The largest national park in Sumatra, Kerinci Seblat National Park (Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat; TNKS) covers a 350km swath of the Bukit Barisan range and protects close to 15,000 sq km of prime equatorial rainforest spread over four provinces, with almost 40% of the park falling within Jambi’s boundaries.
Most of the protected area is dense rainforest, and its inaccessibility is the very reason the park is one of the last strongholds of the endangered harimau (Sumatran tiger). Kerinci Seblat National Park is known as having the highest population and occurrence of tigers anywhere in Sumatra, with 80% of the park showing signs of the species.
Because of the great elevation range within the park, Kerinci has a unique diversity of flora and fauna. Edelweiss and other high-altitude flowers grow in the forest. Lower altitudes bring pitcher plants, orchids, rafflesia and the giant Amorphophallus.
As with many of Sumatra’s protected areas, encroachment by farmers, illegal logging and poaching are all serious issues for Kerinci. According to a July 2012 report, around 42,000 hectares (420 sq km) of the park’s total forests of 1.3 million hectares (13,000 sq km) have been lost.
Kerinci Seblat National Park sees relatively few visitors, and the park’s minimal tourist infrastructure is limited to the north around the dual attractions of Gunung Kerinci and Gunung Tujuh. While the park’s northern region is more visited, the southern area features elephants – absent in the north – and also has interesting forest-edge communities living within the park’s boundaries, and excellent trekking through pristine forests. Contact Luke Mackin in Sungai Penuh if you’re keen to explore the park’s southern reaches. There are buffer areas for local cultivation and agriculture at the northern and southern edges of the park.
Permits and guides are required to enter the park. Both can be arranged at the park office in Sungai Penuh or through your losmen. There is a park office at the entrance to Danau Gunung Tujuh, but it’s rarely staffed.
Permits cost 20,000Rp and guide rates are around 200,000Rp per day for an English-speaking guide. Be sure to clarify exactly what the rate entails, as camping gear, food and transport may be considered additional costs. A good contact for organising a guide is Luke Mackin in Sungai Penuh.
Kerinci’s climate is temperate, and downright cold as you gain altitude. Bring warm clothes and rain gear.