The journey started on a night train from KL Sentral at 8:35pm on Monday. The ticket cost RM 41 for one-way ticket to Jerantut. We got the bunk bed so plenty of room to stretch and sleep. The train ride was pretty comfy. It would've been nicer if we could see the view outside. The train did not cross straight to the east coast due to the Titiwangsa Mountain Range between the west and the east of peninsular Malaysia. So the train took a detour all the way south to Gemas before it went up to Kelantan. At 3:40am we arrived at Jerantut. The next local bus to Taman Negara wouldn’t leave for another 2 hours, so I wasn’t sure of what to do at this very quiet place. Thankfully there were other travelers from Holland and the coffee shop at the station was open so we had tea and chatted. The local bus station was just 5 minutes away from the train station and the first bus left for Kuala Tahan at 5:30am (RM 7 one-way).
Kuala Tahan is about 65km from Jerantut and we got there at 7:00am. The bus had to stop many times along the way because there were cows just hanging around on the road. We were starving so as soon as we got there, we went looking for breakfast. We had roti canai at one of the floating restaurants then headed to our accommodation at Mat Leon village. You can take a 5 minutes boat upstream to get there or walk for about 15 minutes through the village. We took the boat and checked in at around 8:15am. Mat Leon village was a very nice place. Here, they were the only chalet. It was very quiet and a bit far from the others at the main village. The room rates were RM 60 and RM 15 for room with attached bathroom and dorm respectively.
After that we went to the Wildlife Department/Park Headquarters to plan our activities and pay all the permits. Mutiara Taman Negara is the only accommodation option available at the Taman Negara side of the river. This is also where you pay your permits and where the Wildlife Department is located.
You pay RM 1 every time you cross the river. We watched the video at the headquarters at 9:30am. It was a nice introduction to Taman Negara. Then we went to the information counter and paid for all the permits. The park entry fee was RM 1, RM 5 per camera, RM 5 for one night at 'bumbun’ or hides and RM 10 per fishing rod. After that, back to Mat Leon and we took a much-needed nap before our adventure later.
Our first walk in the jungle was an easy one. From the headquarters we trekked to the Canopy Walkway. It was pretty easy and only 1.5km. The Canopy Walkway was pretty interesting. It wobbled a lot, so be sure you have a good balance. It was made from wooden planks, aluminium ladders and rope. It is the longest in the world (530m) and suspended 40m from the ground. Here you get to see the jungle from a unique perspective.
We continued our hike to Lubok Simpon via Jenut Muda. We were looking forward to get to Lubok Simpon because we heard that we could swim there. We were all sweaty and it would be nice to splash in the cool river water. Along the way, we spotted some wildlife and numerous plants, from small weird looking leaves to huge trees. By the time we got to Lubok Simpon, we would’ve been trekking for 3-4km. Unfortunately Lubok Simpon was not really that nice for swimming. So we were a bit disappointed but it was still a nice place and we had a very good walk in the jungle.
Back to Kuala Tahan, the first thing on our mind was food! So, we headed to one of the floating restaurants and ate. The food was cheap and tasty especially after all the walking. Later in the afternoon, we went back to Mat Leon and jumped into Sungai Tembeling just in front of the chalet for a refreshing swim. I love the cool and clean water of the river here. So far, the first day at Taman Negara has been very enjoyable!
After spending the last two weekends showing a few diver friends from Germany around KL, it was time for our own adventure. Instead of the usual, island or beach getaway, we decided to head to Taman Negara for a change.