Ulu Temburong National Park lies in Brunei’s Temburong district, which is cut off from the rest of the country. The only way to get there without having to cross the border to Malaysia is by speedboat from BSB. The speedboat really lives up to its name and the ride is lots of fun as the boat speeds along the river through the jungle and around the river bends at very sharp angles.
How to Get to Ulu Temburong
The only way to get to Ulu Temburong is with an organized tour. It’s quite expensive but it was definitely worth it (and let’s face it: there’s not much else to do in Brunei). We went with AZ Back to Nature tours, arranged through Borneo Guide. They also have a camp close to the park where it is possible to stay overnight and to be at the park early in the morning. We didn’t do our homework properly and found out about that too late so we only went on a day trip to the national park. Everything war perfectly organized. In Bangar, where we left the speedboat, a driver picked us up and brought us to Batang Duri, the village at the end of the road. There, our guide and the boatman were waiting for us with the longboat ready.
Upriver in a Longboat
During dry season, the river’s water level is very low and only a maximum of four people can travel in one boat. The way to the park is all upstream and we were ready to jump out and push. We didn’t have to though, our guide did all the work for us.
In the National Park
Only a tiny fraction of Ulu Temburong national park is open to the public and there’s only one trail and a canopy walkway. After crossing the river on a suspension bridge, it’s 1200 steps until you reach the canopy walkway. Even though we managed the steps just fine, we were drenched in sweat because of the heat and the humidity.
The canopy walkway (more steps here) is 50 meters above ground and offers magnificent views over the jungle – there’s not one single house or other sign of human settlements in sight. The walkway is built with steel towers which only support a few people at the same time (two on the platforms, one on the stairs) and the whole construction moves and sways from side to side. It’s not like the canopy walkways in other parks, this here is not made for big groups of people and that’s what makes this place so special. It’s an adventure to get here and once you’re here, chances are good you’re almost on your own. And the views from the top of the walkway… unforgettable!
Apart from some reptiles and insects we didn’t see any wildlife. That’s actually a good sign, it means that the animals have a huge habitat and are not being pushed closer to the river and the trail by ever growing palm oil plantations and logging as it is the case in other parts of Borneo.
Fish Spa at the Waterfall
On the way back we visited a waterfall that can only be reached by walking along and in a small stream. Apparently in the rainy season it’s possible to get there by boat. Now that it’s dry season, the waterfall is not that impressive but it’s still nice and in the pool below the waterfall there are doctor fish so you get a free fish spa treatment while contemplating the waterfall. Isn’t that awesome?
Before heading back to BSB, again by longboat (downstream this time, much easier), car, and speedboat, we had lunch at the company’s camp. The food was great: typical Iban food; chicken curry, fish, and umbut (heart of palm) with rice.