The Matang Range that forms a scenic backdrop to Kuching is also the site of the Kubah National Park. Just 20 kilometres from the State capital, the park is a favourite destination for local day-trippers. The park also provides overnight accommodation for visitors wanting to stay longer.
Three sandstone mountains, Gunung Serapi, Gunung Selang and Gunung Sendok, can be seen from Kuching on clear days. Within the park’s 2,230 hectares, you can find not only rare ferns and orchids but also a multiplicity of palms, so many different varieties that Kubah is known as “The world of Palms.”
The dipterocarp forest, interspersed with patches of scrub and unusually rich area of kerangas forest, is home to bearded pigs, hornbills, squirrels, mouse deer and many species of reptiles and amphibians. It is also popular among the bird watchers.
Popular with local people are the waterfalls and clear jungle streams where you can cool off after trekking through the jungle on well-marked paths.
An overnight stay is highly recommended if you want to get the best of this diverse and interesting park. There is no cafeteria or catering service but basic cooking facilities is available in the accommodation.
TREKKING IN KUBAH NATIONAL PARK
Kubah offers an interesting range of treks and forest walks, from the gentle to the downright arduous. Some of the park’s jungle trails begin on the Gunung Serapi Road – a sealed track that starts at the Park HQ and leads to a telecommunications tower at the summit of Gunung Serapi. Vehicle access is restricted but pedestrians are allowed to use the road to walk to the summit of Gunung Serapi or as shortcuts to the Waterfall and Rayu trails.
The following table provides details of trekking times and the colour codes used in the park.
THE MAIN TRAIL
The Main Trail is 1912m and it passes through mixed dipterocarp forest and joins up with the other trails, giving visitors the option of continuing on into the forest, visiting the waterfall, or returning along the Gunung Serapi Road. It takes about 1 hr 15 mins from the park’s headquarters and is coded in white.
This trail is 3830m and it starts at the 900 ft mark on the Gunung Serapi Road, and leads to the nearby Matang Wildlife Centre (see below), some 3 hours 30 mins away. The trail passes through pretty riverine forest with some buttress-rooted rainforest giants and a number of bintangor trees. Aids researchers are currently conducting tests on chemicals extracted from the bintangor. Therefore, you may see small incisions in the tree bark where the bintangor has been tapped for sap. The Rayu trail ends at a clear jungle stream adjacent to the Matang Wildlife Centre. The colour code for this trail is orange.
This trail is 1557m long. It takes about 40 minutes from the Park HQ to reach the end of this short trail and the viewing point on Bukit Selang. On a clear day the viewing point offers superb panoramas of the surrounding area. Looking down you see the tree-covered slopes of the park give way to agricultural land and small villages, rivers winding through the mangrove forests that hug the coast, Satang Island turtle sanctuary, and Mount Santubong rising up in the distance. This trail is coded as yellow.
The newly established Belian trail is 1429m long and it highlights the conservation of the Belian tree (Eusideroxylon zwageri, also known as Borneo Ironwood). This finest of hardwoods is endemic to Borneo, and because it is extremely strong and durable it is used locally in house construction and agriculture, especially as support poles for pepper planting. The same qualities also make it esteemed by the Chinese for the building of coffins. This one way trail is approximately 1 hour’s easy walking. As well as huge Belian trees, you can see a wide variety of plant life, including, gingers, unique giant mushrooms and beautiful climbing figs and rattans. The large number of fruiting trees – such as durian, rambutan, cempedak (jackfruit), figs and salacca fruit – contributes to a wide variety of birds and animals. Hard-to find forest birds including the maroon woodpecker, white rumped shama, chestnut-naped forktail, and rufous-collard kingfisher are often heard and seen, and giant squirrels are frequently spotted jumping from tree to tree. The colour code for this trail is green.
The Palmetum is devoted to Kubah’s best known feature – its palms. It is a short 255m walking trail, located next to the park HQ, and highlights various species of palm found in Kubah. The trail is extensively labelled, highlighting dozens of different palms of all shapes, sizes and colours. The colour code for this trail is white.
THE WATERFALL TRAIL
The Waterfall Trail starts from the Park HQ and takes approximately 1 hr 30 mins. The 1600m trail passes through mixed dipterocarp forest and has numerous plankwalk sections which cross swampy areas and small jungle streams. Wild durian trees can be seen along the sides of the trail. The waterfall consists of a number of sections with the main section dropping some 10 metres onto a wide rocky ridge. Below this ridge is a small pool that is idea for a cool jungle dip. There is an alternative starting point near the 1,000 ft mark on the Gunung Serapi Road which is convenient for visitors arriving from Matang Wildlife Centre via the Rayu Trail. The colour code for this trail is blue.
GUNUNG SERAPI SUMMIT TRAIL
The walk to the summit of Gunung Serapi takes 3-3 1/2 hours and is one of the park’s most popular walks and longest route. The 5KM trail brings you to a viewing platform at the top and on a clear day the view is simply stunning. Kuching, Mount Santubong, the coastline of Southwest Sarawak and the mountain peaks that mark the border with Indonesia can all be seen in the distance beyond the forest of green that rolls out from below. This view is made all the more amazing at sunset and sunrise when the whole panorama is set against an ever changing backdrop of reds, oranges and purples. This trail is coloured in grey.
HOW TO GO TO KUBAH NATIONAL PARK
Taxis and Grab cars can also be chartered for the 40-minute trip to the park. Alternatively, a number of travel operators in Kuching run guided tours to the park (check with the Visitor Information Centre in Kuching for more details).
ACCOMODATION AT KUBAH NATIONAL PARKS
The Park HQ has 5 large chalets with 2 bedrooms (6 beds), rest houses (10 beds) and hostel (12 beds). The chalets are equipped with air-con and hot water, rest houses and hostel are equipped with fan, a verandah and full kitchen facilities. There is also a spacious BBQ area near the chalets.
The nearby Matang Wildlife Centre offers chalets and a ‘Longhouse’ with 8 hostel-type rooms each containing 4 beds. Please contact the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching for the latest room rates.
A permit is required for professional photography or filming, which should be arranged in advance with the National Park Booking Office at the numbers below.
Customer Service Counter: 011-65729232
Ticketing Booth: 011-65729242
If you aren’t for a stay in the park, Matang Jaya is a satellite town located not far from the centre. Despite that, there is still a need to take a cab/taxi/car to Matang Wildlife Centre.
Hotels in Kuching aren’t exactly different in terms of distance to the two places mentioned, and therefore I would recommend you check out hotels in Kuching City Centre for a more central stay.
IMPORTANT TIPS ABOUT KUBAH NATIONAL PARK
Here’s some important tips before coming to Kubah National Park.
- The park opens from 8AM – 5PM daily.
- There is a cut-off time to enter trails for trekking. The time set is at 2.00PM daily.
- All visitors are required to be accompanied by park staff to visit the Frog Pond.
- No slippers are allowed for jungle trekking.
- No ATM machines are available at the park.
- Sarawakians pay RM10 per entry, while foreigners pay RM20. Children below 6 enter free.
OTHER KUCHING NATURAL ATTRACTIONS
Aside from the Kubah National Park, Kuching also has other natural attractions to check out.
They are listed below.