The 130 million-year-old Taman Negara is one of the original rainforests of the planet and an awe-inspiring place to visit from Kuala Lumpur. There is an amazing wealth of diverse wildlife to see as well as canopy rides through the forest where monkeys swing and glistening waterfalls at the end of treks where one can bathe in clear mountain pools. Taman Negara is truly a wondrous glimpse at the untouched Malaysian interior and perfect for all ages with rustic jungle cabins for backpackers and luxurious eco-resorts for those that prefer a little comfort.
Taman Negara is Malaysia’s foremost national park and covers an area around twice the size of Luxembourg. Towering trees are home to hornbills and numerous primate species whilst enormous insects share the forest floor with wild ox, elephants and leopards. Otters and more than 300 species of fish live in the rivers and waterways. Leeches can be a problem so it is wise to cover up and carry salt or a lighter to repel parasites when they do bite.
There are countless activities to enjoy in Taman Negara and many people find themselves partaking in pastimes which they previously never expected to enjoy. Flying down rapids on a small boat is thrilling, whilst exploring the depths of bat-infested caves can get also get the adrenalin pumping. Trekking or hiking is the main activity of choice, and these can range from half-day circuits around the forest to nine-day expeditions deep into uncharted territory.
What to do and where to stay in Taman Negara
There are many hides dotted around the park and staying overnight in one give the best chance of spotting some of the really large animals. Facilities are basic and visitors must stock up on supplies in town before arriving. But the defending solitude of the roaring jungle is an unforgettable experience by itself. Otherwise there are nighttime safaris either on foot or by four-wheel-drive vehicle which target the park’s nocturnal creatures.
Accommodation in Taman Negara ranges from camping and simple dorm beds to the most luxurious five star resorts. The main town to stay is Kuala Tanah which is situated near the park gate. Here there are different chalet options and staff can all provide helpful advice on different treks, hikes and activities to enjoy.
The larger hotels all have high quality restaurants catering to the whims and palates of international guests. The smaller eateries in Kuala Tanah, however, tend to have rather limited menus with just fruit juice with some soup and fried rice dishes. There is only one establishment in the town that serves alcohol and the park is not really the place for rowdy nightlife.
Taman Negara’s main entry point can be reached by riverboat in around three hours from the town of Kuala Tembelin. The journey covers 60kms and is a fabulous way to see the untamed countryside and otters, hornbills, kingfishers and monkeys en route. There are two boats each day leaving at 09:00 and 14:00.