The Sarawak Forestry Corporation has announced upgrades to the Bako National Park – due to be completed through 2019.
Bako National Park is the oldest and one of the smallest national parks in Sarawak. The park is located at approximately 37 km from the city of Kuching; which makes it one of the easiest national parks to reach. One of the highlights of the park are the proboscis monkeys. Another unique characteristic of Bako NP are the seven complete eco-systems that can be found within the national park; beach vegetation, cliff vegetation, heath forest, mangrove forest, mixed dipterocarp forest, grasslands vegetation and peat swamp forest. Every night they will head over to the river banks to forage for food and to prepare for the night (they usually sleep high in the trees along the river banks). The way towards the park is already an attraction; as the only way to reach park headquarters is by boat along the scenic Santubong River (last part through the South China Sea). One might even spot saltwater crocodiles as these live in the rivers and mangroves. Best time to visit Bako National Park is between March and October.
With an overall increase in visitors to Sarawak’s National Parks over the past couple of years, Sarawak’s Forestry Department has been working on adding to and refurbishing facilities at Bako.
Alfanso Mckenzie, Park Executive, Bako National Park, Kuching Regional Office of Sarawak Forestry explains: “Currently, we are upgrading our camping ground and targeting to open up the camping ground by 2nd quarter next year.”
Further to this, Teluk Limau camping ground is being upgraded as well.
Room types in the park’s lodges are also being updated, according to Mr Mckenzie, and Lakei Island is set for a “green” upgrade: “Facilities on Lakei are being completed and upgraded – powered by solar system. No rooms are available for visitors on the island, only a camp hut to set up one’s tent.”
Pulau Lakei is a small island 30 minutes’ boat ride off the northern tip of the National Park, known for its pristine white sandy beach and clear waters. It is one of only a few islands of Sarawak popular with tourists. A number of local tour operators thus add the island to their circuit when visiting the National Park.
Night jungle walks a popular activity not to be missed, as wildlife is mostly active in the evenings and at night. One can arrange a guided night walk at park headquarters, and for around RM10 per person, visitors are escorted by rangers on a one hour walk (bring head-lamps and / or pocket torches).
New Trail Guide
A new trail guide has just been published, making it even easier to plan circuits in the park.
There are a number clearly marked trails in Bako National Park, ranging in distance and difficulty. Most trails don’t take more than 3.5 hours to complete, though 3 trails take more time; Bukit Gondol (4.5 hours), Telok Limau (7 hours) and Telok Kruin (7.5 hours).
Most trails take the visitor along wonderful and diverse vegetation, often, passing beautiful waterfalls or beaches. Some of the trails finish at secluded beaches; in these cases, one can consider arranging a boat pickup beforehand.
If one is considering the longer trails, they might want to consider sleeping overnight at one of the lodges.
Available accommodation ranges from very basic (RM20 per night for a dorm room bed) to a 2-person private chalet (RM157.50); all non-air conditioned. Sometimes the long-distance trails are temporarily closed to visitors to ensure the area is conserved properly.
To make reservations at Bako National Park to stay overnight; one should call the following number: (+60) 82 248088. The caller will be asked what type of accommodation they want to reserve, what dates they want to stay at Bako NP and how many rooms they would like to reserve.