Taman Negara, Cameron Highlands, North Malaysia

Taman Negara National Park canopy walk in Malaysia

Taman Negara National Park canopy walk. Photo by Jacek Nowak.

Taman Negara National Park

This evocative big-tree jungle north of Kuala Lumpur has a rainforest ambience and no shortage of leeches though a bit short of larger beasts. Apparently there are 350 species of bird but we saw almost none. Most visitors hike self-guided trails over a few hours so there isn’t a sharp-eyed guide who knows where the interesting critters are. Long jungle treks or possible but require a guide.
There is a Tahan wildlife hide beside a salt lick but you’d need to overnight there for any real chance to see something sizeable, and me, I wouldn’t bet a night’s sleep on it.
I took my trainers off after a 3 hour hike in Taman Negara and two pints of blood dropped out. I thought I must have got some glass in my shoe bit then realised I had got a leech in it instead. The leech saliva de-coagulates the blood so it becomes runny and seems more than it is. Moral of the story: wear shoes without little holes and don’t stop walking! If you do, look very carefully at the jungle floor and you may see little excited worms wiggling towards you. They are leeches, they small blood and want it! Enjoy!

Best season to visit Taman Negara is the dry, from February to September. The park is busiest from April to August. Malaysia Climate

Things to do in Taman Negara

• Do a lengthy canopy walk on a suspension bridge at monkey-eye level.

• Visit an Orang Asli settlement. The Orang Asli are among the original inhabitants of Malaysia and live a nomadic lifestyle in the jungle. They will happily teach tourists how to live in the wild, use a blow gun, skin a snake and other essential skills.

• Climb Bukit Teresek. This 334m high hill is a reasonable climb with the help of ropes and tree roots and may result in a wildlife sighting such as boars or birds. From the view point there is a panoramic view of most of the park.

• Do a guided night wildlife safari, either on foot or by 4WD, in search of owls, snakes, monitor lizards and strange night creatures.

• Go Fishing for 300 species of fish in the waters of Sungai Tahan below Lata Berkoh, or Sungai Keniam below Kuala Keniam Kecil. Fishing is best in the drier months of February – April and June – August. Permits are required.

Getting to Taman Negara

The south entrance is at Kuala Tahan, 3. 5 hours from KL.
The main transit point from KL to Negara is the small town of Jerantut on Malaysia’s east coast so that’s step one for individual travelers (as opposed to going with a tour). Get there by bus or train from KL.

Boat: The most dramatic and appropriate way to travel there is via river boat from Kuala Tembling, a 60 km trip taking over just two hours. Take a short taxi ride from Jerantut to Kuala Tembling.

Bus: public buses do the run from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan three or four times a day.

Taxi: a taxi from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan will take about an hour.

Hire Car: the road is well signposted and the journey should take about 3-4 hours.

Cameron Highlands

tea plantation in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands, a cool and colonial region of pleasant little old towns and wild walks. Photo by Will Ellis

A massive high and hilly region of forests and tea plantations, the Camerons is the size of Singapore and due to its altitude of between 1, 200m (3, 900ft) and 1, 500m (4, 900ft) is refreshingly cool in spite of the latitude. Along with the Genting Highlands the Cameron Highlands experience perfect temperatures from around 17C ( 62F) to 25C (77F).

Things to Do in the Cameron Highlands

• Hike up Gunung (Mount) Brinchang. Follow the marked trail (1) from Brinchang town which will take a couple of hours and no guide needed. An alternative route down takes hikers about 6 kms to the Boh Tea Plantation from where buses run hourly back to Brinchang. Or drive there! See below.

• Drive up to the top of Gunung Brinchang at 2200m (6, 666) feet above sea level. This is the Malaysia’s highest accessible point and offers an Observation Tower from which visitors get a stunning panorama of the Cameron Highlands and vicinity. Apart from the viewpoint there is boardwalk access to another attraction, the Mossy Forest, an ancient and unspoilt area of wonderfully gnarled trees surrounded by a thick carpet of moss.
A taxi ride here is likely to be expensive so check out car rental prices.

• Tour tea plantations. The Boh Tea Centre tour is free and set is an exquisite location.