Taman Negara National Park
Home to sun bears, elephants, Malayan tigers and clouded leopards, Taman Negara is among the oldest primary rainforest in the world. Explore its tangled depths on a treetop-skimming canopy walk, whitewater raft, or challenging mountain hike.
At 130 million years and counting, Taman Negara is one of the oldest rainforests in the world. That’s 650 times as long as humans have existed. It’s ludicrously, incomprehensibly old, and it covers a whopping 4,000 square kilometers of dense, steamy jungle cut through by crashing rivers.
These forests, which have been protected since the 1930s, are one of the last refuges for Malaysia’s big mammals – including tigers, sun bears, elephants and leopards. Though you’re unlikely to spot any of these while you’re hiking the rainforest trails, they’re not the forest’s only inhabitants. Here, there are over 3,000 known species of flowering plant, and if you keep your eyes peeled you can see lizards and snakes basking in the midday sun, or flocks of babblers, warblers and flycatchers in the branches of fruiting trees. After dark, if you’re patient, you can wait at a salt lick to spot barking deer, tapir, porcupines and seladang cattle. Even if you don’t spot any wildlife, you’re guaranteed to hear it: croaking frogs, chirping cicadas, long-horned grasshoppers and shrieking monkeys all contribute to the never-ending soundscape of the jungle.
Taman Negara is full of exciting jungle experiences – including treks, night safaris, whitewater rafting and canopy walks – but for us, coming here is about getting lost (figuratively, not literally) in the sheer scale of it all. It’s about feeling dwarfed by the hugeness of the trees, listening out for the hoots of gibbons above the birdsong, and trying to fathom just how tiny a blip you are in comparison to something this vast and ancient.