Permission and Access
- Permission - Applications at a national or regional level
- Access - Local permission requires a different approach
The story of Kalimantan
Getting permission for a recent expedition as an example of what
can be involved - a difficult case.
- Mulu Expeditions - Borneo
- Where it all began, are there other areas in Borneo like Mulu?
- 1991 Recce
Colin Boothroyd travels alone in the forest and is lost for a
week. He hears of birds nesting activity in the centre of the
- Book from Alan Weight
The book A Stroll through Borneo describes burial caves
in the centre of Borneo near to our planned area of interest.
We decide to try to visit both sites.
- 1992 Contact Dr. Ko
Ko who is head of the Indonesian national caving body - FINSPAC.
We explain our plans and ask for the support of the national body.
- 1993 FINSPAC Support
Dr Ko writes a letter of support. He suggest a meeting with the
Director of tourism in Jakarta to obtain a letter of support.
To help with this we send Dr. Ko:
He writes with these requesting support on our behalf.
- Passport copies
- Caving CVs
- Visit Dr. Ko
The advance party visits him in Jakarta on the way out to Kalimantan.
They collect the letters of support.
- Visit Samarinda
The advance party visit the region capital and discusses the plans
with the Director of Tourism. He writes a letter of recommendation
to the social police SOSPOL. We take this letter to SOSPOL and
they agree to help. They write us letters of support to be presented
to the Camats (mayors) in the principal towns in the areas we
wish to visit.
We show the mayors the letters in the two areas and they are helpful.
- End of permission
We leave the bureaucrats behind and head up river into the interior
of the Island of Borneo.
- Negotiating access
- with the local farmers and hunters
- Show letters to head man
- In the tiny villages nearest to the caves.
- Picture books
- of our previous exploits help to explain our interest in the caves
- Explain our interest
- to the people since they have never heard
of going into caves just for fun. They find it hand to understand
and are often suspicious and believe we after gold or their binds
nests. Binds nests are worth as much as gold on a weight for weight
basis and taste of nothing at all. We are cautious about caves
used as tombs and do not wish to enter them without the OK from
- Local PR
- We take Polaroid photos; show picture postcards of
Manchester, give the children toys and try to explain to everyone
what we are doing.
- Train in SRT
- Useful for the birds nesters and demonstrates
that we have real cave skills.
- Employ guides
- We work closely with our guides and take them
in the caves so they will gain a real understanding of our sport.
- Follow up
- Is essential.
- Report sent
- To FINSPAC and many local people.
- Guides/ books
- We write to these and they put the names of people
add places in. This will help to promote tourism and bring money
to our helpers
- What was the process
- Review what was done to gain permission
and access for the Kalimantan expedition.
- Books, talking to cavers, writing to Indonesia, looking
at maps etc.
- Colin went alone without any formal permission. He had
no caving gear and was simply a tourist
- Apply for permission
- In Indonesia cavers are the key to government permission.
- Advance party
- Finalises the permission and other plans and visit
the required government and police bodies.
- Chain of command
- Our letter from the Director of Tourism in
central government is used to obtain the OK from the regional
government and so on down to the village head man
- Local goodwill - Access
- Access is much more a matter of communication
and winning over the understanding and interest ,of the local
- Follow up
- This is vital
- Start years ahead
- Language and diplomacy are essential skills
- Persistence pays - people may not reply to the first letter, but keep trying
- Indonesia: police state and is hard work
- Contacting cavers in the country - a few tips:
- Put yourself in their place
- Use their language in your letters
- Ask for permission: don't say we are going
- No headed paper as you are asking for permission
- Collaboration is what you offer
- A formal permission process may exist - it may cost
- Cavers in the country are your key to the government OK
- If there are no cavers try:
- multinational companies with subsidiaries
- RGS contacts
- previous groups from UK or Europe
- Get the correct papers
- Before flights
- Customs clearance may depend on having permission
- Follow-up essential
- They want to know what was done - it is their country
- Famous failures - there have been
- fights with local cavers
- confiscated equipment
- people put in prison
- Massive bribes - may be required if you don't have permission
- You may be refused entry
- Future groups may have problems if you mess it up
- In Western countries there are always:-
- resident cavers
- national bodies
- formal processes
- Permission only comes with collaboration
- Collaboration can be fun
Back to Expedition Seminar