27 March 2008

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Bako National Park

I'm just visit Bako National Park in Kuching Sarawak just last a few years ago. This place is fantastic destination for tourist and has its rainforest abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches and trekking trails. Bako National Park visitor an excellent introduction to the rainforest of Borneo. Bako may not have an instantly recognisable star attraction but there can be very few places in the world that pack so much natural beauty into such a limited area, all its sheer range of attractions and activities have made Bako one of the most popular parks in Sarawak.

Gazetted as a protected area on 1 May 1957 and was published to public on 4 may 1957. Bako is Sarawak's oldest national park, covering an area of 2,727 hectares at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula. It is one of the smallest national park in Sarawak, yet one of the most interesting as it contains almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo. A weii maintained network of trails from wasy forest strills to full day jungle terks, allows visitors to get the most out of this unique environment.

The Rainforest

Bako contains an incredible variety of plant species and vegetation types and this is one of the park's great attractions. at Bako it is possible to see almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo. 25 distinct types of vegetation from seven complete eco-system, Beach vegetation, Cliff vegetation, Kerangas or heath Forest, Mangrove Forest, Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, Padang or Grasslands Vegetation and Peat Swamp Forest. It is wasy to explore these eco-system via the jungle trails. The contrasts are so distinct that you do not have to be scientist to notice the differences. Furthermore, most of the different vegetation types are found close to the Park Office at Telok Assam. Amongst the unique and strange plant life are the carnivorous plants (pitcher plants, sundews, bladderworts).

The Wildlife in Bako National Park

The question in my mind what is the wildlife in Bako National Park. As you know the park has been a protected area since 1957, so the animals are less wary of humans. Visitors, especially those who stay overnight wull have countless opportunities to observe and photograph various types of wildlife.The best times for seeing wildlife at Bako are dawn and just before dusk, when the animals are at their most active. You are more likely to see animals on the trails if you go in small groups, walk slowly and silently, keep as quit as possible and listen out for sound and movements in the forest. For example you are likely to hear a strange grunting sound or the crash of leaves long before you actually see a Proboscis Monkey.

Telok Assam, The area around the Park Office is a great place for seeing wildlife. Long-tailed macaques, silver leaf monkeys, common monitor lizards, plantain squirrel, bearded pigs and mouse deer are all found here. Watch out for the macaques as they are possibly the most fearless monkeys on earth. They will raid dustbins and kitchens in the resthouses or scamper into the canteen to steal food or an unguarded bag. Keep all doors locked and never encourage them by offering food. In contrast to the unruly macaques, the silvered leaf monkey or silvered langur is a docile and attractive creature. Adults have silver grey fur and spiky crest of head hair, whilst the infants are covered in bright orange fur.

Bako is also home to approximately 150 rare proboscis monkey, found only in Borneo. The male is an odd looking creature with a huge pendulous nose and a large pot belly weighting in excess of 20 kg. Both male female are covered in reddish-brown fur with grey limbs and a white tail. They are mostly arboreal (tree-dwelling), moving about the forest or mangroves in small groups and feeding on young leaves, shoots, sour fruits and seeds. Although it requires some patience, a jungle encounter with a group of proboscis is likely to be the highlight of your trip to Bako. The best times are early in the morning or in the hours before dusk. You will need to be in position by 6 am or 5 pm. telok Delima and Telok Paku are the best trails for viewing the Proboscis.

Other are delightful creature to watch and two species are found at Bako, the Oriental Small-Clawed Otter and the Hairy-Nosed Otter. They spend most of their time in the water, feeding on fish, frogs and other small animals. Oreintal small-clawed otters are occasionally seen at Sungai Assam, swimming in the river or running across the mud searching for food. Hairy-nosed otter are sometimes seen early in the morning around the mangroves at Telok Assam.

The largest mammal found at Bako is the Bornean Bearded Pig. As its name implies it is distinguished from other wild pigs by prominent bristles either side of its snout. Bearded pigs are often found around the Park Office scavening for food or wallowing in mud.

A number of lizards are found at Bako. The largest is the common water monitor, olive green in colour and reaching a lengh of 2 metres. Young monitors are green with yellow spots and therefore easier to see. They are strong swimmers and can stay submerged for a considerable length of time. Monitors are scavengers, feeding on carrion and occasional live prey. They are often found near the accommodation area or near the boat jetty, scavenging for scraps of food. They tracks are also visible ath the Park's beaches.

The small brownish grey, Skinky or Sun Lizard is often seen basking on rocks at the beach or scurrying away from the paths. The attractive Green Crested Lizard, common throughtout the park is usually bright green but is capable of changing colour if alarmed. Flying Lizards are occasionally seen lauching themselves from tree trunks and gliding through the air.

Bako is home to a number of snakes, most of which are harmless. They are well camouflaged and usually slide off the undergrowth at the first sign of danger. The Grass Green whip Snake is easily recognised by its bright colour, pencil-thin body and long snout. The Paradise Tree Snake's black upper body is marked with green spots whilst its underside is yellow is yellow-green with spots. The only poisonous snake that is occasionally seen is the wager's Pit Viper which like all Pit Vipers, has a broad, flat, traingular head.

Bako is a fascinating place for bird watching as over 150 species have been recorded here. Although many of these can be seen around the resthouses, you need to hit the trails to appreciate the full variety of Bako's bird life. The mangroves at telok Assam are an excellent place to start. Serious bird watchers should take a good pair of binoculars and the Pocket Guide to the Birds of Berneo which is widely available in Kuching.

Rock pools and mangroves are good places to search for small animals such as mudskippers and crabs and shell-dwelling hermit crabs. Bako also has its fair share of insects. Watch out for them on the forest floor and hear them everywhere.

Bako's nocturnal creatures include the flying lemur, pangolin, mouse deer, various bats, tarsier, slow loris and palm civet. If you take a night walk through the forest near the Park Office you just might catch sight some of these creatures and you will certainly hear crukets, frogs and maybe owls. The beach by the Park Office is also a great place for night walk. If the tide is out you may see crabs, prawns, anemones, starfish, annelid worms and young shrimp in the small pools.

For Treks And Trails
As you know when i'm there Bako's offer an extensive trail system is made up of 16 colour-coded jungle trails which offer a range of walking and hiking options. The fit and adventures can opt for full-day jungle hikes or overnight camping expeditions, whilst those who prefer to take it easy can opt for a relaxing forest walk for this following place:

Tanjung Sapi
A short but steep climb through cliff vegetation. Takess about 30 minutes. Excelllent views of Telok Assam, the South China Sea and Santubong.

Telok Paku
Takes about one hour and passes through cliff forest before reaching a small sechuded beach. Proboscis monkeys are often seen during seen during early morning or late afternoon. Move slowly, keep quite as possible and listen out for strange grunts or movements in the canopy.

Ulu Assam
Passes at after through swamp forest and a flat section where proboscis monkeys are sometimes seen. At the 'Beware of the Bees' sign, the trail climbs streeply and at times you must hang on tree roots to keep your balance. At the top you are rewarded with breathing views of Bako's coastline.

Telok Delima
One of the best trails in the park for spotting proboscis monkeys and only 45 minutes from the Park Office. As the Lintang trail bears right and climbs a hill you are in prime proboscis territory. Listen out for strange grunting noises or the crash of vegetation. If you hear something, stop as quite as possible and scan the forest. Try to 'follow' the strange noise with your eyes. If you are lucky you may see a harem of proboscis monkeys.

This trail takes about one half hours and ends at the park boundary. It is not frequently used and is somewhat secluded. Good for seeing some of Bako's rainforest giants.

Telok Pandan Kecil & Telok Pandan Besar
The one and half hour trek to Telok Pandan kecil is one of bako's most popular. It ascends the forested hills overlooking Telok assam, reaching the plateau covered in scrub vegetation and continues along a sandy path lined with carnivorous pitcher plants before reaching a cliff top with stunning view of the sechluded bay below the famous sea stack just offshore. A 10 minutes descent through cliff vegetation brings you to one of the beaches in the park. Whilst swimming, watch out for monkeys who steal unguarded bags. The Telok Pandan Besar trails ends at a cliff top with views of the beach below.

The Tajor passes scrub and padang vegetation and ends with a steep climb down to a samll beach. Take a hat as the sun can be quite fierce on the exposed sections of the trails. The trail also passes the Tajor Waterfall, a popular resting spot. The waterfall is quite small (and best after heavy rain) but it has a beautiful jungle setting and a small dip pool. From the park Office it takes about two and half hours to rach the waterfall.

Tanjung Rhu
This trail branches off the Tajor trail and leads across open country to the rocky Thu peninsula and a small headland where you can see wave-cut platform and rock pools. From the Park Office, it takes about two and a half hours or 45 minutes from the Tajor junction.

Ulu Serait
This trail connects the Lintang trail with the Bukit Gondol hill walk. It is deep inside the park and passes through scrub, padang vegetation and swamp forest. From the Lintang junction to the base of Bukit Gondol is about one and a half hours.

Bukit Gondol
This semi-circular loop trail passes over Bukit Gondol the highest point in Bako at 260 metres. From the top of the hill there are excellent view of Pulau Lakei and Muara Tebas. The loop trek takes about 45 minutes.

Paya Jelutong
This trail is actually a short cut for those who do climb Bukit Gondol. Although it is a very short trail it offers the opportunityof seeing fresh water swamp forest. The most dominant species in the area is Jelutong a softwood used for making pencils.

Bukit Keruing
This trail connects Bukit Gondol with Tajor and passes some mighty rainforest giants. It passes along the slopes of Bukit Keruing, the second highest point in bako. From Paya Jelutong to the Tajor Waterfall takes about one and a half hours.

Telok Sibur
A fully trek. From the Park Office it take about three and half hours to reach the end of Telok Sibur trail, first following the Tajor trail to the waterfall. Continue along the main trail for another 45 minutes until you reach a junction and the start of the Sibur trail. after a very steep 45 minutes descent, a walk through the mangrove and a wade across a river you finally reach the longest beach in Bako.

Telok Limau
This is Bako's long distance trail, six or seven hours from the Park Office to the small beach at Telok Limau. You pass through rich rainforest, scrub land and swamp forest, cross small and climb a number of hilly sections affording excellent views of the whole Muara Tebas peninsula. You can camp at Telok Limau and return the next day or arrange for a boat to pick you up.

Telok Keruin
Being so far fro the Park Office, the Telok Keruin trail is used. It is usually done as a side trek from Telok Limau, the first section is a 15-20 minutes climb through the forest until you reach a scrub section. You must then trek for another 25 minutes before you reach the Telok Keruin trail. shortly after the junction the trail descends to an area of scrub vegetation. Look out for pitcher plants that line the side of the trail. There are four short side-trails which lead to the Bukit Keruin lookout, a small rock pool, the Muara Tebas lookout point and the Tanjung Keruin and Tanjung Po view points. The last section of the trail is a very steep descent to a mangrove forest. The trail then continues through the mangroves. Look out for the marks on the trees which show the way to the desrted beach, one of the best in the park.

Pulau Lakei

This small island has a superb white sand beach. The National Parks Department has a small guard house located on the island. trips to the island can be arranged with your boatman. There are some mysterious rock paintings just a short walk fro the beach.

How to get there?

For me i just use my own car to go there, for tourist you should take a taxi or a Petra Jaya Bus No. 6 to Kampung (village) Bako. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. Continue a 30-minute boat ride to the Park. Boats can be chartered at the terminal and they are operated by the villagers. Permits and accommodation reservations can be acquired at the National Parks Booking Office, Kuching. Local tour operators also organise trips to Bako.

For accomondation and other charges

Forest Lodge, Type 5
2 rooms with three single beds each.
-Fan only.
-Shared bathroom and toilet.
Rate: Rm100/USD30 + per room or Rm150/USD46 + per house

Forest Lodge, Type 6
2 rooms with two single beds each.
-Fan only.
-Attached bathroom and toilet.
Rate: RM50/USD 15 + per room or RM75/USD23 + per house

Forest Hostel
4 rooms with four single beds each.
-Fan only.
-Shared bathroom and toilet.
Rate: RM15/USD 4 + per bed or RM40/USD12 + per house

Camp site
Public bathrooms and toilets.
RM5/USD1 per person
*Camping equipment is not provided

Contact No : +6011-225049

Other Facilities: Include 24-hour electricity, camping sites, camp flies, day shelters, lockers, public toilets, canteen, education and information centre and video shows. The water supply is untreated and it is advised to boil the water before drinking.

For food facilies there is a canteen serving simple meals and drinks and NO COOKING ARE ALLOWED INSIDE THE CHALET/HOSTEL

My advise is book a return boat journey immediately after you arrive at the Park. Walks in the Park are exposed, so come prepared for hot and humid weather. Fishing is not allowed in the Park.

Have a good day travel to Bako National Park... :)


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