Cross post about one of our best experiences.
--------24 April 2012----------------
Kalibaru to Sukamade.
90km - 6 hours.
Sukamade is a beach in some natioanal park. It's often called turtle beach. Reliably, year round, you can touch giant sea turtles, collect their eggs, and play with/release the freshly hatched 50 at time.
The guide books says the road is rough with many river crossings. My pride is still hurt from hiring the 4wd car for Bromo. I'm determined to make it in the Ural. The tour operator thinks we're idiots and trys to disaude me. I'm pretty stubbon. They agree (heads shaking) to let us try as long as they follow us in a 4wd. Anna rides in their Landrover and the guide hops in my hack to show us the way. He's noticably nervous with the oncoming traffic and lack of control. Sidecar is on the wrong side for Indonesia so he sees the oncoming first and gets the closest pass to busses and trucks. We stop by a lovely fishing village. Colorful dual outrigger canoes. Since we're going to the beach I didn't account for mountains. Figured it would be just flat and rocky. Wrong. Mountains right before the coast. Steep and rocky. This was never a real road. I don't know if the boulders we're driving on were placed or just what was left when the dirt eroded away. It gets very steep and very bumpy. We have to keep up speed or there's not enough torque in the Ural. A few times we stop on an incline and go (literally) flying to the right when I don't slip the clutch enough at 4k RPM to get moving again. A few times it feels like we might tip backwards over the rear tires. The road is scarily uneven in the worst places and there's some puckering "sidecar's gonna flip and crush us both" moments. Anna was in the sidecar for a bit but I make her get out and the guide back in. He's more replaceable. Even the Land Rover is in 4wd low and crawling along. Scooters loaded with illegally harvested bamboo ('cus it's a national park) easily pass us in both directions. They're small and light enough that they can avoid or slip between the worse spots.
Suprising everyone (myself included and especially the guide), we make it up and down the mountain. Ural and bones intact! Just 2km more to the beach. I feel like a hero. Anna agrees. The guide says he's never seen someone drive a full size bike there before.
Then there's the river crossing. There was a bridge there once but it washed away the night after it was inaugarated. And I give up. It seems that there's no way for the Ural to cross it without a snorkel, some pontoons, and a scuba mask for me. We park the Ural and all hop in the 4wd. So close...
He's faking that smile. He told me so.
Starting to get further from the beaten track.
Ural porn at the fishing village.
25 April 2012
This place was so freaking amazing that we decided to stay another night. I'd stay a week if we could. The accomodations are basic (no phone or internet, power part time, cold shower) and termites determinedly built penis like outcroppings from the wall over the second bed. Then it collapses to dust and they begin again. At least three times a day. Structural engineers they are not, but very determined. Judging by the the pile of dust they've been at this for some time. Who cares about termites, we're here for the turtles.
The beach is a paradise from the movies. Soft sand, waves rolling in, mountain jungle back drop, and not a soul but us. No other tourists, no guides, no locals. Just us and 2km of jaw dropping beautiful beach.
We return to the jungle and the forest rangers outpost. Get a bucket of 50 baby sea turtles to release back to the sea. There's a perfect time of afternoon to do it, when all their predators are busy with other things. Otherwise they have a terrible survival rate. Little turtles and turtle eggs are unfortunately delicious. Monkeys, boars, birds, dogs, everyone is willing to take a bite.
All the little ones are squirming on top of each other in the bucket. Writhing and eager to go home. They know they are close. They know which way the sea is. They can't see it but they feel it. We release them one at a time first. Incredibly quick and cute, flippering themselves to the waves. Face them the wrong way, behind a tree, under a log, they never hesitate about which direction to go. I set themon the sand by the handful. So damn cute! Decide to race two of them at once but they refuse to cooperate and take opposite paths.
It's been a fabulous day. Will rest for a few hours before the night time search for giant turtles.
This beach is ours.
So so so so cute!
Bucket of turtle fun!
Anna surveys her good work.
These dudes are on a mission!
25 April 2012
Sukamade - Night
There's bars on the windows of our room to keep the monkeys out. They loiter around the camp buildings. Eating fruit and chasing each other. Crashing through the trees. We' ll go down to the beach after dark to search for giant sea turtles laying eggs. Lights disturb them so you search in the dark. Looking for their tractor like flipper tracks coming from the ocean or scanning the sand for their dark, slow moving, 200kg (400lbs) hulks. They appear as a LARGE black spot against slight less black sand. When you find them you wait patiently. It can take hours for them to lay and cover their eggs. Over 100 little white ping pong balls at a time. Then you collect so they can hatch months later in safety. Momma turtle not so smart, you can grabs the eggs as they drop from her (uhhh whatever) and she doesn't notice. She'll cover the empty hole all the same. After the stress of birth giving is past you can touch, and flashlight and photo before they slip back in to the sea.
When you're tired from searching (it is a dark 2km beach) you can sleep on the sand. Sky full of stars and waves rolling in.
It's an amazing experience. Remote, off the beaten track, hard to get to (uhhh, repeat much?). Not many people go. But it's worth it. High season for tourists is the summer months. Go outside of then and you can have the place to yourself.
Sadly, riding is not permitted.
Turtle farm where they plant the eggs!
Turtle tracks in the day time.
That's alot of eggs.
Fly dude fly!
Like participating in animal planet!