Taman Negara ~ Places to Visit from
About 3 and a half hours
drive towards the East of Kuala Lumpur is Taman Negara, Malaysia's National
Park, one the world's oldest tropical rainforest. Estimated to be more than
130 million years old, the protected park is 4,343 sq km of thick dense
jungle with all manner of flora and some of Peninsula Malaysia's most
distinct and rare wild animals.
Getting There - KL > Kuala Tahan
It take another 50 minute drive (70 kilometres) to Kuala Tahan (Taman Negara).
From here its just a matter of taking one of the many boats across the river to the Park HQ.
Getting There - KL > Kuala
Tembeling jetty > Kuala Tahan
The 60km boat trip to Kuala
Tahan takes two to three hours, depending on the level of the river. Along
the river you’ll see several Orang Asli kampung, local fishing people and
domestic animals such as water buffalo. You might also see monkeys, otters,
kingfishers and hornbills from the boat. It’s a beautiful and relaxing
Among the many activities, other than the physically exerting jungle trekking that visitors can look forward to, would be the following -
The walk starts at an entry point into the jungle where the Mutiara Resort boundary ends. Armed with your torches about a dozen or so in a group will walk into the jungle following a wide path while being led by an experienced guide.
The guides here have an amazing knowledge of their park and somehow manage to find all sorts of creepy-crawlies in the dark. Experience the unique sights and sounds of nocturnal plants and insects. Look out for luminous mushrooms, luminous fungus, glowing worms, fireflies, bird-eating spider, cicadas and other insects.
The night walk ends with a
visit to the Tahan Hide (located within the proximity of the Mutiara Resort)
which faces a natural salt lick. Animals normally come out at night to take
a sip at salt licks and if you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of one.
It stretches 530 metres in length and 40 metres above forest floor with 9 platforms constructed on tree top and provides bird’s eye view of rainforest 5 main canopy layers.
Trekking towards the canopy walkway, you will head for to Bukit Teresek which is about 2km away from the Kuala Tahan/Mutiara Resort. For the first 500 metres, the trail is fairly easy and then becomes a steep climb of 1.5km to the summit.
The climb on uneven natural soil, mud steps and some wooden stairs built by the park, would normally take about 45 minutes.
On reaching Bukit Teresek, there are two look-out points on each side of the ridge. Visitors will be rewarded with an amazing view of lush green mountains and also a glimpse of the Tahan River far below.
You then make your way downhill to reach the entrance of the Canopy Walk. Here you will probably have to wait for your turn as only a few people were allowed to cross at a time. As a safety precaution you also have to keep at least a 5 metre distance between each other.
As you make your way across the several shaky bridges, do look out for wildlife such as birds like the majestic rhino hornbill and also monkeys. Looking down you will also notice the various heights of the different trees that make up the rainforest.
The Orang Asli in Taman Negara call themselves Batek and they pretty much continue to live a nomadic, hunting-and-gathering lifestyle.
The Batek is a gentle race of
people, short in stature, dark-skinned, and with tight curly hair and some
might say have a strong resemblance with the aborigines of Australia.
Overall Batek population in Taman Negara area is estimated at about 2,000
Their life is pretty much the same as it was centuries ago - The men goes out hunting for food and the women stays home to cook or take care of the children.
The Batek depend largely on forest produce for their food supply- fruits, yams, and small animal life such as monkeys and squirrels which are hunted with a blowpipe. The Batek have their own language, but also speak Malay.
A visit to Orang Asli
Settlement is possible as long as a recognised guide accompany you
The Batek youths are willing
to share with you their intimate knowledge of the rainforest survival skills
which have been preserved for generations. Besides that, they will share
their beliefs and customs that form the basis of their way of life.
More recently, the addition of
cash to their economy has led to a decreased utilization of wild food
sources and an increased dependence on commercial foods such as rice, sugar,
tinned sardines, biscuits and tea. Collected food, however, continues to
play an important role, and its availability strongly affects the Batek's
movements through the jungle.
The Malaysian government, has
tried to encouraged them to settle and to emulate Malay subsistence farming
communities. This has mainly failed as they prefer to be left alone and
prefer to camp in the vicinity of a stream or river. When an individual is
asked where he or she is from, they usually say that they are from the
confluence of particular rivers or streams.
In spite of the law, the Batek continue to collect plant materials from within Taman Negara. This writer for one will state that the Batek should be allowed, if they so desire, to continue their hunting and gathering existence within their ancestral territory.
The ride also passes through a
few rapids and whether going to or on the way back you might chance to see
kingfishers, fish-eagles, straw-headed bulbuls, monitor lizards and the
like. You can enjoy the sounds of the forest, as you move on its generally
shallow and clear waters.
Lata Berkoh is a spectacular cascade that marks the limit of easy navigability on the river. As you reach the entrance to falls, you might find a few boats already parked, indicating earlier visitors.
To get to the waterfall, walk about 700m through an easy trail. There is a deep pool below the cascade, delightful for swimming; and a rocky area overlooking the rapids offers an ideal site for a picnic lunch.
Here, the rock formation of
the cascade creates natural Jacuzzi, the bubbling waters providing an
invigorating natural spa bath. Bring food, have a picnic, whatever. It’s
probably the easiest activity that really feels back-to-nature, so to speak.
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