National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia is part of the Tentative list of Malaysia in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
Taman Negara is known for its endemic and rare flora and fauna. It covers an extensive tropical rainforest in Peninsular Malaysia. It was Malaysia’s first national park, founded by the British.
Map of Taman NegaraLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
I visited Taman Negara (literally translates to "National Park" in English) twice: one in August 2008 via Sungai ("sungai" translates to "river" in English) Relau and another in May 2012 via Kuala Tahan.
First Trip via Sungai Relau (the climb to Mount Tahan, Peninsular Malaysia's tallest peak)
Sungai Relau was the entry point if you want to climb the tallest peak in Peninsular Malaysia, Mount Tahan (2,187m). That's what my friends and I did back in 2008. The hike to Mount Tahan began from the Sungai Relau park HQ in the morning. Then, it was followed-up by an off-road drive through the jungle into Sungai Juram where we continued by foot. The first day involved little elevation, and the hike took from the morning till late afternoon when we arrived to the campsite for the night, Kem Kor. Unlike the Pinnacles hike in Gunung Mulu National Park or Mount Kinabalu climb in Gunung Kinabalu National Park, the facilities were very minimal. There were no hostels, or sleeping huts built at the campsites in Taman Negara, just a small shed that functioned as a toilet (there was a pail for you to retrieve water from the creek next to the campsite). Instead, you are required to set up your own tents for the night. In terms of the flora and fauna so far, the only encounter of note the evening before in Sungai Relau, we were greeted by a pair of beautiful Rhinoceros Hornbills, perching right up on where we camped. We also stumbled upon tall tualang trees (Koompassia excelsa) and a waterfall along the way.
While the first day mainly involved hiking from Kuala Juram to the foot of the mountain, the second day was more challenging. Immediately after Kem Kor, we started our sharp ascent to the peak. The second day of the climb was way more interesting. That day, we gained about 1,200m from Kem Kor to Kem Bukit Botak. Along the way, we met a curious Malayan Laughingthrush during lunch break, and there were at least two species of Nepenthes including a very small type that was so abundant near the top (likely Nepenthes Alba). They almost looked like flowers from afar!
After camping at Bukit Botak, we started our final ascent early to catch the sunrise at the peak. Unfortunately, it was quite cloudy, but the view was still great nonetheless (see photo). The descent was basically us going down back to Kem Kor that same day, followed by the hike back to Sungai Juram the next day to be picked up the pick-up trucks back to Sungai Relau.
Second Trip via Kuala Tahan (the most popular entrance to Taman Negara)
My second visit via Kuala Tahan involved mainly three activities: jungle trekking including canopy walkway, boat ride along Sungai Tembeling to visit the Bateq tribe, and a guided night jungle walk.
The boat ride probably should have been the highlight of this trip, especially the visit to the Bateq village where they showed how to start a fire and use the blowpipe. Unfortunately, the whole part of the trip clearly felt rehearsed, and the Bateq people that we met were clearly trained to impress visitors for money (you can buy souvenirs to support them). It reminded me of my visit to the Karen Hill tribe (long-neck) near Chiang Mai. I recall an instance when a child was trying to do homework but was scolded by her mother to pose for me instead. In contrast, I had a great experience staying a few nights with the Jahai tribe in Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex, where I volunteered for a local nature society and assisted the local people in their daily lives.
Despite all this, I had a great time with the canopy walk and the night jungle walk with a guide. We spotted a huge Huntsman Spider and a Malaysian Blue Flycatcher in its nest. We also spotted two wild Malayan Tapirs that frequently wandered around the Park HQ area, one of them was quite well-known and was given the name "Tahan" by the Park HQ staff.
Overall, Taman Negara's main strength lies in its rich biodiversity. While it may lack the breathtaking vistas of other national parks in Malaysia, its distinction as one of the world's oldest deciduous rainforests, estimated to be over 130 million years old and the first national park in Malaysia, should make Taman Negara deserving of the World Heritage Site inscription.
Renomination of "The Taman Negara National Park of Peninsular Malaysia" (2004)
2014 Added to Tentative List
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