Reputed as the oldest jungle, the best kept tropical rainforest and the great natural wonders; Taman Negara is the most extensive protected area of pristine, lowland and evergreen rainforest in Malaysia. This implies that Taman Negara’s flora and fauna has evolved naturally over hundreds of millions of years without any disruption or major calamities.
Taman Negara is situated in the centre of the Peninsular Malaysia. Covering over 4343 square kilometers of primary forest, Taman Negara that spans across three states (Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) is the largest protected area in the country. Therefore, it has become Malaysia’s premier national park.
Taman Negara is indeed the oldest rainforest in the world as it has been declared for conservation in the year 1938. Biodiversity protection is important to prevent plants and animals being threatened by extinction, to preserve them for future generations. Protection keeps ecological balances and preserves a gene pool of the wide range of species.
Malaysia is one of the 12th mega biodiversity areas in the world and Taman Negara’s tropical rainforest is one of the most complex and rich ecosystem in the world. The national park is home to around 14,000 species of plants and trees more than other forest in the world. Basically, there are over 2,400 species of flowering plant, 200 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 67 species of snakes, 55 species of frogs, 80 species of bat, 30 species of rats and 109 species freshwater fishes.
The Taman Negara park basin is drained by the Sungai Tahan, Sungai Keniam and Sungai Sepia. Sungai Tahan originates at the foot of Gunung Tahan massif. The waters there range from crystal clear to coffee brown from the natural soil sediments. Rainforest Rivers that flow from peat soil virgin mountain forest catchments with no major human settlement or cultivation alongside are rarely in the world nowadays.
The tualang trees (kompassia excelsea), the tallest tree in South East Asia can be found on the plains along with various types of hardwoods such as meranti (shores spp.) and keruing (dipterocarps spp.). At there, you can find a lot of Epiphytes such as ferns and rare species of orchids. Oaks laurel and conifers can be found on the intermediate slopes.
If you are a nature lover, Taman Negara is a must visit venue. You may enjoy your explorations and protect our Mother Nature’s Treasure there.
Why Not Go
You shouldn’t go to this place for holiday if you are not nature lovers since there is nothing much you can do in the jungle. Please be aware that Taman Negara is far from the town. Do not expect to get high quality of food, accommodations or services at Taman Negara since majority of the local people do not have proper educations and trainings. Therefore, it is our job to educate them.
The great lure of Taman Negara is the Canopy Walkway, which is the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is about 530 meters long and strung up to 40 meters high above the forest floor. This canopy walkway consists of 9 bridges and 10 platforms. Originally developed for research purposes, the canopy walkway is now mainly used by nature lovers to see the rainforest from a unique perspective. The Canopy Walkway is open every day from 10am to 2.45pm except on Friday; it is open from 9am to 12pm. However for safety reasons, the canopy walkway was being closed on the spot during windy heavy raining.
The charm of Taman Negara also lies in Gunung Tahan (Tahan Mountain), the most difficult mountain to reach the peak. It might take you 7 days to travel to the top of the mountain. Remember to carry your own food and tent on this 7 day journey to the top.
Taman Negara also famed with its river as the river is plentiful of freshwater fish populations. Fishing at the Sungai Keniam and Lata Berkoh is a famous activity among visitors and the best time for fishing is in February, March, July and August. Known for its speed and agility, the kelah fish can weigh as much as 20lbs and offers an irresistible challenge and terrific fight when being caught by even the experienced angler.
There are many mores to see and do in Taman Negara, hence a trip to Taman Negara is a must.
Best Time to Visit
Taman Negara has a tropical climate with daily temperatures range from 25 to 37 degree Celsius and its humidity is high (more than 80%). At the peak of Gunung Tahan, the temperature may drop to 13°C. Rainfall is heavy throughout the year, especially during the north-east monsoon which is from October to January. In that period, flooding might happen in large tracts of the rainforest.
March is the driest month throughout the year. So, the best time to visit Taman Negara is between March and September. It is not only the drier part of the year, it also main breeding season for most species in Taman Negara.
Where to Stay
Visitors to the park have various choices, from comfortable resort-styled facilities, home stay style to tent camping at various camping grounds. Plenty of accommodations are available in Kuala Tahan. In the park itself there are hides (which you can book at the park headquarters) and camp sites. For luxury, the best is to stay at The Mutiara Resorts. Located inside the park, The Mutiara Resorts are the most expensive and luxuries place to stay with the prices ranging from US$1.50 for hostel to US$350 for a bungalow per night. For budget backers, one of the options is Travelers Home, home stay style accommodation but with new, clean rooms at affordable rates. Normally, food is included, services are excellent and prices are about RM75 per night per person. And please book your accommodations in advance arrival especially during the peak season to avoid disappointment and frustration.
Where & What to Eat
Outside of Kuala Tahan, there is not much restaurant except of the services provided by your respective accommodation. Good floating restaurants are available at the riverside which include Family Restaurant, Wan Cafe and LBK. These restaurants serve local delicacies which include toast bread with kaya jam, fried rice and drinks along with other common things such as sandwich and soups. The toast bread with kaya jam is quite weird but tasty due to its combination of egg and coconut. If you are a first timer, you shouldn’t miss out the toast bread.
Besides that, as visitors, you must try the local drink named “Sirup Bandung”, which is a blend of rose syrup and milk. It can be a tasty concoction to drink after a day’s trek.
If you are not a faint-hearted, you may experience a walk in the jungle at night and enjoy the special atmosphere. You may walk around in the jungle to see the tropical forest nightlife. There are numerous species of insect, flora and fauna available in Taman Negara. This walk will take you about one and half hours. Wear long-sleeved tops, pants and lathering yourself with anti-mosquitoes repellant to repel those damn worms, leeches and mosquitoes.
My to do List
– Bird watching
– Cave Exploration – Gua Telinga (Ear Cave)
– Canopy Walk
– Jungle Trekking
– Mountain Climbing
– Rapids shooting
– Hill Climbing at Bukit Teresek
– Waterfalls cascades at Lata Berkoh
– Stay overnight at Animals Salt Lick Hide
Stay Away From
Leeches are harmless but its bites can become infected. Prevention is better than the cure, so put some insect repellent on your feet, shoes and socks even though it works temporarily. Besides that, loose tobacco in your shoes and socks may also help.
Pulling a leech off by the tail might make it dig in harder, burning leeches with a cigarette, you might burn yourself as well, so the best way is sprinkling salt on leeches, salt will make them run away.
Rules and Regulations
It is not allowed to:
1. Entering the park without an entry permit
2. Fishing or take photographs in any part of the national park without license
3. Possess of any weapon, explosive, trap, net, birdlime, poison or any item used to cause injury to any animal within confinements of the park
4. Disturb animal habitats, injure or kill any animal. Remove any live animal or any part of a dead animal from the park
5. Cut, destroy or cause damage to any tree or plant or clear, break up, dig or cultivate any part of land within the confinements of Taman Negara
6. Remove any tree or plant or even any part of tree or plant
7. Destroy, damage, and deface any object of zoological, botanical, geological, ethnological or other scientific interests or any object of authentic values
8. Destroy, damage, deface, remove any notice or boundary mark, and use any building or vehicle, except with permission granted by the park official who is competent to grant such permission in accordance with the provisions of this enactment.
9. Use any building or vehicle in the park, except with permission granted by a park official who is competent to grant such permission in accordance with the provisions of this enactment.
The best way to get there is by boat. The river boat leaves from Kuala Tembling Jetty at 9am and 2pm for Kuala Tahan and it spends about two hours (RM 25). Actually bus services are also available, but the boat ride is likely to be one of the most memorable and the prettiest parts of the trip. Please note that there is no cell phone signal in the estates.
Entrance to Taman Negara
Taman Negara can be accessed either by road or by river boat from 4 main entry point; Kuala Tahan, Sungai Relau, Kuala Koh and Tanjung Mentong, from 3 different states; Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan.
These four different entrances to Taman Negara will offer you with a unique difference adventure experience.
i) South entrance – Kuala Tahan, Jerantut
Kuala Tahan is located in the Central Pahang of Peninsular Malaysia. It lies about 215 km northwest of Kuantan, the state capital of Pahang, and about 60 km off Jerantut, the closest point of getaway to Taman Negara.
The most popular entry point, either by scenic boat ride via Sungei Tembeling river or driving up the rural road to Kuala Tahan village. This entryway has the most number and choice of accommodation and food, as well as all types of recreational activities and facilities.
ii) West entrance- Sungai Relau, Merapoh
The Sungai Relau entry point, of which Merapoh is the nearest small town, is marked by limestone hills with number of caves. This point is the closest and easiest to conquer Gunung Tahan. Please note that fishing is forbidden here as it is a fish-breeding sanctuary; instead you feed the fish and call them meals by a unique method.
You can either drive or take the public transport, passing through the towns of Kuala Lipis by south or Gua Musang by north along the Kuala Lumpur-Kota Bahru road. Those taking the train disembark at Merapoh Stations or Gua Musang Stations.
iii) North entrance- Kuala Koh, Kelantan
The entrance to the Kelantan side of Taman Negara was only opened in 1995. Although it is slope-filled area with many bamboo species, the name “Koh” comes from the local Kelantanese name for a type of palm; known in standard Malays as “palma daun payung” and is seen along the upper estuarues at 1,000m high. Kuala Koh is also a historic area where Mat Kilau, a malay warrior who fought against British occupation, lived in and launched his resistance efforts. This entryway is said to have the best potential for wildlife sightings, maybe due to the denser undisturbed jungle.
Visitors can either drive or take the public transport to Kuala Koh from Gua Musang in Kelantan. There is a road connecting this park entrance to the Gua Musang-Kuala Krai main road.
iv) East entrance – Tanjung Mentong, Tasik Kenyir
This entrance into Taman Negara is quite different from the rest as it passes through the Tasik Kenyir, Southeast Asia’s largest man-made lake at 260,000 hectares and a nature recreation are in itself. A southern arm of the lake lies within Taman Negara containing some interesting caves and submerged forest views not found at the other entryways.
Visitors can reach Tanjung Mentong through the 2 jetties in Gawi or Jenagor, all in Trengganu. The town of Kuala Berang is the nearest town. The motorboat trip cuts across Tasik Kenyir in about 45 minutes.