Tangkoko National Park near Bitung, North-Sulawesi, Indonesia was the first National Park we visited with our son during our 10-month adventure. The park is quite accessible, so very doable with kids.
Apparently, Mama Roos Homestay is very popular, but we decided to inquire for availability at Tangkoko Hill Cottages. Since we didn’t have any phone credit left, we send the manager, Franky, an email. And, lo and behold, he answered within 15 minutes. We were impressed! Overall the communication with him went really smooth, which gave us a good feeling even before we’d seen the accommodation. The price was really good as well, 500k per night for full board for the three of us.
Village and homestays at Tangkoko National Park
The day we arrived we didn’t do much, apart from a short stroll through the village to the sea. We discovered there really isn’t much ‘village’, at least not the way we would have imagined it. And that all the homestays that seemed a fair bit apart on the map were actually really close together and all close to the entrance of the park. Any one of them would have done, but we were glad we chose Tangkoko Hill Cottages. The cottages were really new and while the food wasn’t spectacular it was quite nice. Spending 2 or 3 nights in Tangkoko NP is enough to see the main sights.
Walking around Tankoko NP with a toddler
If you want to visit Tangkoko National Park, you are required to go with a guide. The park fee is 100k and you pay the guide whatever price you agree upon. We decided to go with one of the guides affiliated with the accommodation for a walk in the park the next day. So, after a bit of a fussy night, we got up early, made ourselves some toast and tea for breakfast and put Jace in the Manduca baby carrier. Ready to go. We were a bit worried because we didn’t bring any proper walking shoes, but our Teva sandals, together with loads of insect repellant did the trick. There is an unpaved road through the park all the way to White Sands Beach, which we followed. Cars and motorbikes also use this road, and although there weren’t too many it wasn’t exactly peaceful and we weren’t really immersed in the jungle. But for Jace’s first introduction it was fine. He loved watching the monkeys! If you have older kids that can walk longer distances by themselves Tangkoko is really accessible. Right at the entrance, we spotted a big group of black macaques. Very cool. We could get really close and observe their behavior.
The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful, but it was nice being in the forest. We did spot a brightly coloured kingfisher. When we got to White Sands Beach our little world traveler was the biggest attraction. There was a group of locals from Bitung camping on the beach and they were all very interested in our little ginger haired boy. Of course, by now we had learned to be a bit more strict and not let everybody touch him. The nightmares in Makassar were quite enough.
Spotting tarsiers during the afternoon walk in Tangkoko NP
We decided to not take Jace on the afternoon walk, but to split up instead. Mau went the first afternoon while I took care of Jace, and I went the second afternoon. This worked out fine. If you do two tours on one day you only have to pay the 100k park fee once, so it turned out a bit more expensive this way. But it was good for Jace to have two quiet afternoons. The main reason everybody does the afternoon walk is that they have a chance to see the tarsiers. This is what Tangkoko NP is famous for. Of course, they don’t tell you there’s a family of six tarsiers living in a big tree in the park and everyone goes to the same tree. Making sure that seeing one of these tiniest mammals in the world is practically guaranteed. Takes away a bit of the glamour. But it was still really cool seeing them! On Mau’s walk he also saw loads of cuscus. Unfortunately me and my group only spotted a small group of three and they were so high in the trees that we couldn’t take a good picture.
The final part of the walk it was practically dark and I was glad I brought a flash light. I was wearing open sandals, so it was especially nice to see where I was going. All in all, we were happy we came to Tangkoko NP. It was a nice change of scenery and a new experience for all three of us, which is one of the main reasons we’re on this trip!
Budget for visiting Tangkoko National Park
Since the accommodation was full board, we didn’t spend too much money, apart from the guide fees and the entrance fee for the national park.
Breakdown of the costs:
Three nights accommodation and full board @500k per night = 1,5 million
Two times NP entrance fee @100k = 200k
Four times guide fee @85k = 340k
Transfer from and to Manado @400k one way = 800k