from the forest prior to it coming back at us as rain.  

Balikpapan Indonesia
Canopy Bridge view

A few macaques and hornbills were running for cover, as well as two beautiful peacocks.  

The sounds in the canopy were also very different from those on the rain forest floor.

The walk is easy, if you are not afraid of heights, but the steps could be challenging to some.

Borneo travel
Canopy Bridge exit steps

Best advice for travel to Balikpapan

If you are in the vicinity of Balikpapan, you should not miss an opportunity to visit this rainforest.  

Borneo travel
Bangkirai Rainforest tree canopy

The best times to visit would be the early morning or late afternoon when the forest comes alive.  

Do not try it in the rainy season. If the weather is too treacherous the bridge is likely to be closed, so it is always best to check beforehand.

Remember this is a rainforest. Weather patterns can change rather quickly.  So a poncho or rain jacket, lots of water to drink and some very good insect repellent are a must.

Irene Isaacson travelled at her own expenses.

Irene Isaacson travelled at her own expenses.

Discover Bali

If you’re wondering where to stay in Bali, read this review about The Mansion Baliwood.

Find out more about white water rafting Bali Ayung River in this post.

things to do in Indonesia