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 :-)