It's not terribly easy to reach Nabucco Island. We flew
from Singapore on the tip of the Malay Peninsular to the largest city on
Kalimantan Timur – the Indonesian part of Eastern Borneo – Balikpapan. Here
we spent a night before flying up north to the town of Tanjung Redeb.
The air was strangely hazy but this wasn't a weather phenomenon but rather
the result of farmers' slash-and-burn method. The jungle is chopped down and
set on fire to give way to a small plot of farmland with just enough
nutrients to keep a family going for a couple of years. Then they move on.
Apparently the haze wasn't so bad as some five years ago but bad enough to
keep the airports of Central Kalimantan closed due to poor visibility. Cars
had their head lights on and in some places the visibility was down to 50
On our flight to Tanjung Redeb we could see tiny smoke columns rise to the
sky. Fortunately, when we arrived at Tanjung Redeb it wasn't raining. The
runway is so short that planes are only able to land in dry weather and the
pilot has to almost stand on the brakes to avoid hitting the banana palm
trees at the end of the runway. If it rains the plane would merely continue
past the runway.
We were picked up at the airport and driven down to the Berau River where a
small motorboat with two crew members waited for us. Our bags and equipment
were stowed on board together with salad oil, eggs, butter, mineral water
and other articles – supplies needed on Nabucco Island. Soon we headed down
river. After an hour or so the landscape flattened as we reached the river
delta and the mangroves. Pretty soon we were out on the open ocean and
couldn't see land at all.
Yet another hour passed and a small island emerged on the horizon. Naturally,
we thought it was our dive destination but no. Not until after three hours
of sailing did we arrive at Nabucco Island. The voyage could have lasted
longer but we only had three engine failures on the way and the weather was
nice – a bit overcast but no wind, fortunately.
Click on map of Kalimantan
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Click on sea chart to enlarget
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