Taman Negara – the oldest rainforest in the world (Malaysia)
Русская версия Taman Negara, in which the dinosaurs once walked, is translated from Malaysian as “national park”. That is why many locals were quite confused when we talked about this place – there are quite many national parks in Malaysia. Nevertheless, Taman Negara is a very popular ecotourist destination, visited to see the ancient forest, and, in case of good luck – even some animals (tiger, elephant, or rhino).
The journey to Taman Negara is, perhaps, even more interesting that the park itself. We flew to Malaysian capital, Kulala Lumpur, from Shenzhen late in the evening, spent night in the airport and went to the city by bus early in the morning. It should be said that the airport is situated quite far from Kuala Lumpur – the trip takes about an hour. The ticket price to the Central station is 8 MYR. From Kuala Lumpur, you may get to Taman Negara through a number of different ways:
1. Various tourist companies (contacts are easy to find on the Internet) offer the transfer to Kuala Tembeling from which the boats to Taman Negara leave for 40 MYR (plus 40MYR for the boat).
2. A night train departing from Kulala Lumpur at 22.00 reaches Gemas at 1.35. In Gemas you have to change at 2.30 to the train heading to Kuala Tembeling (reaching at 6:00). From Kuala Tembeling you may take a boat.
3. From Kuala Lumpur you may take a regular bus (and train) to Jerantut. Then there are two options:
a) Heading to Kuala Tahan. The timetable of departures Kuala Tahan – Jerantut: 7.30, 10.00, 15.00, 19.00. Jerantut – Kuala Tahan: 5.30, 8.00, 13.00, 16.45. That is how you may immediately reach the national park.
b) Heading to Kuala Tembeling by bus, then taking a boat to the park (3-4 hours). The boats depart every day at 9.00, 15.00 (on Fridays – at 14.30).
On the way to Taman Negara we used a more romantic way 3b, on the way back we returned through 3a.
At Pekeleling bus station in Kuala Lumpur (by the monorail) we took the bus to Jerantut (16.8 MYR). The buses depart (and, correspondingly, arrive in Jerantut) at 8.15 (10.20), 13.30 (15.35), 18.00 (20.05). The buses are not too full, there is a lot of space for the legs, but the driver is quite crazy, so it is not too easy to sleep.
Having reached Jerantut, we asked the driver how to get to Kuala Tembeling. The driver nodded and started calling somewhere. After his call, many people came, offering the service of taxi or guide. We refused and easily found a bus to Kuala Tembeling ourselves – miraculously, it was departing in 5 minutes. The ticket was very cheap, and, judging by how the locals were pointing with fingers at us (still, in a very friendly way), we decided that the tourists do not take it too frequently.
The bus stopped at Kuala Tembeling and the driver showed the boats to us. The next departing boat was already full, so we ordered a ticket for 14.30. We had to wait a bit, but killed the time by walking in the village and eating.
The local tourist companies also organize transfer to other attractions of Malaysia.
The boat ride takes about 3 hours, make sure you visit the toilet before the start!
Along the river banks you will enjoy landscape and see locals doing their own business. 1678
Finally, we arrived at Taman Negara – in particular, to the floating café, kept by the company organizing boat rides.
There we were told about the possible excursions and also how to get to the other side of the river (where the national park is); then, we found our guesthouse. By the way, in case you need alcohol, take it from Kuala Lumpur in advance: in Taman Negara, it is sold only in the very expensive hotel owned by the Europeans. Malaysians are mostly Muslims, and dealing with alcohol is sinful for them. They do not drop their beliefs even though they could earn money on drinking Western tourists. Even in the shops at the village where we were looking for the boat, alcohol was scarce and terribly expensive.
In Taman Negara, you may eat mainly at the river cafes, situated along the right bank, on the floating platforms.
We spent the next day on getting acquainted with the jungles. We should say that the rainforest did not get its name out f the blue: it rains all the time. The humidity is very high, so, eventually, all your clothes will be wet, and the washed hair does not dry either. Make sure you have raincoats with you!
You can get to the park from the hotels’ side of the river by the boat (1 MYR).
The park is equipped with paths and signs, so you may get lost only in case you completely ignore them.
And you do not necessarily need to follow them too: some go to the long trip in the park for several days in spite of the weather. If you prefer not to leave the path, you will see mainly trees and bushes.
There are towers put up to watch animals and birds, not very frequent though.
You may also climb to the hill Bukit Teresek, to enjoy the fog view.
Canopy Walkway – one of the main attractions of Taman Negara – is frequently closed due to weather conditions.
When we returned home, we found a leech in Vitya’s leg. Since it was our first encounter, we did not expect it would be so difficult to get rid of it: when you try to get it with your fingers, it immediately sticks to your hand.
In the evening, the rain became stronger, and the level of water in the river became so high, that some floating cafes could be reached only literally through water.
It was raining for the whole night, and we were dreaming that we would never be able to get out of the flooded jungle. In the morning
However, the next day we easily found the mini-bus and reached Jerantut. By the way, this is a nice place for shopping (for shoes, clothes) after the jungle walk.
From Jerantut, we left for Kuala Lumpur.