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TANJUNG DATU NATIONAL PARK

INTRODUCTION

 

Tanjung Datu may be the smallest of Sarawak’s National Parks, at just under 14 sq km, but it is also one of the most beautiful. The park comprises a narrow ridge of rugged forest-covered hills fringed by pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and patches of coral reef. The rich mixed dipterocarp forest reaches almost to the water’s edge in some places, and this close proximity of rainforest and coral reef - the two most diverse natural communities on our planet - make Tanjung Datu a very important reservoir of biodiversity.

 

 

Located at the south-western tip of Sarawak on the Datu Peninsula, Tanjung Datu is one of Sarawak’s less accessible natural parks, but its relative remoteness is one of its main attractions. The beaches really are undisturbed, the corals offshore are untouched and the forest trails are virtually untrodden. This seclusion has helped to preserve a wide range of unusual plant species, including the night-blooming Putat tree (barringtonia asiatica), which produces pink and white flowers the size of tennis balls, huge Umbrella Palms and Strangling Figs, whilst the beaches are fringed with purple-flowered Sea Morning Glory.

 

 

Tanjung Datu’s animal life is equally rich and varied. Notable amongst the hundreds of bird species are at least three types of Hornbill, as well as peacocks. Primates include Bornean Gibbons, Pig-Tailed Macaques, Long-Tailed (or Crab-Eating) Macaques, and Silvered and Banded Langurs (or Leaf Monkeys). Bearded Pigs, Sambar Deer, Mouse Deer, Barking Deer, Bearcats, Civet Cats and various species of squirrel are amongst the land mammals that may occasionally be seen here.

Reptile species include a variety of ground and tree lizards, as well as Pit Vipers and Tree Snakes, but Tanjung Datu’s greatest contribution to reptile conservation is its role as a marine turtle nesting site. Highly endangered Green Turtles and Olive Ridley Turtles regularly lay their eggs on the park’s beaches. Therefore a turtle hatchery has been established - a fenced-off area close to the beach which is protected and monitored by park staff. Eggs from nests vulnerable to predators such as pigs, monitor lizards and snakes are relocated here to reduce the high levels of natural mortality. As well as turtles, the waters offshore from Tanjung Datu are home to dolphins, and unidentified whale species have also been reported.

The unpolluted crystal clear waters of the South China Sea support a wide range of marine life, and the coral grows close inshore. This makes Tanjung Datu a good location for snorkeling and scuba diving, although scuba divers have yet to explore its full potential.


VISITOR SAFETY


Tanjung Datu’s coral reefs are home to a number of venomous creatures, including Sea Snakes, Coral Snakes, Stonefish and Cone Shells. Marine Snakes are usually harmless if undisturbed, and if seen should be left well alone. Stonefish may conceal themselves in mud or sand surrounding the coral, especially at low tide, so do not walk or swim barefoot around coral reefs. Cone Shells are highly venomous and should not be handled under any circumstances.



TREKS & TRAILS


Tanjung Datu has four short walking trails, offering a variety of rainforest and beach scenery as well as some spectacular coastal views. The following table provides details of trekking times and the colour codes used in the park.









Trail Name

Trail length

Trekking Time To/ From Park HQ

Colour Code

Telok Melano Trail

3.7km

1 hr 30 mins

Orange

Pasir Antu Laut Trail

2.7km

1 hr 30 mins

Yellow

Viewpoint Trail

500m

20 mins

Green

Belian Trail

2km

1 hr 30 mins

Red

 

Telok Melano Trail

This trail leads from the nearby fishing village of Telok Melano (the main access point for the park) to the Park HQ. The trail passes through abandoned farmland at first, then weaves its way along the coastline, through picturesque bays, with the possibility of seeing pig-tailed macaques and Bornean bearded pigs. The trail emerges at Telok Upas, a pleasant white sandy beach with patches of hard corals just off shore which are ideal for snorkelling. A further 10 minutes brings you to the Park HQ. Visitors may walk back to Telok Melano by the same route, or arrange to be picked up by boat from the beach.


Viewpoint Trail
This short, steep trail leads to the Viewing Point at Tanjung Labuan Gadong, an 80m high cliff-top, which offers superb views of the entire shoreline of the park. Dolphins may frequently be seen swimming in the brilliant blue water, and on a clear day you can see the islands of Pulau Talang Besar and Pulau Talang Kecil, part of the Talang-Satang National Park, some 18km away.
 
 
Pasir Antu Laut Trail

This 2-hour loop trail starts at the Park HQ, and passes parallel to the beach and through foreshore vegetation, to Tanjung Antu Laut, a picturesque beach where a clear freshwater streams flow around big polished granite boulders into the ocean. The trail then turns inland, and back through mixed dipterocarp forest, crossing several small creeks and ending back at park HQ.


Belian Trail
This 2km trail is steep and quite hard work, but the effort is worth it as it leads through mixed dipterocarp forest to the highest point in the park, the peak of Gunung Melano, some 542 metres above sea level. From Gunung Melano there are spectacular views of both the Malaysian and Indonesian coasts of Cape Datu, as the international border is only 200m away. Along the way there are plenty of opportunities to view Tanjung Datu’s rich plant and animal life.

TRAVEL NOTES

Entry Fees & Permits

There is a nominal entry fee for all National Parks in Sarawak. A permit is required for professional filming, which should be arranged in advance with the National Parks Booking Office. Check with the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching or the Sarawak Forestry website for the latest fee structure. Visitors to Tanjung Datu should obtain a permit and pay any fees at the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching.


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.


Opening Hours
National Parks Booking Office Monday-Friday 0800 hrs – 1700 hrs
Saturday, Sunday& Public Holidays Closed

 
Getting There

There is no road access to Tanjung Datu. Access is by boat from the nearby village of Telok Melano (15 mins), or by foot via the Telok Melano – Telok Upas – Tanjung Datu HQ Trail (2½ hrs). Telok Melano itself is only accessible by boat from the town of Sematan, about 2½ hrs drive from Kuching. Boats from Sematan to Telok Melano are infrequent, unscheduled and cater to local communities, so independent travel to the park may be difficult. Designated tour operators offer transport and guided tours to the park – further details are available from the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching. Please note that neither Tanjung Datu nor Telok Melano are accessible by boat during the monsoon season (October-February) due to high seas.


Accommodation

There is no visitor accommodation in Tanjung Datu, and overnight stays are not permitted due to the need for conservation of turtle nesting areas. There is no canteen or other visitor facilities, so visitors should bring food and drink with them. Visitors usually stay in nearby Telok Melano and visit the park by boat or on foot. Telok Melano is a traditional Malay fishing village that operates a Homestay Programme where guests stay with local families, so a visit to the park becomes an enjoyable cultural experience as well. A designated tour operator administers the Homestay Programme - please contact the National Parks Booking office in Kuching for full details.

Further Information

SARAWAK FORESTRY
Tel: (+6) 082 610088 Fax: (+6) 082 610099
Toll free line: 1 800 88 2526
Website: www.sarawakforestry.com
Email: info@sarawakforestry.com




 
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