Taman Negara, Pahang: Exploring the Oldest Tropical Rainforest on Earth! [SP]
Hiking to Bukit Terisek viewpoints
Located at the heart of Peninsular Malaysia, Taman Negara – or “National Park” – has been dated to be 135 million years old, and considered by many to be the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. The gateway to the national park is the town of Jerantut, where the Kuala Tembeling jetty serves as a jump-off point for a three-hour riverboat ride to the village of Kuala Tahan in the middle of the rainforest. Kuala Tahan can be reached overland from Jerantut, but taking the boat is a more scenic way to first meet the jungle. There were several monkeys along the riverbank, as well as lone blue kingfishers waiting at the water’s edge. The dense jungle carpeted the mountains as far as the eye can see.
Traversing the longest rainforest canopy walk in the world!
We booked three jungle tours through NKS Hotel & Travel at MBK Floating Restaurant, where out riverboat docked. The next morning, we joined the trip to the Canopy Walk and hike to Bukit Terisek, which was a great introduction to the national park. The 25 to 40 meter high walkway through the tree canopy provided great vantage points to observe the rainforest. We spotted some monkeys along the way. Then an uphill hike to Bukit Teresik rewarded us with two viewpoints overlooking the dense jungle. Along the way, the tour guide took time to explain some plants and animals in the forest, including a small leech, which he and my sister held in their hands.
Kuala Tahan is the main village at the middle of Taman Negara
In the afternoon, we visited an aboriginal village of the Batek tribe, where tribesmen demonstrated how they make blow darts and start a fire, using nothing but materials gathered from the forest. The Batek are one of the Orang Asli or “original peoples” of Malaysia, just like the Aetas and Negritos of the Philippines. Just like the visit to the aboriginal Senoi village at Lojing Highlands, we also got the chance to try blowing darts using a blowpipe, the tribe’s traditional hunting weapon, which they use to hunt for monkeys, squirrels and other game.
An aboriginal Batek tribesman demonstrates how to start a fire
Our last tour started in the evening. The 4WD night safari offered us an opportunity to see wild animals up close at a palm plantation at the edge of the rainforest. Armed with a powerful flood lamp, our tour guide surveyed the nearby foliage for some night critters. In the course of a few hours, we spotted quite a number of nocturnal fauna: red flying squirrels, wild boar, palm civet, owls, brown rat snakes and five leopard cats! This was my favorite tour in Taman Negara.
We spotted five leopard cats on our 4WD night safari!
Tembeling River View Chalet
HOW TO GET THERE: There are public buses between Kuala Lumpur and Jerantut, the gateway to Taman Negara; however, the most convenient transfer is through NKS Hotel & Travel, which offers daily 8:30 AM tips to Jerantut (3 hours), plus the riverboat ride (3 hours) to Kuala Tahan, for RM 75. NKS buses depart from Hotel Mandarin Pacific off Petaling Street in Chinatown. Register at 7:30 AM at the NKS office at the lobby. NKS office at Jerantut can also conveniently arrange your onward travels elsewhere around Peninsular Malaysia.
Jungle trekking (RM 30), aboriginal village visits (RM 35), night safaris (RM 45) and other activities in the national park can be arranged through the NKS desk at MBK Floating Restaurant.
WHERE TO STAY: Most resorts at Kuala Tahan, the main village of the national park, offer nice chalet-type accommodation. We spent a night each at Tembeling River View Chalet – just a few steps away from MBK Floating Restaurant along the riverbank; and Durian Chalet, a quieter option some 800 meters from the village center, past a rubber plantation. Both offered fan-cooled chalets with private toilets at RM 60 and 50 a night, respectively.
Welcome to my website! I’m travel writer, photographer and online influencer Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap from the Philippines. Join me as I hike, dive, fly, eat and do pretty much anything in between across 7,641 islands and beyond. Need to reach me? Please write me an email.