Malaysia is a lush land with one of the world's most complex and rich ecosystems. Safeguarding these national treasures is one of our main goals where many national and state parks have been set up all over the country to protect the rare wildlife. The country's pride and joy lies with Taman Negara or National Park, the largest of these parks.
The park covers such a large area that it spread across three states, namely along the borders of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang in Peninsular Malaysia. But the favorite spot for all is definitely the section in Pahang. You can gain access to the park from the town of Jerantut whereas the park's headquarters is located on the southern side of the park at Kuala Tahan. To reach the headquarters, you can take a boat ride through the park where you'll get the chance to observe the many interesting wildlife along the journey. This has got to be everyone's favorite route! Overall, it is a three-hour boat ride.
Covering a protected area of 4343 sq. kilometers, Taman Negara is the world's oldest tropical rainforest and a much loved adventurous getaway. There are marked trails located throughout the park for those who wish to explore the lowland forests or mountains. You will be awed at the beautiful self-sustained ecosystem where the jungle maintains its own balance of nature. Don't expect to see many large wildlife running around along trails though, but who knows? You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these animals. But you might get an opportunity to see elephants' droppings or even the footprints of tigers. For a closer observation of the animals, use the observation hides provided. These hides are placed overlooking the saltlicks (a kind of supplement to the animals' mineral intake). For something different, try spending a night at the hide. It is quite a thrilling experience.
Besides jungle trekking, you may also take boat trips along one of the many rivers found at Taman Negara. Hot favorites are Sungai Kenyam and Sungai Sepia, which is also a hot spot for anglers. There are many species of fishes found at Taman Negara. About 200 or more of these species belonged to the carp family. Birdwatchers also flocked to Taman Negara on a regular basis to catch a glimpse of the 300 species (and more) of birds found in the park. Amongst them are Fireback Pheasants, Masked Finfoot, Fishing Eagle, hornbills and kingfishers. These birds have been spotted along the river. Besides boat trips, the canopy walkway, located just 2 kilometers away from the headquarters, is another attraction for the tourists. The walkway is 500 meters in length and 30 meters above ground level. From the walkway, the bird's eye view of the beautiful wilderness is simply awesome!
Another spectacular landmark at Taman Negara is Peninsular Malaysia's highest mountain known as Gunung Tahan. Standing at 2187 meters, Gunung Tahan is a challenging mountain with dense forest growth, swift-flowing rivers and undulating terrain. It would take about 9 days to reach the peak and back. But if you don't have 9 days to spare, try Bukit Teresek then. The 334-meter hill is located about 1.7 kilometers from Taman Negara Resort. At the summit of the hill, you'll get a breathtaking view of Gunung Tahan, the forest canopy and the valley below.
As you go further into the jungle, you'll be introduced to the Batek tribe of orang asli (aboriginal tribes who first inhabited the Malay Peninsula). The Batek people are mainly short, dark-skinned and have flat-facial features and tight woolly hair. They live a nomadic lifestyle. Having made their homes there, these people are the best guides you could ever ask for in the jungle. If you wish to visit Taman Negara, the best time would be around July where the park holds its "Taman Negara July Fest". This is the time where visitors will get to learn more about the Batek Tribe's customs and experience the beautiful nature up close. While at Taman Negara, you can stay at the chalet. There are also other services like restaurants, guides and transportation. To get there, you may go by road or by train.
By Road: From Kuala Lumpur, the road journey takes about three hours. Travel to Jerantut by way of Mentakab or Raub. From Jerantut, Kuala Tembeling is sixteen kilometers north. Follow signs from Kuala Tembeling to the jetty.
By Rail: Train services are available from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The train passes Kuala Tembeling. From Kuala Tembeling, there is a half-hour walk to the jetty.
For further information, you can contact the Pahang State Government Corporation (Tourism Division) at Tel: 09-513-5566 or Fax: 09-513-0510.