If, like us, you want nature and calm after the tribulations of the city, opt for a walk in the Penang National Park. A guaranteed change of scenery! Because here, a park is the jungle. A little laid out, I admit, with stairs, paved paths … But it doesn’t take away the wild side.
So, the first tip, if you have a “mosquito skin”, consider having an anti-mosquito, balm to calm the bites and prefer light, loose and light knickers to shorts.
A little advice: my miracle anti-itching product.
Departure of the hike:
The departure is in Teluk Bahang, a small village in the northwest of the island. To get there, there is a bus, the 101, which drops us off right in front of the entrance.
Penang National Park
Located at the northwestern tip of Penang Island, the park was declared Penang National Park in April 2003. It was a forest reserve before that.
It was created to preserve and protect flora and fauna and is home to 417 species of flora and 143 wildlife species. We can see among others: green turtles, flying squirrels, flying lemurs, monkeys and there are more than 150 species of birds including a white-bellied sea eagle.
And as the park is located by the sea, we know we’re going to travel between jungle and dream beaches!
The park map
- Start: Entry (A)
- Hiking to Pantai Kerachut (F) the turtle sanctuary, via Simpang Pak Abbas.
- Boat to Teluk Duyung (D) Monkey Beach.
- Return to MUKA HEAD Lighthouse (E).
- Back in a boat. Phew!
The weather is beautiful and the temperature, as usual, is around 30˚C.
At the reception of the park we register on the list of visitors, book our 2 boats and equipped with our water gourds and my mosquito repellent, we start our hike.
The ride is superb. We start quietly by following the seaside on a landscaped path. We are delighted with this little warm-up, because despite this, with the temperature and humidity, we dribble from the first steps.
But our trail will quickly venture into the jungle and change its terrain. We now need to pay attention to the roots, stones, and slippery parts of the terrain. It’s not a difficult hike, but you still have to be vigilant.
The attraction of walks in parks like this is the opportunity to see wild animals. And with the list we have in mind, we are on the lookout for every movement of branches and leaves waiting to see a flying squirrel or a crossing turtle…
But we will only come across this little monkey, a dark Semnopithecus, which is easily recognized by the white spots it has around the eyes and mouth. It’s still a nice reward. 😃
And as proof that we were vigilant, they announce 1h20 for the first part, it took us 2 hours!
And it’s possible to camp…
Just before arriving at the turtle beach, we cross a camp. For amateurs, it is possible to pitch your tent in the park. I don’t have any more information, but the people who had breakfast in this environment looked happy! Besides, these campers are the only people we met during our walk.
The Turtle Sanctuary
We arrive at the turtle sanctuary and a little visit is necessary. The sanctuary has an entrance with 4 ponds and a room at the back where billboards explain the park’s activities.
In short, this sanctuary was created to protect and preserve declining turtles in Malaysian waters. There are two laying periods: between April and August and between September and February. After laying eggs, nests are marked on the beach using stakes and protected from predators. 60 days later, once the eggs hatch, the young turtles are kept in the ponds until they have a good chance of survival in the wild, to become an adult and return to lay eggs on the same beach.
Sailing to the Monkey Beach
Our boat arrives, and we embark for a romantic ride along the coast, we are only two on the boat, up to a beautiful sandy beach. The Monkey Beach 🐒
You can imagine why they gave the beach this name! Well yes, it is populated by monkeys, the “Crab-eating Macaques”. And they are much less fearful than those found in the jungle. They are used to humans and take advantage of the situation. Small restaurants are a real pantry for them, and restaurateurs must stay alerted to counter their tricks. A moment of relaxation and it’s the plate you were about to serve that goes into the trees. Ours, for the little story. 😉
As a general rule, we should be wary of monkeys which are less and less afraid of humans and know they can feed them. Monkeys can become aggressive to have something to eat. I got attacked by a monkey who fancied my organic mosquito repellent. It must have liked the repellent’s smell and wanted to eat some. I had to give in because it was getting really aggressive and showing his teeth. So never feed them to prevent this behavior.
Monkey Beach is also the only beach in the park where it is possible to swim safely. Indeed, the other beaches are infested with jellyfish.
The climb to the Muka Head Light House
After a well-deserved swim and a light meal, we start the climb to the lighthouse.
It took us 1h30 to make the lighthouse circuit and some scares on the way back.
The path is particularly steep and uncrowded. We had the surprise, rather bad, to meet a group of monkeys installed in the middle of the path, and decidedly not ready to leave. As we had no choice but to pass, it was armed with a stick that we began our crossing. Most of the monkeys left as soon as they saw us coming, except for the dominant male who watched us as we passed.
These monkeys are used to human presence, but they are wild animals, and I promise you that I still have goosebumps just thinking about it.
But the view from the lighthouse was worth it!
We treat ourselves with a little fruit cocktail at the beach to recover from our emotions while waiting for our last boat, and it’s back to George Town.
This hike in the Penang National Park is one of the most beautiful hikes I have done since we are in Malaysia.
Being able to combine walking in the jungle, looking for wild animals, meeting monkeys 😉and returning by boat is an unforgettable experience. And when you see the park from the sea, you wonder how you could have evolved in such an environment!
I’ve already scheduled to come back. There are several routes and therefore still much to explore. 😃