Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Travel: Bako National Park (Sarawak, Malysian Borneo)

If you're a lover of nature then Borneo's Bako National Park is well worth checking out.

Mangrove swamps at Bako National Park.
Anyone who’s ever been lucky enough to visit Borneo will know that it’s an island filled with many amazing travel destinations and lots of cool things to see and do.  However, one destination which many visitors to Borneo sometimes overlook is the excellent Bako National Park situated on the northern coast of Sarawak only a short journey from Kuching.

The only way into the park, however, is via the official visitor centre entrance situated at Bako village, so after paying the warden for your ticket you then have a further twenty minute speedboat ride before you’re actually at the park proper.  The cost for the journey is per boat, but if you’re travelling on your own you might find, like I did, that you meet other backpackers at the entrance and can split the costs.

Once your speedboat journey is out of the way and you arrive at the actual park itself, one thing to be careful of is the presence of a large group of macaque monkeys that seem to hang out with the intention of ‘welcoming’ new arrivals.  They can be quite intimidating when you first arrive as they tend to greet visitors with open-mouthed hisses, perhaps in an attempt to intimidate people into giving them some food.  They can also be extremely sneaky and annoying as I found out from my own personal experiences after buying a pack of biscuits from the park shop.  After stepping outside I literally placed the biscuits down on a table for less than a second before a monkey instantly appeared from nowhere and made a grab for the biscuits, before then quickly scarpering up a tree to munch on my snack with no sense of shame whatsoever.

A thieving monkey tucking in to my biscuits at Bako National Park.
Things could have been worse I suppose, as I also put my wallet and passport down on the table, so you could argue I was lucky really.  Having said that, the monkey clearly knew what it was doing and probably had more use for a pack of biscuits than it did for a wallet or a passport.  Anyway, it served as a warning to me to be more careful with my possessions from that point on.

As well as the group of monkeys you’ll also find helpful wardens at the welcome hut who can recommend the best walking trails to follow and also supply maps and advise you on where wildlife has recently been spotted.  My group opted for the Lintang Trail which takes in the most of the park's variety of vegetation, but the Paku and Tajur trails are also popular choices.  Some people choose to visit Bako on a day trip, but I decided to go for the overnight option and if you have your heart set on seeing as much wildlife as possible then this is the option I would recommend.

A proboscis monkey creeps up on a rival tribe.
The walking trails pass through varied and interesting scenery for someone like myself more used to the concrete of city life, and are generally easy to follow.  To ensure you don’t get lost on the few confusing points of the trails though, the wardens have kindly marked the trails with red markings to help keep you on track.  You’ll also spot a few information signs along the way describing the flora, and of course you also have the chance to spot various wildlife such as macaque monkeys, proboscis monkeys and pot-bellied pigs.

On the first day the group I was in was lucky enough to spot two rival tribes of proboscis monkeys who seemed to be involved in a stand off with each other and it was quite a dramatic few minutes watching the two rival tribes edge closer to each other and try to psyche each other out.  My favourite wildlife moment, however, was probably the following morning when I was lucky enough to spot a pot-bellied pig.  It was such a cool creature that I was definitely glad I stayed overnight rather than doing the condensed day trip, and for such a big creature he seemed very friendly and chilled out.  I maybe wouldn’t go as far as to describe the pig as cute but he was definitely very likeable and the very opposite of the intimidating monkeys that greet new arrivals. 

A pot bellied pig outside the dormitory in the early morning.
Anyone opting for the overnight stay has the option of booking a private hut or going for the budget option like I did and I staying in one of the dormitory huts.  This was nothing flash and the shower facilities were pretty basic, but at such a cheap price you couldn’t really complain.  The meals at the canteen were also ‘functional’ rather than something to write home about, but to be fair if you come here looking for luxury accommodation and a top class restaurant then you’re on the wrong holiday.  Bako National Park is about the wildlife and experiencing nature, so if you come here with that goal in mind then you’ll thoroughly enjoy your trip. 

Bako National Park also features a handful of beaches, although they’re definitely national park type beaches, rather than sunbathing beaches, but they add to the overall mix of scenery on offer.


As you’ve probably guessed by now, I totally enjoyed my time at Bako National Park and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys wildlife or the outdoor life.  It’s perhaps not visited as much as some other Borneo destinations such as Mount Kinabalu or Turtle Island, but it’s nevertheless still an excellent destination for nature lovers and well worth checking out.

For more information on Bako National Park, check out the official site:

Follow Worthy Of A Bigger Audience on twitter:

Find more travel related reviews on Worthy Of A Bigger Audience at the following link:
Intrepid Travel

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...