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Taman Negara Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, Kelantan

Taman Negara Kuala Koh
Taman Negara Kuala Koh

Rubber Tubing at the park
Rubber Tubing at the park

Taman Negara Kuala Koh is the only official entry point in the state of Kelantan to Taman Negara. Located at the end of an oil palm estate, Kuala Koh is unique as compared to the more populous Taman Negara Kuala Tahan. Kuala Koh is situated at the conference of Sungai Lebir and Sungai Koh. Sungai Lebir is the main river that joins Sungai Galas to form Sungai Kelantan at Kuala Krai.

This section of Taman Negara is part of the Peninsular National Park covering 4343 sq km which includes the state of Kelantan, Trengganu and Pahang. It is home to many unique species of flora and fauna.

Road signs with elephant were observed in the park. A scene that depicts the rich fauna in this part of Taman Negara. Elephants’ dungs were seen on the trail to Kuala Pertang where an abandoned resort was located.

Around the vicinity of the staffs’ quarters, there were many fruit trees. Civet cats, binturongs and mousedeers were seen scurrying when shone with torch. A stingless bees’ nest was torn apart to reveal the hollow part of a tree by a sun bear. Apparently, the sun bear had ripped open the nest to savage for honey. The hanging bridge across Sungai Lebir provides easy access to the trails, Impian hide and canopy walkway. It was destroyed in 2001 when the river overflowed its bank. The hanging bridge is now repaired and one can access to the other side of the river.

There are about 350 species of birds in Taman Negara. A hornbill was seen at a tree near a chalet. The calls of birds were refreshing to the quietness of the park. Cicadas were heard everywhere. Quacking frogs were heard too. On moonless night, the whole sky was filled with stars. A heaven for astronomy fans. Quite, tranquility and friendly staffs of the Wildlife officers make the stay at Kuala Koh an unforgettable trip.

Rubber Tubing

Floating down on a rubber tube on the Sungai Lebir from Kuala Pertang was an experience not to be missed. It was a two-hour journey on crystal clear river water. One has only to negotiate the bends and to get out of small whirlpools. On the floating journey down, the atmosphere was complete quiet if not for the giggling and calls of your friends from the distance. We were lucky enough to see a big python curled up on a big neram (Dipteriocarpus oblongifolius) tree. The neram trees were found along the river and they provide sourly fruits favoured by the fish. At times, monitor lizards dashed out of the river to the undergrowth. A common kingfisher flew downstream as we floated down. And as we approached it, it flew downstream again. It was a beautiful sight of hide-and-seek between our floating tubes and the little bird. Along the riverbanks, we saw anglers having a great time pulling up the catches. Sebarau(Hampala macrolepidota), kelah(Tortambroides) and toman (Channa spp) were some of the common fishes caught. A fishing permit of RM10.00 is needed in Taman Negara. On one occasion we saw a group of hornbill flew overhead. We could not identify the hornbills as we did not carry our binoculars on the rubber tubing trip. Along the river, we saw bamboo rafts made by the orang asli. The orang asli travel downstream using the rafts with produces from the jungle. They sell the jungle products in exchange for sundries. The orang asli from the batek tribe are nomadic. They travel from place to place to hunt and collect jungle produces. During the raining seasons, they usually come out of the jungle to stay at the fringe of the jungle. They are the custodian of the jungle. They are part of the ecosystem. They will only hunt and kill for food. The two hours lazing on the rubber tube was indeed an experience never to be missed in Taman Negara Kuala Koh.

Impian Hide

The trekking to the Impian hide only takes about 20 minutes from the park headquarter. There are 8 beds at the hide. There is a small wallow where you can see animals licking the minerals if you are lucky enough. We waited but to no avail. However, we enjoyed the serenity atmosphere and the fresh air that came with it.

Canopy Walkway

The canopy walkway is 230 m in length and the average height is 30 m. It is just opposite the hostel across the river. One has to use the hanging bridge to cross the river. The walkway built just below the canopy of trees provides ample opportunities for scientists and visitors alike to have a first hand encounter with the fauna and the upper reaches of flora in the jungle. Tree snakes and rare insects were sometimes seen. We saw trees and leaves at the closest which we won’t have the chance if we were at the forest floor. Birds were aplenty. Occasionally we could hear the squeaking squirrels and chattering monkeys from the distance.

Night Walk

It was drizzling an hour ago. The ground was wet. Leeches came in swarm. Suddenly, our guide asked us to switch off our torchlight. And there we were standing on fairy land. Luminous fungi were seen everywhere on the jungle floor. As we were slowly inching our way through the jungle fringe looking for wildlife, a whisper was heard. And sure enough, a civet cat and a mousedeer were spotted dashing out of our view. Those in front were able to get a glimpse but for those behind who were busy keeping the leeches at bay did not see any wildlife. Anyway, we spotted lizard, frog and spiders with their reflective eyes.

Ficus Trail

This trail is the only interpretative trail in Kuala Koh. It took us about 2 hours to complete the loop. Upon crossing the hanging bridge, we took the right turn. There were several small streams to cross. Pendarahan (Myristicaceae spp) a family of the nutmeg, was shown to us by our guide. A small cut on the bark of the tree produces red sap that resembles gruesome bleeding. Lianas were common too. We can imagine our jungle lord, the Tarzan making a getaway by using the lianas and long roots above. We have to be careful when trekking through the jungle as rattans were found everywhere. The long thorns on the tail of the leaves will hook onto your skin if you are not careful enough. Simpoh Gajah (Dillenia reticulate) with stilted roots and coarse veined leaves were found along the trail. The stilted roots provide strong roots support for the tree in soft ground. A big Strangler Fig (Ficus spp) was seen along the trail. The fruits of the fig were eaten by birds and the seeds were deposited on the branches of a huge tree. The seeds germinated and the new plants sent roots down to the ground. Eventually, the roots of the fig tree strangled the host tree. The host dies as it has been shaded out. The host tree rot and the fig trees were left alone. That is why you will see a hollow inside this matured strangling fig tree. This trail was named after this fig tree. The action of fungus and termites as decomposers were seen everywhere in the jungle. Fungi are essential to the life of the rainforest. They helped to break down the dead trees into humus to be used by plants. The relationship of fungi and plants are crucial to the ecosystem.

Accommodation/ Facilities : 6 chalets and hostels for 70 persons. Campsite for 50 tents. Impian hide for 8 persons. A restaurant, an interpretive room with LCD projector and meeting room for 40 persons.

Activities : Trekking, hiking, canopy walkway, rubber tubing, bird watching, fishing, camping and boating.

How to go to Taman Negara Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, Kelantan

From Penang, drive to Kelantan using the East-West highway. Turn to the Jeli town after the East-West highway. Continue through the new road passing by Dabong to reach the trunk road of Kota Bharu - Gua Musang. Turn right and head for Gua Musang. At Simpang Aring, about 46km before Gua Musang, there is a signboard to Taman Negara Kuala Koh. Follow the signboard.

From Kuala Lumpur, head towards Kuala Lipis via the Karak highway. Continue to Gua Musang and Kota Baru. At kilometer 46 from Gua Musang to Kota Baru, turn right into Taman Negara Kuala Koh.

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