Written by: Ellie Toh
Planning for an adventure in Royal Belum State Park in Perak, Malaysia? Royal Belum State Park or sometimes known as Belum-Temenggor is the largest continuous forest complex in Peninsular Malaysia. Geographically, it is located in the Malaysian state of Perak and crosses into Southern of Thailand. Belum-Temenggor is divided into two sections. Belum is located up north right by the Malaysia-Thailand border while Temenggor is south of Belum. The Royal Belum State Park is entirely contained within the forest complex.
Royal Belum is believed to have been in existence for over 130 million years making it one of the world’s oldest rainforests, older than both the Amazon and the Congo. In the heart of the forest lies the manmade lake known as Tasik Temenggor, covering 15,200 hectares which is dotted with hundreds of islands.
The Royal Belum Rainforest is relatively untouched by unscrupulous development and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including 14 of the world’s most threatened mammals including the Malayan tiger, Asiatic elephant, white handed gibbon,Malaysian sunbear and tapir.
Royal Belum Rainforest have plenty to offer to adventurers and nature lovers alike and here’s a little guide on the ‘must do things’ if you happen to plan an eco-escapade in Royal Belum Rainforest:
1. See Rafflesia in Bloom
Royal Belum Rainforest is a home to plenty of exotic plants. Among them are the Rafflesias. Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants. The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petalled flower. The flowers look and smell like rotting flesh, hence its local names, ‘bunga bangkai’ or ‘bunga mayat’ which translate to “corpse flower” or “deadmeat flower”. The foul odour attracts insects such as flies, which transport pollen from male to female flowers. Most species have separate male and female flowers, but a few have hermaphroditic flowers. The Rafflesias are dubbed as the biggest flower in the world and can be found in plenty of sites in Royal Belum Rainforest. One of the more well known site are Sg. Dadong and nearby Ruok Waterfall. The Rafflesia flowers can easily be spotted at these two places but they are not always in bloom. A guide to these sites are needed, so do hook up with a guide prior your excursion.
2. Trekking to Sungai Kooi Waterfall
Trekking to Sungai Kooi Waterfall is another must do thing if you are ever in Royal Belum Rainforest. The route to the Sungai Kooi Waterfall is a little bit challenging with slopes and slippery river stones, but it’s nothing a novice or a first timer cannot accomplish.
Trekking to the waterfall takes about 45 mins before you will be rewarded by a showering piece of heaven.
The tall waterfall shower of Sungai Kooi Waterfall
A guide is needed to trek to this place, so do hook up with an experienced guide prior to your excursion.
3. Visit Kg. Aman Damai and spend a day with the Jehai Tribe.
If there’s one thing that you should not missed doing while you are in Royal Belum Rainforest is to spend a day at Kg. Aman Damai getting to know the people of the Jehai tribes.
The place is located about 2 hours boat ride from Tasik Banding Jetty and offers plenty of cultural insights on how the aborigines goes about their daily lives. And as a bonus?
You get to experience some of the things they do yourselves too. Eg: Trying out the traditional blowguns made from bamboo (sumpit).
Bringing some tidbits for the Jehai tribe’s children is highly recommended as a courtesy and token of friendship, but it is not compulsory.
A boatman is needed to reach this place so do make arrangement with your tour guide/boathouse captain or resort should you want to visit Kg. Aman Damai.
4. Visit salt lick area in Sira Papan
A naturalist and loves all things the flora and fauna could offer you? Well, take it a notch higher and head over to the salt lick area in Sira Papan.
If you are lucky, you might be able to see some wildlife like deers or mousedeers licking salt.
But if you are not very lucky, you’ll get to see just the insects and bugs.
Granted, there are tiger sightings in the salt lick areas too, so whatever you do, follow your guide’s instruction obediently and don’t make loud noises during your excursion.
5. Visit the Sungai Ruok Fish Sanctuary and swim at Ruok Waterfall’s deep pool.
Another major attraction for eco-tourists in Royal Belum Rainforest is the Sungai Ruok Fish Sanctuary and the Sungai Ruok’s Waterfall deep pool.
There’s a small stream in Sungai Ruok that is a sanctuary for fishes. You can see shoals of fishes like kelah and whatnot swimming around over here. Fishing is absolutely prohibited but feeding and swimming with the fishes? No problem. You may go ahead and do just that. The fishes are used to human’s visit, so they are quite friendly and usually will happily surround you whenever you take a dip in the water.
Sungai Ruok Waterfall on the other hand offers refreshing deep pool for you to swim in.
The Ruok Waterfall’s natural pool is more than 3 metres deep, so swimming without life jacket over here is strictly prohibited.
So if you plan to swim over here, do make sure that you are well equipped with lifejackets at all times.
Most boathouses, boatmen and resorts in Royal Belum Rainforest offers a day trip excursion to Sungai Ruok Fish Sanctuary and Waterfall, so do make enquiries should you want to visit this place.
6. Bamboo rafting in Tasik Banding
If you are the adventurous lot, another highly recommended thing that you can do while you are in Royal Belum Rainforest is bamboo rafting in the Tasik Banding. Plenty of tour operators offers a package with the bamboo rafting activities, so check it out. It would be an interesting experience. And don’t worry about the waves or anything. Tasik Banding is a very calm place. Unless it rains, nothing is going to rock your boats, in this case, bamboo rafts, of course.
7. Swimming in Tasik Banding
Apart from bamboo rafting in Tasik Banding, you can also have a swim over there. With lifejacket intact, of course. Swimming is allowed in Tasik Banding, but strictly with lifejacket on.
As mention earlier, the lake is not wavy and therefore no current will sweep you away. But do take precaution not to swim too far away from your boat or houseboat should you decide to jump in.
8. Enjoy the sunrise
Wake up early and enjoy the beautiful colours the dawn will bring. It is always very picturesque during sunrise in Royal Belum Rainforest.
9. Enjoy the sunset
Dusk in Royal Belum Rainforest is always instagram-worthy, so if you are located where you can see the sunset during your stay in Royal Belum Rainforest, do make sure you capture the serenity with your camera lense.
Fishing is allowed in Royal Belum Rainforest; specifically, fishing in Tasik Banding is allowed, but a permit of RM5 per fishing rod is required before you enter Royal Belum Rainforest.
If you are into fishing, you’d be pleased to discover that there’s plenty of exotic and rare fishes in the lake. All you need is a fishing rod, a good bait and a whole lot of patience.
Royal Belum Rainforest can be likened like a treasure trove, especially for adventurers and environmentalists, but remember, every single thing that is residing in Royal Belum Rainforest plays an important part of the ecosystem, so if you ever go to Royal Belum Rainforest, take nothing but the memories and leave nothing but footprints behind.