Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bako National Park

The public bus to Bako stopped across the road from our hotel so we patiently waited at the bus stop for the big red bus.  $1.30 NZ and just over an hour later we arrived at park headquarters.  Along the way we talked to 2 of the other 6 foreigners on the bus and agreed to share a boat in and out.  The boat ride from HQ to the park took 20 minutes as we zoomed along the river and under fishing stations. 


At Bako we waded up the beach, registered and headed off for lunch.

Food had been given a pretty bad rap in most information we had read, so we had headed bush with low expectations & an emergency packet of biscuits.  The food, while not 5* gourmet, was ok, and we never opened the pack of biscuits.

Having eaten, we decided to do the 1.5 hour walk to Kecil beach.  According to the ranger station, the hardest part was the 1st 10 or 15 minute climb and then it levelled out.  The climb, in 100% humidity, was more like 20 or 25 minutes and the levelled out bit had little shade and bright sunshine. 


The route was well done with board-walks where needed.  Along the way we didn't see any wildlife, but did see some pitcher plants, and the snake is from our night walk, later that evening.


It was with much happiness we started the climb down to the beach.  Much more joyful was the sight of the boat zipping in and out.  We had been told there should be boats at the beach which we could hire to take us back to the park, but there were no guarantees.  Our half of the 35 ringgit hire was the best $7 we have spent in a long while. 

Andrew had a swim in the sea and pronounced it lovely.


No comments are needed on the fashion victims in this photo – we were all so relieved to have seen the finish line!  With Marco & Laura from Australia.


The big downer at Bako is the state of the accommodation.  We had tried to book a 2 bed chalet, but even a month in advance these were fully booked out, so they assigned us a 4 bed dorm room.  We were charged 42 ringgit for the exclusive use of the room (about $14).  Our boat mates, Marco & Laura, had booked the day before and paid 15 ringgit per bed and ended up sharing their dorm with 2 others.


We spent the rest of the afternoon having a few beers looking at the sea and watching the wildlife.  There are plenty of signs telling people about the "naughty monkeys" - grey macaques.

naughty monkey

As one guidebook said – they are cute until you see them rip a can apart with their teeth – the monkey below did proceed to do exactly that.


But so many thought they were so cute jumping on the railings and watching them.  Then they were surprised when the naughty monkey swooped in, jumped on their table, whipped the can/fruit/food sitting on the table away from them.

One lady who was just in the process of sitting down (and wasn't doing anything dumb) got the shock of her life when one jumped on the railing and launched himself, at the plate she was still holding.  The naughty monkey lunged, and with reflex reactions she whipped the plate back and sprayed all her rice across the front veranda.  Neither party was entirely satisfied with the encounter! 

We weren't bothered by the packs of macaques as Andrew undertook a dominant male role and flapped his newspaper at those stupid enough to look in his direction.  Those that didn't get this message, soon understood that the large man running toward them with flapping arms was to be avoided.  I had an entertaining afternoon.

One Alpha male in his natural state – Red T-shirt and eating.  The only anomaly in this picture is there is no bottle of beer – wait, you can just see a beer can behind the water bottle.
alpha monkey

We did an evening guided walk which was OK.  There was not so much to see - being a national park they don't have guaranteed appearances.  But we certainly saw monkeys and snakes sleeping in trees, catfish and a variety of insect life.  On the positive side we weren't too over stimulated before drifting off to sleep in our anti-deluxe dorm, with the funny smell.

Bako is famous for the proboscis monkey, with its bulbous nose. We saw some in the early evening and during our early morning wander.  Much shyer than the naughty monkeys (or nasty as I would call them) they jumped in the treetops seeking tender leaves and flowers.




  1. Being from Africa I have never liked monkeys. You story just proves what I have known for years. They are mean little buggers! However the way you told the story was very entertaining. ;-) Wish I could be taken seriously by monkeys but whether I play the dominant male or not they aren't scarred of me. Baboons and monkeys in SA seem to know they have no fear for women. Men get their attention and when that guy with the gun appears you must see them run. xxx Suzette

  2. Sounds very familiar to those monkeys/baboons in Tanzania - naughty and very clever.

  3. Up North Borneo in Sabah, the pinkie between the Male Proboscis monkey's legs is known as the Sabah Chile. The accommodation looked a bit dire!