July 6, 7, 8, 2015
We left our bicycles at the NKS travel agency in Jerantut and took their one hour shuttle to Kuala Tehan. We had briefly considered cycling the 50 kilometers to the park entrance, but after seeing the steep hills, sharp turns, and massive trucks, we were pretty thankful we had paid the 15 RMs to take a bus.
We showed up without any hotel reservation and found the Teresek View Hotel that had air conditioned rooms for 75 RM per night. And after showing up in the late afternoon and carrying our bags up and down the hills in Kuala Tehan we were pretty positive we needed air conditioning. However, the nighttime air in the forest does cool down quite a bit and a room with a good fan probably would have been sufficient too.
The next day we took the 1RM transfer boat from Kuala Tehan across the river to the park headquarters. We bought our park pass which was apparently good for entry to the park any time in the next month. We then hiked in along the manicured boardwalk until we got to the canopy walkway, which was truly amazing (worth the extra 5RM per person). You walk between a series of approximately ten trees in the elevated jungle canopy, it’s really an incredible experience. A few hundred meters of the old canopy walk had been closed because of massive flooding that had come through the park in December 2014, but the section that is still open is wonderful.
We then hiked up Bukit Teresek which rewarded us with a great and slightly hazy view of the park from the top. There are two trails that can get you up the hill. One trail- if you are coming from the canopy walk, has boardwalk steps that lead you most of the way up the hill. The other trail which we took down is much more rustic with nothing more than roots and trees and a rope lining the path to get you up and down the mountain.
That night we did a night jungle trek, which you do have to do with a guide. Our guide made it very clear that we probably wouldn’t be seeing any large wildlife but if we paid attention we would see some very cool insects. There were a lot of other groups doing their night hikes at the same time so the goal of being “silent” to be immersed in the sounds of the jungle was never really achieved. Still it was a pretty cool experience being in that jungle at night.
The next day we hiked around in the park in the morning. We mostly retraced our steps from the previous day since there aren’t that many trails you can take with only a couple of hours. I mentioned the flooding from December 2014 that hurt the canopy walk, it also wiped out a couple of the trails that are closer to the park entrance. These still haven’t been restored yet.
In the afternoon we caught the public bus back to Jerantut. It was only 7RM per person and got us there in an hour. This has to be the cheapest way to get into and out of the park.
After spending a week cycling through industry and palm forest hell it was really refreshing to get a glimpse of what the old Malaysia used to look like- the dense rainforest filled with the lively sounds of the wildlife it’s protecting. I would recommend any traveler in Malaysia take the time to go and I would recommend doing it on your own since it’s an easy place to visit without a tour company.
There are tons of places that offer to organize tours and treks through Taman Negara. While these seemed reasonably priced we also knew that we could visit this national park on our own, save some money, and have a totally free itinerary once we got into the park. The only downside to organizing your trip on your own is that you can only go so far into the park without a guide and you really won’t be able to do any multi-day trekking.
You can enter the park via bus (public or private) or you can arrange with a company to take a boat which is more expensive but is supposed to be beautiful.
Accommodation- Kuala Tehan is filled with a range of accommodation from cheap hostels to larger hotels. We didn’t need to make a reservation and there were plenty of rooms available.
Food- along the river there are at least 7 floating restaurants that all serve similar food- rice, noodles, meat, burgers, smoothies. The prices are reasonable and the food is tasty.
Other things to consider- the jungle is full of leeches! We didn’t see any on our first day but after it rained that evening the leeches came out the next day. They don’t hurt they just suck, literally! Other than that the major paths closer to the park entrance are marked with elevated walkways and are easy to navigate.