Land before time in Malaysia

LKMalaysiaTowards the northern parts of Lake Temenggor, in Perak State, which forms part of northern Peninsula Malaysia, is a vast area of virgin jungle known as the Belum-Temenggor Forest Reserve. The area is one of the largest untouched forest reserves in Peninsula Malaysia. The presence of large mammal species such as elephants, rhinoceroses, tapirs and tigers makes Belum-Temenggor very special.  Over 130 million years of age and encompassing 300,000 hectares, this tropical paradise is home to a vast number of species of animals and plants, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

This forest possesses an immense wealth of flora and fauna with much of the area still unexplored and undisturbed by humans. In fact, scientific studies indicate that this pristine forest, which remains one of the largest untouched forest reserves in Peninsular Malaysia, holds enormous potential for the discovery of more biological treasures.

Located at the border of Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand, it is a nature lover’s delight. The stunning landscape of Belum-Temenggor Rainforest houses over 3,000 species of flowering plants, including three species of the largest flower in the world – the Rafflesia. It is also the natural habitat of 64 species of ferns, 62 species of mosses, and has a lake that is home to 23 species of freshwater fish and 5 species of turtles.

Undisturbed by man, the unspoiled magic of Belum-Temenggor, Belum literally means ‘land before time’, makes it the perfect habitat for 14 of the world’s most threatened mammals, including the Malaysian Tiger, Malaysian Sunbear, Sumatran Rhinoceros, the White-handed Gibbon, Asiatic Elephant, and Malayan Tapir . It also makes this forest an ideal destination for ecotourism activities, such as wildlife watching, education and research initiatives, which support the conservation efforts of the area.

Various tour operators now offer guided tours to certain areas of the reserve and will arrange for the necessary permits, river and road transport and accommodation, which may include camping. When jungle trekking, choose a trail that you can complete before dark and do let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. The entire forest complex is quite large, being approximately four times the size of Singapore, so it is best to plan each day’s activities in advance and for your absolute safety to stay on the marked trails in the jungle.

It is advisable to wear light, loose clothing; comfortable long-sleeved shirts and long pants for protection from insects and abrasions. Even though it is advisable to stick to the trails, some of leaves you brush past are quite sharp and can cut you.  With a combination of heat, humidity, sweat and bugs that are attracted to open wounds that can cause infection, it is better to wear clothing that does cover the skin and may be slightly uncomfortable than to let sores develop. In certain conditions, the forest can be very cold. Take a waterproof jacket for comfort, this is a rainforest, so when it does rain, which is often, it is torrential.

To get there from Kuala Lumpur, take the North-South Expressway and head north towards Ipoh. Passing Ipoh, take the Kuala Kangsar exit, and head towards Gerik. Take route 4, which is the East-West expressway. This will take you to Pulau Banding, the jumping off point for your adventure. The journey from KL is about 5 1/2 hours. Admission to Belum-Temenggor Rainforest is best arranged with resort owners in the area.

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