The best-known of Malaysia’s protected areas, Taman Negara (which translates usefully to ‘National Park’) is a sprawling jungle of over 100,000 acres across three separate states.
Everyone can find something they would love to do in Taman Negara, from a day or so’s fishing, to a fortnight-long trek or camping near salt-licks to watch the local wildlife.
The place is a paradise for the adventurous, with hundreds of kilometres of trails, treks and rafting on offer; you arrive excited and leave rejuvenated.
You have to have a permit to enter the park, and a camera fee is standard, but both are more than worth the wonders of this ancient jungle.
Places to stay:
In the park: You can stay in anything from campsites, to luxury chalets and staying within the park itself throws you directly into the midst of the exotic wildlife.
Just outside: Outside the park, you can find better budget options, most of which operate boat services to take you back into the park by day.
Take a walk on the wild side: A night in an animal hide is undoubtedly the best way to watch wildlife. There are huts on top of stilts conveniently situated near to the most popular salt-licks, where hundreds of animals come to drink by dusk. An awesome experience for a budding David Attenborough. Cooking is not allowed, so be sure to bring some food that’s ready to eat.
Things to do:
Walk across the canopy: The canopy walkway is very popular and only takes half an hour to get across. The rope bridge is 27 metres up in the tree tops and is 1,300 ft long- giving visitors the ability to watch the inhabitants of the tree-top canopies at close-range. This is part of the longer trail which takes you to Tabing Hide and Teresek Hill, which gives an awesome view of the park.
Take a jungle jacuzzi: Lata Berkoh is a natural, jungle jacuzzi formed by a bank of cascades. Take a dip in this organic wonder and feel your worries melt away downstream.
Got a spare week? Both the Air Terjun Empat Tingkat and Gunung Tahan treks take seven days of serious hiking. Not for the faint-hearted, these treks involve carrying your own camping equipment and food supplies, as civilisation is a long way off. There are loads of river crossings and one day even involves climbing 27 hills before nightfall. If you’ve come to Taman Negara to be Bear Grylls, you’ve found your mecca.
Take a casual trek: There are tonnes of great treks to tackle in the park, no matter your time frame. Check with the park rangers and they can advise you on the best trek to suit you – there are many great waterfalls to visit and the steep Bukit Warisan Trek has astounding sunrise and sunset views of the rainforest.
Visit the nearby Kenong Rimba Park: South-west of Taman Negara you will find the quieter, but no less interesting Kenong Rimba Park. This park has a huge amount of wildlife and several two or three-hour loops out to caves which are believed to house elephants. A more challenging trip is the five-day Gua Batu Putih trek, ending in a serene crystal-clear stream.
The easiest access point to the park is by the river, from the jetty at Kuala Tembeling. The ride is 20 miles along the serene jungle river, in a 14-seater longboat, which makes an experience in itself! You get to the jetty from the nearby town of Jerantut, 30 minutes away by taxi, and you can get either a train or an express bus to/from Kuala Lumpur from there. Alternatively, there are lots of companies who organise all-inclusive travel to Taman Negara from Kuala Lumpur, if you don’t fancy organising all the separate journeys yourself.
Where to go next?
Cameron Highlands: Head west to the Cameron Highlands and cool down from the humidity of Taman Negara. You can enjoy the dozens of little towns spread across this beautiful hilly area, and be sure to have a cup of locally grown tea around the campfire. Read more about the Cameron Highlands here.
Perhentian Islands: Lie back and relax over on the east coast, the perfect reward after trekking the length and breadth of Taman Negara. The islands are as laid back as they come, the white sand awaits you. You can even get an awesome jungle train from Taman Negara straight to the mainland port of Kota Bharu. Read more about the Perhentian Islands here.
By Alisha Rouse