Did I ever imagine myself checking the color of a scorpion under UV light in the middle of the night in Malaysia? Well .. Nop, not even in my wildest dreams!! but guess what that’s exactly what I did!!
Taman Negara was not in our original travel plan (hence the never plan policy- my plans change just like my mind does). But I couldn’t have wished for a better place to be exploring the color of scorpions or go hunting for different species of spiders than here.
The idea of going to Taman Negara was dropped on us by the friendly staff at the hotel we stayed in Kuala Lumpur. They suggested that going to Taman Negara is as good as going to Borneo Island (Is it? )and that they can arrange us a tour package for a relatively low cost.
Disclaimer- I’m someone who is not in to pre-planned package tours. I feel they rob me of the excitement of random plans, the good part of travel. I love the part where you have to figure out things in a new place, while interacting with the locals. But this time we were kind of sucked in to going on this tour because it sounded good enough- no regrets though!!
We left Kuala Lumpur early morning in the hopes of reaching Taman Negara in 5 Hours but… thanks (Not) to our reckless driver we made it in 3 (including a strictly 30 min stop at Batu Caves, read all about it here).
Even being a born and bred tropical girl, Taman Negara was different from all the tropical forests I’ve ever been to, it was a beautiful strange would. After all, it is considered as the worlds’ oldest rain forest being 130 million years old!!!
The road leading to Taman Negara gives you pretty good idea as to what to expect!! You’re going in to the middle of nowhere!!
Morning of day 1, we reached the Taman Negara village and settled in to our cabana houses (2 people in one cabana). The cabanas were pretty good, a few little glitches here and there (hot water took bit of adjustments to work) but hey it is in the middle of nowhere so it’s completely fine.
Lunch and dinner was served on a floating restaurant on the river Tembeling, and breakfast at a hut near the cabana houses.
On the first day the only activity we were to do was the Night Walk. In the evening we had dinner and joined our guide and a group of people for the walk. We had to cross the river on a boat to get to the other bank where the trail starts behind the Mutiara hotel.
It was a simple walk through the jungle, the only noteworthy thing is that you don’t see anything other than what’s in the range of your flash light! Not the most comforting feeling, knowing that you’re in the middle of a rain forest. But fear not ! the trails are clear and demarcated so most probably you won’t stumble on any unwanted animal members. Our guide Andy showed us a bunch of small critters ranging from a few dozen species of spiders, scorpions, centipedes and he was super informative about their habits and habitat. He even showed us how scorpions look under UV light.. They look green!! Then he also showed us two centipedes mating.
Then we were marched on to a tall platform (Tahan Hide) from where you can look out in to a wide opening in the jungle which is a salt lick (A place where animals go to lick the salt from the ground – I didn’t even know they did that till now) where apparently on a good day you can view bigger wildlife such as sambar deer, wild boar but sadly we were not as lucky. So after spending a few minutes on the platform listening to Andy go on about the wildlife and really important nature- stuff we came back to the river bank and back to our cabana.
On Day 2 we were woken up by the screams of the roosters living around the cabanas.
Once we were done with breakfast we were chaperoned across the river to the starting point of both the hike up to the canopy walk and the hike to bukit Terisek …
We did the track up to Bukit Terisek before making our way to the canopy walk. The hike was not that challenging since most of the way you have to walk on an inclining boardwalk.
But our guide took us off trail through the jungle to show and teach us about trees, spiders and amber. At the top there is a view point which overlooks the Taman Negara national park.
Once we got back from the hike we made our way to the canopy walk starting point. Make sure you go on the Canopy walk because A) it’s a really good experience B) you get official bragging rights to the longest and highest canopy walk in the world!! But you must know that there’s no turning back. After you enter in to the canopy walk you cannot come back. So if you have major fear of heights take a moment to think. But personally I loved it and it’s not that hard.
Once we were done with the canopy walk we were shipped back to the other side of the river for lunch.
In the evening we were taken to the Orang Asli village nearby, on the other side of the river. Orang asli are the aboriginal people of Malaysia.
You have to visit the village in a tour group. They told is to sit on a make shift bench and an Orang asli gentleman showed us how the natives would make fire, hunt using blowpipes and how to make their traditional weapons.
Then he showed us to use the blow pipe and even gave us the chance to try our hand on it. Our target was a ragged Pooh bear perched on a stick.
Our guide told us quite a few interesting tales of the Orang Asli tribe. These tribes live a life style that is very much connected to nature. They would move from one place to another and the move is initiated when a fellow tribesman dies, they don’t stay in a place where someone has died at least for a few years. And the way they bury the dead is interesting. They make a platform on top of a tree in the jungle and leave the dead on it.
Once the intro and discussion was over they let us wonder around the village to meet the villagers and talk to them. Also they sell miniature blowpipes and accessories for quite a bit of Ringgits inside the village.
Go around the village and interact with the villages. Your there to meet them not just to see them. And you never know you might get gifts from them 🙂 (that’s how I came back home with a part of an actual blowpipe)
Once the meet up at the village was over we were taken upstream for a round of rapid shooting. I think I was expecting a little bit more adventure to this , so I was a bit disappointed that it was not as thrilling.
Take with you-
- Mosquito repellent because, boy do they bite!!
- Good hiking shoes (preferably water proof)
- A pair of flip flops for Rapid Shooting
- A flash light for the night walk
- And a little less adrenaline and a buttload of excitement
Next day a van was arranged to drop us back to Kuala Lumpur, from where we made our way to Malacca.
All in all the days spent in Taman Negara was the best days in Malaysia for me. I got to experience nature in a whole new way, got to learn a lot about nature and along the way made a few good friends from different countries. And wholeheartedly I recommend it to anyone who’s heading off to Malaysia.
Now that you’ve read about my adventure, let me know in the comments below what you think about Taman Negara, let others know your experience if you have been there! Hope this post helps you to get an idea about Taman Negara!