Covering 4343 sq km and at twice the size of Luxembourg, Peninsular Malaysia's greatest national park sprawls in a huge, verdant swathe across the states of Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu. Everything about Taman Negara is big: the trees are dwarfing, the forest impenetrably huge, the timescale dauntingly massive (the jungle is 130 million years old) and ants and fellow creepy crawlies are simply outsize.
Most visitors penetrate Taman Negara in Pahang. It is billed, perhaps wrongly, as a wildlife park. Certainly this magnificent. lush region is a haven for endangered species such as the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), tigers, leopards and rhinos, but numbers are low and sightings are rare. It's unlikely that you will see anything more exotic than snakes (dog-toothed cat snakes, reticulated pythons, temple pit vipers and red-headed kraits all live here), lizards, monkeys, small deer, and perhaps tapir. Birdlife is prolific, however, and you will probably glimpse more insects - many at extremely close quarters - than you've ever seen in your life. The park is also home to the nomadic Batek people, one of Malaysia's aboriginal groups. The diverse flora is equally enthralling, ranging from luminescent fungi to rafflesia (a parasitic plant devoid of stems, roots or leaves and the world's largest flower), orchids, two-tone ferns and towering, ancient trees with trunks that flare imposingly into the ground.
The jungle at Taman Negara is so dense that you could pass within metres of an animal and never know it. The probability of spotting wildlife increases the further you trek from the heavily trafficked park headquarters, but sightings are never guaranteed. Some travellers are subsequently disappointed, but that is perhaps to miss the point: the greatest reward of a visit to Taman Negara is to be present in one of the world's most pristine extant primary rainforests. The jungle here is claimed to be the oldest in the world: none of the Ice Ages had any effect here, and Taman Negara has eluded volcanic activity and other geological upheavals.
More than any other destination in Malaysia, the more you put into a visit to Taman Negara, the more you'll get out of it. Fleeting visits are naturally feasible, but invariably only scratch the surface. Consider an overnight trek or at least a long boat trip up one of the park's rivers. If you aren't comfortable doing these things on your own, don't hesitate to join one of the tours that can be arranged at guesthouses and restaurants in Kampung Kuala Tahan. If you plan on making some longer treks, consider bringing food and proper equipment with you.
The best time to visit the park is during the dry season from February to September. Rainfall is not constant during the rainy season, but when it rains it pours, and trails rapidly transform into treacherous, muddy bogs. The peak tourist season is from April to August.
Orientation & Information
The park headquarters and the privately run Mutiara Taman Negara resort are at Kuala Tahan, across the river from Kampung Kuala Tahan. The Tourist Information Counter in the building behind the reception of Mutiara Taman Negara resort, is where you must register before heading off into the park, or to other park accommodation outside the Mutiara Taman Negara resort.
Come here also for information regarding travel within Taman Negara. Tour guides can be booked here. Camping, hiking and fishing gear can be hired at the Mutiara Taman Negara resort shop or at the jetty on the Kampung Kuala Tahan side. See Planning, p288, for recommendations about useful books.
One of the best activities in Taman Negara. It is an exhilarating ride that faces seven rapids along Tembeling River. Get ready for the wet and wild experience! On the way back, if you want to swim in crystal clear water, you may ask the boat to stop at one of the beautiful streams.
Home to various bats, racer snakes and many fascinating insects, exploring limestone caves such as Gua Telinga guarantees fun and excitement. For the more adventurous, opt for a longer trek and then spend a night in one of these caves - Kepayang Besar, Kepayang Kecil, Luas or Daun Menari.
Jungle trekking along the most adventures trail about 1.7Km to Bukit Teresek. It takes about 30 minutes to 45 minutes to reach its peak. The 334M height hill is offering you a magnificent panoramic view of Gunung Tahan. See the fabulous forest canopies that cover the hills and valleys. Among other popular trail are Lubok Simpon , Gua Telinga , Bumbun Kumbang Hide and Lata Berkoh .
Night Jungle walk
Discover the side of the jungle which comes alive at night. Familiarize yourself with nocturnal plants and insects and savour a chance to spot animals up close at the Observation Hide.
Spend nights hidden up in the trees while waiting for a tapir, bear or elephant to appear at observation hides. Most hides are built overlooking saltlicks, from which some animals obtain necessary minerals. Except for Bumbun Tahan, which is five minutes away, most require either a boat ride or a few hours walk to get to it.
Fishing is one of the main attractions to Taman Negara. The fishing months are during the drier months in February to April or June to August. Most of the professional anglers, fishing in the deep of Taman Negara, and one of the most popular spots are Kuala Perkai. You need permits, which are issued at RM10 per rod.
Langkawi comprises a group of 99 tropical islands lying off the north-western coast of Peninsular Malaysia, about 30 km from Kuala Perlis and 51 km from Kuala Kedah on the mainland. The main island is popularly known as Pulau Langkawi. The islands are blessed with an intriguing heritage of fabulous myths and legends of ogres and gigantic birds, warriors and fairy princesses, battles and romance. As a natural paradise, the islands are perhaps unmatched anywhere else in Southeast Asia.
With a geological history dating back 500 million odd years, the islands contain unique rock formations that stir the imagination and baffle the mind. Numerous caves with their stunning stalactites and stalagmites, taunt theadventurous to unravel their ancient secrets.
Fine beaches offer sun-filled days of complete relaxation. The clear emerald waters around the islands provide numerous opportunities for a host of water sports and recreational activities. The enchanting marine life beneath the waters of LangkawiÃ¢ÂÂs islands also beckon diving enthusiasts.
Interesting Places to Visit
Langkawi's Legend Garden was built based on the indigenous idea of The Right Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad. It was officially opened to public on the 27th April 1996 after a construction period of 2 years.
Langkawi's Legend Garden was designed by Tuan Syed Ahmad Ibrahim from the Syed Ahmad Ibrahim Architect Firm. In general, the Garden expounds the tourist concept to show the mythical and legendary heritage which remains the core of Langkawi's allure.
The garden, which covers an area of 50 acres is built on reclaimed land and costs approximately RM 37 million. It is beautifully landscaped with 4 lakes, a lagoon and a beach.
THE MOUNTAINS OF GONDWANA
Situated to the South-Western region of Langkawi, the mountain area behind Teluk Burau from Teluk Datai to Teluk Buta, the formation of Gondwana is simply fascinating and differ from other landscapes in Langkawi. Standing tall near Tanjung Buta, Gunung Matchinchang which contains different types of rocks covers a big portion of the Gondwana Mountains. The steepness of the mountain area shows how great the tectonic pressures can be. In all of 23,000 islands in the South-East Asia, not one can pose a challenge to the geological beauty of the Langkawi Islands.
THE RISE OF LANGKAWI
The execution of Mahsuri is buried deep within Langkawi's history and till now, it is almost two centuries old. However, the discovery of Mahsuri's seventh generation descendants further confirms the ancient belief that Mahsuri really exists and her curse has finally ended. It now marks a new beginning for Langkawi that is in the midst of intense development.
The frequent visit of tourists and VIPs resemble the visits of royalties in olden times to witness the beauty of Langkawi.