If You Love Animals, You Need to Visit Bako National Park Now (Part 1)

Telok Paku, Bako

Recently, I had the opportunity to fly back to Borneo. I joined two of my friends (Eric and Raul) to one of Sarawak’s most famous national parks, the Bako National Park. The national park which was founded in 1957 is home to some of the world’s most amazing forests and wildlife. Despite its small size, the Bako National Park did not fail to amaze us with its pure beauty and authenticity.  

We enjoyed ourselves very much even though we only managed to stay there for one night. Indeed, the short trip was great and worth it. Let me take you into our journey!

Getting to Bako National Park from Kuching

Eric, Raul, and I were so happy to see each other again. We met in Hilton Kuching at 10am. Before we left the hotel, I did a quick research on Bako National Park. At first, we had no idea how to get there. But thanks to the Bako National Park’s official website, we’ve learned that getting there was piece of cake.

According to the website, we can get to the national park by bus, taxi, or a local van from the Kuching open-air market. Among the three, the bus fare was the cheapest. It only cost us RM3.50/way to get there. The van would’ve cost RM5/way, and a one-way taxi ride could’ve cost us about RM45/ride. We went with the cheapest option. Obviously!

Be careful when looking for transportation around the open-air market. You’ll likely come across opportunist van and taxi drivers who will try to convince you to either take their vans or taxis. They tried to rip us off, but it didn’t work. Clearly, that day wasn’t their lucky day.

Bus to Bako
On our way to Bako!

The bus journey took almost an hour. We stopped right in front of the national park. Before we entered the park, we managed to find time to buy lunch and mineral water.

Ticket prices (as of September 2016)

For Malaysians:

  • Entrance fee: RM10
  • Boat (return): RM15

For non-Malaysians:

  • Entrance fee: RM20
  • Boat (return): RM45

We thought RM45/person for a boat ride was quite expensive. What do you think?

I believed that my friends were just joking when they said they were going to swim from the Bako jetty — and all the way to the national park, if that was possible. No, that’s not possible due to two reasons: you’re not allowed to get in for free and you can’t possibly swim in a river full of crocs!

It took us 15 minutes to get to the Bako National Park. The ride was bumpy but wonderful. When we arrived at the the shore, we opened our shoes and jumped into the shallow water. This was the first photo captured upon our arrival at the island. 

Bako National Park
Yay! My first photo at the Bako National Park!

As we approached the reception, we saw macaques and bearded wild boars near the beach. One of the macaques tried to steal our food. Bad monkey!

Reminder: Keep your food not only from monkeys but also wild boars. These two animals can be very aggressive if they’re determined enough to steal your food.

Upon registration at the reception, the staff explained to us about the trails that we were going to explore. We informed her that we wanted to camp. She told us that the camping fee was RM15. I was surprised. I thought it was free!

Of course, camping is still a cheaper option than staying in a chalet. We could’ve stay in the park’s hostels, but they were all occupied. Before we started hiking, we kept our things in the park’s storage room. No keeping fee required.

The park’s staff also reminded us to carry enough water. Therefore, we bought a few bottles of mineral water beforehand.

It was already 2pm at that time. The receptionist told us that we needed to return to the headquarters at 6pm to set up our tent. 4 hours of hiking only? I guess that’s enough to cover two trails.

Hiking at the Bako National Park

There were plenty of trails available there. But we were only able to visit only a few of them. Many of the trails were under maintenance. We went to 3 trails: Telok Paku, Telok Delima, and Telok Pandan Besar.

The park’s receptionist told us not to go to Telok Paku and Telok Delima to see the famous proboscis monkey. I presume that it’s the only monkey in the world that has a long nose and a big belly.

Exploring Telok Paku

We didn’t see any of the proboscis monkeys at Telok Paku. Instead, we found a group of long-tailed macaques and silver leaf monkeys. They were so adorable! It took us about 1 hour to reach Telok Paku. But if you walk faster, you can do it for even less.

We didn’t rush at all. Raul was busy photographing rare species of lizards, monkeys, and frogs. Along the way, we saw some cool stuff too. Check out the pictures below.

Bako Mangroves
When the tide is low, the island turns into crab island.
Exploring Bako
Jungle trekking with slippers. Yes, I can’t believe it too.
Fallen tree in Bako
This tree made me look even smaller!
Telok Paku, Bako
The end of the Telok Paku trail.

Telok Paku was great. There was nothing much to do there apart from enjoying its breathtaking landscape and ocean view. Be careful with your belongings when you’re there as there are many macaques lingering around the area. They’ll try to steal your things just as how they tried to steal ours!

Tips: Chances of seeing the one-of-a-kind proboscis monkeys are higher when you go there during late afternoon. Chances of encountering more animals in the jungle are also higher if you stay as quiet as possible.

Exploring Telok Delima

After we’ve explored Telok Paku, we took a short rest at the park’s headquarters and bought more drinks for our next journey. Later, Raul stumbled upon a red-tongue snake (which is not poisonous) just in front of one of the park’s chalets. It looked like a Bronze-back snake, a red-tongued, non-venomous snake.

Bronze-back snake in Bako
What a beautiful snake!

I was fortunate to see it. I’ve never seen one and I thought it was a really beautiful snake. It was about 5pm when we found it. I supposed it was out there looking for food.

After we’ve released the snake, we headed off to Telok Delima. It was the perfect time to see the proboscis monkeys as sunset was already approaching. Yes, we saw them! Two of Raul’s friends were also with us.

The proboscis monkeys were moving really fast. So, I didn’t really get the chance to have a clear look of them. I was only able to see their big orange bellies! Raul spent about 30 minutes photographing them. I bet he could do that forever!

We came across several species of lizards in the jungle. The common one found in the Bako National Park are the Crested Lizards. As usual, Raul took his sweetest time photographing everything he saw along the way. There are pictures for you to see soon. I promise!

Just like Telok Paku, Telok Delima fed our eyes with a wonderful ocean view. The tide was still low at the time. As we walked along the beach, we were trying our very best not to step on the school of crabs that was on the beach. The crabs were everywhere!

Crabs at Bako National Park
Hello Krabby!

While Raul was busy photographing the ocean, Eric made himself comfortable on one of the beach’s rocks. He sat on one that looked like a chair! Check this out:

Natural chair in Bako
Eric’s comfy spot
Sleeping at the beach in Bako
That looks cozy!

Need a place to crash in tonight? Nature has your back.

At sunset, we knew it was almost time to go. But we didn’t want to leave without taking memorable shots of the beautiful sunset.

Sunset in Bako
I was glad to be home in order to witness this.

Do you think the sunset was gorgeous, too?

For your information, we accidentally found a beautiful spot that looked almost like a cave, just before we headed back to the headquarters. That spot seemed like a great spot for us to relax for a little while, especially in the afternoon when the sun was scorchingly hot.

Hideaway in Telok Paku, Bako
Hideaway of the day.

It was already very dark when we left the beach. Luckily, we had our torch lights with us. The way back can be quite confusing. Therefore, pay attention to your surroundings so you won’t get lost. Two of Raul’s friends actually lose their way. Luckily, they had their smartphone (which became their flashlight) with them.

On our way back, Raul, Eric, and I stopped by somewhere to look for frogs. It was my first experience looking for frogs in the middle of the jungle, at night. It was a little creepy at first, but eventually I got the hang of it. It was quite fun, but my feet had seriously killed the mood. We didn’t hang around very long. Just before we left, we found this little fella!

Bush frog in Bako
Hello Froggy!

After spending about 30 minutes photographing frogs, we headed back to the headquarters to have our dinner and set up our tent. Yes, three people in a two-person tent!

Planning on going camping too? Here are some tips:

  • There’s a fee of RM15 in order for you to camp. Get your cash ready!
  • Make sure you have your tent set up before nightfall. The camping zone is very dark and there are no lampposts around. Sure, you can use your torch lights to provide you with lights if it comes to a point where you can only set up your camp at night.
  • It’s best to wake up at 6am on the next day (which is recommended by the park’s ranger) as the macaques will attempt to bother you, or even destroy your tent.
  • There is a public toilet and shower in the camping zone.

Okay, this post is getting a little too long. So, stay tuned for Part 2! 🙂

The Walking Writer

An ENTP who’s always thirsty for new adventures. Apart from music and writing, I’m also passionate about travel, art and entrepreneurship.