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Parks & Reserves
With its rainforest, abundant wildlife, jungle streams,
waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches,
panoramic rocky shoreline, bizarre rock formations
and extensive network of trekking trails, Bako National
Park offers visitors an excellent introduction to
the rainforest and coastline of Borneo. Bako may
not have an instantly recognisable star attraction,
but there can be very few places in the world that
pack so much natural beauty into such a limited area,
all just 37 km from Kuching. Its accessibility -
and its sheer range of attractions and activities
- have made Bako one of the most popular parks in
Gazetted in 1957, Bako is Sarawak’s oldest
national park, covering an area of 2,727 hectares
at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula. It is one
of the smallest national parks in Sarawak, yet one
of the most interesting, as it contains almost every
type of vegetation found in Borneo. The well-maintained
network of nature trails - from easy forest strolls
to full-day jungle treks – allows visitors
to get the most out of this unique environment.
|THE RAINFOREST AND
Bako contains an incredible
variety of plant species and vegetation types,
and this is one of the park’s
great attractions. At Bako it is possible to see
almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo.
25 distinct types of vegetation form seven complete
eco-systems - Beach Vegetation, Cliff Vegetation,
Heath Forest, Mangrove Forest, Mixed Dipterocarp
Forest, Padang or Grasslands Vegetation and Peat
Swamp Forest. It is easy to explore these eco-systems
via the jungle trails. The contrasts are so distinct
that you do not have to be a scientist to notice
the differences. Furthermore, most of the different
vegetation types are found close to the park HQ at
Bako is probably the best place in Sarawak for wildlife
experiences. The park has been a protected area since
1957, so the animals are less wary of humans. Visitors,
especially those who stay overnight, will have countless
opportunities to observe and photograph various types
The best times for seeing wildlife at Bako are just
after dawn and just before dusk, when the animals
are at their most active. You are more likely to
see animals on the trails if you go in small groups,
walk slowly, keep as quiet as possible, and listen
out for sounds and movements in the forest. For example,
you are likely to hear a strange grunting sound or
the crash of leaves long before you actually see
a proboscis monkey.
Telok Assam, the area around the HQ, is a great
place for seeing wildlife. Long-tailed macaques,
silvered langurs or leaf-monkeys, common water monitors,
plantain squirrels, wild boar and mouse deer are
all found here. Watch out for the macaques as they
are possibly the most fearless monkeys on earth.
They will raid dustbins and kitchens in the resthouses,
or scamper into the canteen to steal food or an unguarded
bag. Keep all doors locked and never encourage them
by offering food. In contrast to the unruly macaques,
the silvered leaf-monkey or silvered langur is a
docile and attractive creature. Adults have silver-grey
fur and a spiky crest of head hair, whilst the infants
are covered in bright orange fur.
Bako is also home to approximately 275 rare proboscis
monkeys, found only in Borneo. The male is an odd-looking
creature, with a huge pendulous nose and a large
pot-belly, weighing in excess of 20 kg. Both male
and female are covered in reddish-brown fur with
grey limbs and a white tail. They are mostly arboreal
(tree-dwelling), moving about the forest or mangroves
in small groups and feeding on young leaves, shoots,
sour fruits and seeds. Although it requires some
patience, an encounter with a group of proboscis
is likely to be the highlight of your trip to Bako.
The best times are early in the morning or in the
hours before dusk. Telok Delima and Telok Paku are
the best trails for viewing the proboscis. The mangroves
at Telok Assam are also a good place for viewing
Otters are delightful creatures to watch, and two
species are found at Bako - the oriental small-clawed
otter and the hairy-nosed otter. They spend most
of their time in the water, feeding on fish, frogs
and other small animals. Oriental small-clawed otters
are occasionally seen at Sungai Assam, swimming in
the river or running across the mud searching for
food. Hairy-nosed otters are sometimes seen early
in the morning around the mangroves at Telok Assam.
The Bornean bearded pig, Bako’s largest mammal,
is distinguished from other wild pigs by prominent
bristles either side of its snout. Bearded pigs are
often found around the park HQ scavenging for food
or wallowing in mud.
The largest of Bako’s many lizard species
is the common water monitor, olive green in colour
and reaching a length of 2 metres. Young monitors
are green with yellow spots and therefore easier
to see. They are strong swimmers and can stay submerged
for a considerable length of time. Monitors are scavengers,
feeding on carrion and occasional live prey. They
are often found near the accommodation area or near
the boat jetty, scavenging for scraps of food. You
may also see their tracks at the park’s beaches.
The small, brownish grey skink or sun lizard is
often seen basking on rocks at the beach or scurrying
away from the paths. The attractive green crested
lizard, common throughout the park, is usually bright
green but is capable of changing colour if alarmed.
Flying lizards are occasionally seen launching themselves
from tree trunks and gliding through the air.
Bako is home to a number of snakes, most of which
are harmless. They are well camouflaged, and usually
slide off into the undergrowth at the first sign
of danger. The grass green whip snake is easily recognised
by its bright colour, pencil-thin body and long snout.
The paradise tree snake’s black upper body
is marked with green spots whilst its underside is
yellowy-green with red spots. The only poisonous
snake that is occasionally seen is the Wagler’s
pit viper that, like all pit vipers, has a broad,
flat, triangular head.
Bako is a fascinating place for bird watching, as
over 150 species have been recorded here. Although
many of these can be seen around the accommodation
area, you need to hit the trails to appreciate the
full variety of Bako’s bird life. The mangroves
at Telok Assam are an excellent place to start. Serious
bird watchers should take a good pair of binoculars
and the Pocket Guide
to the Birds of Borneo, which
is widely available in Kuching.
Rock pools and mangroves are good places to search
for small animals such as mudskippers and crabs,
especially sky-blue fiddler crabs and shell-dwelling
hermit crabs. Bako also has its fair share of insects.
Watch out for them on the forest floor and hear them
Bako’s nocturnal creatures include the flying
lemur, pangolin, mouse deer, various bats, tarsier,
slow loris and palm civet. If you take a night walk
through the forest near the Park HQ you may catch
sight of some these creatures, as well as spiders
that shine when a flashlight is played on them, glow
worms and fireflies, You will certainly hear crickets,
cicadas, frogs, and maybe owls. The beach by the
park HQ is also a great place for a night walk. If
the tide is out you may see crabs, prawns, anemones,
starfish, annelid worms and young shrimp in the small
|TREKS AND TRAILS
Bako’s extensive trail system is made up of
16 colour-coded jungle trails which offer a range
of walking and hiking options. The fit and adventurous
can opt for full-day jungle hikes or overnight camping
expeditions, whilst those who prefer to take it easy
can opt for a relaxing forest walk. The following
table provides details of approximate trekking times
and distances and the colour codes used in the park.
The following paragraphs provide brief details of
each of trails. If you require further information,
please consult the Park Rangers.
short but steep climb through cliff vegetation.
Takes about 30 minutes. Excellent views of
Telok Assam, the South China Sea and Santubong.
Proboscis monkeys can occasionally be heard
crashing amongst the trees, especially early
to Treks and Trails
|Takes about one hour and passes
through cliff forest before reaching a small
secluded beach. Proboscis monkeys are often seen
during early morning or late afternoon. One of
the best trails for seeing proboscis monkeys.
Move slowly, keep as quiet as possible and listen
out for strange grunts or movements in the canopy.
at first through swamp forest and a flat
section where proboscis monkeys are sometimes
seen. The trail then climbs steeply and at
times you must hang on to tree roots to keep
your balance. At the top you are rewarded
with breathtaking views of Bako’s coastline.
to Treks and Trails
Another excellent trail for spotting proboscis
monkeys, and only 45 minutes from park HQ.
As the Lintang trail bears right and climbs
a small hill you are in prime proboscis territory.
Listen out for strange grunting noises or the
crash of vegetation. If you hear something,
stop, keep as quiet as possible and scan the
forest. Try to ‘follow’ the strange
noises with your eyes. If you are lucky you
may see a harem of proboscis monkeys.
Telok Pandan Kecil & Telok
trail takes about one and half hours and
ends at the park boundary. It is not frequently
used and is somewhat secluded. Good for seeing
some of Bako’s rainforest
to Treks and Trails
one and a half hour trek to Telok Pandan
Kecil is one of Bako’s most popular.
It ascends the forested hills overlooking Telok
Assam, reaching a plateau covered in scrub
vegetation, and continues along a sandy path
lined with carnivorous pitcher plants, before
reaching a cliff top with stunning views of
the secluded bay below and the famous sea stack
just offshore. A 10 minute descent through
cliff vegetation brings you to one of the best
beaches in the park. Whilst swimming, watch
out for monkeys who steal unguarded bags. The
Telok Pandan Besar trail ends at a cliff top
with views of the beach below.
The Lintang loop trail is a very popular trek
as it passes through nearly all of the vegetation
types found at Bako. The whole trek takes between
3 and 4 hours, so it is probably the best choice
if you can only visit for a day. The section
between the Ulu Assam and Serait junctions
is another good spot for seeing proboscis monkeys.
The Bukit Tambi viewpoint is a short detour
off the main trail and overlooks the western
part of the park.
back to Treks and Trails
The Tajor trail passes scrub and padang vegetation
and ends with a steep climb down to a small
beach. Take a hat as the sun can be quite fierce
on the exposed sections of the trail. The trail
also passes the Tajor Waterfall, a popular
resting spot. The waterfall is quite small
(and best after heavy rain) but it has a beautiful
jungle setting and a small dip pool. From the
park HQ it takes about two and half hours to
reach the waterfall. Watch out for slippery
rocks along the Tajor stream.
|9. Tanjung Rhu
||10. Ulu Serait
This trail branches off the Tajor trail and
leads across open country to the rocky Rhu
peninsula and a small headland where you can
see wave-cut platforms and rock pools. From
the park HQ, it takes about two and half hours,
or 45 minutes from the Tajor junction.
back to Treks and Trails
This trail connects the Lintang trail with
the Bukit Gondol hill walk. It is deep inside
the park and passes through scrub, padang vegetation
and swamp forest. From the Lintang junction
to the base of Bukit Gondol is about one and
a half hours.
|11. Bukit Gondol
||12. Paya Jelutong
This semi-circular loop trail passes over
Bukit Gondol, the highest point in Bako at
260 metres. From the top of the hill there
are excellent views of Pulau Lakei and the
Muara Tebas areas. The loop trek takes about
back to Treks and Trails
This trail is actually a short cut for those
who do not wish to climb Bukit Gondol. Although
it is a very short trail it offers the opportunity
of seeing fresh water swamp forest in unique
setting that is extremely high above the sea
level. The most dominant species in the area
is Jelutong, a softwood species used for making
pencils and the latex for chewing gum.
|13. Bukit Keruing
||14. Telok Sibur
This trail connects Bukit Gondol with Tajor
and passes some mighty rainforest giants. It
passes along the slopes of Bukit Keruing, the
second highest point in Bako. From Paya Jelutong
to the Tajor waterfall takes about one and
back to Treks and Trails
A full day trek. From the park HQ it takes
about three and half hours to reach the end
of Telok Sibur trail, first following the Tajor
trail to the waterfall. Continue along the
main trail for another 45 minutes until you
reach a junction and the start of the Sibur
trail. After a very steep 45 minute descent,
a walk through the mangroves and a wade across
a the Sibur river you finally reach the longest
beach in Bako.
|15. Telok Limau
||16. Telok Kruin
is Bako’s long distance
trail, six or seven hours from the park HQ
to the small beach at Telok Limau. You pass
through rich rainforest, scrub land and swamp
forest, cross small streams and climb a number
of hilly sections affording excellent views
of the whole Muara Tebas peninsula. You can
camp at Telok Limau and return the next day
or arrange for a boat to pick you up, or the
trip can be made vice-versa; using a boat to
Telok Limau and then trekking back to the park
HQ. Only physically fit, experienced trekkers
should attempt this trail, and must inform
the park management before leaving.
back to Treks and Trails
Being so far from the park HQ, the Telok Keruin
trail is rarely used. It is usually done as
a side trek from Telok Limau. From Telok Limau,
the first section is a 15-20 minute climb through
the forest until you reach a scrub section.
You must then trek for another 25 minutes before
you reach the Telok Keruin trail. Shortly after
the junction the trail descends to an area
of scrub vegetation. Look out for pitcher plants
that line the side of the trail. There are
four short side-trails which lead to the Bukit
Kruin lookout, a small rock pool, the Muara
Tebas lookout point, and the Tanjung Keruin
and Tanjung Po viewpoints. The last section
of the trail is a very steep descent to a mangrove
forest. The trail then continues through the
mangroves. Look out for the marks on the trees
that show the way to the deserted beach - one
of the best in the park.
|17. Pulau Lakei (Lakei Island)
and the Pa’ Amit
small island at the northeastern tip of the
Bako Peninsuala has a delightful white sand
beach and crystal clear waters for swimming.
At the highest point on the island, at the
top of a 160-step wooden ladder, is the grave
of a legendary Malay warrior. Datuk Ibrahim
was an early resident of the island, and
believed to be so strong that he could engrave
Islamic ‘khats’ (religious
calligraphy) on rocks with his bare fingers,
such as those found at the Salamun Pool on
the island. The pool is popular with local
visitors, some of whom believe that the water
in the pool has spiritual and curative powers.
The grave also attracts devotees seeking to
have wishes granted or to see into the future.
The Pa’ Amit Trail, the only trail on
the island, leads to two viewpoints that offer
excellent photo-opportunities when as the sun
sets over Mount Santubong. Accommodation is
available on the island but space is limited.
back to Treks and Trails
|Entry Fees & Permits
There is a nominal entry fee for all National
Parks in Sarawak. Check with the National Parks
Booking Office in Kuching for the latest fee structure.
A permit is required for professional photography
or filming, which should be arranged in advance
with the National Parks Booking Office.
From Kuching, take a taxi or Petra Jaya Bus No.
6 to Kampung Bako (Bako Village). The journey takes
approximately 45 minutes. Boats can be chartered
at the National Parks Boat Ticketing Counter next
to the jetty for the 30-minute boat ride to the
Park HQ whilst registering your arrival at the
Park Arrival Booth. Check with the National Parks
Booking Office in Kuching for the latest boat fares.
Local tour operators also organise guided trips
|The Park Headquarters
Upon arrival, visitors are required to register
and pay their Entrance Fee or other park fees at
the registration counter. The Park HQ also has
a cafeteria selling food and beverages, a small
sundry shop, and an excellent information centre
with an interesting selection of wildlife videos
(upon request). Enquire at the registration counter
Park accommodation consists of 3-bedroom Chalets,
2-bedroom Lodges, 4-bedroom Hostels and a camping
ground. Barbecue pits are provided for visitors
to prepare their own meals. Please contact the
National Parks Booking Office for the latest room
rates and to make reservations.
|Reservations & Enquiries
|National Parks Booking Office,
Visitors Information Centre,
Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg,
93000 Kuching Sarawak,
Tel: (+6) 082 248088 Fax: (+6) 082 248087
Online booking: http://ebooking.com.my
The Visitors Information Centre is located
in the Old Courthouse Complex at the junction of Jalan Tun
Abang Haji Openg, Jalan Gambier and Main Bazaar,
opposite the Kuching Waterfront.
|National Parks Booking Office
||0800 hrs – 1700 hrs
|Saturday, Sunday& Public Holidays
Tel: (+6) 082 610088 Fax: (+6) 082 610099
Toll free line: 1 800 88 2526
Bako National Park / Bako Terminal
Tel: 6082 478012