I thought I would be all nature-d out by the time I reached the final destination of my two-week trip. I had seen Mt. Kinabalu & Mulu National Park, so I figured I wouldn’t have any interest in seeing Bako National Park near Kuching. However, the moment I arrived in Kuching a feeling of YOLO overcame me and I booked a day trip to Bako for the next day.
I fell head over heels in love with this National Park and I’m happy to report that it’s really worth a visit, even if you think you have seen enough nature for a while!
Booking a guide is not mandatory in Bako. You could reach the National Park by your own effort, but it does require a taxi (or bus) ride to the harbour and a boat ride to the park itself. It can’t be reached by any other means of transportation.
A word of warning: since the boat (obviously) can’t land on the beach, you have to step out of the boat into the water at the end of the ride. Luckily, I knew so I wore my short trousers. I was surprised by how many didn’t know and they were left soaking for at least an hour. It’s best not to wear really tight trousers, such as jeans, because they will stay wet for a long time. You can wash your feet when you reach the HQ. Just don’t forget to bring a towel!
Even though a guide is not mandatory, I’m happy we had one. I was in a small group with two Dutch girls and a couple from England, and the tour guide, Joe, set the tone straightaway. At the HQ he started telling us stories about how people died in the park. He told us about guys dying because they were eaten by anacondas, he told us how a guys face was ripped off my a sticky plant, and he told us about a guy who was hiking in the park without water which didn’t end well for him.
These stories reminded me of my travels to Australia. Everything there, but particularly the animals, seems to also be able to cause injury or death, which is incredibly reassuring.
Talking about animals, they are one of the main reason why this park comes so highly recommended by everyone. Apparently, it’s one of the best places in the province Sarawak to see rainforest animals in their native habitat. You are almost guaranteed to see the proboscis monkey (nose monkey) and the Bornean bearded pig – however, this animal has been ruined for me as I can now only picture this tranquil animal as a wild beast because of Joe’s story that a child’s arm was bitten off by one as he was holding a piece of food. Thanks Joe! -.
We actually saw most of the bigger animals near the HQ. You would expect to find monkeys there – more specifically the cheeky long-tailed macaques – since they love to steal food from tourists.
However, I hadn’t expected to find a poisonous snake in the bushes near the HQ.
Thanks to Joe, we also found smaller animals which is another reason why it’s good to have a guide.
Nature and Trails
The landscape at Bako National Park is very varied. There’s a coast with beautiful beaches and gorgeous sea stacks. You can see these stacks best from a boat, which is why I was happy we could take the boat back to HQ after our hike.
There’s also a bit of a mangrove swamp, which provides great view over the landscape towards the sea.
Finally, it looks like a lush rainforest when you get further inland.
This park does not contain any planks to ease the walking like Mulu National Park. Therefore, you have to be ready to climb, stumble, slip and crawl over branches and rocks. I was happy I only had to do the 800m trail one-way because I was exhausted by the time we reached the beach. This short distance took us a full hour.
If you’re the adventurous type, which I’m definitely not, you could tackle these hikes by yourself. However, I really needed someone to hold on to which is where a tour group comes in handy.
People say that it’s nice to sleep at the park for at least one night. That way you could experience the jungel at night & you could get up bright and early for a hike. If I wouldn’t have stayed in Mulu I might have done that, but one jungle stay for enough for me.
Mulu NP seems a bit more luxuruous compared to this park; however, it didn’t look run down and I still think you could get a good night sleep here.
One day in the park was more than enough for me, but it’s a park I can highly recommend to everyone!