Belum State Park
From the Travel Times
Belum Valley is located, midway between the East and West Coasts. The
nearest towns are Grik in Perak and Jeli in Kelantan which are connected
by the scenic East-West Highway. Kuala Lumpur to Belum takes six hours
by road. Join the North-South Highway and exit at Kuala Kangsar. Head
for Grik and then to Pulau Banding. It is also accessible from Baling in
Kedah via Pengkalan Hulu from the north. From Kota Bharu it's a
three-hour drive. The nearest railway station is Kuala Kangsar, a long
way off. To get to the campsites, arrange for boat transfer with tour
operators who normally include the boat fee and entry permit (RM10) in
the package. Unfortunately, the operators are not centrally located. For
more information on lodging, boat ride, trekking and nature guide, call
the Perak State Economic Planning Unit (Tourism) at 05-5225119 or
Perhilitan Perak at 05-7911164.
The first choice is camping
by the lake or river. There are also floating chalets and a few units of
chalet at the Orang Asli settlement. However, for something comfortable,
Banding Rainforest Resort offers rooms ranging from standard, superior and
deluxe with choices of hill or lake view. Rooms are basic with
coffee/tea-making facilities. Resort also has a campsite and function
rooms equipped with modern audio visual aids.
Located at Pulau Banding,
the third biggest island in Tasik Temenggor, the resort makes an ideal
stop-over for motorists using the East-West Highway. It also offers a
host of adventure activities like fishing, kayaking, jungle walking and
trekking, bird watching, camping or visiting the Orang Asli settlement.
For food, guests have two choices the air-conditioned Hornbill
Restaurant or unpretentious Warung at the lakeside.
There was no warning given that we should prepare for a tough time for
this three-day trip to Sara, one of the main valleys in Lower Belum
Forest of the Ulu Perak district.
Soon we would have to do six hours of jungle trekking in the relatively
unexplored rainforests hunting for rafflesia or bunga pakma, wild
ginger blooms and salt licks.
But with excitement over the trip running high, we chose to immediately
head for the campsite despite our host's offer of spending the night in
relative comfort at Banding Rainforest Resort to freshen up after the long
drive from Kuala Lumpur.
The resort is located on Pulau Banding, the third largest of the 80 or
so islands in the 152 sq km Tasik Temenggor, created after the Temenggor
Dam was built in 1978.
So our nature guide Sulaiman wasted no time in preparing the boat,
rations and camping equipment for the night.
"Our first stop is Kiroi campsite and tomorrow we will head to
Kampung Post Chiong for our rafflesia and salt lick trekking,"
Sulaiman briefed us.
Even though the monsoon has started to show its colours, the water level
is surprisingly low at Tasik Temenggor the second largest man-made
lake in the peninsula after Terengganu's Kenyir.
While at places the lake can be as deep as 60 metres, the low water
level makes the sprawling lake exclusively the domain of experienced and
The smooth 40-minute boat ride ended with a tricky "docking"
manoeuvre during which our boatman Zaidi had to carefully inch the boat
between sprouting tree trunks.
Kiroi, an Orang Asli settlement site of abundance, was invitingly
beautiful. It has a gentle slope of an L-shape grass area facing an
inlet at one side and the thick jungle at the other.
We set camp at its longest arm with the sight of lonely tree trunks
poking out of the placid water. Thanks to the bright half-moon, this
beautiful picture gets extra glitter from the shinning stars.
The next morning, cold mist awoke us and gave the boost to start our
much-awaited hunt, a 20-minute boat ride away to Kampung Post Chiong, a
small village of the Temiar tribe.
From the kampung, our Orang Asli guide Abus led us into the
"jungle" with an easy 20-minute walk along the river bank of
Sungai Sara and another 20-minute walk to an old police post.
|"If not for the low
water level, the boat will take us upstream to the police
post," Sulaiman said.
There is a "straight" trek to the Pering Salt Lick along
Sungai Terming, a tributary of Sungai Sara. Since we were in the
hunt for rafflesia, Sulaiman made a long way round deeper into the
forest. While he insisted it was the normal rafflesia trail, we
could hardly make out any signs of a footpath.
Hill after hill, we just plodded on through the thick forest,
grabbing for anything firm within reach to pull us up or steady
Along the undulating trail, wild ginger blooms and fungus broke
the monotony before a dark red bud the size of tennis ball led us
to a bigger bud as big as a dinner plate awaiting to reach
full rafflesia bloom in a week.
Rafflesia is a strange plant
. the fact that when
it is in
bloom, it stinks to high heaven gives enough weight. Unlike
other plants, there are no leaves
"Like humans, it takes
nine months to reach full bloom from a tiny dot on its specific host,
the tetrasigma vines," Sulaiman explained.
The buds will help determine the best time for nature lovers to come
a-calling, provided that they do not succumb to weather or
"alien" substances like salt, perfume or oil.
Unlike the rafflesia found in other tropical countries, this parasitic
plant in Belum Forest is non-seasonal and bears flowers continuously.
Thankfully, the sight of rafflesia gave us renewed energy to finish the
trek at the nearest salt lick. This took another hour across Sungai
We could immediately sense the strong smell of sulphur when we reached
the three ponds positioned like a cascading waterfall while some eight
metres uphill, there were two more ponds with the bigger one of white
It took only two hours to trek back to our boat at Kampung Post Chiong
and Sulaiman tempted us to consider staying on in the resort for a rare
encounter with Belum's "treasure". "We can go 'hunting'
the wild elephants," he suggested.
We couldn't resist and agreed to the night drive on the East-West
Highway, looking for the giant mammals as they made their way across the
However, the excursion only went as far as 15km from the resort. It
costs RM30 per van. Just before the second "causeway" of
Banding island, we caught the glint of elephant eyes and behold, a huge
elephant was busy feeding itself. That was quite a sight.
To round up the successful nature expedition, Sulaiman proposed fishing
the next morning for the lake is teeming with toman, sebarau, kelah and
Well, time to confess we had no luck. Looks like the toman was far too
cunning for jungle novices like us. Belum Forest wasn't taking it lying
down. That's a challenge we must take up another day.
Belum Rainforest Resort
Perfectly located with the peaceful Belum - Temengor Rainforest right at the doorstep, this property makes an ideal base for nature lovers to explore and adventure the untouched areas.
Overlooking either the garden or nearby lake, the property offers comfortable rooms with internet access, a private bathroom, tea/coffee maker, safe and mini bar. While staying here, you will get a chance to observe the beauty of the various plants and scenery, as well as experience the adrenaline-rush activities.
You can visit the Orang Asli Village at Kejar Hilir and the Ruok Waterfall by boat or enjoy Kayaking and canoeing. After a long day of exploring, guests can get back to the onsite restaurant for meals and beverages. Belum Rainforest Resort is well preferred among travelers.
Belum Rainforest Resort
Banding Lakeside Inn
Designed for both business and leisure travel, Banding Lakeside Inn is ideally situated in Gerik; one of the city's most popular locales. The excitement of the city center is only 45.0 km away. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city's must-see destinations.
Banding Lakeside Inn offers impeccable service and all the essential amenities to invigorate travelers. To name a few of the hotels facilities, there are family room, tours, elevator, meeting facilities, shops.
Step into one of 115 inviting rooms and escape the stresses of the day with a wide range of amenities such as hair dryer, internet access wireless (complimentary), internet access wireless, satellite/cable TV, daily newspaper. The hotel offers wonderful recreational facilities such as water sports (non-motorized), pool (kids), outdoor pool to make your stay truly unforgettable. When you are looking for comfortable and convenient accommodations in Gerik, make Banding Lakeside Inn your home away from home.
Banding Lakeside Inn
the blooming rafflesia
Ben van Wijnen