If your a city slicker like me whose wanting to trade your leather converse for a pair of hiking boots and take a walk on something other then concrete or are a mud-lovin soul who is searching for an off the beaten path adventure destination where you can become one with nature and get lost in the magic of the great outdoors, then its time you packed. Ive found the place for you. We’re travelling to Borneo!
Growing in popularity more and more adventure seeking travellers are visiting Kuching or “Cat City” in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo to take advantage of the regions surrounding national parks that are bursting with amazing flora and fauna, breathtakingly raw coastlines and lush jungles. There’s so much to see and do in Borneo that even the most seasoned travelers will be in awe. Borneo is home to 44 mammals, 37 birds and over 6000 plants that are not found anywhere else in the world making it one of the most diverse islands on the planet. Some of the animals are so uniquely gorgeous they will force a squeal from even the most masculine men (I’m talking bearded pig cute)
There are a multitude of National Parks in Malaysian Borneo which can cost you a pretty penny to explore if you visit as part of a tour. However, if money’s a little thin or your a budget backpacker like me don’t give up on your Borneo adventure! Here a quick guide on how you can independently visit (my personal favourite) Bako National Park on a budget.
Bako National Park was established in 1957 and is the oldest national park in the Sarawak region. The park covers 27 square kilometers making it one of the smallest national parks in the region, and with 16 well marked walking trails of different lengths and difficulties, its a great place to ditch the guide and indulge in independent trekking.
Though small in size Bako features multiple biomes including rich dense rainforest and classic lowland rainforest within its center. While the coast of the peninsular features secluded beaches hidden amongst towering limestone cliffs and mangrove swamp filled with curious Macaque monkeys foraging for dinner. The parks diverse ecosystem is a haven for an array of animals and insects making it one of best places in Sarawak to see wild rainforest animals in their natural habitat such as the hilarious looking Proboscis Monkey, which is endemic to Borneo.
TRAVEL HINT: Don’t let Sarawaks annual average rainfall of 4,000mm stop your from exploring Bako – the boat ride will resemble a roller-coaster and the paths may turn into gushing streams before your very eyes but this wont stop the animals from introducing themselves! Just pack a rain jacket.
PUBLIC BUS TO BAKO:
Getting there is half the fun, especially when you’re using public transport in one of the wildest islands in the world. Bako is 37km northeast of downtown Kuching so catching the local bus is an easy and cost effective way to visit and explore the park at your own pace. From the centre of Kuching (Sarawak river side heading right), get the Rapid Kuching bus (#1) and tell the conductor you want to go to the Bako Jetty. The bus costs 3.5 ringgit pp and takes approximately 45 minutes.
Your arrival at the Bako Jetty isn’t the end of your journey! There are no roads leading into the national park so the only way in and out is by motorboat up the Tabo River. The boat costs 97 ringgit pp return and is an amazing introduction to the magic and beauty of Bako.
GETTING TO BORNEO:
Kuching is located in Eastern Malaysia on the island of Borneo and is a two hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. There are 191 flights a week from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching. Direct flights cost between $270 – $430 NZD *Fares may change due to availability at time of booking.