Bako National Park offers a big variety of trails for hiking through tropical rainforest and visiting of secluded beaches. From Kuching to the fishing village Bako it takes about 45 minutes by car. There, it is necessary to register first. Visitors are required to provide their name, country of origin and passport or identity card number. Additionally payment of an admission fee needs to be processed. It takes a ride of 15-20 minutes by speedboat until visitors arrive in the national park. It is advisable to arrange the time for pick-up directly with the boatswain. In February 2010, the admission fee per adult was 25 Malaysian Ringgit and the charges for the trip by speedboat was 90 Malaysian Ringgit for a group of six visitors.
On arrival during flood, or average height of water level, you can get off the boat at the dock. However, at low tide, the boats cannot go to the dock and you may need to go through knee-deep water to land. In this case, there is a risk of injury by marine stingers. It is advisable to walk slowly in the water, and not to lift the feet but to push the feet through the mud on the seabed.
Upon arrival, visitors must register at headquarters first. There, each tour group receives a map for ease of orientation. Staff provides detailed information about the available hiking routes. Before leaving for trekking in the jungle, each group must register in a logbook and note the planned hiking route.
For a surcharge, it is possible to arrange a different pick up point directly with the boatswain. Rather than going on a round trip visitors could walk to a distant and secluded beach and return to the headquarters by boat. To avoid a bad surprise, it is advisable to note down the number of the boat and enter it in the logbook. If there is a misunderstanding concerning the pick-up, then the staff at the headquarters can respond.
All hiking trails start on a wooden walkway, which leads through swampy terrain. Even visitors who only go for a short jungle walk may come across Proboscis Monkeys and macaques. The Proboscis monkeys are shy and keep their distance. Without sophisticated camera equipment, it is difficult to get good photos. Macaques however, may try o steal the visitor’s food or drinking bottles. To avoid contact with an aggressive macaque all beverages and bottles need to remain hidden in the backpack during the jungle walk.
Visitors most common destination is Pandan (= beach) Kecil which can be reached in a 1.5 hour walk. The route passes by a plateau where an excellent view of the beach rewards hikers. Since this beach is one of the favourite destinations this route is often overrun by tourists. As an alternative, the trail Tajor is attractive because it passes by a small but idyllic waterfall after about 2.5 hours of walking through dense jungle. From the waterfall, it takes only another 30 minutes walk to reach a small beach.
Hikers have no difficulties to orient themselves in the jungle, as all trails are well marked and colour coding helps to identify each trail. In addition, to assist during the hike wooden maps are installed where trails part. The overall map at the headquarters indicates the distances to each beach and viewpoint in hours’ walk, and in kilometres. Experienced hikers will be on time on walking routes that are specified with less than 3.5 hours. However, longer trails are a major challenge due to the tropical climate and because they lead through a series of steep uphill and downhill passages.
Visitors can stay overnight in accommodations and the headquarters permits jungle camps on the designated areas. As according to the guidelines, registration for any type of overnight stay is required prior to arrival. At the headquarters, a cafeteria provides basic service and a new supply station is under construction. Bako National Park is a tourist destination, which may appear as boring to adventurers. However, for anyone who is untrained in jungle trekking it offers a pleasant opportunity to enjoy tropical rainforest at first hand without big risks. Those who are looking for an extensive jungle trekking experience will find a serious physical challenge in the long trails with more than eight hours of walk.