Bako National Park is established in 1957 and covers about 27 square kilometres. This makes Bako one of the smallest national parks of Sarawak on Borneo. The park is conveniently located, just 40 km from Kuching – the capital of Sarawak. It is definitely worth spending at least one day at Bako National Park, not in the first place to spot the famous proboscis monkeys! Check our out travel tips to have the perfect Bako experience.
In this article about Bako NP you will find all the info you need about:
One day in Bako National Park, what to do?
First of all: pick your trail
Bako National Park is situated on the coast of Western Borneo. Bako NP is the oldest national park of Sarawak. Sarawak is the central western area and one of two Malaysian states on Borneo. Sarawak is nicknamed Bumi Kenyaland, which means Land of the hornbills.
The relatively small park offers 18 walking trails of different lengths and difficulties, all marked in colours. The trails vary from easy strolls to full day jungle hikes. We met a great Australian elderly couple and their over-energetic grandson on the boat who we walked the Telok Pandan Kecil (kecil means small) trial with after lunch.
The trail is about 2,5 kilometres, starts at Bako HQ and ends at a tiny beach in the north of the park. Arrange a pick up at the small beach (Kecil) with your drop off boat guy in the afternoon. Certainly, a recommendation because it allows you to do a one-way hike in the afternoon. You will pass by the plateau where the Telok Pandan Besar (besar means big) trail is. Enjoy the stunning view! In the morning we enjoyed the beaches near the cafeteria, we got to know how macaques misbehave and admired the bearded pigs.
Bako National Park Trails
In Bako NP there is a wooden display with all hiking trails. Each trail has a name, most of them containing either BT (Bukit – Hill) , J (Jalan – Trail), T (Telok – Bay) or TG (Tanjung – Cape) + the name of the trail. These are the trails we identified on the wooden map in the park. I have added the photo I took in the park to give you an idea what the trails look like. These are the Bako National Park trails when we visited:
Trails that end on the beach:
- Telok Paku (T. Paku) – trail of 0,8 km (60 minutes one way)
- Telok Pandan Kecil (T. Kecil) – trail of 1,5 km (90 minutes one way)
- Telok Pandan Besar (T. Besar) – trail of 0,75 km (60 minutes one way)
- Telok Tajor (T. Tajor)- trail of 2,75 km (150 minutes one way)
- Telok Sibur (T. Sibur) – trail of 0,8 km (210 minutes one way)
- Telok Limau (T. Limau/J.Limau) – trail of 5,75 km (7 hours one way)
- Telok Kruin (T. Kruin) – trail of 1,5 km (7,25 hours)
Hiking trails within the park:
- Telok Delima (T. Delima) – trail of 0,25 km (45 minutes one way)
- Tanjung Sapi (Tg. Sapi) – trail of 0,5 km (30 minutes one way)
- Tanjung Rhu (Tg. Rhu) – trail of 1,8 km (150 minutes one way)
- Pa’Amit, Lakei island (Pulau Lakei) – trail of 1 km (30 minutes from base)
- Bukit Gondol (BT Gondol) – trail of 2 km (4,5 hours)
- Ulu Serait (J. Ulu Serait) – trail of 2,75 km (3 hours)
- Serait (J. Serait) – 1,25 km (90 minutes)
- Ulu Assam – trail of 0,8 km (75 minutes)
- Bukit Keruing (Bt. Keruing) – trail of 2,25 km (3,5 hours)
- Playa Jelutong trail (not clear on map, it’s the loop marked in red) – trail of 5,8 km (3,5 hours)
- Lintang trail (not clear on map) – trail 5,25 km (3,5 hours return to HQ)
If you’d like to get a better understanding of all walking trails, the routes, length and difficulties, please check the Sarawak Tourism website, the Sarawak Forestry website or the visitor centre in the park. We are curious to hear which trail you choose and if you did enjoy Bako NP as much as we did!
What to do next?
Bako National Park offers a lot to flora and fauna lovers! Wave erosion has resulted in spectacular cliffs and created unique rock sculptures throughout millions of years. We came across rocky shorelines, remote beaches, foggy & soggy rainforest and wildlife! Bako NP contains almost every type of vegetation that Borneo has. The park houses a very large variety of plant species, vegetation types and ecosystems. What a biodiversity! The views of dark skeletons of the water trees, the steep cliffs and the jungle are just magical! Specifically: spot the unusual carnivorous plants. The pitcher plants extract their energy from consuming insects.
Find the pride of Bako National park: the proboscis monkey
Bako is just the perfect place to spot wildlife! We spotted proboscis monkeys running around like crazy. We thought the rare proboscis monkeys were extremely funny creatures with their huge human-like nose, their pot bellies and the long tail that looked like an apron being stuck to their body. Add the grunting noises, their long arms and legs and you will have a wonderful spectacle to watch!
Bako National Park is home to about 270 proboscis monkeys. The monkeys live in small groups and for us, they were not difficult to spot during our morning walking trail in the cafeteria area! As with all wildlife spotting, it is more likely to spot the proboscis monkeys before or after dawn but we guess you will be rewarded during the day as well – at least we were! According to the Bako NP website, the trails Telok Delima and Telok Paku and the mangroves at Telok Assam give you the biggest chance to spot the proboscis monkeys. We thought it was amazing to spot such a unique monkey that only lives on Borneo with so few animals left. We really hope that local conservation does its work well and that the proboscis monkeys will be living happily ever after in Bako National Park.
Look for the silvered leaf monkeys, try to ignore the macaques.
In addition to the proboscis monkeys, we met with the less funny macaques and you will so too if you are near the cafeteria. These monsters are unprecedentedly cheeky and intimidate you with their teeth while stealing your food, or worse your bag or personal belongings.
The more friendly looking monkeys we spotted were the silvered leaf monkeys. This little one is also called ‘silvered langur’. Adults have a beautiful silver-grey fur with a cute spiky crest of head hair on their heads. The baby silvered leaf monkeys surprisingly have another colour… their bright orange fur helps you to identify them and their parents in the dark and green jungle trees.
Hipster Pigs with beards? Yes!
Bako NP is also known for its bearded pig. These pigs are definitely not to miss because they tend to stroll around close to Bako NP, searching for food scraps. The bearded pigs are the largest mammals in Bako National park and looked imposing. Nevertheless, the bearded pigs behaved relaxed, not at all aggressive or anything like that. However, you may want to pay attention and particularly when the pigs have little piglets.
Last but not least, the aqueous areas in Bako National Park are breeding pounds for many species! After jumping off the boat at our arrival, we already had our first acquaintance with a local crab diving into the beach sand after leaving his marks on one our toes. During our afternoon hike, we spotted dozens of sky-blue fiddler crabs having a get together at the beach: the colour is just amazing and the tiny red crabs are very funny to watch!
Rather difficult to spot – or maybe you are lucky and we weren’t – are lizards. Apparently, there are quite a few types living in Bako NP. Some of them even have a length of two meters. While happy hiking, we – more or less intentionally – skipped looking for weird insects, snakes or anything identical that could appear in one of our nightmares the following night. Nevertheless, this little grasshopper friend didn’t bother us.
Do you consider staying more than one day at Bako? Then we would say ‘Go for it’! The hikes we did were great. Consequently, we would have loved another day of hiking to discover more of Bako National Park. Due to various reasons, we couldn’t stay more than one day. If you can, please do! In fact, there is just one place to stay the night. Therefore it is recommended to book your accommodation in advance. The hostel offers chalets with 3 bedrooms, lodges with 2 bedrooms, a 4-bedroom hostel and a campground.
Given that the distance is only 40 kilometres from Kuching, it is easy to arrange a taxi. Or ask your Airbnb host in Kuching to give you a ride to the bay where boats for Bako NP leave. The journey from Kuching to the bay where the small boats for Bako NP leave, takes about 45 minutes. The boat ride just takes 30 minutes. You will be dropped off at the tiny beach (T. Assam on the map) on the west of the park, just next to the headquarters. Travelling on a budget? Take Petra Jaya Bus 6 to Bako Village (Kampung Bako).
Tips for your visit to Bako NP
- To start with: Leave early from Kuching to ensure you arrive on time at Bako National Park. This will allow you to make the most of it AND to give you sufficient time to finish your walking trail. There will no more boats by a certain time in the late afternoon, hence try not to miss that opportunity.
- Furthermore: Try to arrange an afternoon pickup by boat at one of the secluded beaches. This allows you do a long one-way hike AND to cool down after your hike.
- Make a photo of the hiking trails and keep an eye on the clock.
- Bring enough water and snacks, eat well prior to your hike. This probably seems to be a recurring one in articles 😉 There is one cafeteria where you can have lunch and where monkeys will try to steal your food. Some trails can be steep and take a few hours, your body needs to exercise so give it enough fuel!
- Keep your eyes open to spot wildlife and keep the noise down, respect nature.
- Equally important: Mind your step and watch your head.
Have you been to Bako National Park and which trail did you hike? Feel free to share your thoughts on this article, the Quokka website, Bako National Park or anything else by using our comment box!
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