Malaysia: Hiking - Walking
Asia's Rising Star
With its glorious vistas, verdant undulating terrain and varied tropical landscapes, Malaysia's ancient forests offer vast possibilities for trekking and camping. The country's extensive array of national parks and wildlife reserves are ideal for communing with nature and discovering her secrets.
From the primordial rainforest of Taman Negara to the wildlife sanctuaries at Danum Valley and the Kinabatangan floodplains, some of Asia's best-preserved environments offer nature lovers a wealth of experience. While amateurs may try Malaysia's many easily accessible recreational forests near urban centres, seasoned explorers can go for challenging week-long treks up mountains such as Gunung Tahan, the tallest peak in Peninsular Malaysia. For the uninitiated, having a trained local guide is necessary to ensure safety and to learn about the amazing and precious diversity of flora and fauna in the ecosystem. Tropical jungles are dense, and the thick vegetation provides camouflage for the jungle denizens. It takes patience and a trained eye to see them. Go jungle trekking in the Taman Negara National Park. There are many clearly marked trails including a canopy walkway. Expert guides should be hired from the Wildlife Department at the Taman Negara Resort at Kuala Tahan. Walk in the delightful parkland surrounding Tugu Negara, Malaysia's National Monument in Kuala Lumpur, which commemorates the ultimately successful struggle against the occupying Japanese during World War II and communist insurgents in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Stroll through the Tasek Perdana Lake Gardens, one of Kuala Lumpur's best-known natural landmarks. Within the gardens are Parliament House and the National Monument, an impressive brass structure and one of the world's largest free-standing sculptures.
Swampy mangroves, extensive river floodplains, dipterocarp rainforests and montane hillscapes are among the varied environments that can exist even within trekking distance of each other. Each possess its own ecosystem and wildlife characteristics. There are mangrove belts along most of Peninsular Malaysia's west coast as well as in Sabah and Sarawak. Some such as in Kuala Selangor Nature Park have boardwalks for safety and convenience of visitors. Further up the hills and mountain slopes, montane forest environments take over with their cooler ambience and presenting spectacular views that are well worth the trek. Jungle trekking can take an hour or more and, with camping, as many days as desired. Among the best periods to go trekking in Peninsula Malaysia is in the 'dry season' from March to September when the rainfall is less. In Sabah and Sarawak the 'wet season' is from July to October.