Bako National Park is the oldest national park in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia and spans a tidy 27 km2.Â With easy accessibility from the city of Kuching, comfortable accommodation and exotic flora and fauna, waves of tourists include the national park on their Borneo to-do lists.
The usual gateway to Bako National Park is via a flight to the vibrant city of Kuching. There are groups who book their own hotels in Kuching and simply arrange for overnight stays within the park from there. To arrange and pay for accommodation, one must proceed to the Visitors Information Centre and take a 45-minute taxi or bus ride to Kampung Bako village.Â Once in Kampung Bako, a short boat ride takes you to the National Park. A small entrance fee later and Bako is yours to explore.
Tour guides claim that the best time to visit the park and observe wildlife in action is at dusk or dawn. The Bako rainforest is rife with macaques, wild pigs, monkeys, otters and a bevy of lizards, snakes and colourful birds and indeed, life happens with the rise and fall of the sun.
Of the animals on display, the undeniable stars of Bako National Park are the proboscis monkeys.Â Approximately 200 populate the park’s confines and draw all manner of visitors with their unusual, human-like characteristics. To the keen eye, scores of proboscis monkeys can be seen in the trees or on the forest floor, where they forage for food in between naps and play time. The opportunity to observe this remarkable species is truly a Borneo highlight – though opinions differ on just how easy it is to spot one.
Some Bako National Park visitors get lucky and snap photos of proboscis monkeys with relative ease. For others, the wily creatures prove much more elusive. A lot depends on the time of day as well as the season.Â Obvious tip: if you walk slowly through the forest and move as quietly as possible, your chances improve by good measure.Â It also helps to be extra alert and again, ask for a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call or indeed, venture out at 5:00 pm on Bako trails like Telok Paku or Telok Delima.Â The extensive boardwalk system within the national park offers perfect vantage points from which to perch, wait and observe.
Last but not least, if you do mingle with the proboscis monkeys of Sarawak, take some of Bako National Park’s wildlife conservation efforts to heart and disseminate some of that precious knowledge when you get back home. The foremost state of Malaysia and indeed, Borneo as a whole, is a brilliant sanctuary for a wide range of endemic biodiversity.