Sungai Mahakam Travel Guide

Sungai Mahakam (Mahakam River) is a major river in East Kalimantan Province of Borneo, flowing several hundred kilometers from the highlands through delectable forest scenery to the Makassar Strait near Samarinda.

The river cuts through towering gorges and thick primary rainforest, and is chiefly occupied by the indigenous Dayak people. They have lived here for many generations and are known for their quirky culture, which includes long earlobes, elaborate dances and huge houseboats.

A river trip along Sungai Mahakam reveals all sorts of wildlife, such as monkeys, lizards and crocodiles, along with hundreds of species of birds. The river also cuts through mangrove swamps, lowland rainforest, and dense jungle, finishing 50kms past the provincial capital of Samarinda, East Kalimantan.

Getting There & Away

The easiest access to Sungai Mahakam is to fly to Samarinda Airport from Sepinggan International Airport in Balikpapan and then transfer to Loa Janan, where boats cruise the river. You can also bus it from Balikpapan’s airport, 170kms to the south, in around 5 hours. Ferries, houseboats and motor-canoes all ply the river from Loa Janan.