What’s not to love about Bako National Park, Sarawak? It’s got dramatic views, exotic wildlife, the beach and even a waterfall.
Although a day trip is often the most popular way to see the park, it is definitely not enough to soak in the beauty and uniqueness of it. But if that is all you have, we’ve got a list of things you should keep a lookout for.
First, let’s talk logistics
It is really easy (and economical) to get to the Bako National Park. You can either take a bus across from Riverside Majestic Hotel, Kuching for RM3.50 or use a ride sharing app that’ll cost you about RM23.
You will be dropped near the park’s boat house where you have to pay an entrance fee (RM10 per person) and hire a boat for RM10 (return).
Don’t forget to get a map and register at the information counter once you reach the park, as it helps the authorities to keep track of the visitors and send in help if necessary. (Don’t worry, the paths are well-marked and it’s quite difficult to get lost, even if you wanted to.)
Catch the reflection
If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats, known for its mirror-like quality, you may see a similar version of it at the end of your 20-minute boat ride. The view itself is breathtaking – rocky cliffs, a reflective surface capturing the glistening morning sun, and perhaps even a Bornean Bearded Pig wandering about – making it a perfect spot for Insta-worthy pictures.
Unfortunately for me, I decided to postpone taking pictures till after my hike. Not a smart move, as the shifting of the sun means such pretty ‘golden hour’ photographs are only possible in the mornings.
Getting acquainted with the Proboscis Monkeys
The male monkeys look like your grumpy, port-bellied uncle with a prominent nose. Endearing but not to be disturbed, or they might just disappear into the wild until they feel like ‘people-ing’ again.
Proboscis are native to Borneo and you will be hard pressed to see it anywhere else in the world, so you might want to grab a pair of binoculars and start your journey early when they are out and about the most.
I was lucky to have gotten a glimpse of a pair as I was starting my hike, and only because someone spotted it and pointed it out to me. So, keep your eyes peeled at all times and stay alert for any sounds you may hear around you.
Spotting the Bornean Bearded Pig
Before meeting the grumpy uncle, you probably would have come across a few bearded pigs that look deceptively slow and unconcerned.
You may want to whip out your cameras and get as close as possible for a snap, but be careful not to leave any snacks around because they can charge at you at a relatively high speed when they see food or feel threatened.
They are a fascinating sight nevertheless so make sure you respect nature – keep your food wrapped up, do not throw rubbish where they don’t belong and don’t disturb the wildlife you see on your visit.
Colorful and unique birds
If you are an avid bird watcher, you’re in for a treat! There are over 150 species of birds that have been recorded at Bako. From kingfishers to flycatchers and owls, you will see a variety of colorful birds here.
Try to stay as quiet as possible and see how many species you can find and identify during your track. You can spot them picking at the mud near the mangroves, flitting from tree to tree in the woods or simply resting on tree limbs.
As you reach the beginning of the trails, you will pass a mangrove forest which is home to flora and fauna not found in any other kinds of forests.
Spot the protruding roots of the trees and colorful crabs that walk the muddy surface! If you’re lucky, you might even spot some Oriental Small-clawed or Hairy Nosed Otters so play close attention when you’re near the mangroves.
Other animals you’ll see here include several species of monkeys, bats and monitor lizards.
A carnivorous… plant?
What makes the pitcher plant so special, besides the way it looks, you may ask. The answer is, it’s one of the few carnivorous plants that you can find in the world. The plant traps insects and animals into its deep cavity containing a digestive liquid, where the food remains for a few days before being broken down fully.
Get a closer look and you may even see dead insects in the bowels of the plants! Keep a lookout as you reach a plain with uneven rock formations during your hike as the pitcher plants are most easily found there.
Telok Pandan Besar and Kecil trails
Two of the most popular trails among the day trip visitors, Telok Pandan Besar and Kecil are easily trekked and offer amazing views along the way as well as at the end of the treks.
It is advisable to first go to the further Telok Pandan Kecil for the view and pictures, before heading to Besar. This is because besides being a viewpoint, there isn’t much to do there.
A hike on Pandan Besar, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to not only enjoy the beach, but also take a boat ride back to the main jetty so you don’t have to retrace your steps back to the visitor’s center.
Do check with the forestry staff before you take a swim, as it was forbidden during my visit due to sightings of saltwater crocodiles.
Another perk of taking the boat (which costs about RM7 – RM10 per head) back is that you get a short tour of the fascinating rock formations. It’s definitely worth a trip to see what nature can do and what it can withstand.
If you are a relatively fit and fast hiker, you may want to visit the Tajor waterfall during your trip. It is small but quite a sight to behold, or so I was told. As I generally travel slow and prefer to soak in the sights and let my imagination run wild, I didn’t make it that far.
These are only some of the highlights of Bako National Park, so if you really want to experience and see the thousands of plant and animal species at the park, stay a day or two and make the most of your time. Book your trip on Traveloka today!