Spend at least two days to fully appreciate the beauty of the park. Don’t be misled by its relatively small size (compared to other national parks) as Bako is home to most of Borneo’s diverse vegetation types. There are seven diverse natural habitats here — Beach Forest, Cliff Vegetation, Kerangas or Heath Forest, Mangrove Forest, Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, Peat Swamp Forest and Grassland.

Its extensive network of 18 jungle trails (including the Pa’ Amit Trail on Lakei Island) is colour coded to guide visitors. The more adventurous can choose a full-day jungle hike or an overnight camping expedition. Day-trippers can check out the shorter trails close to the park’s headquarters.

Take a short boat ride to Pulau Lakei, the one and only island in the park to enjoy its serenity and natural beauty. You can stay overnight and enjoy the stunning sunsets overlooking the Santubong Range.

At the top of the 160 flights of wooden steps is a warrior’s grave. Datuk Ibrahim, an early resident of the island, was said to have superhuman strength and could engrave Islamic ‘khat’ on rock faces with his fingers! People come from as far away as Brunei on an annual pilgrimage to the grave near Salamun Pool.

Wear comfortable clothes and proper footwear, as the trails can get muddy and slippery especially after a downpour. Bring lots of drinking water and some light snacks, as some trails are quite long. Outdoor cooking is not allowed. A good pair of binoculars and a handbook on the birds of Borneo is a must for birdwatchers.

The park is also home to five species of primates, namely the rare proboscis monkey, long-tailed macaque, silver leaf langur, the slow loris and tarsier. Other interesting animals seen are monitor lizards, plantain squirrels, bearded wild pigs (the largest mammal in the park), flying lemurs, civet cats and more than six species of bats.

Where To Stay

Accommodation includes chalets, lodges and hostels. There are two semi-detached lodges, each with four beds priced at RM25 per bed. There are also seven units of two-room chalets at RM150 a night. The cheapest accommodation of a hostel bed costs only RM15 per night. The camp site, with washroom facilities, can fit 180 campers at any one time.

Other facilities include the Kerangas Cafe, a barbecue area, 24-hour electricity supply and treated water supply, information centre and environmental education centre. There is a government clinic at Kg Bako.

Getting There

Petra Jaya Bus No. 6 from Kuching takes 40 minutes to arrive at Kg Bako. The earliest bus leaves Kuching at 6am and the last bus leaves Kg Bako at 5pm daily. Visitors must report at the Arrival Terminal near the jetty.

Chartered boats manned by the locals cost RM16 for a return journey and while a trip to Lakei Island costs RM25. Children pay half price and toddlers under 12 months are charged only 10 per cent of the fare.

Recommended book on the rainforest: