The star of Bako National Park is undoubtedly the proboscis monkey, the big nosed, pot-bellied comedian of the rainforest. But the star has a supporting cast of long-tailed macaque monkeys, usually patrolling the park headquarters,silvered leaf monkeys, monitor lizards and squirrels and flying lemurs that glide from tree to tree.
But why hurry? If you want to be sure of seeing the full cast of characters, stay overnight in one of the park’s comfortable chalets with electricity and running water from a fresh mountain stream. There is also a cafeteria serving snacks and cold drinks, an education centre, a visitor room and an information centre.
Have you ever seen a pig with beard? You can see bearded pigs as you walk Bako’s trails. Well used to human visitors, Bako’s wildlife is less shy than their remote jungle cousins so you can get close enough to take photographs. Of course, you have an even better chance of experiencing Bako’s biodiversity if you stay overnight at one of the park chalets, and take part in a night walk led the park guides.
If birds are your interest, more than 190 species live at Bako, including some rare varieties. The birds and animals are easy to find along the 18 colour-coded walking trails that offer full-day jungle hikes to gentle strolls. The circular Lintang trail passes through all of Bako’s vegetation types from dipterocarp forest, scrub-like padang, swamp forest,mangroves and delicate cliff vegetation. The Telok Delima and Telok Paku trails are the best vantage points for seeing proboscis monkeys in the early morning or late afternoon.
Small bays, steep cliffs and sandy beaches make Bako’s coastline a delight. Along the sandy footpaths, you will find the insect-eating pitcher plants that have been known to devour small animals. From the beach at Pandan Kecil, you can see Bako’s trademark, the rock formation called sea stacks, carved by the waves. For those who wish to enjoy quietness of nature, Lakei Island is a great place to go.
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.
|Trail Name||Trail Length||One Way Time & Distance From HQ||Colour Code|
|Tanjung Sapi||0.5 km||30 minutes (0.8 km)||White/Red|
|Telok Paku||0.8 km||1 hour (1.2 km)||White|
|Ulu Assam||0.8 km||1 1/4 hours (1.4 km)||Blue/Red|
|Telok Delima||0.25 km||45 minutes (1 km)||Blue/White|
|Telok Pandan Besar||0.75 km||1 hour (1.75 km)||Yellow|
|Telok Pandan Kecil||1.5 km||1 1/2 hours (2.5 km)||Yellow|
|Serait||1.25 km||1 1/2 hours (2.2 km)||Close For Maintenance|
|Lintang||5.25 km||3 1/2 hours return||Red|
|Tajor||2.75 km||2 1/2 hours (3.5 km)||Red/White|
|Tanjung Rhu||1.8 km||2 1/2 hours (4.2 km)||Red/Yellow|
|Bukit Keruing||2.25 km||3 1/2 hours (5.5 km)||Close For Maintenance|
|Paya Jelutong||0.2 km||3 1/2 hours (5.7 km)||Close For Maintenance|
|Bukit Gondol||2 km||4 1/2 hours (7.7 km)||Close For Maintenance|
|Ulu Serait||2.75 km||3 hours (4.8 km)||Close For Maintenance|
|Telok Sibur||0.8 km||3 1/2 hours (5.3 km)||Close For Maintenance|
|Telok Limau||5.75 km||7 hours (10 km)||Close For Maintenance|
|Telok Kruin||1.5 km||7 1/4 hours (10.5 km)||Close For Maintenance|
|Pa’ Amit (Lakei Island)||1.0 km||30 minutes (from Base)||Close For Maintenance|
A 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 morning
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.
Passes 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.
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.
This 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 giants.
Telok Pandan Kecil & Telok Pandan Besar
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 45 minutes.
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.
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 half hours.
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.
This 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.
Pulau Lakei (Lakei Island) and the Pa’ Amit Trail
This 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.
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.
A bus ride from Kuching to Bako Market takes about 45-60 minutes (red public bus number 1, originating from the wet market beside the Electra building, which will also pick up passengers from the burger stand opposite Riverside Majestic Hotel, Kuching and costs RM3.50 each way. Buses leave to/from Bako about once every hour starting from about 7am from Kuching and finishing about 6pm from Bako,
A minivan can be chartered for around RM30, and seats 5-7 people. They can reach Bako in half the time of the public bus, stationed near the Open Air Market, depart when there are enough passengers.
When you arrive at the Bako Market right in front of the jetty/visitor center, register, purchase your entrance ticket and buy your boat ticket. This 20-minute boat ride will lead you to the Bako National Park Headquarters. Enquire at the registration counter for details. Provided below some useful contacts for your kind view:
Bako Boat Service Counter
(Monday-Sunday, 9.00am to 3.00pm)
Tel: +6011 25132711
Bako Boat Service
Person In Charge : Mr.Shadad Haji Omar
Tel: +6010 9493 860
National Park Opening Hours:
8.00am to 5.00pm
Monday – Sunday including Public Holidays
Park accommodation consists of 3-bedroom Chalets, 2-bedroom Lodges, 4-bedroom Hostels and a camping ground. Please contact the National Park Booking Office for the latest room rates reservations.
A permit is required for professional photography or filming, which should be arranged in advance with the National Park Booking Office.