Borneo is known for its vast tropical forests and the animals that live in them. A trip to Kuching is not complete without a trip to a National Park. We decided to visit Bako, Sarawak’s oldest park just 35 kms outside of Kuching.
Accommodation in Bako
A couple of days before we tried to book a night in the lodges provided by the park, however, the offer is limited and no room or bed was available. So in case you want to stay overnight, and it seems to be worth it, make sure you book ahead on the park’s website (hyperlink ebooking.com.my).
If that doesn’t work out, it’s also no problem. The park is easily reachable with a public bus and you can see a lot on a day trip. There are also 1 and 2 day tours but it doesn’t really make sense to pay double. In Kuching take the A1 Bus from the station at the Open Air Market. Operation starts at 6 am in the morning and there is a bus every hour. A one way ticket costs you 3.5 RM an equivalent of 0.83 USD. Be aware that the buses here tend to leave early so make sure you arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.
The bus goes along the waterfront and past the Majestic Hotel so maybe another station is more convenient for you. After a 40 to 60 minute ride you arrive at the Bako stop, from where you can take a boat to the National Park Headquarters. We recommend taking the bus at 7am from Kuching. You will arrive before the main crowds and in time for the first boats to Bako. Upon arrival at the terminal you have to pay the 20 RM (4.75 USD) for the park entrance and 40 RM (9.5 USD) for the transport to the headquarters.
The Trails in Bako
On the boat ride, look out for crocodiles basking in the sun during low tide. We didn’t see any but heard that sometimes they show themselves.
After registering with the park officials, we had three possible trails to choose from. Since we had some time we chose the Paku (Nr. 3) and the Pandan Kecil (Nr. 6). Another reason to start early is that the monkeys are out and active. We saw the first one upon arrival whilst walking on the beach. Then we had one all to ourselves on the way to the start of the trails.
We started with Kecil because it was the longer and physically more challenging one. On the park’s map it is estimated that you need 1.5 hours one way, however, we arrived after just one hour at the lookout over the beach and we had always stopped to take pictures during the hike. Since we still had a lot of time, we also went to the end of the Pandan Besar Trail too have another view of the beach. We were on a good run to return to the trailhead in 2.5 hours when I decided to jump from a rock and sprained my ankle.
The Way Back
Long story short, we had to get my ankle taped and it took us ages to get back down. If the same doesn’t happen to you there should be plenty of time to complete the Paku trail as well.
The boats back leave every full hour with the last one at 3 pm. When you arrive at the terminal, the public bus will be waiting to take you back to Kuching.