A hike in the headline-making park of Lambir Hills
By Patricia Hului
“Just make sure your face doesn’t turn up there,” the Lambir Hills National Park guide said to me as he pointed to a notice board covered with news articles where I noticed one of the headlines read, ‘Two hikers run out of steam at Bukit Lambir’.
The park also put up statistics of accidents and incidents on the notice board.
From 2011 till this year (as of May) there were cases of near drownings (2), snake attacks (1), bee attacks (2), muscle cramp (3), faintings (1), slipping (3), getting lost (2) and dehydration (5).
All of these were reminders for visitors to be careful and be extra cautious while exploring the park.
Making news headlines and being another statistic were the last things on my mind during my recent visit to Lambir Hills.
According to the guide, trekkers tend to either overestimate their own capability or underestimate the difficulty of Lambir’s terrain.
Looking at the trail length which ranged from less than one kilometre to the longest at 6.3km to Bukit Lambir, one can easily assume the distances are achievable.
But the hilly and undulating topography of the area was not named Lambir (rooster’s comb in Malay) for no reason.
Even if there is no aerial photography to see, the ups and downs of the trails makes it easy to imagine you are walking along a rooster’s comb covered in tropical trees.
Thanks to this distinctive landscape, the park was not short of waterfalls of various sizes.
Some waterfalls come with an inviting bathing pool for visitors to take a dip in; others were smaller in size yet still enough for you to enjoy its calming splashing sounds of water.
Situated about 20 kilometres from Miri, the entrance to the park is hard to miss when you are driving along the old Bintulu-Miri road.
Lambir Hills is one of the most accessible national parks we have here in the state compared to others such as Loagan Bunut which requires 1.5 hours of travelling along gravel road, or Tanjung Datu which requires a boat ride.
Established in 1975, the national park’s protected areas cover about 6,952 ha with large trees such as tapang, meranti, kapur and figs.
Researchers from Sarawak Forest Department, Harvard University and Osaka City University created the Lambir Hills Forest Dynamic Plot in 1991.
Within a 52-hectare plot area, they found 1,175 different species of trees, making it perhaps the highest diversity of trees of any forest in the Old World.
With high plant biodiversity in the area, it was not a surprise that many birds called Lambir Hills home.
To date, there are 237 different species birds recorded flying the skies above the national park.
Adding to the richness of its diversity are other animals such as gibbons, monkeys, deer, wild pigs, flying squirrels besides insects.
Lambir Hills can be considered a ‘fit for all fitness levels’ type of park.
There are plenty of trails and treks to choose from regardless of whether you are a novice or expert when it comes to hiking.
The crowd favourite is Latak waterfall, the shortest and easiest of all Lambir’s trails.
Equipped with toilets and picnic facilities, the waterfall can be packed during the weekends and public holidays.
I picked the Inove trail out of the hiking menu.
After one hour of trekking, the path forked into three trails; one trail at the left leading to Pantu waterfall, Oil Well, Dinding waterfall, Tengkorong waterfall, Bukit Lambir, Pancur waterfall, a second trail that went straight to Bukit Pantu trail or a third trail leading to Latak Waterfall, Nibong Waterfall and back to the park HQ.
Due to time constraints, I chose the third trail leading me back to the park HQ but I managed to make a quick stop at Latak waterfall.
At any rate, consult the guides before you decide on which route to take.
I originally had my eyes on Dinding waterfall after stumbling upon its majestic photo online, but the guide advised that I should have had an early start if I was to proceed with my initial plan.
Nonetheless with Lambir Hills park located about 20 minutes’ drive from Miri city, the only things that would stop me from revisiting are time and an expensive Kuching-Miri flight.