Bako National Park
Bako was made a national park in 1957, making it the oldest national park in Sarawak
Flora and fauna
Its beautifully dense rainforests and stunning beaches are home to many flora and fauna including the rare proboscis monkey. Try and spot them during low tide as they forage in the exposed Mangrove tree swamps. There are 16 color-coded jungle trails as well as lodges for overnight stays - which you have to book early. On the high ground, look out for pitcher plants. And beware of the monkeys, they are very clever and compulsive thieves!(don't forget to spot the boar!)
Bako enjoys sunny weather much of the year. Temperature is constant throughout the year, in the lowland range from a cool 23C in the evening and early morning to 33C under the shade during the day. But from late November to late January, the monsoon rain may spoil plans for an outing. The hottest months are usually from June to late August, when the tribal farmers do their slash-and-burn land clearing before planting their padi, this has been blamed for the haze that envelops the regions and may cause health hazards. But since the governments of both Malaysia and Indonesia have "banned" open burning, incidents of haze have been reduced somewhat.
A bus ride from Kuching to Bako Market takes about 45-60 minutes and costs 2 MYR each way. Buses leave to/from Bako about once every hour starting from about 7AM from Kuching and finishing about 6PM from Bako, but the schedule is not firm. You can get a daily schedule at the bus station 1 in Kuching (near the mosque) in the morning.
When you arrive at the Bako Market purchase your entrance ticket (10 MYR for adults for one entry). Then, board the boat to the park headquarters down the river estuary (~30 minute ride, 47 MYR per boat each way, max. 5 passengers per boat). Tell your boatman when you plan to return and he'll wait for you at the dock. Departure times might depend on the tides (boats do get stuck at low tide).
As of July 2008:
Adult single-entry: 10 MYR Child/Senior single-entry: 5 MYR
Rates for lodging vary considerably depending on level of luxury. Check in advance at the National Park information center in Kuching for availability.
The interior of the park can only be traversed on foot. Staying on or close to the marked trails is strongly advised. Boardwalks and ladders are installed to help with some of the more difficult stretches.
Small boats similar to those that take you to and from the park wait on the beaches at busy times of day and can be chartered to take you to other beachside destinations. A boat pickup can also be arranged to help ease the return journey from some of the park's longer trails that finish on beaches. Pulau Lakei, some distance offshore, can only be reached by boat
A wide range of animal, bird and plant life including the Proboscis monkeys which come to the mangrove swamp to feed early evening. It's close to the lodging area where covered sheds are built, go there around 4PM, take a book and wait till they come. Seeing Proboscis and other species here is a lot easier and more comfortable than going on a safari. You just walk along an elevated wooden pathway, perhaps 10 minutes from where the boats land.
You can also see the seastacks and a lots more.
Nighttime sightseeing hikes are sometimes led by park staff, and are also easier and more comfortable than ones done on a safari.
Walks radiate from the centre offering a variety of difficulties in the heat and humidity and provide access to the habitats of the wide range of animal, bird and plant life in the park. The hikes are over some pretty rugged terrain for the most part, with lots of exposed tree roots and vegetation sometimes blocking trails that are less frequented.
With a little negotiation, a boatman will take you to nearby Palau Lakai, a small island just off the mainland. The views on the way here are spectacular and it's special to have an island to yourself for a day.
There is a local cafeteria that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner for about MYR$5.00-7.00. There are no cooking facilities within the lodges.
The cafeteria has a variety of drinks including beer and soda.
At the National park headquarters there are bungalows for rent, a couple of nights stay are recommended if you have the time. 4-bed dorm with shared bathroom RM15.75; rooms from RM42. Accomodation can be stuffy and may have some mold growing on the ceilings.
Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) may be found near river mouths and in mangrove swamps.