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Sarawak ~ Batang Ai National Park


Iban longhouses and wild orang utans are among the many attractions of Batang Ai National Park on the banks of a 24-square-kilometre lake. Travel by boat up the rivers that flow into the lake or trek on the jungle trails looking for the wildlife. Or stay at Iban longhouses and sample their traditional way of life.

This beautiful national park is home to one of the world's most endangered species, the Orang Utan. Besides being home to many other protected wildlife like the hornbills and gibbons, it is also the water catchment area to Sarawak's only artificial lake. This huge lake stretches up the Engkari and Ai valleys and is part of the Batang Ai Hydro-Electricity Complex.

Beyond the artificial lake, more than an hour's boat ride upriver from the dam, visitors can see beautiful lowland mixed dipterocarp forest, with drooping trees overhanging the rivers. There are 4 trails to choose from and they pass through mixed dipterocarp forest, old secondary forest, active shifting cultivations areas and ancient burial grounds. River transport is the main mode of communication here. The rivers are fast flowing, clear and very refreshing. During dry periods, the water level gets quite low and visitors have to help push their boats upstream.

Batang Ai LonghouseAnother major attraction upriver is the Iban longhouses. Visitors can get to experience the authentic longhouse atmosphere as most of the longhouse dwellers still practise their traditional lifestyle. The Ibans also produce local handicrafts, like their 'Pua Kumbu', rattan backpacks 'selabit', rattan mats and even gourd for collecting water. Through a cooperative, the Ibans have a direct say in how the park is run. They earn money by operating boat services, providing accommodation, working as guides and selling their distinctive handicrafts.


Getting There
The journey to Batang Ai from Kuching is long and difficult, especially for independent travellers and may experience problems in arriving at longhouses unannounced.

The Park is located about 250 km from Kuching City. While not cheap, visiting the Park is best done as an organized package. Organized tours from Kuching take about 4 hours in mini buses to the dam wall of Batang Ai. Visitors staying in Iban longhouses further upstream require an additional one hour travel by longboat from here. Visitors staying in Iban longhouses need to be aware of local Iban customs so as not to offend anybody. Several days should be allocated for visiting Batang Ai. These packages include transfers to Batang Ai, accommodation (hotel or longhouse), meals, guide and park transport.


Accommodation
Hilton Longhouse Resort and several longhouses provide accommodation facilities just outside the park. For those wanting a real experience, staying in Iban longhouses can also be arranged.

 

 

[Sarawak Cultural Village] [Orang Utans & Crocodiles] [Bako National Park] [Kubah National Park] [Gunung Gading National Park] [Talang Satang Turtle Islands] [Batang Ai National; Park]

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