Batang Ai National Park
The Batang Ai National Park located in the Sri Aman division is one of the more popular national parks in Sarawak. Covering some 24,040 hectares of land, this park was gazetted in the year 1991. The park serves many purposes. Aside from acting as home to many protected animals, Batang Ai National Park is also a water catchment area where are huge artificial lake was constructed to work with the Batang Ai Hydroelectric dam. This huge lake extends from Engkari to the Ai valleys, a lovely place with scenic beauty and peaceful surroundings. The vast expanse with its tranquil feelings reaches out and touches the soul?
To travel within Batang Ai National Park, boats would be the most conceivable method, as the fast flowing rivers will bring you to your destination in a jiffy. As you travel along the river, here is your chance to admire the overhead forest canopy being reflected in the icy cool and crystal clear waters.
Batang Ai National Park's terrain is made up of the rich mixed dipterocarp forests. This lush lowland is famous for being the home to the Orang Utan. The Orang Utan is also one of the endangered species and its well-being is being carefully watched and taken care off at this national park. As one of the largest primate around, the Orang Utan is able to grow up to 1-½ meters tall and weigh a hefty 200 kg! This large primate makes its home in the trees at night. Besides the Orang Utan, Batang Ai National Park is also offering shelter to other endangered and protected animals like hornbills and gibbons.
Visitors to Batang Ai National Park should stay on for a few days instead of making it a rush one-day visit. The national park is a lovely place and can offer many good memories if you know where to visit and what to do. Besides, staying for a few more days will allow the visitor to savor the full glory and beauty of this tranquil setting while getting the chance to check out the local culture and lifestyle.
There is a fun activity to indulge in right from the beginning of the journey. To many who has been to the Batang Ai National Park will know and able to make claims that the trip upriver is one of the most exciting of all. The visitor will get to cruise up the fast flowing rivers while watching the trees with its droopy leaves hanging over the edge of the water, gently caressing the water on both sides of the river banks. If your visit falls during the dry season, you will even have to get down from the boat and help push the boat upstream through the low water level to reach your destination.
For some exciting adventure, visitors can choose from any one of the four marked jungle trails within the park. In fact, you can try all of it if your physical health and strength permits. During these jungle trekking session, you do not only get to see the mixed dipterocarp forests, in fact, you will also be given the chance to go through some old secondary forests and other areas where you will see active shifting cultivation.
You want more than that? Then how about a trail ala Indiana Jones style? There is one trail that passes by some ancient native burial grounds. Now, that is some history in sight for you! To get a closer look and feel of the local culture and lifestyle, you can also drop by the Iban Longhouses to check out their traditional livelihood and check out what makes them tick! One thing you might want to keep an eye out would be the Ibans' beautiful and intricate handicraft items. There are items such as woven pua kumbu, selabit, woven rattan backpacks in all sorts of designs as well as rattan mats and gourds that are used for water collection.
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If you are interested to visit Batang Ai National Park, you can make prior arrangements to stay at the longhouses and obtain the experience first hand. There are no immediate accommodation facilities in the park at the moment but it is always recommended that a longhouse stay is more meaningful and definitely, more fun. If you have some extra money to spend and would like to have a luxurious time yet wanting to maintain the longhouse ambience, you can check in at the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort. However, the longhouse resort's location is slightly further away from the national park.
There are boating services to cater to visitors of Batang Ai National Park. Provided by the local community cooperative, the boat services are for trips to and within the park. It is advisable to use these services as the funds gathered from here are used to further develop the national park.
Batang Ai National Park is located about 250 km from the city of Kuching, Sarawak. This journey (all the way from Kuching to the Batang Ai Dam) will take the visitor about 6 hours. Upon reaching the place, expect to travel another 2 hours by boat from the dam to the park station.
* Source: Book entitled "Malaysia - National Parks" taken from the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.
* The above information is correct at time of printing and subject to change. Please consult the nearest office for verification.