Exploring the Malaysian Jungle: Endau-Rompin National Park

Tom and I spend the southern hemisphere’s summer in New Zealand, my home country, and the northern hemisphere’s summer in England, Tom’s home country. We follow the summer because it is also the ecology season when we get most work. The flight can be pretty long when you have to travel half-way around the globe, so we try to find an adventure midway to break up the journey. It means that we get to explore some amazing places, too! This time, we chose the jungle of Endau-Rompin National Park, Malaysia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Rock Formations of the Upeh Guling Waterfall


The Planning

As we tend to live on a bit of a shoe-string budget (!!!), we first looked up what the cheapest flight options were from New Zealand to the UK. It turned out that flying into Singapore and out of Malaysia was the way to go. Tom then consulted Google Maps to see see if there were any national parks in between and, lo-and-behold, there was Endau-Rompin.

Endau-Rompin National Park Google Earth
Google Earth screenshot of Endau-Rompin National Park

The only way into the park is by 4WD, and there is no public transport that goes there. After some further Googling, surprisingly the cheapest option was to book a trip with a local guide which included transport, accommodation, food, and activities. We don’t often go for package-trips, but this definitely turned out to be worth it.

We contacted Lam who is a licensed nature guide, and he sent through a suggested itinerary. You can view the full itinerary in the ‘References & Further Reading’ section at the end of this blog.

As it was a private tour, we were able to tailor each activity to our interests, which is (as I’m sure you’ve already guessed…) searching for wildlife!

Getting There

We hopped off our flight in Singapore and spent the evening enjoying a few of the Singaporean sites. The next morning, we caught a bus to Kluang, Malaysia, where our pick-up point for the trip was located. The bus ride was a few hours, and included a stop-off to walk through Immigration and Customs before we crossed the bridge into Malaysia.

Lam met us at the Kluang Bus Terminal where he picked us up in his Pajero. And, after a quick stop in the National Park office to pay our money and see some information, we were off through the oil-palm plantations to the jungle.

Accommodation and Food

The accommodation is located in the jungle. There is a gathering of buildings: the kitchen, a covered dining area, dorms, chalets, research and education areas. All the electricity is run on a generator which operates between 7pm and 7am. So, you have light when it gets dark, and an opportunity to charge cameras etc.

Tom and I stayed in one of the chalets – a little different than camping! It looked out over a large pond (plenty of wildlife-spotting to be had), and had bedroom (linen-provided) with a fan, a jug to boil drinking water, a cold shower, and flushing toilet. It was lovely!

Food was prepared and cooked for us. We ate in a covered dining area a few minutes walk from our chalet. The food was great. We know how the Internet likes food-pictures, so we’ve even included a few below. The dining area also served as a perfect light-trap at night, so we spent most of the time when we were supposed to be eating chasing invertebrates, geckos and bats!

The Jungle

Endau-Rompin Peta is one of the very few remaining large tracts of lowland tropical rainforest in Peninsular Malaysia. It covers a total of 19,562 hectares, and has a core area of undisturbed natural vegetation which has existed for millions of years. Over our three days here, we were only able to explore a small portion, but it was a wonderful taste!

On each adventure, we were guided by Lam, a biology graduate and Malaysian local. We were also joined by Shima, a young woman from the indigenous tribe whose people live in the national park. Both Lam and Shima were extremely knowledgeable on the area, and habits and whereabouts of the native flora and fauna.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Looking into the jungle as we travel down the Endau River

We tubed along the Endau River, seeing the wildlife going about their daily business whilst surrounded by stunning landscapes.

We hiked along jungle tracks that we accessed by boat.

We saw the rock formations of Upeh Guling waterfall that were carved out by nature over hundreds of thousands of years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Rock Formations of the Upeh Guling Waterfall

We swam in Tasik Air Biru AKA the Blue Lagoon, and had a fish photobomb our photos!

The heavens then opened, the thunder clapped and roared like nothing Tom and I have heard before,  and we all raced along the jungle paths back to shelter.

We went on a night walk through the jungle in search of wildlife. The next evening, we also went on a night safari in Lam’s Pajero.

The Wildlife

On all of these adventures we had many opportunities to see and photograph the flora and fauna of the national park. And, because it was a private trip, it meant that all of our stopping to find animals didn’t slow anyone else down for once! We could watch the termites marching in their great trains through the jungle, examine the spines on the rattan climbing palms, enjoy learning the different sounds of the jungle…

In the information, it says that you might have sightings of leaf monkeys, long-tail macaques, white-handed gibbons, elephants, deer, tapirs and the occasional tiger and leopard. Whist from that list, we only saw leaf monkeys and macaques on our 3 day trip, there are so many other amazing species to see. In the photos below, you can see a few:

The elephants roam free in the national park. Whilst we weren’t lucky enough to see any during our trip, we did see where they had been. A young man from the indigenous tribe who is active with elephant conservation taught us about how they estimate the age and size of the individuals by looking at their footprints and dung.

One last aspect of the wildlife that we have to mention are the leeches. In certain parts of the jungle, they were everywhere! They definitely added an extra bit of excitement to our hikes. We recommend that you bring plasters.

Do You Want to Visit Endau-Rompin National Park?

If so, you can find Lam’s contact details here. We highly recommend his trip.

For the 3 day / 2 night private trip, it cost us RM980 per person, a total of RM1960 for both of us. This was inclusive of accommodation, food, activities and travel (from when we were picked up at Kluang Bus Terminal until we were dropped back there again). This was the price for us in March, 2017. You will have to check with Lam to see if these prices are still the same.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tom photographing a Rhinoceros Hornbill that will feature in a future blog post 🙂 [EDIT: Now live!]

Final Thoughts

Both mine and Tom’s final thoughts on the drive back out of the jungle was the contrast: The contrast of the diverse, rich, undisturbed tropical rainforest to the hundreds of miles of oil-palm monoculture.

We all know how detrimental these oil-palm plantations are to biodiversity and the environment. The trouble is that people need to make money to feed their families. So, the temptation to chop down the rainforest and replace it with oil-palm is strong. You also can’t just tell people not to do it. You need to provide people with other options…

…Perhaps with options like ecotourism, like we had just experienced.

We know that there are many factors and variables involved, and that the problem is not a simple as we have made out, but it is definitely a move in the right direction.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
On our way out of the jungle

We had a great time in the jungle, and we can’t wait to visit Endau-Rompin National Park again in the future.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Shima, Tom, myself, and Lam – Final group shot at the end of a fab trip!

 

References and Further Reading

Offdcouch – Local Trips by Local Guides Website – Lam
http://www.offdcouch.com/about-us/lam/  (Retrieved 20 May, 2017)

Malaysia Travel Website – Endau-Rompin National Park
http://www.malaysia.travel/en/my/places/states-of-malaysia/johor/endau-rompin-national-park  (Retrieved 20 May, 2017)

Waterfalls of Malaysia Website – Upeh Guling Waterfalls
http://waterfallsofmalaysia.com/121upehguling.php (Retrieved 20 May, 2017)

Wikipedia Website – Endau-Rompin National Park
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endau-Rompin_National_Park (Retrieved 20 May, 2017)

Full Itinerary for 3 days 2 night Endau-Rompin Adventure Trip (Lam at GoNature, Personal Communication, 21 March 2017)

Day 1
9:30am      Pick up at Kluang Bus Terminal
10:00am    Meet up & Registration at Kahang Park office
10:30am    4 WD transferring in to the Park
12:00pm    Check in to the Dormitory/ Chalet of Visitor Complex, Kg Peta
12:30pm    Lunch
2:00pm      Short walk to Nature Education & Research Center of the National park
2:30pm      Visit the center
3:00pm      River Tubing along the Endau River – enjoy the amazing and peaceful rainforest river view
4:30pm      Arrive at Kg Peta base camp / Free & easy
7:00pm      Dinner
9:00pm      Jungle Night walk – Exploring insect, amphibia and small mammals
10:30pm    Good Night
 
Day 2 
8:00am    Good Morning
8:30am    Breakfast
9:00am    River Cruise along Endau River
10:00am  Arrive at Kuala Jasin / short break
10:15am  Jungle trekking to Kuala Marong
12:00pm  Arrive Kuala Marong — the Fish Sanctuary of Royal Mashell
12:30pm  Packed Lunch
1:00pm    Short trek to Upeh Guling waterfall
2:00pm    Short trek to Tasik Air Biru — the Blue Lagoon — Swim & Relaxing
3:30pm    Trekking back to Kuala Jasin
5:00pm    Boat transferring back to Kg Peta base camp
5:30pm    Rest
7:00pm    Dinner
9:00pm    Night Safari — Animal spotting by 4WD
10:30pm  Good Night
 
Day 3 
8:00am    Good Morning
8:30am    Breakfast
9:00pm    Elephant Conservation Walk – follow our local guide to explore the Elephants  Habitat
11:00pm  Visit the Indigenous Settlement  — Animal Trap demo  & Blow Pipe Experience
12:00pm  Lunch
1:00pm    Clean up / Shower
2:00pm    Check out / Depart to Kluang
4:30pm    Arrive at Kluang town

                  — the end of the trip

14 Comments Add yours

  1. RHINOCEROS HORNBILL is one of my favorite birds ! I’ve not seen yet but one day… ! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. @JEY, LE BARBU, We had never seen one before either, and they are so much more amazing in real-life. We didn’t realise how big they were!! Good luck with your search 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That looks like a great stop (minus the leeches) and the accommodations are rather luxurious! Wonderful photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! We really did have an amazing time. Yes, the leeches were an ‘interesting’ addition to the adventure… Never a dull moment 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing wildlife – I couldn’t get over all the bright colours! Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The colours of so many jungle species really are beautiful, aren’t they?! We’re actually heading back to Malaysia (Borneo this time) on our way back to NZ in a couple of weeks. 🌿 Hopefully we will be able to get some more shots. We’re pretty excited!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading your posts once you’re in a position to publish them!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you very much, Liz! It’s going to be exciting to see what species we come across this time! I’m already looking forward to writing the posts 😆 …

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hey, I’ve just found your email address and I’d like to run something by you so I’ll put together an email real soon! Great talking with you!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Fab chatting with you, too! Sounds great, I shall keep an eye out for your email 🙂.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s