The Matang Range that forms a scenic backdrop to Kuching is also the site of the Kubah National Park. Just 20 kilometres from the State capital, the park is a favourite destination for local day-trippers. The park also provides overnight accommodation for visitors wanting to stay longer.
Three sandstone mountains, Gunung Serapi, Gunung Selang and Gunung Sendok, can be seen from Kuching on clear days. Within the park’s 2,230 hectares, you can find not only rare ferns and orchids but also a multiplicity of palms, so many different varieties that Kubah is known as “The world of Palms.”
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.
The dipterocarp forest, interspersed with patches of scrub and unusually rich area of kerangas forest, is home to bearded pigs, hornbills, squirrels, mouse deer and many species of reptiles and amphibians. It is also popular among the bird watchers.
Popular with local people are the waterfalls and clear jungle streams where you can cool off after trekking through the jungle on well-marked paths.
An overnight stay is highly recommended if you want to get the best of this diverse and interesting park. There is no cafeteria or catering service but basic cooking facilities is available in the accommodation.
Kubah offers an interesting range of treks and forest walks, from the gentle to the downright arduous. Some of the park’s jungle trails begin on the Gunung Serapi Road – a sealed track that starts at the Park HQ and leads to a telecommunications tower at the summit of Gunung Serapi. Vehicle access is restricted but pedestrians are allowed to use the road to walk to the summit of Gunung Serapi or as shortcuts to the Waterfall and Rayu trails.
The following table provides details of trekking times and the colour codes used in the park.
|Trail Name||Length||1-Way Trekking Time From HQ||Colour Code|
|Waterfall Trail||1600m||1 hr 30 mins||Blue|
|Rayu Trail||3830m||3 hrs 30 mins||Orange|
|Main Trail||1912m||1 hr 15 mins||White|
|Selang Trail||1557m||1 hr||Yellow|
|Summit Trail||5km||3 hrs 30 mins||Grey|
|Belian Trail||1429m||40 mins||Green|
The Main Trail
The Main Trail passes through mixed dipterocarp forest and joins up with the other trails, giving visitors the option of continuing on into the forest, visiting the waterfall, or returning along the Gunung Serapi Road.
This trail starts at the 900 ft mark on the Gunung Serapi Road, and leads to the nearby Matang Wildlife Centre (see below), some 3 hours 30 mins away. The trail passes through pretty riverine forest with some buttress-rooted rainforest giants and a number of bintangor trees. Aids researchers are currently conducting tests on chemicals extracted from the bintangor. Therefore, you may see small incisions in the tree bark where the bintangor has been tapped for sap. The Rayu trail ends at a clear jungle stream adjacent to the Matang Wildlife Centre.
It takes about 40 minutes from the Park HQ to reach the end of this short trail and the viewing point on Bukit Selang. On a clear day the viewing point offers superb panoramas of the surrounding area. Looking down you see the tree-covered slopes of the park give way to agricultural land and small villages, rivers winding through the mangrove forests that hug the coast, Satang Island turtle sanctuary, and Mount Santubong rising up in the distance.
The newly established Belian trail highlights the conservation of the Belian tree (Eusideroxylon zwageri, also known as Borneo Ironwood). This finest of hardwoods is endemic to Borneo, and because it is extremely strong and durable it is used locally in house construction and agriculture, especially as support poles for pepper planting. The same qualities also make it esteemed by the Chinese for the building of coffins.
This one way trail is approximately 1 hour’s easy walking. As well as huge Belian trees, you can see a wide variety of plant life, including, gingers, unique giant mushrooms and beautiful climbing figs and rattans. The large number of fruiting trees – such as durian, rambutan, cempedak (jackfruit), figs and salacca fruit – contributes to a wide variety of birds and animals. Hard-to find forest birds including the maroon woodpecker, white rumped shama, chestnut-naped forktail, and rufous-collard kingfisher are often heard and seen, and giant squirrels are frequently spotted jumping from tree to tree.
The Palmetum is devoted to Kubah’s best known feature – its palms. It is a short walking trail, located next to the park HQ, and highlights various species of palm found in Kubah. The trail is extensively labelled, highlighting dozens of different palms of all shapes, sizes and colours
The Waterfall Trail starts from the Park HQ and takes approximately 1 hr 30 mins. The trail passes through mixed dipterocarp forest and has numerous plankwalk sections which cross swampy areas and small jungle streams. Wild durian trees can be seen along the sides of the trail. The waterfall consists of a number of sections with the main section dropping some 10 metres onto a wide rocky ridge. Below this ridge is a small pool that is idea for a cool jungle dip. There is an alternative starting point near the 1,000 ft mark on the Gunung Serapi Road which is convenient for visitors arriving from Matang Wildlife Centre via the Rayu Trail.
Gunung Serapi Summit Trail
The walk to the summit of Gunung Serapi takes 3-3 1/2 hours and is one of the park’s most popular walks. There is a viewing platform at the top and on a clear day the view is simply stunning. Kuching, Mount Santubong, the coastline of Southwest Sarawak and the mountain peaks that mark the border with Indonesia can all be seen in the distance beyond the forest of green that rolls out from below. This view is made all the more amazing at sunset and sunrise when the whole panorama is set against an ever changing backdrop of reds, oranges and purples.
Taxis can also be chartered for the 40-minute trip to the park. Alternatively, a number of travel operators in Kuching run guided tours to the park (check with the Visitor Information Centre in Kuching for the latest bus timetable).
Park Opening Hours:
8.00am to 5.00pm
Monday – Sunday including Public Holidays
Tel :(+6) 082 370264 / 370422
The Park HQ has 5 large bungalows with 2 bedrooms (6 beds), rest houses (10 beds), hostel (12 beds), all with air-con, TV, hot, water, a verandah and full kitchen facilities. There is also a spacious BBQ area near the bungalows. The nearby Matang Wildlife Centre offers Chalets and a ‘Longhouse’ with 8 hostel-type rooms each containing 4 beds. Please contact the National Parks Booking office in Kuching for the latest room rates.
A permit is required for professional photography or filming, which should be arranged in advance with the National Park Booking Office.