Little do people know that the state of Perak is home to one of the oldest rainforest in the world. With vast lakes, dense greenery and a plethora of unique wildlife, we take a ride on the wild side to discover Perak’s lush northern landscape.
The northern part of Perak, past its capital Ipoh features a quiet district flanked with lush hills, small villages or kampungs and a sprinkle of history. That district is called Gerik. Though people only head north of Perak to visit its royal town of Kuala Kangsar with its gleaming palaces, there is a lot more to see if you drive further north. We highly recommend discovering this area via car for a better view of the mountain ranges of Perak that feature sloping green hills with fluffy clouds grazing its peak. It’s a sight to behold.
Gerik lies in the northern edges of Perak and are bordered by the state of Kedah and Kelantan and little do people know that it connects to the Betong district of Thailand. The most prominent part of Gerik is the Belum-Temenggor Rainforest that is older than the Amazon rainforest at 130 million years old and is also home to the Royal Belum State Park. While the emerald waters are known as Temenggor Lake.
Banding Island sits majestically on the man-made lake and even acts as a highway connector to the other side of park that will eventually lead to the town of Jeli in Kelantan.
Unique Flora and Fauna
The island and the park itself is home to a diverse set of wildlife that roam free in their natural environment with tour guides having spotted wild boars and even a tiger from time to time. It is also common to see a herd of elephants by the highway roadside, feeding off vegetation or simply crossing the street.
Fishing is a big deal in these parts of Perak as the lake swims a variety of freshwater fish like Kelah, Toman and Sebarau, making it an angler’s playground. The Rafflesia Flower known as the largest flower in the world can also be found in the park. The Rafflesia fully blooms for only a couple of days so hikers that catch a glimpse are considered lucky.
Trekking and Waterfalls
Activities around the park usually start at the jetty where you can go on a boat house tour which is a gigantic two-storey water vehicle. They will take you around the park to stop at various hiking trails and waterfalls. You can even rent the whole boat house for an overnight trip where you can fill it up with your family and friends.
If you are a waterfall junkie, this is an area worth visiting. There are several waterfalls in the park like the steep shower-like Ko’oi Waterfall that requires a 30 minute hike. A medium size waterfall is the Ruok Waterfall that is popular for picnics and doubles as a freshwater fish sanctuary. Once in the cool waters, you can feel little fishes nibble on your feet like you are in a spa.
Visit Aboriginal Villages
Another great thing about Royal Belum are the aboriginal villages that are home to the nomadic Jahai tribe. These villages are located on the many islets on the lake where they built their houses from plants like bamboo and rattan. The boat tours can include a stop to these villages where you can meet the villagers and especially the kids. It is polite to offer some food to the little ones like biscuits or chips as a token of appreciation.
Luxury Eco Accomodations
Just because you are exploring in jungle terrain, does not mean your accommodation should be a humble one. The Belum Rainforest Resort is your guide to the ultimate luxury eco-living thanks to the airy villas and chalets that even host some swanky facilities. After undergoing a face-lift in the past couple of years, the Belum Rainforest Resort host an infinity pool overlooking the lake, a spa that features traditional Malay treatments and two restaurants to cater to every palate.
The lodging has rooms for small families and even villas for couples with an outdoor bath tub and industrial decor. If you want something close to waters, families can stay in the traditionally-designed chalets that pay homage to classic Malays homes. Note that their packages include three daily meals with some inclusive of the many jungle and lake tours.
The lush lands of northern Perak is a nature lover’s haven that doubles as an escape from the bustling cityscapes. Once you are there, you will feel a sort of relaxing stillness. It is like you can hear the sounds of Mother Nature through the chirping birds and the swaying branches, calling you into the wild.
• The Royal Belum State Park is home to 10 out of the 12 species of hornbills in the world.
- The park covers an area if 300,000 hectares, making it 4 times the size of Singapore.
- Before Gerik is the district of Lenggong where the ‘Perak Man’, a 11,000 year old skeletal remain was found in Gunung Runtuh Cave.
- There is a R&R with small shops to eat, 40 minutes north of the resort with spectacular views of the Titiwangsa mountain range.
- Visit the Pill Box opposite the resort which use to be a military bunker during the communist invasion but has now transformed into a museum.