Independent travelers in South East Asia usually spend time enjoying the spectacular nature in this part of the world, and if you’re into trekking then Taman Negara in Malaysia is a place you don’t want to miss At over 130 million years old Taman Negara is the oldest jungle in the world and one of many in Malaysia, but certainly not the only one to enjoy. It was, however, our first encounter with one of them and lived up to its hype, except perhaps in what would have been the largest thrill: seeing a large wild animal, whether it be a “big cat”, en elephant or even a tapir.
Getting to Taman Negara
To get to Taman Negara from Kuala Lumpur get a bus to Jerantut (19 MR), then a share a taxi to the jetty (5MR) and after cruise in a small powerboat all the way to Kuala Tahan (35 MR). Bring plenty of water, sun protection and have your camera poised as you drift down a brown murky river that finds its way through a dense jungle home to water buffalos and who knows what else. The 3.5 hour trip is everything but boring, and by the time you wonder how much further you will go you have reached Kuala Tahan and the park.
Kuala Tahan, the Gateway to Taman Negara
This small riverside village is somewhat dull at first glance and finding OK accommodation takes a while, but soon after its easy mood and friendly charm make you feel like one more villager. I have nor particular recommendations for sleeping options if you’re on a budget, as what you can get will largely depend on availability. Regarding food it is quite good and cheap, and of all places I do recommend the riverboat restaurant, particularly for dinner when the sun sets. It might not have much luxury but the sound of the water flowing around you makes the meal delightful.
Fried rice with chicken gave us the energy to join a night trek in the jungle, time during which animal viewing is supposed to be the best. Two hours later we were back in the restaurant and had seen nothing but a millipede, a scorpion, walking sticks and 2 deer in the distance. This said the sounds of the jungle are overwhelming to the ear and I do recommend the trek if only for this.
Trekking in Taman Negara
On day 2 we did the canopy walk that offers nice views of the jungle at tree top heights and after made our way to the top of Teresek mountain to enjoy great views. The walk is no easy task, requiring some leg strength, good lungs and heaps of water to replace what is lost from the sweat.
At the top we met Johan and Lieve, a friendly Belgian couple that was having a hard time keeping the flies away from their faces, just as we were. Easy talking let to friendship and we all trekked the 2 hours back together, explored a nearby sinkhole and when done quenched our thirst in a restaurant boat. It was there that Johan told us that while pulling his feet out of a pond he found three leeches sucking his blood!
There are several trekking opportunities and tours in Taman Negara, with prices varying with duration and time of the year (remember that during monsoon season lasts from November to March, and tours may not be available).
- The short 2 hour night tour
- Day tours
- 3 day inner jungle tours
- 9 day tours, in which you’ll walk deep into the rainforest and will have more opportunities of seeing large animals.
Is Taman Negara Worth Visiting?
My overall impression is that although we did not see any large animals and that was the main reason for going there, I would certainly go back. I enjoyed the treks, the dinners in the restaurant boats and the impressive sounds of the jungle. If you also consider the cheap costs or decide to participate in other activities that are offered (there are 9 day jungle walking treks, elevated hides for night animal observation, night drives…) then the decision is quite simple, bearing in mind that to see big animal you will need some luck. But then nature always runs on its own course, right?
Malaysia Department of Wildlife and Natural Parks http://www.wildlife.gov.my/index.php?lang=en
Official website of Tourism Malaysia http://www.tourism.gov.my/en/intl
Have you visited Taman Negara? Where in the world have you enjoyed your best trek? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and this post if you liked it!