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Ujung Kulon, National Park Banten Indonesia

"Visitors are prohibited from feeding animals on the island and jet-skiing in the surrounding coastal waters." This warning is written on a board at the end of the pier at the gateway to Peucang island in Ujung Kulon National Park.

Peucang island is a small but very beautiful, unique and pleasant tropical island with a white sandy beach, blue coastal waters and enchanting coral reefs. Various species of wild animals are found in its forest.

Located northwest of Ujung Kulon National Park, some 77 km from Labuan in Pandeglang regency, Peucang island is one of the country's tourist resorts suitable for ecotourism and marine tourism activities, as well as adventure.

"Peucang" is the local word for barking deer, as hundreds of barking deer are found in its dense tropical forest, along with other wild animals, like monkeys, monitor lizards and wild boars.

Some people believe that peucang is the name of a kind of unique snail much found around coral reefs in the island's coastal waters. Locals call the snail mata peucang, according to , head of Panaitan Island - Peucang Island subsection.

Visitors going to Peucang island are mostly foreign tourists. The trip to that resort is just too expensive for local tourists due to the remote location of the island. Peucang can be reached only by sea. There are sometimes strong winds and powerful waves, making the trip impossible.

Only about 200 tourists visit this island each month. Tourists can reach Peucang from Carita beach port in Banten by hiring speedboats available at Lippo Marina at a cost of about Rp 5.5 million each for up to three days and two nights. It takes about 2.5 hours to go to the island from Carita by speedboat, which has a maximum capacity of 20 passengers.

Visitors can also take motorboats available at Labuan, which can carry 15 passengers each. Those who prefer to use fishing boats may hire vessels belonging to local fishermen at a cost of about Rp 2.5 million per round trip. In good weather, the island can be reached by fishing boat in four hours to five hours.

Among facilities available for visitors on the island are a guest house, which can accommodate 50 people, and three wooden buildings on stilts encircling a lawn at the beachside. The rates range from US$70 to US$90 per night per cottage. Those buildings provide air-conditioned rooms with refrigerators and hot water.

Tourists who prefer renting rooms can pay US$40 to US$70 per day per room. Extra beds are available at US$15 per bed.

The entry fee to the island is only Rp 20,000 per person and Rp 4.000,- for insurance, which is valid for one week.

"The fixed prices in the list are not affected by the fluctuation of the rupiah's value against the US dollar on the market," said Ferry Irawan, guest relations officer of PT Wana Wisata Alam Hayati, which manages lodging houses and restaurants on the island.

A beautifully decorated, traditionally styled restaurant on the island provides European food, such as spaghetti, and an Indonesian menu that includes local cuisine, such as peucang steak . Also available are Ujung Kulon special nasi uduk (rice cooked in coconut milk) and asinan (salted vegetables), having a unique taste

A cooperative belonging to Ujung Kulon National Park provides low-rate guest houses. Travelers wishing to stay in a room with wooden walls can stay fThose wishing to spend the night in a shed with mattress and pillows need pay only Rp10,000 each per night.

University and high school students carrying out research or on holiday on Peucang island usually prefer staying at cheap lodging houses or rooms, according to Djarkasih, who also provides tour guides.

Karang Copong, about three km, or an hour's walk from the location of the guest houses, is an interesting place to visit. On the way between the lodging houses and Karang Copong, travelers may come across deer and green peafowl. From there they can watch stunning sunset views over the Sunda Strait.

To see the beautiful submarine life, visitors can try snorkeling in the island's coastal waters. Legon Sumino beach, about 1 km from the visitor center, is the best place for snorkeling. Divers can see beautiful coral reefs around Citerjun, that can be reached in 15 minutes by boat from Peucang island.

Visitors interested in snorkeling must provide their own diving equipment as the operator of this resort does not provide any, according to Ferry, who has worked to serve tourists on the island for two years.

The operator of this tourist resort also offers trips to Cidaun and Cibunar, two grazing locations in Ujung Kulon. An observation tower is found in Cidaun, from where visitors can watch wild animals, such as wild cattle (Bos javanicus), green jungle fowl and peacock.

Trekking through a 3.5-km path to Cibunar from the north coast of Ujung Kulon, travelers pass a lowland forest that is rich in flora and fauna. They will hear clearly the flapping of Rangkong (Rhinoceros hornbill) wings over the forest or may come across footprints left by a Javan rhinoceros on the ground. This rare one-horned rhinoceros is the symbol of Ujung Kulon's pride.

Visitors traveling in the Ujung Kulon National Park are advised to use the services of tour guides available in the Park. At only Rp 100.000 per day, a group of visitors can traverse Peucang island with a guide. For those expanding their tour to places outside the island, the cost of a tour guide is Rp 200.000,-

The cost of a tour package from Peucang island to Cibom and Tanjung Layar is US$10 per person, including the cost of a guide and transport using small boats. Clusters of coral reefs found in Tanjung Layar offer natural views, with big waves pounding the rock.

An old lighthouse at Tanjung Layar is a prominent feature of that area. There are other remnants of old buildings constructed in the 1800s. From that location visitors see the panorama of Ciramea beach and by trekking for one hour along the south coast of Tanjung Layar they will come to a white sandy beach, where turtles lay their eggs.

Tips for visitors

* Bring food and beverages as well as personal medicines, including malaria tablets. Don't forget to take malaria tablets before and after the trip.

* To avoid the adverse effect of severe heat, smear uncovered skin with sunblock and to protect your health, use antimosquito cream while traversing the forest.

* Wear muted-color garments while watching animals in their habitat or grazing locations.

* Don't visit Ujung Kulon National Park during the rainy season and the west monsoon. Bad weather usually hits that region from November to March.

* For safety's sake during a trip, every group of tourists is advised to use the services of a local guide.

* Don't disturb or feed wild animals in the national park, especially long-tailed macaques on Peucang island, which look so tame.

* Don't throw rubbish in the park, but collect and take it back to the guest house or outside the park. Obey all regulations effective in the national park and also the local customs.