Malaysia has plenty of
natural attractions to satisfy even the most discerning of adventure
seekers. More than 50 per cent of its land mass is still covered in
forest cover. And with the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean
lapping its shores, there is an enormous variety of flora, fauna and
marine life to be enjoyed. Eco-tourism has become a major enterprise
in the last decade and Malaysia's natural attractions have been
carefully developed. Malaysia contains one of the oldest rain
forests in the region and several pristine rain forest areas have now,
been turned into national parks to ensure long-term conservation of
the rich biodiversity of plant, insect and animal life.
These forests are one of the last bastions of the world's rarest
plants and animals. The Rafflesia, the world's largest flower and the
smallest pygmy squirrel are to be found here. Several ecosystems exist
in the Malaysian forests ranging from lowland dipterocarp to
sub-tropical montane. There are wetlands, dessert scrub and limestone
vegetation,' amongst many others to check out. The marine parks off
the coastal waters of Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak are
virtually unspoilt havens for those who want a colourful variety of
marine flora and fauna and clear waters to dive in. There are good
diving facilities and accommodation at most dive sites. With the
Indian Ocean on one side and the South China Sea on the other, the sea
life and underwater environment are remarkably diverse.
Taman Negara the most popular national park in the country, is a
scenic region of forested plateaus, lofty peaks and green valleys with
clean, clear streams in an area covering 4343sq km. The national park
ranges in altitude from 120m to 2150m (the summit of Gunung Tahan, the
highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia). it is traversed by several
rivers. Of these, the Tembeling provides access to the park
headquarters. On the southern edge of the park is Kuala Tahan, the
site of the park's headquarters accessible only via the Tembeling
River. There are several trails for jungle- trekking and a number of
observation hides rear park headquarters. There are many interesting
activities for visitors to enjoy. In small groups with a guide, the
visitor could go walking the trails to take in the unique flora and
fauna, watch animal life at the hides or arrange a river or fishing
A short walk
away from Park Headquarters are two salt licks. Jenut Tahan and
Jenut Tabing. Further away, within a day's walk or boat ride, are
Jenut Belau and lenut Kumbang. A variety of animals visit these
salt- licks including elephants, wild buffaloes, tapirs, deer,
wild-pigs and tigers. Observation hides have been built at Jenut
Belau and Jenut Kumbang, and visitors can stay overnight for better
chances of spotting or photographing animals as they visit the
salt-licks at night.
more than 200 species of fish in Taman Negara. A great proportion of
these belong to the carp family. The 'kelah' or Indian Mahseer may
weigh up to twenty pounds. 'Toman' is the Malay name for the snake-
head. Growing up to a length of three feet, they may weigh as much
as 60 pounds.For the avid fisherman, a camping trip to the upper
reaches of Sungai Kenyam and Sungai Sepia may be preferable. There
are fishing lodges at Lata Berkoh and Kuala Perkai which offer good
catches. Good fishing months are February, March, July and August.
find the visit to Taman Negara enriching. Many of the more than 600
species found in Malaysia are represented at the park. The best
bases for bird-watching are at Kuala Kenyam, Kuala Terengganu and
are abundant, but collecting is not allowed. So enthusiasts are
restricted to cameras and sketch-pads. Rock climbers will find many
outcrops of limestone on which to practice their skill. Several of
these outcrops also contain caves for those who enjoy spelunking.
Some of the caves were used by aborigines in the past and cave walls
still contain their drawings.
Taman Negara is a great place for photography and the unspoilt
greens, flora and fauna, animal life and exotic birds will provide
the photographer with a wide range of subjects. But photographers
must be prepared for low-light conditions, obstructions and
uncooperative animal subjects. A good range of fast and slow films,
long lenses and tripods are required.
ENDAU-ROMPIN NATIONAL PARK This Park on the east coast of the
peninsula, situated between Johor and Pahang encompasses the watershed
of the rivers Endau in Johor and Rompin in Pahang and comprises some
488sq km of forest. Lush and relatively' untouched, it is one of the
few remaining lowland dipterocarp forests in the country and the last
refuge of the Sumatran-rhinoceros in Peninsular Malaysia. It is of
major conservation significance due to the diversity of flora and
fauna and animal species found within. Its rocks and hills have been
estimated to be nearly 250 millions years old.
A great place for nature lovers, there are many activities that can
be pursued such as botany, nature study, bird watching, photography
and jungle trekking. For nature study, the unusual fauna found here
includes the famous fan palm of the 'Livistona endauensis' variety
which is indigenous to the region. other interesting plants include
the climbing bamboo, and the walking stick palm. There are also many
varieties of toadstools and orchids. The wildlife includes Tigers,
elephants, Sumatran rhinoceros, binturong or bear cat (Arctictis
binturong) and the white handed gibbon, the only ape species in the
region. The forest is also home to the chirping drongos, hornbills and
argus pheasant and to the Orang Asli of the Jakun tribe to be found at
Kampung Peta near the park entrance.
Towering 4,095.2 metres (13,435 ft) above the mysterious tropical
jungles of North Borneo in Sabah, Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu is the
majestic centerpiece of Kinabalu Park and is also the highest mountain
in South-East Asia. Despite its intimidating size, Mt. Kinabalu is
one of the easiest mountains in the world to climb. No special skills
or equipment are needed, and each year, thousand of visitors climb to
the summit of Mt. Kinabalu, Low's Peak. Keep in mind, however, that
the ascent is a physically tough and challenging climb, requiring a
minimum of two days to reach the summit. Because of lack of oxygen in
the higher mountain altitude, those with high blood pressure and weak
hearts are advised not to make the climb.
Merely being able to climb to the top of Mt. Kinabalu - as intense as
it undeniably is - isn't the only experience that awaits you, Mt.
Kinabalu is a botanical paradise, with an amazing number of plants,
many unique to the area. The Park Reserve surrounding the mountain
provides plenty of nature trails weaving through the majority of the
park area. Hikers are free to explore the trails on their own and
guided walks are also available.
NIAH NATIONAL PARK AND
Sarawak Niah National Park is made up of 3103 hectares of forest and
limestone. it was originally established to protect the valuable Niah
Caves, made famous by the discoveries of an early ancient human
settlement. The Niah Caves is a major attraction in this park. one
known as the Great Cave covers an area of I I hectares, or as large as
13 football fields. The caves are also remarkable for the millions of
bats and swiftlets. in the rnid 1950s, archaeologists discovered the
skull of Homo Sapiens who had lived in the caves some 40,000 years
ago. Artifacts and cave drawings showed that they had their own unique
culture and beliefs and buried their dead by floating them down river
in funeral boats. In the 1900s, the Penans rediscovered the caves and
found the edible bird's nest on the roof of the caves. Bird's nest are
a much prized oriental delicacy. These nests are still being harvested
by nimble men who clamber up the long, single bamboo poles which
extend from the cave floor to the arch of the roof. The way to the
Great Cave (West Mouth) involves a walk on a raised plank walk with
handrail. The walk covers about 4km and takes 45 minutes to an hour in
good weather. There are other trails in the park and a long house
GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL
This is Sarawak largest National Park, covering an area of 544sq km.
The park contains SarawaICs setond- highest peak, Gunung Mulu a
sandstone outcrop standing at 2376m. There is also the 1750m Gunung
Api, an impressive limestone outcrop. The park is noted for its
diverse vegetation which varies from peat swamp to limestone and
forest terrain, This national.
BAKO NATIONAL PARK
The Bako National Park in west Sarawak, is a small park of 26sq km
located at the mouth of the Bako River. Known for variety and
contrasts in its natural scenery, it has secluded coves, rocky
headlands and sandstone cliffs. There are sea arches and sea stacks at
the base of cliffs which have been weathered by wave action. The park
also contains seven ecosystems ranging from mixed dipterocarp forests
of the lowlands to desert-Iike of the plateau.
This is the place to view the proboscis monkeys, and the silver langur.
Other animals include the leopard cats and giant lizards and a great
variety of birds. The park has lovely beach areas and many trails.
There is good hostel accommodation and a restaurant.
PULAU PAYAR MARINE PARK
the north of the Straits of Melaka, off Kuala Kedah and about 19
nautical miles south of Langkawi and 40 nautical miles north of Penang,
this marine park encompasses the island of Pulau Payar, Pulau
Segantang, Pulau Lembu and Pulau Kaca. The first marine park to be
established off the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, it is a
sanctuary to many endangered species of marine life. The best time to
visit the park is from Febuary until November, although it can be
visited all year around.
Dotting the South China Sea about 45 km of the long Terengganu
coastline, Pulau Redang and its neighbouring island were officially
declared a marine park in 1991. The marine park consists of nine
islands: Pulau Redang, Pulau Pinang, Pulau Lima, Pulau Ekor Tebu,
Pulau Lang Tengah, Pulau Perhentian Besar,Pulau Perhentian Kecil,
Pulau Susu Dara and Pulau Kapas.
Pulau Tioman measuring about 38km long and 19km wide, is the
largest of a volcanic group of 64 island off the coast of Pahang. The
island is famous for its corals and rich marine life and offers
challenging dive sites with visibility up to about 33m. At Salang
Beach, you can virtually snorkel to the coral gardens of sea fans and
sea anemones surrounded by damsel and cardinal fish. Shallow reefs at
the nearby island of Pulau Tulai and Pulau Renggis are also good for
scuba diving and snorkeling. There are underwater caves at Pulau
Chebeh and beautiful reefs at the uninhabited Pulau Sepoi and Pulau
Labas which are about an hourís boat ride from Tioman.
Located 165 nautical miles north-west of Kota Kinabalu in the South
China Sea, the oceanic atoll of Layang-Layang rises almost 200 meters
from the sea bed. Measuring 1.2 km long and 200 meters wide, the
oval-shaped islandís fascinating marine seascapes, diverse coral and
reef fish, including its pelagic life make it an alluring dive site
for experienced divers. The island is also a sanctuary for thousands
of migratory birds.
PULAU MABUL AND KAPALAI
Located off Sabahís south-west in the Celebes Sea and accessible
through Semporna, the island of Mabul is a continuation of the Borneo
land mass unlike the Sipadan atoll, its world reknowned neighbour. The
palm-tree covered island is noted for its microfauna and some
rarely-sighted marine species like actopus, turtles and scorpion fish.
The shallow waters around the island ensure the absence of large
predators and makes the area an easy dive. There are two fine resorts
on Mabul, The 40-room Sipadan-Mabul Resort situated inland under palm
At the north of Brunei Bay off Sabah and facing the South China Sea is
the island of Labuan an international offshore financial centre, the
Malaysiaís only deep-water anchorage. An important maritime city and
port, it is also a commercial and recreational centre for the
off-shore oil rigs located nearby. It is a federal Territory
administered directly from Kuala Lumpur.
TUANKU ABDUL RAHMAN
This park covers five islands off Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and an area od
about 4929sq.km.The main attractions are coral reefs and beaches.
There are reefs around all the islands of the park and some are
exposed at low tide. Park headquarters is on Pulau Manukan, the
second-largest island which has chalets for accommodation. Pulau Gaya,
the largest island has 10km of shoreline ranging from fine sandy
beaches to mudflats with mangrove and sandstone clifs. There is a
resthouse on Pulau Mamutik while Pulau Sapi has good beaches and
walking trails. There is a regular boat service to the park from Kota