Bako National Park -
This park is the first and oldest national park of Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak is the Malaysian state that lies on the island of Borneo.
The park occupies 27 sq km of the of the Muara Tebas Peninsula. It is around 23 km away from Kuching city and takes about 35 minutes to reach the boat jetty.
One can take a public bus or shared van or cab to get here.
The park can be accessed only across the water because in the interests of protecting the pristine environment, no roads have been built to get there.
Tickets for the 20 min boat ride across the river to Bako National Park, have to be bought at the Boat Terminal.
We wore our life jackets and were told not to trail our hands in the water unless we wanted to be fodder for the aggressive Estuarine crocodile that abounds in these waters :-D
The Bako National Park is literally Rock’ing !!! The Sandstone cliff facade looms large as one approaches the park across the water. Some of rocks also project out of the water bordering the land. Known as Sea Stacks, they rise up in various craggy shapes that one can use their imagination to identify.
One could probably spot a toad or bear or lion or the features of a human face or a sea horse or even the Sphinx if you will !!! Or maybe just revel in the wonder of these rocks and click a selfie or several.
Tiny pristine beaches are indented along the coastline and tourists can disembark and begin their treks, depending on the route that they choose. The main landing beach is the one commonly used and it also provides photo opportunities where one can click pictures when one is still rosy cheeked after the sail, for after the trek, you are left with a sweaty visage and wet, clingy hair ???
One can head straight to the visitors center (the Head Quarters) and skip all the hard work or one can opt to go one one of the 14 trekking trails. Of varying degrees of difficulty and distance, these trails are best embarked on with the accompaniment of a guide, for the jungle is treacherous and there are venomous snakes and other dangers.
Of course it goes without saying that we opted for the easiest trail ??? easy being a relative term here, for this 750 meter trek took us nearly 1.5 hours over rocks, roots, ramps and other rough terrain. We even went on all fours at times, clinging to the network of roots that formed natural steps along the way. Steps and railings made of Iron wood, helped us along during steep patches and we did get to rest from time to time as we clicked pictures or watched our guide demonstrate the uses of some of the plants.
There are several types of vegetation in this jungle – beach vegetation, cliff vegetation, mangroves, Kerangas forest, mixed dipterocarp vegetation, grasslands and peat swamp forest.
Animal sighting in the jungle is best achieved in the early mornings or late afternoon and we were told that we had a better chance of spotting them when we reached the visitor’s center where we were headed. Of course no one informed the venomous Green Keeled Pit Viper of the venue :-D, so we had the pleasure of seeing it on our path, up close and barely a couple of feet away from us.
Emboldened by the presence of our guide, we managed to stop and click pictures of the creature that would normally have had us screaming and running for our lives ???
The trail ended at the bridge that leads to the Park HQ, where we had lunch at the restaurant. The food is quite basic but they have cold beverages and water being sold which is what one sorely needs at the end of the trek. The porch area is also a very good place from where we can spot the Bornean bearded pig and the Long tailed Macaque that stroll around unafraid of the humans. On the contrary, one has to be wary of the monkey, for this tiny innocuous looking creature is known to snatch away food and drink in seconds !!!
The silver leaf monkey is shyer though and one has to be lucky to spot them on the branches where they tend to blend into the foliage.
The Proboscis monkey which is endemic to Borneo, is the star attraction here and this comical looking cartoon like creature is sadly on the verge of extinction with barely 300 of them left in Bako National Park. Of course it does not help that they are eaten up by the estuarine crocodiles from time to time. We were very lucky to spot one of them, who did give the camera a hard time by perching too high up.
Bako NP is a must visit place. For those who would like to spend more time or sight animals and birds there are options to stay in the forest lodges or campsites at the park and experience the night treks and wildlife too.