Exploring the Land of the Lost
Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia
Most forest hikes will take you back into nature, but some treks can take you back in time. Taman Negara is the ideal place for such an experience; some 130 million years old, the forests that make up this immense park are relatively untouched by human hands, making it one of the rarest and most beautiful nature reserves in the world. The million-plus acres of this park are home to rare orchids and other exotic plants, as well as endangered animals such as the Malayan peacock-pheasant, leopards, the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Indochinese tiger, leaf monkeys, monitor lizards, and the Asian elephant. A glimpse of these creatures in their spectacular home is a breathtaking experience.
Located near the center of the Malay Peninsula, the park is easily accessible by bus from Kuala Lumpur, and traveling by boat to your resort destination only adds to the mystery and allure of this tropical rainforest. There are several resort operators who, in addition to providing meals and arranging treks and other activities, will provide a coach transfer to and from Kuala Lumpur.
There’s no shortage of things to do once you’re settled into your accommodations. Gunung Tahan, the tallest mountain in peninsular Malaysia at 2,150m (7,175 ft.) above sea level, can be reached by climbers departing from Merapoh or Kuala Tahan. The park’s canopy walkway, which takes hikers through the treetops of the rainforest, is the longest in the world and is over 24m (80 ft.) off the ground, affording spectacular views to those without vertigo. Gua Telinga, or Ear Cave, named for a rock formation that’s shaped like a human ear, is one of several cave systems in the area; it’s home to several species of rare bats, frogs, and other fauna. And river tours are available for those who love to fish or swim in the area’s pristine rivers. Whether you choose a short day hike, a night trek, or a longer, more strenuous multi-day adventure, you’ll come to appreciate why the Malaysian people are justly proud of this jewel in the crown of their park system.
Tours: Tahan Holidays ( 603/5636-1898; www.tahan.com.my). Han Travel ( 03/2031-0899; www.taman-negara.com).
When to Go: Apr–Sept.
$$$ Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, Kuala Tahan, Jerantut, 27000 Pahang ( 609/266-3500; www.mutiarahotels.com). $ Agoh Chalet, Kuala Tahan ( 609/266-9570; www.agoh.com.my).