Belum Temenggor is the largest rainforest in the Malay Peninsula. It is believed to have been in existence for over 130 million years making it one of the world’s oldest rainforests, older than both the Amazon and the Congo. In the heart of the forest lies a manmade lake covering 15,200 Hectares which is dotted with hundreds of islands. Belum-Temenggor is still relatively low key in regards to tourism making it easy to enjoy the tranquility of the jungle and increasing your chances of spotting wild animals.
The Orang Asli (native aborigines) were the first inhabitants of the Malay Peninsula, and many of them were traditionally nomadic or semi-nomadic. Semi-nomadic Orang Asli can be found today on the islands of Temenggor. They live in their traditional way in bamboo huts, hunting small mammals using blowpipes, fishing and gathering plants and honey from the forest.
As with all of Malaysia's rainforest, government sanctioned deforestation for logging and agriculture is one of the main contributors to environmental decline in Belum-Temenggor. The Malay peninsula has lost over half of its natural forest cover since 1950.
The comparably small amount of forest left in the Malay peninsula is still being cut down by government approved logging companies. Illegal logging also persists adding to an already problematic situation. It is anticipated that, at present rates of deforestation, more than 50% of Malaysian forest species will become extinct, many of them endemic to this area. When the depleted areas are replanted it is usually with exotic commercial species in monocultures.
There are many NGOs and lobby groups trying to educate the Malay people and influence government policies, focusing on short term gains and destroying the ecosystem is detrimental not only to our environment but to future economic development.
Poaching activity continues in the area with arrests made and poaching camps and snares uncovered frequently.
Due to the relatively low numbers of local residents and tourists, litter is not too prevalent. When visiting this beautiful forest, please help with conservation by leaving nothing behind other than footprints.
Belum-Temengor is centred by Tasik Temengor (Temengor Lake), stretching 75 km, the lake is surrounded by dense rainforest, mountains, waterfalls and dotted with hundreds of islands.
Flora and fauna
Belum-Temenggor's relatively untouched forest is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including 14 of world's most threatened mammals including the Malaysian tiger, Asiatic elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, white handed gibbon, Malaysian sun bear and tapir. Other animals that also roam freely include seladang, wild boars, numerous species of deer, pythons and cobras.
Belum Temengor is ideal for bird watcher with over 300 avian species including the hornbill. It is the only existing forest where you can spot all 10 species of hornbill that inhabit Malaysia consisting of the white-crowned hornbill, bushy-crested hornbill, wrinkled hornbill, wreathed hornbill, plain-pouched hornbill, black hornbill, Oriental pied hornbill, rhinoceros hornbill, great hornbill and helmeted hornbill.
Flora In the forest you can find 3,000 species of flowering plants, including 3 species of Rafflesia, the world's largest flower.
The temperature in Belum-Temenggor ranges from 20°C to 35°C depending on the time of year, peaking between July and August. The rainy season lasts from mid-November until January. There are cool breezes from the lake and intermittent showers almost all year round.
Belum Temenggor is intersected by the East West Highway running from Butterworth to Kulim to Gerik and then on to Kota Bharu. The main access point for accommodation and sights is the boat jetty at Pulau Banding.
Buses run from Kuala Lumpur to Gerik where you can get a fixed rate taxi to Pulau Banding public jetty for RM 50. Alternatively if coming from Ipoh, Penang, Kota Bharu or any other destinations using the East West Highway you can ask the bus driver to stop at the Pulau Banding jetty, though you will have to pay the full fare for the journey.
Fees and permits
Belum-Temenggor, although inhabiting the same area, is split into two separate reserves. Royal Belum State Park and Temenggor Forest Reserve. The Royal Belum State Park boundary starts at the very north of Temenggor lake (Tasik Temenggor) and is protected by the local army base. Permission for entry is granted by the park authority an takes 10 days for processing. A guide is essential for visitors wishing to explore the park.
Temenggor Forest Reserve encompasses the majority of the lake and its surrounding area, starting from the south of Royal Belum State Park. There is no park fee and no approval is needed to enter.
The majority of the sights and activities lie in and around Temenggor Lake. Almost all the accommodation options in the area will provide pick up from the jetty to their respective islands and transport to the areas of interest. It is also possible, if solely interested in a day trip, to arrange boat tours of varying lengths from the jetty.
Eco-tourism is what this area is all about and there are many excellent attractions in the area including;
- Jungle treks and wild animal tracking
- Animal spotting at the salt licks. These are natural mineral deposits where wild animals, including Elephants and Tigers, go and lick for their nutrients. There are wildlife viewing huts called bumbungs that overlook the areas.
- Bird watching, at its best from August to October when it is possible to spot flocks of literally thousands of Hornbills of all 10 Malay species.
- Visit the protected site of the Rafflesia (the world’s largest flower).
- Visit the local Asli tribal village and experience their traditional way of life.
- A trip to the jungle watchtower high above the canopy offering spectacular views.
- Kayaking, swimming and various other watersports.
- Sport fishing
- Trips to some of the many waterfalls feeding into the lake.
There are few options for accommodation around Lake Temenggor. Some large hotels are situated on the mainland adjacent to the public jetty and alongside the main highway. Others are situated on private islands on the lake itself, allowing better access to the nature and wildlife.
Belum Eco Resort – located on a secluded island. Offering accommodation options to suit all budgets, including private chalets, shared dormitories and houseboat. 3-day, 2-night packages and à la carte pricing is available.  Tel: +60 5 281 0834 Email: [email@example.com]
Visitors with limited mobility are not advised to participate in jungle treks as trails can be slippery and uneven. When in the jungle it is essential to be with an experienced guide as wild animals can be unpredictable. The most dangerous aspect of the area is the water. If you are not a confident swimmer, always wear a life jacket.