Our next stop after Gunung Mulu National Park was Bako National Park.
Bako is Sarawak’s oldest national park, covering an area of 2,727 hectares at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula. It is one of the smallest national parks in Sarawak, yet one of the most interesting, as it contains almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo. It is also the home to the bizarre, obscene-nosed proboscis monkey, which is the main reason why we choose this national park.
From Kuching, we took a taxi van to Kampung Bako (Bako Village). There’s also can option to take a bus (Petra Jaya Bus No. 6). The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. From the village, we have to hire a boat at the National Parks Boat Ticketing Counter next to the jetty for the 30-minute boat ride to the Park HQ whilst registering your arrival at the Park Arrival Booth. The boat can sit 4, so if you’re travelling alone or just 2 of you, you can try to charter a boat with other tourists to share the costs. Local tour operators also organise guided trips to Bako.
Other things to consider is the tide. The boats can only access the Park HQ during high tide. When we arrived, we have to wait for about 3 hours before the boat can make its journey to the peninsula. So before you head out in the morning, you might want to check with the hostel/hotel reception to get more information about the tide situation.
The accommodation in Bako is the most disappointing. We rented 2 rooms in a bungalow. It was stuffy, have molds growing on the ceiling, the toilet doesn’t work properly and worse of all there were ants infestation every where!
While a stay of a night or two is highly recommended to experience the full diversity of Bako, you can still visit Bako in a day.
Main thing to do in Bako is wildlife watching and trekking.
There are 16 colour-coded jungle trails which offer a range of walking and hiking options. The fit and adventurous can opt for full-day jungle hikes or overnight camping expeditions, whilst those who prefer to take it easy can opt for a relaxing forest walk.
In terms of wildlife, long-tailed macaques, silvered langurs or leaf-monkeys, common water monitors, plantain squirrels, wild boar and mouse deer are all found here. Watch out for the macaques as they are possibly the most fearless monkeys on earth. We witnessed the macaques raiding dustbins in the canteen to steal food or an unguarded bag. Although the tourist never encourage them by offering food, it never stops them from stealing it from the table.
Bako is also home to approximately 275 rare proboscis monkeys, found only in Borneo. The male is an odd-looking creature, with a huge pendulous nose and a large pot-belly, weighing in excess of 20 kg. Both male and female are covered in reddish-brown fur with grey limbs and a white tail. They are mostly arboreal (tree-dwelling), moving about the forest or mangroves in small groups and feeding on young leaves, shoots, sour fruits and seeds.
We didnt see the proboscis until the end of our first day. So it does requires some patience. The best times are early in the morning or in the hours before dusk. Telok Delima and Telok Paku are the best trails for viewing the proboscis. The mangroves at Telok Assam are also a good place for viewing proboscis monkeys.
For more information about Bako National Park, head on to the Sarawak Forestry website.
Next: Kuching Wetlands National Park.