The endless buzzing of the cicadas filled the dense forest as we pushed our way through thorny underbrush in the sweltering heat. I felt a fat trickle of sweat rolling down my spine and held a hand up to block a branch from thwacking me in the face as I followed Lee through Lambir Hills National Park down what really didn’t seem like a path.
We couldn’t understand it. The trail to the waterfall was supposed to be designated by colored markers, but it seemed like every other tree in sight was festooned with a pink ribbon faded by the sun. After a few minutes of traipsing through vegetation we came around a corner and groaned as we saw the same lookout tower we had passed only a few minutes before.
We were lost in the jungle in Borneo and we were going in circles.
Luckily, after only a couple of hours of confused bush-whacking we finally made it back to the wooden chalets near the road. We stopped for lunch and remarked on how incredibly confusing the trail marking system had been.
It wasn’t until after lunch when we set out again that we realized our mistake. In fact, the walk to the waterfall is on a well laid out path which is quite easy to follow, designated by spray-painted marks on trees. So where in the world did Lee and I wander off to?
Well, Lambir Hills National Park is also a site where ecological research is conducted and there are numerous sample collecting sites deeper in the jungle. Our theory is that instead of following trail markers, we started following the ribbons that the ecologists were using to designate specific trees for environmental testing. Note to visitors, don’t make the same mistake we did!
(The correct path starts on the right side of the main building, ask the staff to show you on the map.)
However, if we hadn’t wandered off in the direction we did we would have never seen these amazing tree ladders which lead up to treetop observation stations. They went all the way up to the top of the forest canopy and I cannot believe that people climb them without a safety harness. I got vertigo just from looking at them!
Lambir Hills is an amazing ecosystem which is home to over 230 species of birds, 46 different types of reptiles, 64 species of mammals and 20 species of frogs. It also has enormous ants which I was afraid would carry me away in my sleep as well as moths and butterflies with wingspans the size of songbirds.
Lee captured this amazing photo of a spider who had made its web right above the trail and was basking in the sunlight filtering down through the trees.
Of course, my favorite part of the park was swimming in the cool and refreshing waterfall. It’s very easy to walk to (if you start on the right trail!) and plunging in feels so good when you have just been hiking in the hot and humid jungle.
Lambir Hills National Park is easy to get to from Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia and it is a great place to escape the city for a few days and enjoy the absolute beauty of the Malaysian wilderness, whether or not you end up accidentally taking the path less traveled.
- How to Get There
Lambir Hills National Park is easily accessible from the town of Miri, in Sarawak. Take bus #33A from the Miri bus terminal to the Long Distance Bus Station (Pujut Corner) and then buy a ticket for any bus heading towards Bintulu. Let the driver know that you are going to Lambir Hills and he will stop to let you off at the main entrance. It takes approximately 30-40 minutes to get there from Miri.
To get back into town, just stand by the road where you got dropped off and hail any bus you see heading back into town.
When you arrive in the park you will need to pay your entrance fee of 20RM ($6.50/£4.00).
If you want to stay overnight in the park, there are wooden Forest lodge chalets with two rooms. They are quite basic but pretty comfortable and a really fun experience.
Prices range from a double room at 40RM ($13.15/£8.20) to full chalets with two rooms and air conditioning at 150RM ($49.00/£30.50)
To really get in touch with nature, there is a campsite which charges 5RM ($1.60/£1.00) per person.