Friday, August 17, 2012

Borneo: Top 3 jungle parks


Situated just below the equator, Gunung Mulu National Park is comprised of thick jungle and the best way to see it is by walking the Headhunter's Trail. The name is apt given that a five hour hike leads to the Pinnacles, a landscape of limestone peaks situated 45 metres above the rainforest. The site looks like an overrun graveyard of barbed tombstones and laying eyes on it makes the taxing hike all worthwhile.

Mulu is also home to a 480 metre canopy skywalk that features 15 platforms pinned to tall trees, allowing you to catch a glimpse of the life the rainforest supports. Beneath the teeming jungle, vast limestone caves extend for 300 kilometres and maintain their own diverse ecosystems. The Sarawak Chamber is the largest cave in the world, the size of 16 football fields. There is a skinny centipede in this subterranean world that leaves a glowing trail if placed on your palm. You'll still need a torch, however.

In Deer Cave there are an estimated 3.5 million bats hanging each day and at dusk they emerge from the cave en masse. Locals call the spectacle the "black dragon".


The oldest national park in Sarawak is reached via a longboat that passes fishing villages and lands on a beach that meets the South China Sea. Sandstone formations on the beach usher visitors into the lush mosaic of ecosystems that make up the park, ranging from beach to cliff, heath to mangrove and forest to grassland. You can take a hike through the thick jungle, negotiating tricky tree roots as you go, or opt for an easier boardwalk stroll over the peat swamp.

The jungle leaves are a vivid green and picking at the vegetation are monkeys native to the island. The easiest to recognise are the proboscis monkeys who have to move their dangling nose to one side in order to get the leaves in their mouth. The macaque and silver leaf monkeys are just as engaging.

The wildlife here has been protected for more than 60 years so the animals do not shy away from humans. The macaques, however, take this to the extreme and are known to pilfer any food you don't keep a close eye on. They congregate near the park's headquarters along with bearded pigs, creatures that are at about the same level as proboscis monkeys on the looks scale.

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