A Guide to Barat National Park – How to Explore West Bali National Park

A Guide to Barat National Park – How to Explore West Bali National Park

West Bali National Park, known as Taman Nasional Bali Barat on the island, is the key to unlocking the Balinese connection to nature. The protected region spans across 190 sq kms, accounting for 3% of Bali’s land area. Located in the north western corner of Bali, the park is only 50 km from Denpasar and can even be accessed by ferry from East Java. 

The landscape of this park is delightfully diverse – a raw mix of savannah, mangroves, mixed monsoon forest, coral islands and mountains. The centre of the park has several historic volcanic peaks, with Gunung Patas marking the highest point in the park at an elevation of 1412 m. 

One of the last homes of the Bali Tiger that went extinct in the 1930s, the national park was established by the Dutch as a protected area to ensure that the endemic white Bali starling and wild banteng, a native animal from which most Balinese cattle descend, did not meet the same fate as its four legged counterpart. There is a zoning system that divides the park into accessible and restricted zones, and you cannot enter the park without a guide and a permit. 

Flora, Fauna and Marine Life 

The park is home to a lush variety of flora, with over 200 species recorded. From towering sandalwood trees to creeping orchids, the tropical vegetation takes on every size, shape, colour and smell. 

There is an abundance of wildlife in the region, with over 160 species of birds and animals scuttling through the undergrowth and canopy. The endangered banteng, the gorgeous rusa deer, the intriguing flying squirrel and various species of monkeys can be spotted on a good day. 

Holding a magnetic pull for birdwatchers, the park is home to the Barn Swallow, Black-naped Oriole, Black Racket-tailed Treepie, Crested Serpent-eagle, Crested Treeswift, Dollarbird, Sacred Kingfisher, Savanna Nightjar, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-vented Bulbul and many more! The icon of the park is the Bali mynah, or the white starling, a species that is still endangered but is gradually increasing in numbers in the wild. The measures taken to protect the mynah are of utmost importance as this is the last stronghold for the bird on the island. 

The park spills over into the Bali Sea as well and is highly biodiverse for such a small area. At the end of the last century, 110 species of coral belonging to 18 families were recorded, of which 22 species were of the mushroom coral family (there are just 29 species of mushroom coral recorded worldwide!). A treat for divers and snorkelers, there is much to be glimpsed in the mysterious underwater world of the park. There are also no dangerous currents to be found here, making it popular amongst both locals and tourists. 

Bali’s best kept secret, Menganjan Island is home to the rusa deer and is a fantastic combination of ancient temples and teeming wildlife. You can learn all about Menjangan Island in our article here. 

Weather Guide

While the wet season (Oct – March) is the best time to experience the magic of the dense, thick jungle, it is the dry season (April – Sept) that offers maximum visibility due to the gaps in the sparse vegetation. Bird watchers flock to the park in this period, binoculars dangling from their necks, gaping at the wondrous winged creatures of the island. Due to a limited number of water sources, the animals too tend to flock to watering holes in the dry season, making it easier to find them.  

Best Way to Explore 

Since the park is protected, you cannot enter without a guide and a permit. The guides are local and have long standing knowledge of the park.

Challenges and Threats

Despite being an area under conservation, there are several problems that slow down the regeneration process. Not only is the park vulnerable to poachers, but also the indiscriminate felling of trees for firewood by villagers is a constant problem. The Bali mynah, which has a short flying range and is popular in the illegal pet trading circuit, has a harder time than most to survive in large numbers. Captive breeding has led to an increase in numbers, however progress is slow and requires large scale action. 

FAQ: Bali Barat National Park – West Bali National Park

What is the local name for West Bali National Park?

The local name for West Bali National Park is Taman Nasional Bali Barat.

How large is the park?

The park spans across 190 sq kms, making up about 3% of Bali’s land area.

Where is the park located?

It’s located in the north western corner of Bali, approximately 50 km from Denpasar. It can also be accessed by ferry from East Java.

What are the key features of the park’s landscape?

The park boasts a diverse landscape comprising savannahs, mangroves, mixed monsoon forests, coral islands, and mountains. The highest point in the park is Gunung Patas at 1412 m elevation.

Why was the park established?

The park was established as a protective measure for the white Bali starling and the wild banteng, especially after the extinction of the Bali Tiger in the 1930s.

Can I explore the park by myself?

No, visitors are required to have both a guide and a permit to enter the park due to its protected status.

What kind of wildlife can I expect to see?

You can spot a variety of wildlife such as the endangered banteng, rusa deer, flying squirrel, various monkey species, and over 160 species of birds including the iconic endangered Bali mynah or white starling.

When is the best time to visit the park?

For jungle enthusiasts, the wet season (Oct – March) is ideal, while the dry season (April – Sept) is preferred by bird watchers and for better visibility of animals near watering holes.

Are there any underwater attractions?

Yes, the park extends into the Bali Sea, offering a biodiverse marine environment with 110 species of coral, making it a haven for divers and snorkelers.

What are the current challenges facing the park?

The park faces threats from poaching, illegal tree felling for firewood, and the illegal pet trading of the Bali mynah.

Where can I learn more about Menjangan Island?

For detailed insights on Menjangan Island, you can refer to our separate article linked in the main content.

How can I obtain a permit to enter the park?

You can obtain permits from the park’s official entry points or through certified tour operators that offer guided trips to the park.

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