Discover Nepenthes not seen in decades!

  • Cost: US$3,050 per person for 14 days/13 nights (all inclusive from start point to end point)
    (approximately £2,350 or €2670)
  • Start Point: Berau, Kalimantan, Indonesia
  • End Point: Berau, Kalimantan, Indonesia
  • Dates: Sunday 14 July to Saturday 27 July 2019.
    Group Size:  8

Participate in a challenging adventure of discovery to visit some of the least known of all Nepenthes, the limestone endemics N. mapuluensis and N. epiphytica, both from dramatic, karst landscapes of East Kalimantan, Borneo!

Nepenthes mapuluensis is spectacular! It is the dark-pitchered cousin of N. northiana that has only been knowingly seen on a handful of occasions. The only known and circulated pictures are those taken by renowned wildlife photographer Chien Lee (N. mapuluensis images © C. Lee) on dangerous, vertical cliffs that we cannot safely ascend with a group. However, safer options are known to us—although the type locality of this species was devastated by fire, subsequent observations made of this species have shown that it is not endemic to that one place. Growing primarily on limestone formations that are not easily accessed by logging teams, it persists here and there in the limestone formations of East Kalimantan north of Sangkulirang. We aim to explore several of these.

Nepenthes epiphytica is an equally unusual species, but differs in having striking, broadly funnel-shaped, toilet-like pitchers! It has only been seen on two documented occasions since it was first collected in 1963 by botanist André Kostermans. Its type location sits atop Mount Nyapa, a remote but non-technical peak located in Berau Regency. The plants that exist in cultivation come from a peak to the south and differ in being less broadly flared than the specimen on the type sheet. By visiting the type location, it is hoped that the first photos of this species at its locus classicus can be made!

During this adventure, we will visit the remote limestone peaks of eastern Borneo in order to locate and study these species. It cannot be guaranteed that the plants will be found, but the best candidate sites have been thoroughly researched. Should we encounter insurmountable obstacles, if time and budget allow we will travel to southeastern Borneo to locate the large and beautiful Nepenthes boschiana type form in the very accessible mountains near to the coast.

Previous groups we have led in the region have encountered orangutans, hornbills, macaques and a variety of other wildlife. Other Nepenthes, particularly lowland species, are likely to be encountered, not to mention a variety of interesting plants common to limestone, like Begonia, orchids, gesneriads and various aroids, hopefully including Amorphophallus!

Adventure Itinerary

Day 1: Meet in Berau and begin a full day’s drive to the Sangkulirang Peninsula, one of the largest karstic landscapes in the world, arriving in time for dinner. If road progress is slow due to road works or poor weather, comfortable overnight accommodation is also available en route.

Day 2: In chartered vehicles, we travel to a number of candidate locations in order to explore for Nepenthes mapuluensis. Our remote frontier town is surrounded by no fewer that a dozen limestone formations, at least seven of which occur close to logging roads. We will seek local bird’s nest collectors to guide us to the most accessible sites in sequence. The region is also known for its wild orangutans, which, if we are very lucky, we may encounter.

Day 3: We continue to explore a number of target sites in the region for Nepenthes mapuluensis.

Days 4–6: We set out to explore any remaining sites for Nepenthes mapuluensis, carrying our camping gear in the support vehicles in the event that we are able to overnight on one of the limestone ridges. During these days of searching, there is a high probability that we could encounter interesting limestone dwelling plants, including Begonia, various Gesneriads, and of course a number of different aroids including Amorphophallus. On suitable terrain, we may also encounter Nepenthes ampullaria, N. gracilis, N. mirabilis or N. rafflesiana.

Day 7: We return to Berau, starting early to arrive in time for dinner.

Day 8: A rest day for laundry and hearty food includes the opportunity to visit a lowland site for N. ampullaria, N. mirabilis and N. rafflesiana if desired.

Day 9: We set out for Gunung Nyapa in search of Nepenthes epiphytica, seen only two or three times in nature; originally in 1963 and again in the 1990s. We drive to a jump-off point and then begin our hike, striking out into the forest in search of our first campsite on the flanks of the mountain.

Day 10: We make our way towards the summit and attempt to photograph native plants en route. It is expected that orchids of various kinds will be encountered, with the possibility of Paphiopedilum and Corybas.

Day 11: We photograph Nepenthes epiphytica and other plants in the summit region, allowing a full day in case of inclement weather that prevent effective studies of the plants.

Day 12: We begin our descent to the base of the mountain, camping overnight en route and making the most of our time in the forest.

Day 13: We arrive at the jump-off point by late morning and transfer to our vehicles for the return journey to Berau for a well-earned rest and farewell dinner.

Day 14: Departures from Berau to onward destinations.


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Getting there

A number of commercial flights serve Berau via Balikpapan, the regional hub, including Indonesia’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, but also Lion Air, NAM Air and Citilink. Jakarta is the best served point of entry, however routes via Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are also available.

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Adventure Rating: Strenuous

This adventure involves multi-day hikes over significant distances on terrain that may be steep, rocky or unstable under foot.

Participants must be capable of challenging hikes and carrying a heavy pack with water, camera, tent and appropriate weather protection. River crossings may be necessary. In some cases local porterage can be arranged at cost.

Possible extensions

- a visit to southeastern Borneo specifically to visit the large and beautiful Nepenthes boschiana in the wild.

- an excursion to Tarakan Island, a renowned diving location off the coast of Berau, famous for its frequent visits by manta rays, which emerge from the deep to naturally rid themselves of parasites at local ‘cleaning stations’.

Last Great Nepenthes Adventure Sumatra Map

What's Included

All transport during the itinerary
Professional guide
Expedition Medic
Porters for group logistics
Accommodation is on a twin basis when hotels are available
All main meals during the itinerary

What's Not

International flights
Personal porters (if requested)