Trekking into the Jungle
Bako National Park
The country of Malaysia is split by the South Chinese Sea in half: Peninsular Malaysia on the west and Malaysian Borneo on the east. We decided to spend 10 days on the island of Borneo before visiting mainland Southeast Asia. We arrived in the southern city of Kuching from Malaysia and decided to get right into the action by visiting the nearby Bako National Park.
Bako Park attracts visitors for its jungles, trekking trails, and the opportunity to see endangered Proboscis monkeys in their native habitat along with other more common monkeys and animals. To get the park we had to take a bus to a port and then charter a boat to take us to the entrance. Our motorboat operator Muhammad took us and three other backpackers on the 20 minute journey to the beach. Upon arriving he wasn’t able to take us to the dock because of the low tide so we had to roll up our pants and wade to shore. We arranged for him to come back for us at 4:30 that afternoon and then walked onto the beach.
Now Sarah and I are veterans of physical activity on trips – last year we spent 4 days hiking the Inca Trail and two days in Patagonia, and just a month ago traveled 12 miles down and back up in the Grand Canyon. so when the park ranger at the station suggested we start by hiking the 800 meter Telok Paku trail through the jungle to another beach I almost told her that we were advanced hikers and could handle something a bit more challenging. But then I figured we had six hours to kill before Muhammad came back so we could do this hike and then a longer one later on.
Five minutes later we were in the jungle scrambling over roots and literally dripping with sweat; I was glad I had bit my tongue. It was a hot day on the beach but for some reason it was about ten degrees hotter in the shade of the jungle. We bushwacked around trees and up over steep terrain. I put my camera away because I needed two hands to get through the trail. Eventually we emerged onto another beach; the 800 meter trail had taken us over an hour.
We caught our breath and sat by the beach for a bit before heading back, thouroughly humbled. This time we knew what we were expecting and took a little longer to look for wildlife. Everytime we heard rustling above we would stop and see monkeys above us. There were mostly macaques but on a few occasions we saw the Proboscis monkey.
After eating lunch we did another smaller walk then just sat by the lodge and laughed at the macaques who made women scream by grabbing their food or backpacks. Having had enough of the jungle for a day we headed to the dock to see if we could get an earlier boat back and lucky for us Muhammad was there to take us back.