Some 120km north of Balikpapan, the tropical port town of Samarinda is 50km upstream from the sea, where the Sungai Mahakam is 1km wide and deep enough to be navigable by ocean-going ships. It has become increasingly prosperous since large-scale logging of Kalimantan Timur’s interior began in the 1970s, its western riverfront abuzz with mills. The town is not particularly attractive, but it is the gateway to the interior and a convenient place to stock up for trips up the Mahakam.

 

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