Taman Negara

Sungai Tahan, Taman Negara

Taman Negara is Malaysia’s premier national park covering a vast area of a million acres spanning three states. Established in the 1930s, Taman Negara is the oldest and the largest protected area in the peninsular and acts as a gene bank for biodiversity resources
in Malaysia, many of which are threatened by relentless development.

The park’s pristine condition makes it a popular eco-tourism destination but most visitors do not stray far from the main entry point of Kuala Tahan, leaving the bulk of the park undisturbed by humans, apart from the small community of Orang Asli who have always lived there.

My younger son and I spent a couple of days at Taman Negara last week and we covered the usual tourist activities such as the 530 metre long canopy walk, a boat trip to Lata Berkoh and a short hike up Bukit Teresek.

Canopy Walkway at Taman Negara

Boat to Lata Berkoh

View from Bukit Teresek

We wisely decided not to attempt the tortuous 7 day hike to, and climb up, Gunung Tahan, peninsular Malaysia’s tallest peak (2,190m).

While there is no denying the unspoilt beauty of the scenery of Taman Negara, many tourists must go away disappointed at the lack of wildlife that can be spotted. Unlike an African safari where animals congregate at water holes or roam the plains in vast herds, Malaysia’s wild critters are a shy bunch and rely on concealment for survival, and there are plenty of places to hide.  In our short stay we saw a family of wild boars, a deer and some monitor lizards but there was no sign of tapirs or wild elephants. As for glimpsing virtually extinct rarities such as the Sumatran Rhinoceros or tigers, you have more hope of winning the lottery.

Even birds are not abundant. We see more in our garden than in the rainforest. The bugs are impressive though – exotic, huge and everywhere.

On our way back from Taman Negara it was disturbing to see considerable logging activity going on just a few kilometres away from the national park’s boundaries.

Logging in Pahang

Here a line of trucks is queuing up to be loaded with logs which will be turned into laminated flooring or garden furniture for a UK hardware shop, or shipped to Japan for use as disposable chopsticks or to China as plywood for the construction industry. Is it sustainable logging? Of course not.

Logging trucks

As forest clearance creeps closer to the edge of Taman Negara, whatever animals live there will shift to the centre of the park making them even rarer to spot for the tourist.

Here is a link to the satellite map of the area where the logging is taking place. I don’t know when Google recorded that image but presumably more logging has taken place since. It’s not very pretty.


Gunung Ledang National Park


Almost the first thing you see when crossing into Johor state from the north is a mountain, Gunung Ledang which rises abruptly from the surrounding coastal plane.

Gunung Ledang

The mountain is the highest in Johor at 1276m (4187 ft) and is surrounded by the Gunung Ledang National Park.  There are a few access points into the park including one at Asahan in neighbouring Melaka state.

I took the most popular entry point at the Gunung Ledang Resort hotel near Sagil. I had already decided I was not going to try climbing the mountain on this visit. You have to hire a guide and it is not that easy as this signpost explains:

 You have to hire a guide to climb Gunung Ledang

I’ll save that climb until my sons are available to accompany me.

Instead I took a look at the Puteri Waterfalls  – an easy 20 minute hike from the park’s entrance. The track is paved and has proper steps and there is little chance of getting lost.

The path to the waterfall is well maintained.

I got a start when I saw a fat snake-like tail sticking out of a litter bin. Luckily it was just a harmless scavenging monitor lizard, albeit a big one. (Excuse my camera shake – I must have been nervous!).

Lizard looking for leftovers

The waterfall itself was quite impressive. A few people were bathing in the pools below, ignoring the signs warning of the risk of communicable diseases from swimming or wading in contaminated water.

Puteri Waterfall