Bako National Park located 40 minutes from the capital, Kuching is the oldest national park in Sarawak, established in 1957. It is also one of the smallest covering an area of 27.27 square kilometres. Bako National Park may be small in stature but it sure does pack many highlights, from its multiple hikes, amazing wildlife and the most stunning sunsets, which I have ever seen. These are the five reasons why you should visit.
You know the place is going to be special and have an abundant of wildlife when your boat drifts in to bank at the front of the island where you are met by a long tailed macaque monkey playfully climbing amongst the rocks.
Soon after registering at the headquarters, you see an animal which you have never seen before, the Bornean bearded pig which is similar to a wild boar but has long whiskers. The animal looks intimidating at first but once you get used to them you soon become comfortable. The bearded pigs are often seen around the headquarters huts foraging in the mud. I even nicknamed them the dozer.
One of the main reasons though people come to the park is to try and spot the endangered prosbiscus monkey, which is home to approximately 150 of these species. The probiscus monkeys are endemic to Borneo. They have distinct features of a long nose and a big pot belly.
They are shy but extremely cute. They are difficult to find on the trails. They often can be heard but most times you only see the movement of leaves high up in the trees. You have more chance of seeing them in the evening near the huts. This is where I saw a small troop.
Even if you are unlucky to see any wildlife the hiking trails still rate highly. There are 10 trails of various lengths giving everyone the opportunity to hike to lookouts with amazing views, beaches and waterfalls. Over the two days I was there I manged to hike eight of the trails which are all colour coded with paint on rocks and trees.
The only trails I didn’t manage to hike were the Tajor trail which leads to the waterfall. This fall you can swim in however you are unable to swim in any of the beaches as there may be crocodiles.
I also never hiked the longest trail, the Lingtang trail which is 5.8 kilometres in length. This trail covers all the different areas of flora found in the park. I wasn’t so interested in the plantation so I never hiked it. This is the only trail which is a loop all other trails you must hike in and then hike back out the way you came.
The trail to give you the best opportunity especially early in the morning or late in the evening to see the probiscus monkey is trail number four, Ulu Assam trail which winds along the mangroves and out to the beach.
The best hike in the park is the Pandan Kecil which first takes you to a lookout over the beach and then stairs lead down to the golden sands where I spent two hours lazing on the glorious beach.
The good thing about the trails is that a lot of them join up so you can do a few of the trails at the same time rather than walk back to the headquarters and start a new trail.
Bako National park has numerous beaches scattered around the islands with its coves hugging the line of the South China Sea, unfortunately you are unable to swim due to the saltwater crocodile which lurk in and around the area. The bronzed sand beaches are a great reward to finish the hike and take in the natural beauty surrounding you. Don’t forget to bring something for a picnic.
The sea stacks
I personally never took the boat and I was happy with what I saw from the Pandan Kecil Beach. You can see the sea stacks out in the water on the left. The most famous sea stack is the cobra.
I only stayed a night but the sunset was one of the best I have ever seen with the explosions of colors bursting out from behind the clouds.
I sat on the sand taking in the sunset with monkeys happily playing with one another nearby.
There is no need to do a tour it is very easy to get to Bako National Park by yourself. Take the red public bus number 1 outside the Chinese History Museum on the waterfront in Kuching. Cost 4 Malaysian Ringgit.
When you get to the township of Bako. You will need to catch a boat to the National Park for 30 Malaysian Ringgit. It takes about 20 minutes, a bit longer in the morning during low tide.
Park entrance fee of 20 Malaysian Ringitt which you pay at the Jetty.
Not including accommodation to get to Bako National Park and back to Kuching cost only 58 Malaysian ringgit.
Accommodation at the National Park is available camping 5 Malaysian Ringgit, hostel 10 Malaysian Ringgit which is what I stayed in. The room had 4 beds and three fans which we turned off during the middle of the night as it got too cold. There were cold showers and a bathroom down the hall.
There are a couple other forms of accommodation which are more expensive with private rooms and bathroom facilities. To find more information click here to the National Parks website. http://www.sarawakforestry.com
You must book through the website if you are to do it by yourself.
There are day trips to Bako National Park but they don’t give you much time to explore as the last boat leaves at 15:00pm A day trip on Viator.com is about $110 US. By myself total cost was 68 Malaysian Ringgit which is $15 US.
I have read that there are 16 trails in the National Park on the map I was given in January 2020 showed only ten trails.
When in Kuching make sure you make a trip out to Bako National Park. You won’t be disappointed.
If you have been to Bako National Park we would love to hear about your experience.
Remember if we can travel then you can travel.