Image Credit: Unsplash | S. Ratanak
Calling all nature enthusiasts! Whenever you receive the much-awaited opportunity to fly and travel once again, these places might just top your list. Holding the title of the largest state in Malaysia, Sarawak possesses an equatorial climate and houses an abundance of lush tropical rainforests and various animal and plant species. Here are some exhilarating adventures that await you, just a drive away from Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak.
1. Bako National Park
This is the first and oldest national park in Sarawak. Bako might not be the largest national park in Malaysia, but it contains a vast number of plant and animal species as well as various types of terrains and vegetation. Plus, you are almost 100% guaranteed to see a wild animal here!
Many tourists have encountered the bizarre-looking proboscis monkey. You will easily be able to identify this rare species because they have a very unique and remarkable feature, which is an extraordinarily long nose. Males usually have a large protruding belly and both male and female possess reddish brown fur and long white tails. This species is considered rare, but this park houses around 270+ of them! If you are patient, you will probably get a glimpse or an encounter with a group of them.
The strange-looking proboscis monkey is not the only wild animal you will encounter here. Bako is also home to other monkeys, namely the macaque monkeys and silvery lutung (silver leafed monkeys), and a few tourists have even fallen victim to their naughty antics of stealing items! They are very curious and intelligent creatures, after all. Other animals you might discover here are different bird species, monitor lizards and squirrels. If you roam around the park HQ, you will most likely encounter some wild boars but do not worry! They usually mind their own business.
For those who are huge fans of hiking, Bako boasts a variety of jungle trail tracks. There are 16 colour-coded ones with different lengths, steepness, and difficulty. It does not matter whether you are a beginner or a highly skilled and experienced hiker, Bako will definitely have a trail that is suitable for you! Along some of these jungle treks are gorgeous white sand beaches, the perfect resting stop for your tired feet and aching muscles. Surrounding these beaches are some sandstone and limestone rock formations and cliffs which have been shaped over thousands of years. You can admire these while taking a dip in the cool and tranquil waters by the shore.
It is impossible to explore the whole park in a day, which is why they provide overnight accommodation facilities for those who want larger doses of adventure! What is even better is visiting the beach near to the park HQ during sunset hours; You will not be disappointed by the stunning view that greets you.
Another fun part about this adventure is getting to the park itself! Sounds weird but hear me out. You will probably need to drive or take a bus to Bako Market, which is situated right next to the jetty. Here you will need to purchase an entrance ticket which buys you the opportunity to ride on a motorized boat steered by skilled and experienced staff to reach high speeds! This 20-minute thrilling ride will take you to the park itself.
From beautiful beaches to serene jungle trails, this park will be a memorable experience for nature lovers. Overall, this entire national park experience is a worthy adventure that comes at a very reasonable cost!
2. Bengoh Dam
This place has been labelled by locals as the Jurassic Park of Sarawak! The natural breath-taking sceneries here are one of the most beautiful in Malaysia, and somewhat resemble the spectacular and stunning scenes in Jurassic Park. There is so much to see here!
Upon arrival at the Bengoh jetty, you will alight into a speedboat which will shuttle you to the start of the jungle trekking path. This trail will not be an easy feat for less experienced adventurers, and you will have to overcome steep climbs, narrow bamboo bridges, and even some ladders. It will be worth the effort, though. There are several waterfalls here, but the biggest one that greets you after a taxing climb is a sensational and majestic waterfall surrounded by a lake and huge rocks. The water plummets down at high speeds from a towering height, and this creates refreshing mists of water vapour that makes the surroundings so cold, you might need a waterproof coat! This is a surreal out-of-the-world experience right out of a fairy-tale, and definitely not one to miss!
Here you will get opportunities to mingle with the friendly and welcoming local community that stays at the villages or enjoy a serene boat ride over a shimmering calm lake surrounded by picturesque views.
The most important traveler’s tip for this place is to always book a reservation with tour guides or local tourist agencies to avoid any disappointment as they do not accept walk-ins. The tickets probably cost anywhere between 40–60 Ringgit Malaysia, depending on the size of the group and the agency. Like Bako National Park, they provide overnight accommodation for those who do not want to leave this hidden paradise.
3. Semenggoh Nature Reserve
Ever wanted to see one of Borneo’s endangered animals thriving in a natural habitat? This wildlife reserve is home to semi-wild orangutans who are trained to be familiar with human encounter. Orangutans are great apes with reddish-brown fur, long arms, and short legs and males can grow to reach 75kg in weight, equivalent to an adult human!
This sanctuary was established in 1975 as a safe paradise for orangutans who were injured, orphaned, or confiscated from their owners who were caught housing them as illegal pets. These orangutans are trained on how to survive before being released back into the forest. Till this day, this is the biggest rehabilitation centre for orangutans in the whole of Sarawak.
During feeding hours, you might catch several of them swinging anticipatingly down from trees to receive fresh fruit handouts from staff, a very eye-opening and intriguing experience. Don’t expect this trip to be a full-day (or a few-day) adventure like the previous two. It is a very worthwhile and eye-opening experience nonetheless!
Overall, these are some of the many incredible places that add to the astounding beauty of Malaysia. Put these adventures in your bucket list, you won’t regret it!