A Walk on the Wild Side: Malaysia’s Taman Negara

The canopy walk goes from tree to tree, with a viewing platform encircling each tree. It took a while to feel secure enough to enjoy the experience of being in the rainforest canopy. I stopped to catch sight of a bird and listened to the symphony of the rainforest.

Returning to camp, it was time for a shower, a short rest and lunch. There are a variety of things to do in Taman Negara, including visiting caves, cooling off in swimming holes and whitewater rafting. I opted to visit the Orang Asli, which means “original people” in the Malay language. The first-known human occupants on the Malay Peninsula continue to live a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

The lodging options are comfortable.
Cabins at the Mutiara Taman Negara eco-resort have electricity, hot water and air conditioning.

The Batek, as they call themselves, are a gentle, shy people. The village was home to about 20 people. At first the children hid behind the adults, so I took off my shoes and sat on the edge of the mat under their lean-to shelter. Soon curiosity replaced fear, and they began to smile. One of the Batek men showed me how they make fire without using matches, and how he makes poison darts for his blow gun, used for hunting.

We learned that the Malaysian government unsuccessfully tried to provide schools, but they are not in accord with the Batek’s nomadic ways. Once a month the government sends a doctor to check on their health and provide needed medicine, however, the Batek people prefer the traditional medicines made from rainforest plants.

In the evening Jo and I headed out for a night nature walk. At a “hide,” a one-room structure on stilts overlooking waterholes and natural salt licks, we watched samba deer. There are several hides in the park where visitors can spend the night should they so desire.

Once again Jo amazed me with his ability to find scorpions, spiders, moths, walking sticks and an incredible array of interesting little critters, each with its own adaptive survival characteristics.

Time went too fast. There were still trails I hadn’t walked, pools I wanted to swim in and other activities left undone, so there was no joy in leaving. Back on the river, enjoying the river vignettes, I put Taman Negara on my “gotta-do-again” list.

If You Go

Taman Negara National Park

Mutiara Taman Negara

Malaysian National Tourism Office



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