On the whole I am not impressed with Tangkoko lodge and also with Tangkoko National Park. However let me start with the good things about this place:
They have some of the best guides working with them, including the owner Bobby. The guide I had (Friednand) was excellent at spotting birds where I would have simply walked past without noticing anything. I am used to tracking birds when I hear them, but in the dense rainforest these guides can 'see' where I could not have suspected! On the premises I saw and managed a very good picture of Malkoha and Sulawesi Scops Owl.
The food is amazing and rather generous portions!
The location is very close to the national park and probably the closest after Mama roos.
The rainforest itself has massive fig trees and I have never seen such wonderful primary forest.
The trip to the mangroves near the village was very interesting and I saw a snake and the much promised Great billed KF.
My last night in Tomohon was in a losmen that should be renamed as a palace! It is called Wailan Inn and it is a wonderfully designed, luxurious bungalow. With great food.
Tarsiers , Celebes macaques and Red knobbed hornbills are guaranteed, although there was a local guide (Not with Tangkoko lodge) who was smoking and feeding the tarsiers with grasshoppers at the same time! )
Now the not so good things:
I paid $530 for a four nights package and I did not find the quality of the rooms in agreement with the money. My first 2 nights were in a wooden hut that had creaky boards and an unclean bathroom. No hot water either. There was also no blanket provided so I went and asked for one. When I spoke to other guests they had the same experience. The 3rd night I was in a better room but it had door-key issues and it was very hard to lock and unlock it. Bathroom door did not work at all. I can understand such issues as it is a National Park, but at $530? No!
The electricity and water supply is erratic. I was brushing my teeth when water was cut off. One night there was no power and came back at 9.30 in the morning.
You hear chain saw cutting trees every now and then. It is un-nerving sound when you have come all this way to have an experience of 'wilderness'.
My planned programme was supposed to begin at 4.00pm but I happened to arrive at 11.30 am. My guide (Elsi) actually had the cheek to tell me that my lunch was "a problem" as it was not included. I found that very mean when I pay more than half a thousand dollars. On arrival there was an Italian man and he actually could not finish his food (generous portions) and kept asking me if I wanted to join in. I didn't as I was told not to. That was not a good start.
I was told on arrival that I had to pay for the transport which was a surprise for me as I was under the impression that it was all inclusive. This meant another $30 out of my pocket. Although this is down to miscommunication b/w me and the guide Elsi.
Then I was also told the dollar to Rupiah rate was 1:10300 when in reality it was 1:10000. I had to sit the man down and question all these things. I told him that it seemed he was all about money money money. I made my frustration clear to him. He then agreed to 1:10,000 rate.
Now the thing that I found the MOST disappointing about Tangkoko: There is no abundance of birds at all. There were no usual 'fillers' to be seen, such as Bulbuls, Mynas, Orioles, babblers, sun birds, doves, crows, minivets, robins or finches which we usually see even without a guide, when we hang around in a resort/lodge like this one. That community of birds is totally missing here (also same in Bali, Java). I did see Orioles (twice) and a sun bird (three times) and a Myna (twice) but in a span of 4.5 days!
On the contrary, the 'rarer' birds such as Hornbills, Scop's owl, Malkohas, Boobooks etc I managed to get pictures of them! I don't know how this works, especially in such pristine forests. I did suggest bird feeds and watering holes on the premises but the guide said that they were purely conservation oriented and did not want to artificially attract birds.
My trip was planned by the guide (Elsi) and he did not tell me that 4 nights would be rather too much. I thus resent spending so long in Tangkoko when I could have done more diving in Lembeh or climbed the volcano in Tomohon.
I ended up doing the Tarsius trip twice as that was more interesting than walking endlessly in the forest for hours and hours to see less than 10 species. Even the birds I saw, most of them I caught a fleeting glance. At the end of this trip I have 10 pictures of birds to be proud of. Compared to 40 in the Gambia and similarly high in India, Peru, Belize etc.
I really wish I had better things to say about this place. I am quite disappointed but at the same time I understand that it's people like us who will help such business. Therefore my review is "average rating". I have tried to be impartial and true to facts. I hope ppl find this helpful.
- Also Known As:
- Tangkoko Lodge Indonesia/Bitung, Sulawesi