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Overview

Escape to nature in West Malaysia. Begin at The Habitat in the Penang Hills before discovering wildlife at Ulu Muda forest reserve. Then soak in the atmosphere at the ancient rainforest of Belum State Park before opting to relax on one of Malaysia’s pristine east coast islands.

Trip Highlights

Nature Escape In West Malaysia

Escape to nature in Penang

With a specialist nature guide learn all about The Habitat and the work in conserving the environment.

Discover wildlife at Ulu Muda


Trek and cruise down rivers to spot amazing wildlife at Ulu Muda forest reserve.

Relax on pristine beaches

Opt to extend for a laissez-faire experience on one of Malaysia’s pristine east coast islands. 

Itinerary

1

Penang, Arrival

Distances and journey time:Transfer from Penang Airport to Penang Hotel (20km): 40minsHD Experience: The Habitat at Penang Hill 14:00 – 18:00 (4 hours)

Upon arrival in Penang, check-in to the hotel and freshen up before meeting the guide and be transferred to The Habitat on Penang Hill.

Be picked-up by the driver and guide at 14:00 to visit The Habitat on Penang Hill and take the funicular railway to enjoy panoramic views of Georgetown and the Malaysian mainland. Experience nature on Penang Hill. Located just a short walk from the iconic funicular railway top station, The Habitat preserves the natural beauty of the Penang Hills. Discover the flora and fauna of the highland forest through a guided nature walk by a specialist guide. Environmental conservation, awareness and sustainability are at the heart of what The Habitat on Penang Hill is about, with a mission to reconnect people with nature through environmental education.

Set on the fringes of a 130-million-year-old rainforest take a leisurely stroll along its 1.6km nature trail built on an existing path dating back to the early 1800s. Witness the rich biodiversity of flora and fauna in their natural habitat. Rest at the Golden bromeliad and Orchid pavilions and take a moment to reflect in the sights, sounds and smells of the rainforest. Then, go on The Habitat Canopy Walk, away from the forest, offering spectacular views of the rolling hills of Penang.

Take a drink and snack (at own expense) at The Habitat Café before taking a 4WD down to the Botanical Gardens to meet the vehicle and continue back to the hotel.

Spend dinner at leisure.

Overnight in Penang

2

Penang

Distances and journey time:Transfer from Penang Hotel to Penang National Park (20km): 40minsFD Experience: 08:15 – 14:00Activity: Moderate with up to 3 hours trekking

At 08:15 be picked up at the hotel and be transferred to the north west of the island to the main entrance of the Park at Telok Bahang. Meet with the Penang National Park nature guide for an introduction on the park.

At 09:15 take the 3km trail to Pantai Kerachut, a beautiful white sand beach with a seasonal meromictic lake. The trail today will take around 2-3 hours to Pantai Kerachut stopping enroute to learn about the ecosystem of the park. The nature guide will point out wild herbs and wildlife in the National Park as well as numerous other plant species along the way. Pantai Kerachut Beach is a   great place for a banana-leaf wrapped local lunch, water and seasonal tropical fruit.

The undulating trail crosses streams amid lowland rainforest where there is also a variety of migratory birds that call the Park home as well as macaques and langur monkeys and a host of medicinal flora & pitcher plants.

At 12:15, be transferred by boat for a slow cruise around the headland to Monkey Beach. Choose to stop to spend some free time at leisure or be transferred back to the park’s headquarters. 

At 13:15, depart the park’s headquarters by private air-conditioned vehicle for a 45 minutes ride back to Penang. Arrive approximately at 14:00. 

Return to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Physical Rating: Moderate. Undulating Terrain/Jungle flooring and some steps.

(Trekking trail will take min. 1.5 hours with no information and up to 3 hours with the nature guide.)

Recommended Kit: It is recommended to wear walking shoes and bring mosquito repellent, sun cream and a wide brim hat.

Overnight in Penang.

3

Penang

Distances and journey time:Transfer from Penang Hotel to Tropical Spice Garden (15km): 35minsTransfer from Tropical Spice Garden to Arts and Garden (10km): 25 minsActivity: Cooking Class from 09:00 – 14:00Activity: Arts and Garden Walk (Moderate with steps): 1 hourTransfer from Art and Garden to Georgetown (25km): 1 hour

Pick up at the hotel at 08:15 for a transfer to Tropical Spice Garden. On arrival take a guided tour of the Spice Terraces, explore the lush landscaped award-winning gardens set out over 8 acres of secondary jungle before a tea refreshment in the Bamboo Garden. Tucked away in a secluded corner of the gardens, the cooking school is surrounded by jungle trees and wildlife, a small herb garden and a glimpse of the Andaman Sea.

At 10:15, go for a cooking class and learn how to cook tasty Malay, Nyonya and/or Indian cuisine with the help of professional chefs. Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine is a combination of Chinese, Malay and other influences into a unique blend. Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Indonesia and Singapore, inter-marrying with local Malays. The old Malay word “nyonya” a term of respect and affection for women of prominent social standing (part “madame” and part “auntie”), has come to refer to the cuisine of the Peranakans.

Nonya cooking is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community. This gives rise to Peranakan interpretations of Malay/Indonesian food that is similarly tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal. Mix this with traditional Malay style cooking and the influence of Indian cuisine encompassing a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India and conclude with a delightful selection of dishes to enjoy for lunch on the patio.

Please note: Dishes will vary depending on the day and menu set. Examples: Penang Nyonya flavours/Best of Malay/Spices of India or Tropical Thai. Vegetarian options are available and must be requested.

After lunch, be transferred deep in the hills of the winding road of Teluk Bahang towards Balik Pulau to Art and Garden where nature meets art. Within 1.5 acres of hilly land, in three-tier reaches, a green sanctuary showcasing an amazing variety of bromeliads, air plants, aloes, agaves, gingers, trumpet pictures and orchids amidst glass, clay and metal sculptures as well as paintings and colourful mosaics.

Take a pleasant walk along the terraced hill land with an explanation of the origin of each plant and its use. Soak in the seamlessly blended art glass with tropical planting and landscape along with many other mediums of work.

Return to your hotel and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.

Overnight in Penang

4

Penang – Ulu Muda

Distances and journey time:Transfer from Penang to Lake Muda Jetty by vehicle(150km): 2hrsTransfer by boat from Lake Muda Jetty to Earth Lodge: up to 1.5hrsPM Boat Cruise at 1630 for up to 2 hours

Pick up in Penang and be dropped off by the driver at Ulu Muda Jetty at noon. Here leave behind the main luggage for the stays at Earth Lodge. 

 (Please note: It is advisable to pack a separate waterproof small holdall for the 3-day Ulu Muda Escape program and leave the main luggage).

Have a simple lunch at the jetty at a local stall before taking a traditional long-tailed boat across the Muda Lake and up the Muda River to Earth Lodge for the upcoming two nights in the middle of vast and wild rainforest. The duration of the boat journey depends very much on the water level and conditions and would usually take approximately 1 - 1.5 hours.

Take in the feeling of being in the rainforest far away from human civilisation, with its fresh air and soothing natural forest orchestra of insects, birds and other wildlife.

Arrive at Earth Lodge and be briefed by park ranger. Ulu Muda Forest Reserve is by far the largest at 105,000 hectares.  Lowland Dipterocarp Forest, Hill Dipterocarp Forest and the Upper Hill Dipterocarp Forest are the forest types found here with an elevation range from about 97 metres to the highest point of 1256 metres. The area is particularly known as an important site for Malaysia’s mega fauna. The main suspects usually caught on camera traps are the Asian elephant, Malaysian tapir, sambar deer, barking deer and wild boar. The other large mammals known to call Ulu Muda home are the gaur, tiger and leopard.

Late afternoon, take a river cruise in search for wildlife. With some luck, see elephants along the river bank.

Dinner and lights out.

Overnight at Earth Lodge.

Important Notes:

It is advisable to travel light on the journey into Ulu Muda Rainforest. Heavier luggage can be left at the previous hotel if returning to there or with the driver.
The seats of the boats from Muda Lake Jetty to Earth Lodge are made of wooden planks without back-rest.
Earth Lodge – chalet style accommodation equipped with two single mattresses, attached bathroom, balcony and ceiling fan. There is no water heater or bath towels and toiletries.
Electricity to the Earth Lodge is powered by a generator which will be switched on between 1800hrs to 2300hrs daily.

5

Ulu Muda

Distances and journey time:Jungle Trekking and caves round trip: 4 hoursBoat Cruise from 1600 for up to 2 hours

Wake up to the mysterious call of gibbons and the cacophony of various species of Ulu Muda’s avifauna.

After breakfast take a two-hour trek (easy to moderate) through the pristine jungle to Bukit Labu (Labu Hill), a newly discovered limestone hill with several caves. While visiting the hill and its mysterious caves, learn the importance of this mostly forgotten habitat. These pristine and beautiful caves were only discovered in 2006. Be prepared as there are many leeches on the trail (leech socks can be borrowed at Earthlodge).

Enjoy a simple lunch by a cool, wide stream before trekking back to the Lodge.

In the afternoon, go for a casual walk in search of Ulu Muda’s abundant avifauna and other wildlife. Ulu Muda is listed by Birdlife International as an important bird watching area. This is mostly due to it being home to many rare and globally threatened bird species. These include the very rare plain –pouched hornbill, masked finfoot, and the argus pheasant. Ulu Muda has recorded sightings of over 300 species of birds and still counting!

In the early afternoon, return to the lodge for some free time.

 (Please note: An additional River Cruise can be organised and tailored to special requests depending on what nature sightings that are of interest. Wildlife photographers may need more time on the cruise for photo shooting opportunities.)

In the late afternoon cruise upstream to the Saltlick. Take a short 10-minute muddy walk into a saltlick where elephants, gaurs, deers, wild boar and tapirs are frequent visitors. From here, get back in the boat to cruise downstream in search of the late afternoon’s wildlife activities on the lake.

Evening dinner and lights out.

Overnight at Earth Lodge

6

Ulu Muda – Banding Island

Distance and journey time:Lodge to Lake Muda Jetty: 1.5hrsLake Muda Jetty to Banding (165): 2.5 hoursActivity: Evening night walk; up to 2 hoursDifficulty: Easy, uneven terrain

Have breakfast and relax before departing Earth Lodge at 11:00 and return to Ulu Muda Jetty to meet the driver. Upon arrival at the Jetty, head on a scenic overland ride to Banding, an island of Temenggor Lake on Malaysia’s East Coast.

A light lunch is served enroute at a local cafe or on arrival at Belum Rainforest Resort.

Check-in at the Belum Rainforest Resort and spend some time at leisure. Take a short walk to the herbal garden on site to learn about the many local herbs. Alternatively spend the time at the infinity pool overlooking Lake Banding for a cool, refreshing afternoon dip.

This evening, take dinner followed by an evening night trek at 20:30. Discover the rainforest at night on a 2-hour guided night walk close to the resort.

 (Please note: For tomorrow’s tour to the Royal Belum State Park passport details are necessary in advance to submit to the Park authorities to purchase permits, alternatively a similar program can be offered in Lower Belum.)

Overnight at Belum Rainforest Resort.

7

Banding Island

Distances and journey timeActivity: FD Boat Cruise and Jungle trekkingDifficulty: Jungle Trekking - Medium, uneven terrain

Fuel up on an early breakfast at 07:30 for the full day ahead to Lake Banding and Belum State Park.

Meet the boat at the resort jetty at 08:30 to head to the wilder parts of upper Belum. Cruise in a covered boat in search for the Rafflesia, the biggest flower in the world. Trek to one of the several multi-tiered waterfalls and enjoy a swim. Most trails are only accessible by boat and once in the rainforest trek for upto 1 hour on jungle terrain, crossing rivers to magnificent waterfalls. Pass huge fig trees and discover some of the oldest rainforests in world, dating back over 130 million years.

Enter Upper Belum by boat and cruise deeper into the rainforest. There are several waterfalls in and around the Belum State Park and places to stop for short treks to view the Rafflesia. (The exact routing of the day and stops will depend on the time of year, water levels and Rafflesia sightings)

Reaching the furthest part of the lake it’s time to stop for a packed lunch, learn about the Orang Asli Villages dotted around the lake only accessible by water before a relaxing cruise around the lake in search of wildlife. Hornbill sightings are very common so for bird lovers ensure to bring binoculars.

Stop off at a final waterfall, take a short trek and a quick dip before heading back to the Resort to arrive for 16:00.

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure before dinner.

Overnight Belum Rainforest Resort

8

Banding Island – Kota Bharu

Distances and journey timeTransfer from Banding island to Terrapuri Heritage Village by vehicle (225km): 4hours

Have breakfast at the hotel and spend some time at leisure before check-out and depart for a 4-hour overland discovery to east coast Malaysia.  Stay overnight at Terrapuri Heritage Village, part of a conservation and restoration project of Terengganu Malay Classic Houses.

Spend the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight Terrapuri Heritage Village.

9

Kota Bharu – East Coast Island extension

Distance and journey time:Transfer Terrapuri to Kuala Besut (55km) 1 hourTransfer Terrapuri to Merang Jetty (22Km): 30minsKuala Besut to Perhentian Island or v.v: 30 minutesMerang Jetty to Redang Island or v.v: 45 minutesSyahbandar Jetty to Redang Island or v.v: 1 hour 40 minutesSpeed boat timingKuala Besut to Perhentian Island: 1130hrs & 1400hrs (on Friday is at 1430hrs)Merang Jetty to Redang Island: 1100hrsSyahbandar Jetty to Redang Island: 0900hrs, 1030hrs & 1500hrs

At 09:00 after breakfast, depart for Kota Bharu and be dropped off at Kuala Besut Jetty to Perhentian Island or Merang/Shabandar Jetty to Redang Island.

Please note: The east coast Islands are not available between end of October and beginning of March annually due to the monsoon season.

10

Perhentian/Redang Island

Spend the next few days free and at leisure, enjoying the quiet, remote and pristine beach landscape.

Overnight at Perhentian or Redang Island

11

Perhentian/Redang Island

Free and leisure until the end of the day.

Overnight at Perhentian or Redang Island

12

Perhentian/Redang Island, Departure

Distance and journey time:Kuala Besut Jetty to Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, Kota Bahru (62KM): 1.5hoursMerang Jetty to Sultan Mahmud Airport, Kuala Terengganu (36KM): 45 minutesSyahbandar Jetty to Sultan Mahmud Airport, Kuala Terengganu (14KM): 30 minutesSpeed boat timingPerhentian Island to Kuala Besut Jetty: 1030hrs & 1230hrsRedang Island to Merang Jetty: 0900hrsRedang Island to Syahbandar Jetty: 0730hrs, 1100hrs & 1300hrs

Check out and depart to Besut/Merang/Syahbandar Jetty.

Be picked up for departure flight back home.

Important Information

  • Transportation with driver in A/C vehicle
  • Service of English-speaking driver cum guide for overland touring (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Local English-Speaking Nature Guide in Penang/Ulu Muda and Belum
  • Drinking water
  • Accommodation with Breakfast as stated
  • Meals (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner) where stated
  • Activities in Belum and Ulu Muda are based on Join in
  • Other meals than mentioned
  • Other services than mentioned
  • All International & Domestic Flight
  • Gratuities, personal expenses, drinks, and other items
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance (must include helicopter evacuation for Malaysia)
  • Visa for Malaysia
  • Camera/video entrance fees
  • Tourism tax of 10MYR per room per night

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