Bako National Park: Explore The Ultimate Wildlife Adventure

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By ReddotExplorer

Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable journey into the heart of Sarawak's natural wonders? Look no further than Bako National Park, an ecological paradise teeming with diverse ecosystems, stunning coastlines, thrilling jungle treks, and captivating wildlife. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into all you need to know about this remarkable destination, from accommodation options to trail insights, helping you plan your perfect adventure.

Why Bako National Park

Bako National Park stands as the crown jewel of Sarawak's wildlife watching destinations. Its claim to fame lies in its incredible biodiversity and seven distinct ecosystems, each accessible through a well-maintained network of trekking trails and plankwalks. Whether you're a seasoned naturalist or a family looking for a memorable outing, Bako has something to offer everyone.

One of the park's primary attractions is the enchanting proboscis monkey, endemic to Borneo. With their oversized noses and distinctive appearance, these monkeys are a delight to observe. 

Approximately 275 proboscis monkeys call Bako home, and they're often spotted around the park HQ and Telok Assam. Keep an eye out for these intriguing creatures during your visit.

The Coastline & Varied Landscapes

While Bako is renowned for its lush rainforests and captivating wildlife, it also boasts a picturesque coastline that will leave you in awe. The coastline is dotted with small bays, cliffs, beaches, and unique rock formations, including the famous Sea Stack near Telok Pandan Kecil.

What makes Bako truly special is its ever-changing scenery. As you trek through the park, you'll transition from beach vegetation to mangrove forests, climb hills, traverse dipterocarp forests, and enter the unique kerangas or heath forest. Each step reveals a new landscape, offering a sensory feast for nature enthusiasts.

For example, the trek to Telok Pandan Kecil takes you through these diverse habitats, allowing you to witness the transformation from beach vegetation to mangroves and beyond. This variety ensures that every moment at Bako is a visual delight.

Treks & Trails

Bako National Park boasts an impressive trail system consisting of 18 color-coded routes, catering to various levels of trekkers. Whether you prefer short and easy walks near the park HQ or full-day hikes through the dense jungle, there's a trail to match your preferences.

Some of the most popular trekking trails include Telok Pandan Kecil, which leads to a serene beach, and the Lintang loop, which offers a glimpse of almost all the park's habitats. Telok Paku, an easy trail near the park HQ, takes you through beach and cliff vegetation, while Telok Delima winds through dipterocarp forest and leads to mangroves.

The Malay names of these trails provide insights into their terrain and final destinations, making it easier to choose the best route for your adventure. Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast or a hiking aficionado, Bako's trails promise an unforgettable experience.

Park Facilities

Bako National Park offers a range of facilities to enhance your visit. An interpretation center houses informative panels with pictures and text, providing valuable insights into the park's flora and fauna. If you're staying overnight, the center is a must-visit to deepen your understanding of this unique ecosystem.

The park's canteen at the HQ serves a self-service buffet of mixed rice dishes, snacks, and drinks. While the food may not be gourmet, it's a convenient option for visitors. If you're particular about your meals, consider bringing your own snacks and fruit from Kuching to ensure you're well-prepared.

Accommodation at Bako National Park

Accommodation at Bako is basic but functional. While some rooms may require renovation, the lodges offer a comfortable stay in the heart of the wilderness. Here's a breakdown of the available lodging options:

  • Forest Lodge Type 5 (3 beds, fan, shared bathroom & toilet): RM 100 per night (RM 150 if you book both rooms).
  • Forest Lodge Type 6 (2 beds, fan, attached bathroom and toilet): RM 75 per night.
  • Forest Lodge Type 5 Terrace (4 beds, fan, attached bathroom and toilet): RM 100 per night.
  • Air-conditioned Forest Lodge Type 4 (3 beds, attached bathroom and toilet): RM 150 (RM 225 for both rooms).
  • 4-person hostel room: RM 15 per bed (RM 40 for the entire room).

Please note that the campsite is not recommended due to occasional raids by macaques. Also, there is a RM 10 key deposit, and check-in is between 2 and 5 pm, with check-out by 11 am.

How To Get To Bako National Park

Bako National Park is conveniently located just 37 km from Kuching, making it easily accessible for day trips or extended stays. To make the most of your visit, aim to leave Kuching early, around 7.30-8 am.

The journey involves a combination of road and boat travel. You'll first take a 30-40 minute road trip to Kampung Bako, followed by a boat ride to the park HQ at Telok Assam, which takes approximately 20-30 minutes.

If you're using public transport, buses depart from Kuching for Kampung Bako every hour, with the first one leaving around 7 am at a cost of RM 3.50. Alternatively, you can use a Grab car for around RM 30 or a taxi for RM 60-70.

Once you arrive at the Bako jetty, you'll need to pay park entry fees and book a boat. The return boat fee is RM 40 per person for foreigners and RM 30 per person for Malaysians. You can also opt for a private boat charter, which costs RM 200-250, depending on the boat's size. During the wet season (Nov-Feb), there's a limit of 4 passengers per boat due to sea conditions.

Entrance Fees

To enter Bako National Park, foreigners are required to pay an entrance fee of RM 20 for adults and RM 7 for children (7-18 years old). For Malaysians, the fee is RM 10 for adults and RM 3 for children (7-18 years old). Children below 6 years old enter for free. Malaysians may be asked to provide their IC card as proof of citizenship.

What To Bring

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit to Bako, here's a list of essential items to bring:

For a Day Trip:

  • Sun hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Good walking shoes
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • First Aid Kit (or at least band-aids and bite cream)
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses

For an Overnight Stay:

  • Sandals or flip flops
  • Overnight bag with extra clothing (expect to sweat during treks)
  • Tissues or toilet paper (extras for emergencies)
  • Camera charger
  • Flashlight or torch
  • Additional snacks

Please note that the canteen food may not meet everyone's taste, so bringing a variety of snacks is a wise choice.

Swimming Precautions

While Bako's beaches were once a popular spot for swimming, it's no longer advisable due to the presence of estuarine crocodiles. These reptiles have been sighted in the park's waters, particularly during the wet season (Nov-Feb).

Sarawak Forestry has placed 'Do Not Swim' signs around the park as a precautionary measure. Stick to the designated trails and mangrove boardwalks, and avoid wandering into the mangroves at low tide.

Explore Bako With Guided Tours

For those seeking a hassle-free experience, Borneo Adventure offers day trips and overnight tours to Bako National Park. While it's possible to explore much of the park in a day, an overnight stay is highly recommended for a deeper immersion into its natural wonders.

❤️ Pro Tip: These are just some suggestions and there are many more things to do! Get more ideas on what to do in Kuching.

FAQs: Bako National Park

  • When is the best time to visit Bako National Park?

    The best time to visit Bako National Park is during the dry season, which typically spans from April to October. This period offers more stable weather conditions, making it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and wildlife watching. However, if you prefer fewer crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder months of March or November.
  • What is the significance of the proboscis monkeys at Bako National Park?

    Proboscis monkeys are a unique and iconic species native to Borneo, and Bako is one of the best places to observe them. These monkeys are known for their distinctive appearance, with large noses and potbellies. Bako is home to approximately 275 proboscis monkeys, making it a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts looking to witness these captivating creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Are there any swimming restrictions at Bako's beaches?

    Swimming at Bako's beaches is not recommended due to the presence of estuarine crocodiles. Recent sightings of these crocodiles in the park's waters have led to safety precautions. 'Do Not Swim' signs have been placed around the park to ensure visitor safety. It's advisable to stick to designated trails and mangrove boardwalks while avoiding mangroves during low tide.
  • What are the accommodation options at Bako National Park?

    Bako National Park offers a range of accommodation options, including forest lodges and hostel rooms. Forest Lodge Type 5, Type 6, and Type 5 Terrace are available, with varying capacities and facilities. Additionally, there are air-conditioned Forest Lodge Type 4 rooms. For budget-conscious travelers, there are 4-person hostel rooms. It's essential to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  • Can I take guided tours to explore Bako National Park?

    Guided tours are available for visitors who want a curated experience of Bako National Park. Borneo Adventure offers both day trips and overnight tours to the park. These guided tours can enhance your visit by providing valuable insights into the park's flora, fauna, and history. Consider opting for a guided tour to make the most of your Bako adventure.

Bako National Park Conclusion

Bako National Park is a true gem of Sarawak, offering an unrivaled opportunity to connect with nature and witness the wonders of Borneo's wildlife. With its diverse ecosystems, captivating wildlife, and scenic trails, it's no wonder that Bako is celebrated as one of Sarawak's top destinations for nature enthusiasts. Plan your visit carefully, pack your essentials, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime in this enchanting wilderness.

🔥 Pro Tip: While in Bako National Park, stay connected hassle-free in Malaysia with eSIMs. Enjoy convenience, cost savings, and flexibility. 
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