West Bali National Park (Taman Nasional Bali Barat in Bahasa Indonesia) is located on the north western side of Bali with an area of approximately 770 square kilometres. It accounts for some ten percent of Bali's total land area.
The park was first officially recognized as an area of importance in 1917 when the council of Bali rulers designated it as a nature park. It was fully established as an Indonesian National Park in 1941.
The habitat is very varied with rainforest, dry savanna, acacia scrub and lowland forests as well as more montane forests in the higher centre. There are also some pockets of dense mangrove forest.
In the north of the park there is an obvious north jutting peninsula called Prapat Agung. Around this peninsula there are long stretches of protected beach and offshore coral reef as well as a small offshore island called Menjangan. The latter is a very popular diving destination.
There are four long extinct volcanoes in the interior with Mount Patas (1,412 meters) and Mount Merbuk (1,388 metres) being the highest points of the whole park. It should be noted that the vast majority of the interior of the park is completely off-limits for visitors.
One hundred and sixty species of bird have been recorded in the park including the near extinct Bali Starling, Bali's only endemic vertebrate species and a key reason why this national park was created in the first place. By 2001, as few as 6 individuals were thought to survive in the wild, all of them in this park.
Since then captive breeding and re-introduction efforts have continued apace but poaching pressures are a large problem. With that in mind, a 2nd re-introduction programme was started in remote regions of Nusa Penida in 2004. Keen birdwatchers can find a checklist of likely species and their status here.
Mammals found inside the park include Banteng, a species of wild cattle from which the familiar Bali cows are descended. Java Rusa and Indian Muntjac deer are quite widespread and Menjangan Island is in fact named after these (Menjangan means deer in Bahasa Indonesia). Wild Boar and Leopard Cats are both quite common but seldom encountered.
A Bali Tiger (a full sub-species of Tiger) was shot here in 1937 and despite rumors to the contrary, that is the last ever confirmed sighting of an animal considered extinct since that moment. Not noticeably different from that in the rest of Bali or eastern Java but it may feel a little hotter and drier in the dry season here than in southern parts of Bali.
Bali is always warm, humid and tropical, remaining around 30-35°C (85-95°F) all year round. The April-October dry season and November-March rainy seasons are only relative, with plenty of rainfall around the year, but the Balinese winter is cloudier, more humid and with a higher chance of thunderstorms.
Most visitors to the park arrive along the north coast road from Lovina (about 90 minutes) or Pemuteran (about 15 minutes). Others come from the south via Gilimanuk (about 15 minutes).
All visitors should check in at one of the two park offices (PHPA) for information and to purchase permits and arrange guides. The headquarters is at the village of Cekik just south of the Gilimanuk in the west. The other is at Labuan Lalang on the north coast from where boats to Menjangan Island depart. The main ranger station is on the road between the two offices at Sumber Klampok. The park staff are welcoming, helpful and will arrange guided tours for you.
Permits and obligatory guides are available at the park headquarters at Cekik and the office at Labuhan Lalang. The official permit charge is now Rp 25,000 per person. The cost of a guide is a bit of a mystery (no surprise there for regular visitors to Indonesia!) so please use your common sense and do not be tight. A sensible range would be about Rp 500,000 to 600,000 for a full day and about Rp 200,000 for a 2 hour hike.
Only 10% of the total area of the park is open to visitors and this rule must be respected. There are two key ways to explore the park: hiking the trails or concentrating on marine aspects.
Walking the trails must be done with an official guide from one of the national park offices (most normally the one at Cekik). Boat trips to Menjangan and around Gilimanuk Bay can be organized in advance (ask at your hotel) or by charter on the day you arrive.