Friday, October 14, 2011

Journey Into The Rainforest

The magic of Borneo is very much contained in its age old rainforests which are thick with mysteries, quaint folk lore and unspoilt beauty. The best way to experience a little bit of this wonder is to sign up for a trip into any one of Sarawak’s protected national parks.

Bako National Park
The oldest national park in Sarawak, Bako is undoubtedly the best place here to view wildlife. Covering a 2,728 hectare site, it is home to macaques, silver leaf monkeys, monitor lizards, bearded pigs, skunks, leopard cats and the unusual proboscis monkeys. Its most significant features are the secluded coves and rocky headlands with steep cliffs carved by weathering and erosion over millions of years. Featuring seven completely different eco-systems, the park offers an excellent introduction to the Borneo rainforest. Commonly found here is the Dischidea Rafflesiana, a slender climbing plant with typical as well as expanded hollow leaves, sundew, bladderwort and the carnivorous pitcher plant.

Gunung Gading National Park

This beautiful expanse of mountainous rainforest covering 4,106 hectares in Lundu, is an important conservation zone for the spectacular Rafflesia, the largest flower. It features a complex of mountains, the highest being Gunung Gading at 906 metres. A plank-walk allows visitors to walk around an area of forest where Rafflesia is commonly found. Its rugged terrain also offers crystal clear jungle streams and waterfalls and some challenging mountain treks. It is a good idea to find out from the national park officers if the Rafflesiais in bloom before embarking on your search for it.

Kubah National Park
This park covers a range of limestone hills, sandstone and siltstone over a 2,230 hectare site and features the mountains of Serapi, Selang and Sendok. The park offers trekking trails through dense rainforests, jungle streams, waterfalls and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the coast of southwest Sarawak. It is rich in palms, orchids and a palmarium trail allows visitors to view a wide variety of the park’s palm species. You may also visit the Matang Wildlife centre or visit a long house at the banks of Sungai Rayu.

Tanjung Datu National Park
Tanjung Datu is located on the remote south western tip of Sarawak. It is Sarawak’s smallest park covering only 1,379 hectares and consists of a protected piece of forest that runs to the shore as well as some of Sarawak’s most beautiful beaches. This ecologically important strip of coastline contains a number of turtle beaches. Offshore, there are small reefs, a rarity in Sarawak waters. Further inland, the hilly terrain is mostly covered with mixed Dipterocarp forest, interspersed with small fast flowing streams.

Loagan Bunut National Park
This is Sarawak’s largest natural lake and covers an area of 10,736 hectares. Its area expands and contracts according to the amount of rainfall, forming a unique and ever-changing ecosystem. The grasslands, swamps and reed beds of this wetland park are a bird watcher’s paradise; some of the species include darters, bitterns, egrets, herons, hornbills and kites. Visitors can also visit Berawan villages and long houses to see local fishermen practicing their traditional fishing methods.

Similajau National Park
Situated in the Bintulu Division and encompassing an area of 7,067 hectares, Similajau is an unspoilt strip of rainforest with species of coastal vegetation like the Pokok Ara, Pinang Lakka, Rhu Laut and Bintangor Laut. The park offers golden sand beaches, criss-crossed with small rivers and creeks, 185 species of birds, the green turtle which lays its eggs on the beaches here and the estuarine crocodile. There are three types of primates here, namely the gibbon, banded langur and long-tailed macaque. Other animals to look out for are mouse deer, wild boar, civets, barking deer and squirrels. Popular activities here are jungle trekking, bird watching and coastal cruises.

Lambir Hills National Park
Lambir hills national park is probably the most biologically diverse rainforest in the world. Spread across 6,952 hectares of land south west of Miri, it has innumerable plant and tree species, gibbons, tarsiers, bearded pigs, flying lizards, deer and 157 different types of birds. The park offers excellent trekking trails, a canopy viewing tower and delightful jungle pools and waterfalls.

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