Taman Negara (Malay for "National Park") is Malaysia’s Premier National Park.
It is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, unspoilt rainforests in the world, and it is estimated to have evolved over 130 million years.
Located mainly in the delightful Malaysian state of Pahang, Taman Negara also straddles the borders of two other states in the north, namely Kelantan and Terengganu. It is accessible via several popular and main access routes, although there are other less developed access points.
With an area of 4,343 square kilometers (1,676 square miles) or more than a million acres, Taman Negara is the largest park and the most extensive protected rainforest area in Malaysia.
Besides the dense virgin jungle, it also houses Peninsular Malaysia’s highest mountain in the Tahan Range, namely, Gunung Tahan at 2,187 meters (7,173 feet).
As a protected area, tree-cutting or logging and other commercial development and activities are strictly prohibited. So far no commercial logging has occurred.
Taman Negara was originally set aside, during the British rule, as a wildlife reserve in 1925 by way of a Pahang State Legislation, to protect wildlife and game species in the lush rainforests of Pahang.
Gazetted in 1925 as the Gunung Tahan Game Reserve, this early section of the park covered over 1,300 square kilometers (500 square miles) of untouched natural tropical rainforest.
Following the separate gazettes made through enactments by the states of Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan in 1938-1939, Taman Negara was later formally established as a national park. These enactments incorporated further extensions of forest areas bordering Pahang in the two northern states of Malaysia.
The park was originally named in 1939 as the King George V Park to commemorate England’s King George’s Silver Jubilee. After Malaysia achieved independence in 1957, the park was renamed as Taman Negara and remained so until today.
Taman Negara offers visitors and travelers, especially the adventurous and curious ones, a never-ending opportunity to explore and experience Malaysia’s rich natural treasure of unspoilt, verdant jungles, rivers and mountains.
When you first enter the park, you will perhaps feel awed and overwhelmed by the richness, diversity and beauty of the plants and trees species in this National Park. This is not surprising as one-third of all the world’s flowering plants are found in Malaysia.
You will find that the largest plant community in Taman Negara is the lowland rainforest – where although trees are dominant, they co-exist with other plant forms like shrubs, parasites, climbers and lichens, fungi and others.
To the herbal and plant naturalists, do take your time to identify and marvel at the richness, age and sizes of the diverse plant and tree species. Tall and huge trees stand imposingly in the jungle, like lords of the low species below.
Taman Negara is a favored spot for fishing for avid anglers, with the rivers and stream providing varieties of fishes. However do make sure you have obtained the necessary permit or license to fish at the selected rivers.
Kelisa, kelah, toman, patin and other species abound in the cool jungle rivers. And they are far bigger than the ordinary ones found in the markets.
I remember, while on a fishing trip during my first visit there in 1982, my guide (cum the boatman), caught a huge “toman” (Greater Snakehead) fish, after several castings into the river from the boat. His fishing net was however so heavy that frankly, I myself couldn’t carry the end portion of it!
You see, as a town person, I was so used to fishing using those nylon nets. When in Taman Negara, these nets looked like they were more suited for the aquarium, and you will embarrassed using them.
The crude iron fishing net used by my guide cum boatman was really the first time I saw such big iron nettings. It was quite abnormal to me as they were really heavy. I couldn’t even carry them let alone cast them! But apparently those heavy nets are quite normal in Taman Negara since the fishes are also abnormally big in those unspoilt jungle rivers!
Well, to continue the story …
Since the two town guys (me and my friend) who were in the boat weren’t any help to him in pulling up the huge fish, our guide jumped into the river and then he cradled the fish using both hands. But while trying to load the fish onto the boat, the fish suddenly jumped and swam quickly away. Well, we felt really down seeing the big one that got away.
This toman fish was so huge that it rekindled stories related by my father when I was small, of the jungle toman fish eating small monkeys and other small animals, as part of its food. They were also said to snap a person’s leg dangling from a boat, just like barracudas in the Amazons (although barracudas bite, not snap, and are very much smaller than these tomans).
However, at the end of the day we were not disappointed since we did have fresh fishes for dinner. Well, another party of our fishing friends in another boat further upriver caught three big kelah (Malaysian mahseer) fishes and when we grilled them for dinner over a campfire, about five of us couldn’t finish them. These Taman Negara kelah fishes were also huge ones, double or triple the size of those sold in the city or town markets.
Well, besides fishing and angling, Taman Negara is a haven for many nature activities.
I will take you, in another web page, to other fun and thrilling activities you can do there, like: -
* wild-life watching,
* mountain climbing,
* caves exploring,
* jungle trekking,
* river rafting,
* walking on suspended walkways,
* individually guided tours,
* night-time safaris
* and many others.
So do keep coming to this web site from time to time for updates, or add my feeds to your RSS feeder.
You will find that Taman Negara is served with very good visitor facilities including chalet accommodation, restaurants, guides and transport. Hostels and camping out in the open are also popular choices.
A good hotel to stay there is Mutiara Taman Negara.
The favorite access to Taman Negara is through the town of Jerantut, then via a three-hour boat ride to Kuala Tahan, where the Park’s Headquarters ("Park’s HQ") are located.
Permits are required for entry, camera and fishing, and fees are payable at the Park’s HQ. Your tour or travel agent usually will see you through these processes.
Taman Negara can be reached via three main park entrances. Of these, the most popular and easy – and the standard route for most travellers - is via Kuala Tahan.
The journey to Kuala Tahan is an exciting one requiring a road or rail as well as a river journey. The access routes to the other main parts of Taman Negara are generally adequate but problems may arise due to the less developed public transport available.
By Road and River
Most visitors to Taman Negara will commence their journey from the main park access which is via Sungai Tembeling in Pahang. The departure point is from Kuala Tembeling near Jerantut, 230 kilometers (140 miles) or about three hours drive from Kuala Lumpur and 220 kilometers (135 miles) from Kuantan.
From here it is a two to three hour journey by mechanized sampan or boat, depending on water levels, to travel the 69 kilometers (43 miles) to the Park HQ at Kuala Tahan.
Alternatively there is a 75 kilometer (46 mile) – two hours- rough road journey from Jerantut to Park HQ.
Kuala Koh is another park access, but it is more difficult in the sense that public transport to the park, other than taxis, is non-existent and you will find few travel operators who have organized tours there.
However, visitors with their own transport, preferably a 4x4 vehicle, will find this access point possible.
If you wish to take this access route, you can take the bus or even the train to Gua Musang from Kuala Lumpur, and from Gua Musang, hire a taxi all the way to the park. But don’t forget to arrange for the taxi to return on a designated day for the return journey.
From the Terengganu side of the park, there are several ways to get to Taman Negara.
Visitors can take a flight or take the bus from any major town to Kuala Terengganu. From there taxis will deliver you directly to Pengkalan Gawi, Tasik Kenyir (Lake Kenyir) and, ultimately, to the park entrance.
From the park entrance, then you will be taken to the southern sections of the lake by boat. The Park Ranger Station is located at Tanjung Mentong, and a boat journey from Pengkalan Gawi will take about an hour and a half to reach it.
Tasik Kenyir itself is one of Malaysia’s popular nature-based or eco-tourism attractions, with quaint resorts and chalets surrounding it.
Tasik Kenyir is in fact the largest man-made lake not only in Malaysia, but also in South–east Asia. Visitors will find fishing and other water activities a thrilling experience.
Merapoh, which is situated south of Gua Musang (in Kelantan), provides an alternative and quicker access to Gunung Tahan.
The turn-off to the park is located on the Kuala Lipis to Gua Musang Road, about 20 kilometers (12 miles ) south of Gua Musang. The road heads off the main road to the right and the Ranger Station is located about 6 kilometers (4 miles) along a road that is accessible to most types of vehicles.
However, the Ranger Station located at Sungai Relau is the farthest that cars can drive, and further access in the park is only allowed using the park’s vehicles.
The nearest train station to Merapoh is the town of Gua Musang and from here buses or taxis are available for the journey to the park turn-off.
Well, I hope that you've enjoyed the special experience in nature’s wonderland at Taman Negara in the delightful state of Pahang.
And, did you get bitten by the amazing creature called leeches? Yes? Never mind, you'll be a better person for the experience.
But whatever you do, please don’t forget the rules and regulations of the National and State Parks.
They are meant also for your own protection and enjoyment.
Now that you've been with nature, perhaps you’ll agree with the observation that it is always when we are living with nature that we feel small and humbled by their sheer enormous size.
However we humans try, we know we can never achieve the size of the biggest tree in the jungle nor the height of the mountain.
That means we should never walk proud in this world because nature itself is bigger and stronger and they should be the only ones who could be proud.
So, let’s be humble in this world, and treat others kindly as the small creature that we all are compared to Mother Nature.
Well, enough babbling, and until then, take the trip to other delights in Pahang, perhaps to Kenong Rimba Park, Taman Negara's neighbor, or to another exciting tropical rainforest park, the Endau-Rompin State Park.
And by the way, to those keen adventurers and nature lovers out there, read here about the wonderful learning experience of our friends at mousetourstravels.com when they watched turtles during an exciting trip to Turtle Islands Borneo or the Turtles Island Park in Pulau Selingaan (Selingaan Island) of Sabah, Malaysia.
And as always, from me...
*** SELAMAT DATANG***