Spotting turtles in Indonesia
Sukamade is a small village in the national park “Meru Betiri” on the South coast of Java. It is located in the middle of the jungle, isolated from civilization.
In the evening after sunset, sea turtles arrive here to lay their eggs on the beach. You can witness this spectacular event. It is impressive to see how the large turtles (100kg-350kg) that live in the ocean, move slowly on land and carefully dig a hole for their eggs (around 100) that they are going to lay. If you are lucky enough to see the turtles come ashore, this is an unforgettable and unique experience to remember!
On average, 2 to 5 turtles arrive at night to lay eggs. The chances of seeing the turtles are the greatest in the months of July and August, but of course there is no 100% guarantee. The whole trip is a very special experience anyway.
Sukamade is home to the rangers whose task it is to protect the vulnerable turtles. The rangers ensure that the eggs buried by the turtles on the beach are protected from predators and poachers alike. The project now exists for almost 50 years and is successful.
Once the turtle has laid the eggs and returned to the sea, the eggs are dug up by the rangers and taken to a protected area where they are safe until the little turtles hatch after about 55 days.
The release of the turtles
Because eggs are dug up almost daily, small turtles also hatch almost daily. These little turtles are then released back into the ocean. You can help.
It is really special to see how the turtles instinctively run towards the ocean and later, when they are grown – and sometimes live more than 2600 kilometers away – return to the same beach of Sukamade to lay their eggs themselves.
The turtles that lay their eggs on the beach in Sukamade normally live on the East coast of Australia, Papua New Guinea and even the southern Pacific.
It is amazing how these turtles, generation after generation, find their way back to the same beach. The turtles can live up to 100 years. Think about what they have already seen in their life.
The trip to Sukamade is very adventurous. With a 4WD jeep you drive with your driver through villages, forests and plantations. Along the way you can see how palm sugar is made and at the coast you will stop at a bay where the typical wooden canoes quietly wait for their next sea trip.
Then you continue your way through the jungle on a bumpy road and you even have to cross the river by jeep. Along the way you can encounter giant bats, monkeys, deer, forest cats, beautiful birds and large iguanas (up to 1.5 to 2 meters). Sometimes you hear the sound of a strange steam locomotive… this is the flapping wings of the hornbill. Black panthers also live in this protected area of jungle, and it is said you can find here also the last remaining Javanese tigers.
Tranquility and simplicity
You will spend the night in a simple accommodation. A large shared room with a number of beds and a simple bathroom. At 10 p.m. the generator switches off and there is no electricity anymore, only kerosene lamps.
Just before sunset, hundreds of bats fly over the jungle. In the distance you will hear animal sounds. The whole area is full of peace and quietness. Here you are really away from civilization.
An experience never to forget
The release of a little turtle in the ocean… one day, when it is grown up, it will return to the same beach