A real insight into the first week of the Malaysia Tiger and Turtle Experience from Harriet in the UK.
Tiger Trekking in the Jungle – a week I will never forget!
To start off with, I’d never done anything like this before and didn’t really know what I’d got myself in to. I’m 19 so was one of the youngest in the group. My friend and I spent our first few nights in KL, and then met the rest of the group at a bus station to head off on our journey to Merapoh. This took about 5/6 hours, the buses were comfy so it wasn’t so bad.
We arrived in Merapoh with all our bags and got picked up by the owners of the chalet. They took us back and we were given a quick tour. It was extremely basic, which at first I thought I was going to absolutely hate. As soon as I got over this, it turned out to be absolutely fine and just what we needed. I was made to feel at home, everyone was so nice and the accommodation did exactly what it needed too.
This is all that was needed, we were living out our backpacks and by the end of all that trekking it was like heaven getting in to bed!
There was a lounge and kitchen area as well where we all could sit in after the treks and chill out for a few hours. We all felt very safe staying there and by the end of the week we didn’t want to leave!
We had some lunch and a run through of the week, it was all quite overwhelming at the start because it sounded like a lot to cram in.
We had about 7 volunteers altogether, at the start it was a bit awkward and everyone was quiet but by the end of the week we were such good friends and we were all just having a laugh together. Helping each other out and working together on the treks created a bond almost straight away and I met some of the most amazing people.
Let’s move on to the actual trekking itself – we started in the mornings at about 8, and drove to different corridors of the Taman Negara. The treks would include going down poacher trails and looking for any animal evidence (prints etc.). This lasted about 7 hours for 4 of the days of the week, and is definitely not for anyone with a poor fitness level. We had regular breaks and stopped off for lunch. If anyone was finding it difficult the team were there to support them and the MyCat guides were excellent in making sure everyone was alright. I didn’t know what to expect and the first trek really brought home to me what the week was going to be like. The terrain was tough and it included things such as walking over logs that had fallen between two banks over a river.
Just a word of warning: Proper walking shoes and at least 2 pairs of trousers are required! I only bought one pair of trousers which were wrecked in the first day, I then had to go out and buy another pair!
Don’t let the long days or tough terrain put you off though, the experience wasn’t one to be missed and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was completely different to anything I’d done before and didn’t really know what to expect, but it was so much fun.
We spent one night sleeping in the jungle, which was an experience I will never forget. Some of the members of the Batek tribe came and cooked us chicken and rice in bamboo, which was absolutely incredible. We arrived at camp and they had already made themselves a shelter out of leaves and sticks. I felt like I was cheating putting up our tents and hammocks! The nights sleep wasn’t one of the best but staying right near a river surrounded by wildlife was an incredible experience and will never be forgotten.
Another day was spent caving. This really helped to break up the week of trekking as it wasn’t so physically demanding. We arrived at the site of the cave and were immediately thrown in to the deep end as we had to rock climb up a verge with only a rope behind us. This was completely safe and the leaders of the caving helped us to get up. We then started walking through the cave, which was amazing. We saw all sorts of wildlife, including snakes and scorpions.
We spent another day going to visit the local Batek tribe. This included another trek, where we went with the women to collect leaves in order to weave baskets. It was amazing watching them work, they were about 70+ and much fitter than us! We then went back to their village and taught them an English lesson in their school. They knew very basic English, but responded to the lesson very well and it was such a rewarding experience.
The food throughout the week could not be faulted. It was mainly Malay style curries. We were given a packed lunch every day, which was rice with a sauce and meat/fish. It was quite mild but so tasty. In the evenings we would go to a local restaurant and eat something of our choice off the menu. Every night I ate well and their portions were definitely generous! Couldn’t say a bad word about it.
Some evenings we spent down at a lake, which was really refreshing and fun. We also went out for a Chinese and some beers one night to celebrate, which was amazing.
The trek guides were also brilliant and we had good fun with them. Everyone looked out for each other and we formed a sort of family.
Overall, although daunting at the start the whole experience was incredible. I overcame things I didn’t think I would be able to do and a massive thank you to everyone that made it happen. I never expected to meet such great people, we got on so well and by the end of the week we all clicked. It was almost a shame it was over in such a short space of time!
To find out more about this trip click here