Loagan Bunut National Park
Another interesting national park in Sarawak is the Loagan Bunut National Park. It is located on the upper reaches of Sungai Bunut in the Miri division. Loagan Bunut is actually a huge lake, having been named by the local Berawan fishermen. It was in the year 1991 that the authorities gazetted the 10,736 hectares of land as a national park. Out of the 10,736 hectares, the lake occupied 650 hectares of it. Lots of effort is in the works to protect and preserve the natural habitat of the rare and priceless flora and fauna in the region.
The large lake is the meeting point for three rivers, namely Sungai Bunut, Sungai Tinjar and Sungai Baram. The water levels of these rivers tend to fluctuate throughout the year, hence affecting the overall water level of Loagan Bunut Lake as well. There are in even times in the year when the area is so dry that for about 2 to 3 weeks, the lake is reduced to nothing but a piece of large area with cracked mud.
Loagan Bunut National Park is made up of peat swamp forests with many large and unique species of birds. Amongst the interesting ones are the darters, bittrerns, egrets, herons, hornbills and kites. Some of the primates found at the national park are mainly gibbons. Watch as they swing around like a pendulum on trees. This interesting sight is also accompanied by the loud piercing calls of the female species. All these are noticeable in the early mornings.
Actually, in all sense, Loagan Bunut National Park is generally a remote park and is able to offer you something different. Adventurer-seekers will enjoy the drastic changes especially at the desert-like lake during the months of February, May or June. The dry spell also offers the opportunity for visitors to check out the "Selambau" fishing method, a unique fishing style that came from the local Berawan fishermen. To date, this fishing method is still being in use. Their method is able to take advantage of the migrating fishes during the period of low water levels. This rare and eye opening experience is not to be missed! You may not be able to walk on water, but this could be your chance of a lifetime to walk on the bed of a dried up lake. Barefoot on the dry caked up mud is quite a unique experience.
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There are no creature comfort facilities to date and the only accommodations present are privately owned chalets. Plans are in the works right now.
What To Bring?
If you are not familiar with the surrounding areas or the place that you are about to visit, there are certain essential items that you should bring with you. Foreigners are advised to travel in shorts and t-shirts. However, if you are afraid of getting burnt by the sun or bitten by insects, slacks and long-sleeved garment including hat/caps are must-haves. Suitable footwear is either jogging shoes or rubber boots. This is necessary as you trek along the trails in the forests, which could be muddy after a heavy downpour. Ensure that the all-important item, the water bottle, is present too. Put on some sunblock too to avoid sunburn.
There are certain rules and regulations are visitor must abide when at Loagan Bunut National Park. These rules will help to ensure the protection of the park as well as the comfort of every other visitor to the place. Visitors caught breaking the rules will be fine a minimum of RM1000 and six months imprisonment. The rules are:
- Enter without a permit
- Fish inside the park
- Kill, capture, poison or disturb any animal
- Cut, remove, destroy or set fire to any object, living or non living, dead or alive
- Introduce any animal or plant into the park
- Damage, erect any building or other structures
Obtaining A Permit:
Visitors to Loagan Bunut National Park cannot enter the park until a certified permit from the nature reserves, wildlife centers or the nearest booking offices are obtained. Prior special permission must be obtained from the Sarawak State Secretary if you are a filmmaker or on an expedition.
RM5.00 (camera)/RM10.00 (video camera)
Professional Filming: RM200.00 (insurance are obtainable from the park office)
To reach Loagan Bunut National Park, you can take the route from Miri through the Belura town (Pekan Belura) or Kampung Lapok. You will be driven there on a four-wheel drive if you choose the Pekan Belura way. The journey from Pekan Belura takes about 2 hours whilst the trip using Kampung Lapok is about 1 ½ hours long via a long boat.
* Source: Book entitled "Malaysia - National Parks" taken from the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.
* The above rates are correct at time of publishing and is subject to change. Please consult the nearest office to verify the charges.