With a name that translates simply as “national park,” Malaysia’s Taman Negara is the largest single swath of protected rainforest anywhere in Southeast Asia. Extremely lucky visitors will catch a glimpse of endangered Sumatran rhinos and tigers, while many more will observe elephants, wild deer and oxen, serows, sambars, mouse deer, wild pigs, and other animals from one of the many hides placed near salt licks and waterholes.
Wherever you happen to be in the park, simply raise your gaze to take in the profusion of monkeys, giant squirrels, and noisy, colorful, widely diverse species of birds. Bird experts come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the elusive Malaysian rail-babbler, a species that is unique to this part of the world. Other distinctive birds that are popular with park visitors are the obnoxiously noisy hornbills and the ground-loving pittas.
More than 240 tree species flourish in the park’s 1,600 square miles; in no small part because the area has been protected since 1938, making it one of the oldest official national parks in Asia. The tradition and prestige enjoyed by the park is both a blessing and a curse. Ironically, one of the biggest drawbacks to this wild destination are the crowds, a fact driving many people interested in nature to venture to other, smaller, lesser-known parks and reserves in Malaysia. If you can handle the crowds, however, the many pleasant accommodations available and the extensive trail system make Taman Negara a winner. It is best to visit the park during the summer, when many animals are mating