If you’re looking for an introduction to Sarawak’s forests and wildlife, look no further than Bako National Park! Located at the Muara Tebas peninsula, about 37km away from the city of Kuching, Bako is the oldest and one of the smallest national parks in Sarawak that boasts seven complete ecosystems within its boundaries. The constant erosion over millions of years has turned Bako into a picturesque coastline of steep cliffs, rocky headlands and many stretches of sandy bays and coves.
The best time to visit Bako National Park is between March and October, as you would want to avoid the more rainy months. The park is popular for day trips, but accommodations are available if you want to spend a night in the midst of nature.
To get to Bako, you will need to drive or take a bus or minivan from to the ferry terminal near Bako Village. You can also opt for a taxi, but it’s definitely more costly. From there, you will take a boat for the remainder of your journey.
You will need to plan your trip accordingly, as most activities require advance booking and are also subject to availability. Here are just some of the best things that you can do in Bako National Park!
1. Jungle trekking along the Telok Pandan Kecil trail
Bako National Park boasts 16 colour-coded, marked trails throughout the area, ranging in distance and difficulty. The Telok Pandan Kecil is the most popular trail in the park and is easily conquered by beginners.
It ascends forested hills overlooking Telok Assam, before reaching a cliff top with stunning views of the secluded bay below and the famous sea stack just offshore. A 10-minute descent brings you to one of the best beaches in the park. Watch out for monkeys though! You wouldn’t want them to get away with your unguarded bags.
Bird enthusiasts, you’ll want to visit Bako National Park for its 150 species of resident and migrant birds. Designated as an Important Bird Area, bird watchers have enthusiastically recorded fascinating sightings of bird species like the Rufous-backed Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Red-crowned Barbet, Brown Barbet, White-bellied Woodpecker, Black-&-Red Broadbill, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Abbott’s Babbler, White-chested Babbler, Sunda Scops Owl, Oriental Bay Owl, Buffy Fish Owl and more!
Mangrove Blue Flycatcher
3. Overnight stay at Lakei Island
This small island north of the park boasts some of the best beaches and fishing spots and is accessible by boat via two trails. You can take a boat ride from the end of the Telok Pandan Kecil trail or the more difficult Teluk Limau trail. Unless you’re an experienced trekker, you might want to avoid this 8-hour trail though.
Lakei Island is home to the old grave of legendary Malay warrior, Datuk Ibrahim, situated on the highest point of the island. A local who lived on the island 300 years ago, he was believed to be so strong that he could engrave religious calligraphy on rocks with his bare fingers, which can be found at the bottom of Salamun pond.
4. Wildlife watching
Bako National Park is home to a myriad of different species of animals like the Bornean Bearded Pigs and the Proboscis Monkeys! Known for their phallic-shaped nose, the Proboscis Monkeys are endemic to Borneo and approximately 150 of them reside in Bako. The park is also home to a total of 37 species of mammals as well as pit vipers and monitor lizards.
We definitely recommend signing up for their guided night walks, as that is when you’ll see the most action, especially from nocturnal creatures like the mouse deer, civet, cicadas and other insects and reptiles that you would probably miss out at first glance, like poisonous tree frogs!
5. Overnight stay at Park Headquarters
Bako National Park might be small, but day trips truly don’t do it justice! The park is only open from 8.00am to 5.00pm daily, but some of the best sights happen outside those hours! After all, there’s nothing quite like a Bako sunrise AND sunset.
Bako has several options for basic accommodations, from tents to chalets and lodges. It gives you the option of cleaning up during the day if needed, and even hit those trails super early in the morning! The animals are most active at dawn, so you might even catch a glimpse of some rare animals! Staying at the park also gives you the opportunity to join in the night walks led by park guides, or even explore the more challenging trails.
You can now book national park accommodations online at https://ebooking.sarawak.gov.my/eBooking/public/home.htm#booking
Muara Tebas Peninsular. 93000, Kuching, Sarawak
National Park Opening Hours:
8.00am to 5.00pm
Monday – Sunday including Public Holidays