Taman Negara simply means “National Park”, and the simplicity of the name comes from its place as Malaysia’s first park, and one of its biggest. The park was founded in 1938 and currently crosses the borders of three states, covering an area of over 4,300 square kilometres. Its boundaries encircle what remains of the world’s oldest tropical forest, a 130-million-year-old arboreal sprawl at the food of the Titiwangsa Mountains.
Some of a few rare, large mammals now seek refuge among the shadows in Taman Negara, among them the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros, Asian elephant and the Malayan tiger. You’re not likely to see them as you walk along, but you’ll hear plenty from the park’s 300-plus species of avian residents, including the Wrinkled Hornbill, Large Green Pigeon and Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle.
Visitors can pick their way through Taman Negara’s secrets through a series of jungle trails, most of them emanating from the park headquarters at Kuala Tahan, Pahang state.
The length of your trek depends on your appetite for adventure; you can take an overnight jungle trek, with an evening spent in the “Elephant Cave”; you can also take up to nine days working your way through the forests and up Gunung Tahan, the highest point in Peninsular Malaysia at almost 2,200 metres above sea level.
As you go along, you might find the park’s canopy walkway stretching 530 metres across treetops at a maximum height of 40 metres above the forest floor, or come upon a trail skirting the fast-flowing Tahan River.
From Kuala Lumpur, Taman Negara can be reached by a series of rides – overland by bus or train to Jerantut, then another bus ride to Kuala Tembeling, where a boat will take you down the river to the Park headquarters at Kampung Kuala Tahan.