A small boat and a rough sea : the two major ingredients of a scary trip to Bako national Park !

Bako National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Sarawak, situated in the North-West part of Borneo. Despite its size, it is often considered as one of the most interesting, as it contains almost every type of vegetation you can find in Borneo… especially the mangrove forest :-)

The park can only be reached by a 20-minutes boat ride. Most of the tours to Bako National Park are not operating during the rainy season. There is a reason for that : the sea is really rough during that period and it’s raining all the time. We thought better, and we tried to find a tour that would take us there… and that was one hell of an adventure !

We started the day early, and took a taxi to the Bako Village. We waited maybe 20 minutes over there, for the boat to be ready. You can visit the park by yourself (you just have to book the boat trip in Bako Village and share a small boat with other tourists) or take a guide (he will arrange the boat trip for you). In our case, we contacted a guide through the “Bako National Park Guide Facebook page. They are cheaper than the other guides and they officially work for the National Park.

The sea was really rough that morning, and after the guide warned us about the bad weather, several tourists cancelled their trip and went back to Kuching. We were brave and decided to stay ! We almost regretted that decision. We will remember this boat trip for the rest of our lives : the sea was so so rough, the waves were crashing against the little boat, and we were drenched. It was scary ! I was already picturing myself swimming while holding my camera above the water… and it seemed tricky :-(

When we arrived near the island, the “boat driver” told us to get out of the boat because he wasn’t able to get closer due to the strong waves… What ?! The water didn’t look very nice to jump into it and at that point, I was scared to get nasty worms under my toenails (sometimes, I can’t help myself and assume the worst :D). We didn’t have much choice and we jumped into the murky sea to reach the shore. Once there, my shoes were completely soaked as well as my trousers (I tried to rolled the legs up, but the water was still too high). At that exact moment, I realized that I should have taken my shoes off. It was so annoying to walk with wet shoes the whole day…. silly me.

My heart lightened a bit when we saw our first monkeys, hidden in the trees. Bako National park is the home of long-tailed macaques, silvered leaf-monkeys and very rare proboscis monkeys, only found in Borneo. The male is characterized by a huge noose that hangs lower than the mouth. We were lucky and saw all of them !! :-) Taking picture was difficult, as the weather was shit. A clear and bright sky, a lot of humidity and a light rain.

The rain hadn’t stopped since we left the beach. We did a little walk with our guide to spot some vegetation. It was very impressive to see a primary forest like this one. Plants over there have developed amazing defense mechanisms to be able to grow in such a jungle and the vegetation looked fabulous. We even saw rattan, and the guide showed us two plants that are in their final stage of development for aids drugs (but I forgot their names) and some stingless bees ! It was very difficult and strenuous to walk with all this humidity and we felt so weak.

It was a very weird day. Physically, we didn’t feel amazing, but I was really glad to have been able to have a glimpse of what the park has to offer. I would definitively recommend going there in another period than during the rainy season :-)



36 responses to “A small boat and a rough sea : the two major ingredients of a scary trip to Bako national Park !

  1. What an amazing adventure!!! and the pictures are awesome! So glad you didn’t have to swim with your hand out of the water holding your camera although that would have made it even more amazing!! :)


  2. Wow!!!! to brave the rainy season with high tides to go into national forest and it is adventurous, when travel to overseas every day it count and when you plan for the day just have to bear it whether the weather is good or bad…I hate all those worms but I don’t mind spiders. I can see it is hard to trekked into the forest with the rain and worry about the camera getting wet it kinda put the day off but you guys are still in high spirit for the adventure. Cool!!!


    • I really wanted to see the monkeys…. ;-)

      At that time, when we were drenched and exhausted, I’m not sure we were in a very good spirit. But after a while, you saw it as a great experience :D I would like to visit again, under a blue sky, and maybe spending a day or two over there to be able to do some hikes :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My goodness Gin it sounds quite an adventure! Am so glad you went and took these wonderful photos though as I definitely wouldn’t be up for the boat trip! I don’t like humidity either you feel way more uncomfortable than when the air temperature is higher but it’s a dry heat – like we get here in Perth :) Lovely photos of the monkeys which must have made the journey worthwhile! :)


  4. Oh we have a lot of long-tailed macaques and silvered leaf-monkeys in Peninsular Malaysia too. But you won’t find proboscis monkeys, nor orangutans there.

    Have you heard of the Wallace Line? Borneo is located right next to it.
    So animals begin to look slightly different to those you see on Mainland Asia.
    Further south east you travel, you will find more exotic birds and mammals.
    Until you reach Australia, everything will be very different. :)

    So if you like bird watching, wildlife. I highly recommend you to visit Indonesia, Papau New Guinea and Australia.


    • I’ve never heard about the Wallace Liine. But it sounds interesting ! I would like to visit Papau new guinea, and Australia.. and of course Indonesia. But we don’t cope well with heat and humidity, so I still have to figure that out :-)


  5. What an awesome trip to Sarawak! Bako National Park is definitely in my bucket list of places to visit. Your photos of the place are incredible. I will just remember that any visit to Borneo cannot be during the rainy season!


  6. After the spiders in your previous post I’m thinking that perhaps you booked the “super dangerous Indiana Jones level trip” :D
    Actually that rainy landscape seems to me quite interesting.


  7. ‘Intrepid’ is the word that first comes to mind. ‘Brave’ is another. When I teach Zoology during our spring semester, I spend lots of time talking about parasites … your mentioned nasty worms and toenails … are these nematodes? If so … ugh. Hang in there and please be safe. D


    • I was thinking about parasitic flatworms and like you mentioned, tiny nematodes. They often get into the body through the feet. I’m not sure they are very frequent over there, it was more of an irrational fear :-)


      • I repeat … UGH! You are much, much, much braver than I! What about food borne parasites? Do you worry much about those? On second thought … perhaps I don’t want to know the answer. D


        • I don’t really eat undercooked meat or sea food, so i’m not too worried about them.. and for raw vegetables… well, in some places I’m trying to avoid them as much as possible as well. I’ve never been sick while travelling, just one time in the US, I think it was close to Lake Tahoe, I ate mexican food and it was horrible :D I felt so ill. Just to say that I’m not too worried about them :-)


    • Our guide explained to us that one day, a family was hiking with him on the same path we took. They were walking one behind each other, because it was quite narrow. At one point, the guide passed near a rattan branch that was dangling over the path. He told the mother behind him “be careful, the rattan if very dangerous”. He hold the branch on the side, to let her pass. Then the mother did the same with the daughter. But the daughter didn’t hold the branch and it arrived in the face of the father. It was so sticky that the brow was completely attached to the rattan, and when he took the branch off, all the skin came along with it. He was bleeding and he required stiches… very dangerous indeed ! It is also necessary to have longue sleeves due to leeches that are dangling around :-)


      • Gin
        You dangerous travel experience, perhaps the reason is the impact of the weather, it was fraught with danger. I read the book: travel memories unforgettable journey because of unknown factors, I do not know what will happen, I think it is.
        Recently,Taiwan almost all wet and cold weather, I guess Belgium should all snow, so have a warm Christmas atmosphere.

        Have a nice day! ;)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Ohh…that is true, the rainy season could awful in Borneo/Kalimantan! But glad that you enjoyed the travel despite the lousy weather. The monkey looks really cute and too busy to look at the camera ;)


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