Batang Ai National Park
The serene surroundings of Batang Ai National Park await visitors as they step into one of Malaysia's thriving pristine forest which still remains mostly unexplored by mankind.
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Deep in the heart of Sarawak lies Batang Ai National Park, home to one of the world's most endangered species; the fascinating orang utan. The park is located about 250 kilometres away from the city of Kuching and covers an area of 240 square kilometres of tropical rainforest. Incepted in 1991, the park serves not only as a shelter for some of the protected wildlife like hornbills and gibbons, but also as a water catchment area for the state's sole man-made lake. The lake was formed as a result of creation of the Batang Ai Hydroelectric dam.
Visiting the Batang Ai National Park is like exploring uncharted territory. Other than the indigenous tribes, the rainforest has not seen many outsiders through the years. As a result, the orang utan within this region were not subjected to any pressure from hunters, thus enabling their population to increase at a steady rate. This is one of the main attractions for nature lovers who wish to see the orang utan in its own natural environment. Other great locations within the forest to scout for to see wildlife in action are at natural salt licks. These are good spots for observing bearded pigs, sambar deers as well as barking deers.
For adventure lovers seeking to explore parts of the forest on foot, there are several nature trails to select from. Some of the trails are easy whereas some requires a certain level of fitness before being attempted. Some stretches of the trails pass by mixed dipterocarp forest as well as old secondary forest. Along the way, traces of active shifting cultivation areas as well as ancient burial grounds can also be spotted. For example, the Pedalai Trail, one of the shorter and easier trails to embark on leads to a traditional Iban burial ground marked with old burial jars. Other trails like the Enggam and Sium trails, both belonging to the more challenging category of hikes, reward its hikers with panoramic views of the river and lakes surrounding it as well as a chance to see an Iban burial ground up close.
The park's only entry point is from the Batang Ai hydroelectric dam at Lubok Antu, roughly 5 hours away from Kuching. From the dam, park visitors are required to charter a longboat as Batang Ai National Park is located in the interior and is only accessible by river. The first hour of the boat ride will take visitors across the scenic Batang Ai lake and the final hour of the journey will be upstream the fast flowing Batang Ai river.
No accommodation is available within the park. There are several longhouses within the area and a lakeside luxury resort that provide accommodation for those who are interested in visiting the national park.