Indonesia // Kalimantan //

The middle and upper Mahakam

Northwest of Muara Muntai, along the Mahakam, you’ll pass a number of Dayak villages that still practise the traditional Kaharingan religion; funerals here involve the sacrifice of water buffalo. You can access some traditional villages via motorbike from the settlement of Melak. West of Melak by road is the small community of Barong Tongkok, from which you can travel southwest to Mancimai, worth visiting for its museum showcasing traditional farming methods, and Eheng, the site of a fantastic traditional longhouse and a good place to buy local handicrafts. Further northwest of Melak along the river, the villages have a more traditional character, though the missionaries have done a thorough job and some of the groups are Christian converts. It’s challenging to travel by public transport beyond Long Iram – an attractive little town with some remnants of colonial Dutch architecture – since there is little demand for it and the water is not high enough during dry season. However, if you do travel beyond it towards Long Bagun, you will pass through increasingly dramatic scenery dotted with Kenyah villages.

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