Temenggor Rainforest Ecosystem
"Water Gateway to World Class Wilderness"
A bonanza of biodiversity, Temenggor rainforest ecosystem exudes the essence of the wilderness.
Remote jungle habitats remain pristine and isolated by the waters of the Temenggor Lake. Dissected by the East-West highway, Temenggor Forest Reserve lies south, while the Royal Belum Park spreads north to the Thai border.
Over 70 isles lie in the open water like fritters in a fry pan. Each one a former hilltop before rising waters submerged the valleys to form the massive man-made lake created in 1978, resulting in a vast freshwater haven for fish and secluded forests for terrestrial animals.
At least twice the size of Singapore on the Temenggor side, water is the gateway to a great variety of wildlife in natural habitats. Boat travel makes it easy to navigate large land masses and move tourists along to more adventures.
The wild choices are awesome: visiting Asian elephant playgrounds, jungle trekking to bat caves, seeking the unrivaled Rafflesia flower, night walks illuminated by fungi, sightings of grunting gibbons, as well as other natural delights and jungle animals.
Whether traversing the jungle, inside a cave, or boating on the wide open stretches of the lake, Temenggor rainforest ecosystem evokes a sense of wilderness not always found on nature trips.
Visitors ease into the wild with its calm, watery landscape only to be surrounded by a wealth of biological wonders.
Temenggor Rainforest Ecosystem: Conservation
Temenggor rainforest ecosystem prospers with plant diversity and teems with magnificent wildlife:
Temenggor still remains a place of discovery. Nature guides continue to explore its lowland and hill forest habitats to identify wildlife refuges, scout out flowering plants or blaze out new trails. An hour boat ride south from Banding Island are two such natural finds: an elephant playground and a hidden cave.
Photo: Lip Kee Yap
Explore a forested ridge, where pachyderm families massage their backsides in an excavated hillside hole. Large, oval footprints and clumps of dung mark the terrain as obvious signs of recent elephant passage.
Jump off the boat, climb trails abutted by massive rock walls and hang on to jungle vines to reach a small cave filled with roosting bats. Inside find discarded snakeskins, from well-fed reptiles, hanging from cave walls.
Hundreds of slumbering forest bats cling to the stony ceiling in darkness. And eerie feelings subside when standing in silence as these insect-eating creatures fly wildly above without incident.
Underscoring its animal conservation importance, hornbills roost and feed in the Belum-Temenggor forests. From the majestic rhinoceros hornbill to the shaggy-haired white-crowned hornbill, no other animal typifies the wild experience like the sight of these regal rainforest birds.
From August to October an amazing natural display occurs, thousands of plain-pouched hornbills fill the sky like tiny, puffs of black clouds. Observers once counted 2067 hornbills in a single flight. Just one of the spectacular and unique jungle experiences that awaits each visitor.
Guides with extensive forest knowledge find leafless Rafflesia flowers that bloom just once or twice per year, and stay fresh for just one week before its exuberant reddish glow turns black with decay. Ancient palm-like cycads sprawl out of rocky crevices on the exposed white cliffs of limestone hills.
And where else will you come across signs that warn: Beware! Elephant Crossing.
Temenggor Rainforest Ecosystem: People of the Rainforest
Accenting the ancient character of the Temenggor rainforest ecosystem are the indigenous people, traditional forest dwellers that survive mostly on the bounty of the earth. Temenggor is home to both Jahai and Temiar communities, with a population reaching roughly 5,000.
Living on the remote fringes of the lake, sporadic villages sprang up after resettlement during dam construction. Some communities plant tapioca and rice in permanent fields, while others prefer to retain semi-nomadic lifestyles by hunting game and collecting and selling forest products like bamboo and aromatic woods.
Inhabiting the hill forests and river valleys for centuries, some indigenous settlements and burial grounds were flooded as waters engulfed 18,000 hectares of pristine natural history and tribal culture. Other settlements relocated to higher ground.
Special excursions to these jungle hamlets are available. However, the lack of communication and courtesy often turns these village visits into aboriginal sideshows. Armed with sweets, clothes and good intentions, tourists may feel uncomfortable invading these polite people with flotillas of gawking sightseers.
Try to ensure that operators and guides show and command respect for these communities by scheduling planned visits rather than showing up at their lakeside jetty on a whim.
Temenggor Rainforest Ecosystem: General Information
Contact tour operators to enquire about trip packages and for getting permits from the Perak Forestry Department. Otherwise get in touch with various resorts and other accommodations to seek information on how to proceed.
For more information on lodging, boat rides, trekking and nature guides, call:
What To Bring
When To Go
Travel to Temenggor is suitable any time of the year, though the rainy season (November to January) will present some difficulties.
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