I had intended to get the normal public bus from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan. I decided not to do the boat at first because it doesn't actually leave from Jerantut but from a jetty that is a fair distance away, and it is much more expensive and I would have to do a boat to the tapir hide anway. I can always take the boat back if I regret not doing it, but the bus is not bad anyway.
So as I was leaving the accommodation in the morning, the person there asked if I was going to take the bus to Kuala Tahan and if I wanted to go with his private minibus directly for the same price as the bus at RM7. It turned out, that day he was conning a family into paying a ridiculous amount for a day trip and thought he could get a few extra ringgit on the side if I and another tourist staying there went with him. So that was good and I had a nice comfortable ride getting there earlier than the bus for the same price. The family being ripped off however got a 'self-guided' tour
on the boardwalks and were told to make their own way back to Jerantut on the public bus at 5PM so their RM240 for a one way bus transfer and a meal was certainly quite pricey. There are quite a few tour operators around actually trying to rip people off. Much of the drive is through palm oil plantations and we passed a long line of trucks carrying oil palm fruit.
At Kuala Tahan I'm staying at a very good value RM15 dorm that overlooks the river which the national park is on the other side of. There is a resort on the other side in the park itself but it's ridiculously expensive and the boats across according to a boat driver run from 7-11 and only cost 1 ringgit each way.
Once I got into the national park, I went to the HQ to buy my permit and also ask about the tapir hide (Kumbang hide). The boat is RM120 each way, so quite expensive unless I can find some people to share the cost with and I have tentatively booked in for two nights at the hide on the 4th and 5th
night. That would give me two nights and 3 or 4 nights on either side. Though I have only tentatively booked those dates and will change them if I find anyone else who wants to split the boat cost or another group/tour going that way anyway which I can join with. The hide is a hide in the middle of the forest quite far away with a salt lick where I hope to see wild tapir. There's supposed to be running water but no electricity and I will have to bring my own food. Anyway, that's for another day. As an aside, as I was getting the park permit, I found that I had completely subconsciously memorised my passport number. That's irrelevant though.
Today I had a walk around the forest and had one especially exciting sighting which was quite soon after I left the HQ. I was in the Tahan Hide looking down and out onto the path came a female peacock pheasant. Then a bit later, out came a stunning male and the pair foraged around a bit before the male started to display. I watched them for a while until a person started to
head down the path and they quickly ran off into the vegetation. What a great sighting to start off with!
It's very hot and humid in Taman Negara and even the bottom of the lens of my camera (between the lens and body) steamed up which I haven't had before. There's lots of leeches too and despite being on the boardwalks I got too leeches in me in the morning and I removed them and kept walking and the inside of my shoe and my sock got soaked with blood. I'm wearing my leech socks the whole time now, even on paths.
The birding is quite difficult at Taman Negara because most of the birds are too far away or high up to see properly but there's a lot of diversity here. It's very pretty too with the ancient forest and the rivers. I did the treetop walk which wasn't that great and you had to pay for it and the swamp loop trail which was quite good.
I went back across for a late lunch and then went back into the national park for the evening birding and stayed across
until after dark for spotlighting, after being assured by the boat driver that I could get boats until 11 and wouldn't be stuck on the other side from the accommodation.
During the evening birding, I also happened to bump into the same birder I met at Bukit Fraser who suggested the partridge site. He apparently had managed to see them with the help of some seed. We birded a bit at found two species of trogon no less. An interesting coincidence as this was his last day at Taman Negara. He was impressed at my pictures of the displaying male peacock pheasant from earlier as he had only seen a female around that spot so I think that was very lucky indeed.
As dusk approached, I came across a group of wild boars and before I went spotlighting properly I treated myself to an overpriced magnum ice cream from the small shop at the headquarters which certainly was not worth as much as the fried rice I had for lunch. My food costs today were much higher than they should have been, due largely to the magnum and a freshly blended lychee juice, which
was really good. I feel a bit guilty spending money now that I haven't got a bank card do get more, but I've got just enough ringgit for my daily spend to be a little over RM100 and I'm aiming for an average of 60 which should last me until I can get money at a Western Union in KL thanks to my parents. I'd be a bit stuffed otherwise.
The swamp loop was absolutely covered in spiders including some big impressive ones and lots of massive moths, so you get a face full of moths attracted to the torch as you go. The only mammals other than bats seen though was another group of wild boar which ended up being quite common and there were a few around.
At about 8:30, I went up to the campground area near the resort to have a look for owls and frogmouths because the birder I met earlier said t might be a good place. He was there too and tried calling in some owls and frogmouths with sound recordings but no luck. There wasn’t even anything calling. Afterwards I went around to the swamp loop
to try and find some other mammals but it was packed with lines of people on guided night walks shining their torches around randomly and oohing and aahing at the insects. I tried to go around, but there were too many people and you can’t really squeeze past on a boardwalk so I decided that was enough for the day. I’ll have to find an alternative spotlighting route for next time.
Malayan Peacock Pheasant
Large Green Pigeon
+Herps still to be identified
Monitor Lizard sp. (not water monitor)
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