Saturday, August 30, 2008

Monkeys in Bako


Destination: Bako National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia
Number of Days there: 2
Our Best of: Spotting proboscis monkeys & hiking to a beautiful beach
One thing unexpected: Disgusting food (seriously, I resorted to fruit, muesli & cookies)
Times we took the: Bus: 2 Train/Subway: 0 Taxi/Car: 0 Boat: 3
Estimated KM walked: 16 km
Where we stayed: National Park - RM 40 (US $13)
Favorite Restaurant: None but the chicken satay outside the park was excellent at US $.35 per stick

We arrived a bit late for the bus to Bako but luckily it was running behind so we jumped on and enjoyed the 45 minute bumpy ride from Kuching to Bako with the locals (bus RM 2.50 - less than US $1). We arrived and took a boat into the park (45 RM for the boat or 9 RM per person). The park is one of the few places in Sarawak where you can see all four of the main eco-systems: mangrove forest, dense forest, primary rainforest and kerangas (a plateau of rock facings and shrubs). We decided to tackle the toughest hike on our list the first day so we could relax the second and we started with the Paku Trail (1.2 KM). This trail is known for sightings of proboscis monkeys which are found only in Borneo. They are strange looking little creatures with long noses and pot bellies. We only saw a couple of them and they were quite far up in the trees so we were a bit disappointed but we figured that we might see them on other trails. The hike was a hot and sweaty affair (love that SE Asian humidity) and took about 90 minutes round trip. It ended at a secluded little beach. I wished we could have stayed longer but we had other trails to conquer! Our next hike was the Lintang Trail (5.25 km). It's a loop trail that Lonely Planet recommends as it covers a good area of the park and provides an overview of the vegetation in the area including the sandstone kerangas. It took 3 1/2 hours to cover and the initial 40 minutes of the hike was extremely steep. After 90 minutes the trail leveled off and we hit the kerangas The lack of shade on the kerangas made the hike intensely hot. Overall it was our least favorite hike in Bako, we didn't see any wildlife and the vegetation wasn't very different from the other hikes we completed. We finished the day with the Delima Trail (1 km) which was an easy walk through the mangroves. We both found it very interesting as the tide was out so it was neat to see the full mangrove along with the existing sealife (crabs, snails, etc). On our way back we also heard the probosis monkeys crashing through the trees. Later that night we took a stroll on the beach at sunset. We saw 3 bearded pigs eating at the edge of the beach & the forest. There is only one option for dining at Bako and they do a la cart buffet style where you pick up the items out of dishes and are charged per item. Not only were the prices inflated, but the food was down right putrid. Even the vegetable dishes were virtually inedible. Luckily they had some oranges for sale so after wasting our money on "dinner" we settled for the oranges. They also have a board you can order from, so perhaps that is better and we suggest you take that route if you go.

We decided to take it easy our second day and spend a bit of time at the beach. We spent 2 hours (2.5-3 km) hiking to Telok Pandan Kecil with a side trip to Telok Pandan Besar. The latter is a cliff side overlook and the former includes the trail down to a secluded beach. After our hike we rewarded ourselves with a bit of beach time and a swim in the warm water! We opted to take a boat back to our lodging to shower and get ready to head back to Kuching. While we were hanging out at the lodge we saw several macaque monkeys which were trying to steal food from the restaurant (very naughty indeed) as well as another bearded pig! On our walk to the jetty we came across another couple of macaques and finally we came close to the proboscis monkeys (YEA!)! We ended up seeing more wildlife in the last hour of our stay than we did during the first full day!

To see more pictures of Bako National Park in Borneo click here.

1 comment:

Julie said...

this might be the best blog entry you've written. the animals you saw and describe kind of make me wish these types of things didn't exist. especially the bearded pig - totally unnatural in a tropical place.