Borneo: Bako National Park jungle trekking!

So I had this great idea of a jungle trek and I just knew that once we were deep in to the Borneo jungle Dave would REALLY appreciate it….instead of making comments like ‘I am very happy appreciating it from the outside and from a distance’. We packed a small backpack and William drove us to the boat launch to take us out to Bako National Park; the oldest in Western Sarawak and protecting over 27 kilometres of jungle between the mouths of the Sarawak and Bako rivers.  The boat trip through crystal blue waters was stunning and we stop to drift by a croc lazing on something which must have been a buoy but looked like a floating torpedo.

We landed on the beach walked around the corner and got our first glimpse of the jungle we were about to venture in to.

But before we could accost what looks like an impenetrable wall of jungle vegetation, we had to devise tactics to avoid the local Macaque monkeys nicking all our stuff at the registration area. You have to register and name the trail you are going to take so they know where you are in case hours later you haven’t come back and they can send out the search party….hopefully not headed by a macaque monkey who would just show up and nick all your stuff and scoff your provisions. This macaque below was hilarious. Dave was sorting out our bag so we could decide what to take with us (bottles of water, insect repellent, sunscreen…and the life savers that are Pringles) and what to leave behind at the camp as we were staying overnight. The macaque kept raising itslef up on to it’s back legs so it could get a really good view into Dave’s bag to see what it could steal but every time we turned to look at the monkey – hilariously it would stare studiously at it’s fingernails as if it had just been sitting there thinking about possibly having a pedicure appointment sometime later in the afternoon. 

Another male macaque showed up and typically of the male species in the animal kingdom started chucking its weight around and aggressively slamming a stack of plastic chairs against the veranda to make sure that everyone knew he was there. They might look cute but the forestry commission has had to post notices everywhere warning everyone to beware of monkey antics; they nicked a woman’s suncream out of her backpack whilst we were watching and ran off with it.  They can undo zips and buttons and will take anything they can get their hands on.

We set off, me in my Adidas trainers and Dave in his Fallen trainers; I tell you we would have been a bloody great advert for what those shoes can stand up to. Adidas please feel free to contact me with big money offers.  Dave checked the map to make sure we were on the 6 kilometre trail and not one of the much longer ones…. which frankly would have killed us.

Just over 2 kilometres later – all of which was pretty much vertical (F**!) – we reached the top of the jungle clad mountain with stunning views  across the sea.  It was about 38 degrees and 100% humidity; our clothes were plastered to us with the sweat which was running straight off our arms and faces.  It would have been funny if I hadn’t been absolutely knackered and wanting to lie down and die somewhere quietly.

The climb upward are pretty much this all the way; deeply knitted and tangled tree roots which you have to step through and across, concentrating to make sure the looser ones don’t trip you up. You cannot veer off this cleared ‘path’ as it is dense vegetation on either side and in some places huge rockfaces with deep ravines running down the sides which you could fall down into never to be seen again.

Tree ferns….little did we know at this point that this was going to be one of the more interesting things we saw in the entire grueling 6 kilometres looking for wildlife.

Photo opportunities became great excuses to stop and let my heart rate reach some sort of equilibrium.

At virtually impossible sections of the trek for us novices they have built rickety wooden staircases up through the rocks because the only other alternative would have been to rock climb. 

Pitcher plants which are  carniverous…but thankfully not quite large enough for us to fall in to.

Dave contemplates the incline ahead tangled with even more tree  roots which after a few hours start hurting your feet from walking on them.

The landscape changed at one point at the top and the trail became sandy…a welcome relief.  Walking on the flat and in a downwards direction we definitely picked up the pace and found it a lot easier.

The surface turned to dark coloured rock slippery with rivulets of red stained water and ssteep drops.
Around 1 kilometre left; will this torture ever end!!!!! Any thought of looking cool, calm and collected went out the window pretty fast.

We finally get down the other side and reached the mangroves that fringe the shore. 3 and a half hours, 6 kilometres later we have seen 2 ants, 1 spider, a massive bloody black insect that looked like a giant black hornet and hovered over the path blocking our way for several minutes cos we were too scared to walk near it – and one limping French bloke who had fallen over and was hobbling back to camp.  Where were the monkeys, the bearded pigs, the shy rare Probiscus monkey?

Back in to the camp and we headed to the caff….where we saw about 25 Macaque monkeys including one with baby, wild bearded pigs which are extremely ugly with evil yellow eyes and can kill a tiger (probably by heart attack just by looking at it), 2 pit vipers sitting in trees literally right next to the cabin we would be sleeping in and the following morning just a few metres from the caff, a rare large Probiscus monkey contentedly sitting in a tree eating his breakfast.

What you looking at…….got anything I can nick?

Ugly bearded pig and quite aggressive when you try to take his photo as I found out almost to my detriment!

Deadly poisonous pit viper.

Amazing beach sunset.

Probiscus monkey; I couldn’t get closer for a better image unfortunately and didn’t have a long enough zoom lens.

Waving goodbye to our new Malay friends who we met in the camp. The man in the white baseball hat is Peter Wee and owns a camera shop in Kuching and they are all members of the photography club that Peter’s famous photographer Uncle set up in 1938. The man with the longer grey hair and blue shirt is a very famous Malay artist called Rafael 
Heading back to civilisation on the fast boat ride; this was the bit Dave liked the best but it only takes 20 minutes!

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