Malaysia’s oldest, largest, and the most famous national park sits on Pahang’s borders, Kelantan and Terengganu, in an enormous 4343 sq km area.
Today, let’s explore Taman Negara. Malaysia’s most incredible swath of continuous lowland dipterocarp rainforest. Since the mid-1930s, Taman Negara has been a haven for an extraordinary range of tropical flora and a wide diversity of mammals, including tigers, elephants, tapirs, leopards, and flying squirrels.
How to reach Taman Negara?
If you are traveling without a guide, take a train or a bus to Jerantut, and then hire a taxi from Jerantut to the jetty at Kuala Tembling. The riverboat leaves from the jetty at Kuala Tembling at 09:00 and 14:00 for Kuala Tahan. The 60 km journey takes around 2-3 hours. A taxi can be taken straight from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan, which will take 1 hour. Don’t forget to negotiate the rent before departure.
Things to do in Taman Negara:
- Explore the Orang Asli Settlements. “Orang Asli” implies “original people” in Malay. The Orang Asli live a wandering nomadic lifestyle in Taman Negara. Their settlements are located along the tracks. Some inhabitants are approachable by boat. Let them teach you how to produce a blow gun and shoot it. Some background: the local travel companies bartered with the extremely shy Orang Asli group to leave the nomadic life and settle down next to the lake (in the face of the canopy walk) to be readily accessible. Every day about 10-15 tourists come to the town, and the travel agencies pay them RM5 for each visitor.
- Night Walking Safaris. View nighttime animals and mysterious plants in a leisurely hour guided trek from the Ranger’s quarters. See water dragons, night flowers, adorable snakes, stick insects, glowing fungis, other incredible creatures.
- Jungle Trekking. Jungle treks of different duration, some up to nine days, are allowed here. Trekking requires significant preparations, a lot of water, and an expert must be taken on all long trekking journeys. Although confronting, the jungle treks prove to be an equally rewarding, genuine jungle adventure.
- Night 4WD Safaris. A prebooked drive through a palm plantation to view wild cats, owls, birds, and snakes. You could see hornbills, kingfishers, monitor lizards, otters, and more. One or more guides will beam spotlights on any wildlife they can find. The tour does not occur in the park, but on the developed side of the river 15 minutes out of Kuala Tahan.
- Fishing. It is measured there are as many as 290 species of fish in the rivers. You may only fish the rivers of Sungai Tahan below Lata Berkoh. Fishing tends to be best in the more temperate months of February to April and June to August. A permit costing RM10 per rod is required.
- Cave Exploration. Gua Teliga (Ear Cave) has a rock structure in the shape of an ear. Gua Daun Menari (Dancing Leaves Cave) and Gua Kepayang are some of the several limestone outcrops that you can explore along with insects and animals that live in the caves.
- Climb Tahan Mountain (Gunung Tahan). You will need to carry your own tent and food on this week-long journey to Malaysia’s highest mountain at over 2000 meters. There is a small chance of seeing elephants in the natural environment. Guides are mandatory. Weeks of severe physical fitness training is required before most trekkers would try the climb.
What to eat and drink at Taman Negara?
There are floating restaurants at the riverside of Kuala Tahan, including top-notch cafes. These cafes serve local specialties such as toasted bread with kaya jam (a weird but tasty combination of coconut and eggs), fried rice, soups, and sandwiches. There are no bars in Kuala Tahan as it is a Muslim village.