Natural Assets

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.



NATIONAL PARK

TAMAN NEGARA
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 trip.

ATTRACTIONS

Animal Observation
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.

Angling
There are 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. 

Bird-Watching Bird
Watchers will 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 Kuala Tahan.

Other Pursuits
Butterflies 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.

Photography

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
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.


ATTRACTIONS

 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.


KINABALU PARK
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.

ATTRACTIONS
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 NIAH CAVES
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 nearby.


GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL PARK
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.


ATTRACTIONS

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.



MARINE PARK

PULAU PAYAR MARINE PARK

Located in 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.


PULAU REDANG
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
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.


PULAULAYANG LAYANG
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 trees.


LABUAN
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 NATIONAL PARK
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 Kinabalu.

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  Information provided by Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.

 

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