Friday, November 07, 2014

Bako National Park, Sarawak – Hikers’ Heaven

On my first few visits to Sarawak, I didn’t get the chance to explore beyond the cities of Kuching and Miri where an abundance of national parks are waiting to me to traverse.

Kuching itself has about five national parks that host different ecosystems from the mountainous Gunung Gading National Park to the swamps of Kuching Wetlands National Park.

For this recent trip, I penciled in the scenic Bako National Park as a nice half-day excursion away from the city.

Situated northeast of Kuching, Bako National Park is only a 30 minute drive away to the sleepy village of Kampung Bako.

You would need to register with the parks office at the jetty and hop on a boat for another 30 minute ride to the park headquarters.

The boat ride took us through a river flanked by mangrove forest, a habitat important to the livelihood of the locals, before emptying out into the sea.

To avoid getting smashed by the tide (it was raining the morning we arrived), the boat sped along as close as it can to the coastline where our eyes feasted upon the mythical Mount Santubong across the bay, somewhat covered by the gloomy clouds, themselves waiting to be blown away to make way for the sun.

We also chanced upon wooden sticks arranged in the fashion of mini arches along the way and found out that those were traps set to harvest shrimp to be either consumed or made into local produce.

When we arrived at the park headquarters, a family of bearded wild boars greeted us as they were out and about for breakfast.

Another round of registration with the park officials is mandatory since they will be keeping tabs on the number of hikers in the park.

Out of the 16 trails offered, we took the Telok Pandan Kecil trail, a 1.5 hour trek that ends at a cove overlooking the iconic sea stacks.

Bako National Park is unique in the sense of having seven different ecosystems that harbor 25 different types of vegetation and this trail can attest to that.

Our first task of scaling the hill was met with a wet jungle that was surprisingly covered with moss, which are normally found in the highlands.

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