Taman Negara Malaysia (Malaysia National Park) [ext] consists of rainforest from three different states (Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu) and has a total area of 4,343 square kilometres. Out of that, 2,477 square kilometres fall under Taman Negara Pahang (Pahang National Park), the largest of the three and home to over 300 species of birds, 200 species of mammals, 10,000 species of plants, 150,000 species of insects, 25,000 species of invertebrates, 270 species of reptiles and 250 species of freshwater fish.
Dating back from the Ice Age, Taman Negara Pahang has been in existence for over 130 million years and it is also considered as one of the oldest rainforests in the world. This slice of untouched and lush tropical wilderness is a haven for thrill seekers and nature lovers from all around the world.
To enter Taman Negara, each traveller needs to have an Entry Permit and Camera License that cost RM1 and RM5 respectively. Those caught without the permit and license can be fined up to RM 3, 000. Travellers can conveniently register for the permits at Mutiara Taman Negara itself.
Being in Taman Negara
We departed from Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur at 9:00 a.m. and arrived at around 2:00 p.m. The first sight that we saw was the Tembeling River, which fronts Mutiara Taman Negara, the property where we stayed. Upon arrival, we proceeded to Seri Mutiara Restaurant for lunch, and then we had the remains of the day to ourselves for resting and unpacking.
In the first night right after dinner, we got the chance to experience the Night Jungle Walk in Taman Negara. We were led by a guide who has over 20 years of experience. We spent about 45 minutes learning about nocturnal insects and plants. Lucky guests get the opportunity to witness one type of mushroom that glows in the dark -unfortunately we weren’t the lucky ones as the mushroom only glows for three to five days. At the end of the trip, we went up to the Observation Hide overlooking the artificial salt lick where we caught the get a glimpse of a deer. Guests need to bring along flashlight since it is pitch black in the jungle during the night walk – the resort provides flashlights to those who forgot to bring their own.
Our morning started off with a hearty breakfast and preparations for jungle trekking up to Teresek Hill. This 334-metre high hill required us to ascend 3 kilometres, taking us an hour to get there. Once at the top guests are bound to be mesmerised by the panoramic vista, including the sight of Gunung Tahan, Peninsular Malaysia’s highest mountain. The journey was not too tough as Taman Negara has installed a boardwalk throughout the trail. As such, we managed to minimise our contact with leeches, so those who are averse to the creature do not have to worry about having to deal with them when hiking here. We continued our hike by proceeding to the Canopy Walkway, located 43 metres above ground and 510 metres long. The walkway has six checkpoints that allowed us to stop and take in the Taman Negara’s majestically lush vegetation. It was really challenging to tread on the walkway since it could only fit one foot at a time – we get to practice catwalk along the way.
After the thrilling canopy walk, we went on a rapid shooting ride to reach the Orang Asli (Malaysian aboriginals) settlement. We put all our belongings in plastic bags to avoid them getting drenched when going through the seven rapids along the way. Once we arrived (and all wet except our belongings), we were greeted by the leader of the community, addressed as Tok Batin, who explained to us about about their tribe that is called the Batek.
They also demonstrated to us how to make fire using only wood and the proper way of using the blowpipe or sumpit. We had our lunch picnic by the Sungai Tembeling riverbank, where we had the chance to feed scores of mahseer fish (ikan kelah) with pellets. The picnic was served by the crew from Seri Mutiara Restaurant and the food was served on a boat. Before heading back to the resort, we stopped by at Lata Berkoh where we took a dip into the river to freshen up and relax.
For dinner, we went to the riverbank of Sungai Tembeling again where the dining crew set up barbecue and bonfire. The barbecue was done on a beach-like sandy area, offering us arrays of food such as chicken, lamb and squid, including fresh fruits, even durians. Everybody truly enjoyed themselves and considered the barbecue dinner as the perfect end to our great day exploring Taman Negara.
The night ended with a speech from the General Manager of Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, Mr. Nathan Vaithi, who shared with us that Malaysians should be proud and appreciate Taman Negara more since it is a national treasure. If foreigners such as those from the Netherlands, were so captivated of Taman Negara, why not Malaysians themselves? For those who are getting sick and tired of the hustle and bustle of city life and yearn to find inner peace, just head to Taman Negara and let its pristine untouched nature soothe their weary souls.
Mutiara Taman Negara is considered as the most established resorts located in Taman Negara. It offers various choices of stay from the grand double-storey Bungalow to a simple tent on the camp site. Mutiara Taman Negara has two Bungalows, 13 Chalet Suites, 4 Family Chalets, 68 Chalets, 16 Guesthouses and six Dormitories, each accommodating up to eight persons. The chalets have been refurbished whereby they now have toilets with hot water. The resort also has two function rooms, Bayan Nuri I that can accommodate up to 150 people per function, while Bayan Nuri II can support up to another 200 people. When both rooms combined, it turns into Bayan Nuri hall that can accommodate up to 300 people at any one time, in theatre or cocktail configuration.
The resort also provides teambuilding services, including an obstacle course suitable for corporate and organisational programmes. For dining, guests head to Seri Mutiara Restaurant, the only outlet that serves extensive buffet breakfast and dinner. At the centre of the restaurant stands the Cricket Bar that serves a selection of fine wines, cocktails and snacks. Since the resort does not have room service, guests are urged not to avoid meals.
Mutiara Taman Negara offers packages from as low as RM750 for three days and two nights stay. The resort offers a wide variety of services such babysitting, boat ride, shuttle and postal services, among others. The resort’s peak period is between March and October. Dial +6 09 266 3500 or +6 09 266 2200 to find out more. Also, check out the resort’s website: www. mutiarahotels.com.
The gateway to Taman Negara is located near to the Tembeling River and it is only three hours and a half drive away from Kuala Lumpur. There are two ways for visitors to get to Taman Negara Pahang, either they drive there or take the bus that departs daily at 8:30 a.m. from Hotel Istana in Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Tembeling Jetty. Upon arrival, there is another two-hour and a half boat ride to get to Mutiara Taman Negara.
For those who drive, they can choose to either go to the Kuala Tembeling Jetty or continue driving for another 75 kilometres directly to the resort – however, the trip would be less adventurous compared to taking the boat at the jetty. For travellers who take the bus, it departs daily at 12:30 p.m. from Kuala Tembeling Jetty and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at around 4:00 p.m.
Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to Mutiara Taman Negara, especially to the resort’s General Manager, Mr. Nathan Vaithi, as well as Mr. Anthony Clement from Ant One Advertising, for making our team’s trip to Taman Negara truly memorable.
Images: RABIATUL AUDAUYAH, MUTIARAHOTELS.COM & LONELYPLANET.COM