FEELING MAGIC IN TAMAN NEGARA – WORLD’S OLDEST JUNGLE

View of river in Taman Negara

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Michael: This is our story about our trip to the world’s oldest jungle, Taman Negara. It is located in Malaysia, only about 240 km from Kuala Lumpur.

Short History – Taman Negara

The jungle is now a National Park that was established in 1938 by the English Kingdom and was originally named “King George V National Park”. After Malaysia got its independence in 1957, the park was renamed to National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia.

This place is a hotspot for biodiversity. There are more than 3000 species of plants and about 150 species of mammals, including the very rare Malayan Tiger and Clouded Leopard. In addition, there are 80 species of bats and 30 species of rodents, not to forget about the countless species of insects.

The area itself is estimated to be about 130 million years old and is one of the oldest tropical jungles still standing today. It is also listed on UNESCO as an unconfirmed World Heritage site.

Aerial view of taman negara

Our Story

We started early morning from Kuala Lumpur and jumped on a bus that took us to the closest town. This place is called Jerantut and from there, we took a van to the Kuala Tembeling jetty from where the riverboat leaves.

We did not actually plan to go with a tour agency, but when we arrived at Jerantut bus station, there was a guide, who told us it is our best option and it was only about 10 ringgit more to go with him. So we made a choice to go with him to make it easier for us. He took us to their office where we made all the park fee payments and the boat payments and then they took us to the jetty.

Kuala Lumpur Bus Station

So we get in the boat and start the 3-hour journey. At this moment it is good to notice that you should use the toilet at the jetty before you enter the boat because it is a journey with no stops, some of us might have had a few problems because we did not go to the toilet before…

We finally arrived at Kuala Tahan which is the village on the other side of the river from the Jungle. This is where we stayed for 3 nights. We chose a budget room in Taman Negara Travellers Lodge*  which cost about 13€/night.

The village is quite small and has developed through tourism, you will mostly find restaurants that sell burgers and other Western foods. Luckily there are also some local restaurants who offer more affordable and local food. We preferred these.

Shop in kuala tahun

Jungle Time

The first morning we got up early. We headed to the Jungle to find out what there is to be found. The first feeling and sound of the place were breathtaking and you could really feel the old energy of the trees. Our first mission was to get to the Canopy Walkway, which has been the most famous tourist attraction. We hiked for an hour only to figure out that the thing has been closed for almost a year. This was due to some irresponsible human behavior and bad condition of the structure.

So we decide to hike to Teresek Hill instead, the closest and easiest climb in the area. This was a quite long hike uphill and the place itself was only an opening in the canopy where you could see the jungle from above.

We did not want to get back the same route so we decided to go with the trail that went down on the other side. This was a much more adventurous trail than the one we came up with. There were no stairs and it was pretty steep at places but luckily there were some ropes that we could grab when the terrain got more difficult.

When we finally got out of the jungle and back to the village we were pretty exhausted but really satisfied, what a magical and wonderful place this jungle is!

The following days

We did the same thing the next morning as the day before and headed out to explore the unknown, only in the other direction. This time we also found a nice beach where it was possible to swim in the river. There were signs that you should not enter the river if you have any open wounds because of the bacteria in the water. I went for a swim and it was really refreshing after a hot and sweaty day in the jungle. No bacteria for me! We repeated this for the next few days.

The best thing I found out was that hiking in this ancient forest really made me feel good, physically and mentally! To trek the uneven terrain, not knowing what the next bend or hill would reveal was the best feeling ever. And there is some magical feeling about old trees that I just can’t explain. I suggest everybody should visit any forest as a regular thing to keep up your overall health!

And yeah, I almost forgot! Filming wild animals in the jungle is really, really difficult! You see them and hear them, but there is no time to set up the camera before they are gone. All the respect for animal photographers, it’s nearly impossible!

Transport Prices & How To Get There

The bus ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut cost us about 18RM (about 3,90€) and
the van + boat to Kuala Tahan (including National Park fees + photo license) was 55RM (11.80€).

You need to pay 5RM (1,10€) for a camera license for taking photos in the jungle, even if it’s just your phone. You also need to bring this permit with you all the time when entering the National Park because there are rangers who might check for this.

It’s also possible to get to the jungle by bus but the river scenery is well worth the price and the extra time. The bus cost only 6RM (1,20€) and takes about 2 hours. We took this trip when we got back to Kuala Lumpur.

There are also many tour operators in Kuala Lumpur that make all-inclusive trips there. Starting from a day trip that cost about 200RM (43€) to several days in the jungle that cost about 150RM (32€) per day.

Aerial view of Kuala Tahun

Where To Stay

Taman Negara Travellers Lodge* – This is where we stayed and I think it has the best price/quality ratio.

Greenland Guesthouse* – Another great semi-budget accommodation, this is just outside of the village. Silent and green refugee.

Danz Eco Resort* – the cheapest on in the area, the accommodation is a tent.

Naura Roomstay* – New building a little bit outside of the village and here you will have complete privacy and it is right next to the river.

Mutiara Taman Negara Resort* – The only 4-star resort in the area and the only one that is actually in the National Park area. This is the place if your budget can handle it!

My Thoughts

For me, this jungle was quite special. This was the first location where I really decided to try my best in making videos. And in my opinion, it really paid off. The reason we even went to this jungle was that our Indonesian visa was ending so we flew to Kuala Lumpur and we had 5 days before we were going to Thailand.

We did not want to spend this in the city so I started to look for other options. And this is what I found. I think you really should visit Taman Negara if you have a few extra days to spend when traveling via Kuala Lumpur. This is a place you are going to remember forever.

Oh, and we actually did a night walk in the jungle also but the footage was not that good… Let’s just say that it was more than just interesting to get the feeling of a totally dark jungle. Go find out for yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Michael

4 Comments

  1. Glad you had a good time in Taman Negara. The ancient old growth lowland forest there with the big trees is one of the totally last remaining in Malaysia. Virtually all the forests outside the park have and are being logged, and much is also now being totally cleared to plant rubber, oil palm, or durian (usually just one of these three). So, many animal and plant species are going extinct, and at the same time, illegal poachers from Indochina are always coming to Malaysia to kill off the remaining animals. And a lot of this demand is coming from….China. The government is trying to do something but it is always the case of too little, too late, and not enough willpower to say NO to logging or clearing.

    Who knows, maybe in 5-15 years, the animals and forest in Malaysia may be gone for good.

    1. I totally understand. I have also noticed this when traveling elsewhere in Malaysia and it is a very sad sight when they just cut down all the trees and don’t care about the natural habitat of animals at all. The same trend is happening almost everywhere in the world and to be real, I don’t see how this could be changed because of the MONEY put in to destroy all this natural beauty. This is one reason I want to capture this amazing nature on video when it still is alive. Let’s hope for the best tho!

Any thoughts? Comment what you think!