Malaysia is famous for its incredible modern cities, offering state-of-the art architecture and endless shopping, but what is so unique about this unabashedly humid tropical country is the amazing rainforest and the wildlife you can encounter within it. Here are some eco-holiday options, a little off the civilised, beaten track.
Lights on the River
Venturing to the Kampung Kuantan area, taking a tour upstream to the mangrove swamp of Kuala Selangor River in a small un-motorised boat (tongkang) to have a look at trees covered in blinking lights in the evening’s darkness is an unforgettable experience. This amazing display is courtesy of the hundreds of fireflies engaged in their mysterious synchronized dance. The rhythmic flash-like lights of the “Lightning Bugs” are created in their abdomens by a combination of luminous chemicals not only to attract potential partners but also as a defence mechanism against predators. The emitted light patterns can be quite complex and vary from species to species of the beetle (of which there are 1,900!), much like our languages. This doesn’t deter some frogs, who after a firefly feast begin to glow themselves! This magical display can only be found in quiet, unpolluted areas where Berembang trees grow.
In the Canopy
The Canopy Walkway in the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve was originally set up for scientific purposes – in order to study the flora and fauna of the upper rainforest. This 600 hectare jungle park can be found at Kepong, located just 16km northwest of Kuala Lumpur. Nowadays it is open to visitors who get to walk amongst the treetops 30 meters above ground. Although the walkway itself is only 200 meters long, there is plenty to see. Down below you can admire waterfall and a river winding itself through the forest, as well as the remnants of an old Orang Asli settlement. Bear in mind that the walkway gets temporarily closed in heavy rain, and re-opens after the rainfall subsides, however it is closed on Mondays and Fridays.
The Cameron Highlands, located between the borders of Pahang and Perak provinces, reach between 1600m and 2000m above sea level, and have been described in 1885 by their “discoverer,” British surveyor William Cameron as ‘a fine plateau with gentle slopes, shut in by lofty mountains.’ The vistas over the undulating green hills, which are home to tea plantations, flower gardens, vegetable farms and fruit orchards, all surrounded by majestic mountain scenery, are breathtaking. Avid hikers will find a worthy and rewarding challenge on the local trails, with their rushing waterfalls and untamed undergrowth. The air here is much cooler, so many visitors prefer to stay in this region to avoid the humidity – Park Resort, situated at around 1,600 meters above sea level, is your highest accessible option, with matching lofty heights prices.
The Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage in Lachang (1.45 mins drive from Kuala Lumpur) was officially established in 1989 by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks as a base for the elephant relocation operations, which actually started here in 1970s, and so far have successfully relocated over 300 elephants. The purpose of the centre is to find, subdue and transport elephants from problem areas where their habitats are severely encroached by plantations to Malaysia’s national parks, such as Taman Negara. The centre also aims to promote public awareness of the elephant’s plight in Malaysia and to support further research into both elephant and environmental conservation, while educating the public at the same time – all causes worth supporting. Experience Malaysia at its finest, bathe with and feed the gorgeous elephants – a rewarding and fun experience for all ages!
Start planning your jungle experience in Malaysia http://www.escapetravel.com.au/holidays/malaysia
About the Author
Patricia Bieszk+ is a freelance writer who loves to travel to any destination with great food