For the first time ever, there are daily flights to Kerinci. This is huge! What used to take more than nine hours on a bumpy, winding, vomit-inducing road is now just two short legs of approximately 35-minutes each.
On September 5th, 2017, Wings Air started their daily Jambi City (DJB) to Kerinci (KRC) route with an AR 72-600—a turboprop plane seating about 70 passengers. In February of 2018, they added one brief stop in the small town of Muaro Bungo (MRB) – which also has connecting flights to Jakarta. One of the biggest barriers to developing ecotourism as a realistic option for forest-edge communities in the Kerinci Seblat National Park has been the difficulty and time needed for travelers to get to the valley. While there are still quite a few hurdles when it comes to this, there’s a lot of hope that these flights to Kerinci will be a dramatic help to improving ecotourism in the region.
Another plus is that since these are turboprops going as the bird flies—saving about 150km of travel distance—the carbon emissions per passenger are even less than expended by typical public transportation between the two towns.
The flights depart Jambi City at 8:50 in the morning, briefly stop in Muara Bungo around 9:35am (passengers on the way to Kerinci stay on the plane), and arrive in Kerinci around 10:40am. The return to Muara Bungo/Jambi leaves at 11:00am. Prices are roughly 800,000 IDR. If you have a foreign credit card, you should be able to book through the Traveloka, Tiket, or Nusatrip websites or apps, as booking directly from the airline websites almost never works.
One thing to be aware of is that the flights are prone to being delayed, due to the often-cloudy conditions found in this highland valley. So, make sure you don’t book any critical international flights the same day you’re supposed to fly out of Kerinci. Or at least make sure you have good travel insurance. Also, there are no airport taxis – it really isn’t set up very well for visitors yet. On arrival, you can try to find an ojek(motorcycle taxi) or try to ask the airport staff for help getting to Sungai Penuh. If you’re travelling with us, we’ll be happy to pick you up.
Jambi’s Sultan Thaha Airport has direct flights to/from Jakarta, Medan, Batam, Padang, Bengkulu, and a few other cities in Sumatra, thanks to the recent push by Wings Air to connect cities throughout Sumatra. Unfortunately, because of the way flight times line up, depending on where you’re coming from, there’s a chance you’ll have to spend the night in Jambi on the way in to Kerinci. If that’s you, it’s highly recommended that you check out the Muaro Jambi temples, one of the largest and best-preserved Buddhist temple complexes in all of Southeast Asia. Thankfully, on the way out of Kerinci, the schedule makes it easy to reach most destinations, including Singapore, Bali, and Kuala Lumpur, within a single day.
Muara Bungo’s airport also has direct flights to Jakarta, so you could potentially skip Jambi. However, the Muara Bungo – Jakarta flights are for some reason significantly more expensive then transferring through Jambi.
On a side note, Kerinci is not the only new Wings Air route. Almost all of Sumatra’s major and minor population areas are now being serviced. See their new route map below, from March 2018.