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Batang Ai National Park is part of the region’s largest trans-national protected area for tropical rainforest conservation. The 24 sq km park adjoins the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary in Malaysia and the Bentuang-Karimun National Park in Indonesia. Together these totally protected areas cover almost 10,000 sq km and form a sanctuary for one of the few viable orang utan populations in Borneo (estimated at over 1,000 animals) as well as many other endangered species. For conservation reasons, Batang Ai National Park is the only part of this area open to visitors, but as it has the highest orang utan population density in central Borneo (up to 1.7 animals per sq km), there is a good possibility of seeing wild orang utan. However orang utan sightings should be regarded as a bonus not as a guaranteed experience.

Orang Utan In The Wild

The Bornean orang utan (pongo pygmaeus) is found in the rainforests of Malaysian Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) and Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan). The Sumatran orang utan, recently identified as a separate species, is found in similar habitats in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Orang utans are one of the world’s largest primates, and are almost completely arboreal (tree living). The word “orang” is Malay for “person” whilst “utan” is derived from “hutan” meaning forest. Thus, orang utan literally translates as “person of the forest”.

A mature male has large check pads and a pendulous throat sac. Adult males can reach a height of 150 cm (5 ft), weigh up to 100 kg (220lbs) and have an arm span of 240 cm (8 ft). Females are about three quarters of the height and half the weight of the males. Both sexes are covered with long reddish hair. Orang utan have a low reproductive rate - females reach sexual maturity at 12 years of age but generally don’t have their first offspring until two or three years later, usually giving birth to a single infant once every 7-8 years. Males reach sexual maturity at 15 but their cheek pads may not fully develop until a few years later. The life expectancy of orang utan in the wild is unknown but is thought to be less than in captivity, where some have lived to over 50 years of age.

Orang utan are primarily fruit eaters and spend most of the day roaming the forest foraging for food. They are particularly fond of wild figs and the pungent smelling durian. Although fruit is their most important source of food, they also feed on young leaves, insects, bark, flowers, eggs and small lizards. Each individual builds a new nest each night - and occasionally for a daytime nap - a safe resting place 12-18 metres (40-60 ft) up in the roof of the forest.

Wild orang utan are generally solitary. However, adolescents often gather in pairs and females occasionally form temporary groups of four or five. This rather lonely existence stems both from the relative scarcity of food in the rainforest and from a lack of predators. A mature adult roams a vast area of forest every day in order to find enough food to satisfy its healthy appetite. Its huge size also eliminates the need for ‘group defence’.

Both orang utan species are highly endangered, and are totally protected by law in Malaysia, Indonesia and internationally. Today, there are an estimated 20-27,000 orang utan left in the wild (perhaps 20,000 or so in Borneo and the rest in Sumatra). Deforestation, human encroachment on their habitat, indiscriminate hunting and the live animal trade: all are factors that have contributed to a decline in their numbers. To gain a better understanding of the orang utan and re-introduce rescued animals into the wild, both the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities have set up rehabilitation programmes.

Other Wildlife

Batang Ai National Park is also home to other primates, including Bornean gibbons whose whooping calls can often be heard in the park, white-fronted langurs, maroon or red langurs, long tailed macaques, pig-tailed macaques, and the nocturnal western tarsier and slow loris. Other mammals include the rare and elusive clouded leopard, two species of civet cat, sun bears, bearded pigs, barking deer, sambar deer, mouse deer, martens, weasels, otters, porcupines and giant squirrels, as well as a host of smaller squirrels, other rodents and tree shrews. With the exception of the macaques, most of these animals are shy and hard to spot.

Five of Sarawak’s eight hornbill species are found in Batang Ai, including the spectacular rhinoceros hornbill, Sarawak’s state bird, which is believed by the local Iban community to act as messenger between men and gods. Ground birds include the great argus pheasant, Bulwer’s pheasant, crested and crestless firebacks, crested partridges and nightjars. There are a host of canopy-dwelling birds, which are easier heard than seen - varieties of cuckoos, tree swifts, trogons, bulbuls (15 species), drongos, barbets, woodpeckers, babblers (17 species), shamas, flycatchers, fantails, flowerpeckers, sunbirds, spiderhunters, bristleheads and the rare Malaysian honeyguide. Amongst the other birds present are two species of kingfisher, which are regarded as omen birds by the local Iban population, a number of small kites and hawks, and at the top of the food chain the brahminy kite, believed by traditional Ibans to be the embodiment of Singalang Burung, the god of war.

Other vertebrates found at Batang Ai and its adjoining forests include 13 snake species, 12 lizard species, two types of river turtle, spiny hill turtles, a staggering 52 species of frog, two burrowing legless amphibians or caecilians and over 80 species of fish. The incredible variety of insects and other invertebrates simply defies description.

Plant Life

Because parts of the park have been inhabited by the Ibans for centuries, Batang Ai has a unique mix of terrain. The park is primarily mixed lowland dipterocarp forest, with hill dipterocarp forest above 500m elevation, but in the southern edge of the park there is also old secondary forest which is on its way to becoming primary forest, and active areas of shifting cultivation dotted with ancient burial grounds. The whole area has remarkable biodiversity, with over 1,000 tree species and almost 200 herbs, shrubs and climbers recorded in Batang Ai and the adjoining forests.



Batang Ai’s biodiversity is very important for the local Iban population, who gather over 140 different kinds of medicinal plant from the forest, and eat 114 varieties of wild fruit and 36 varieties of jungle vegetable. Forest trees and plants are also important as a source of wood, fibres, rattan, bamboo and aromatic resins.

Community Involvement
The Iban of Batang Ai have been settled in and around the park for over 400 years, and form an integral part of its ecosystem. They have historically played a major role in orang utan conservation as they have a strict taboo against harming these animals; some groups believe orang utan are inhabited by the soul of departed ancestors, whilst local legends claim that a female orang utan taught human women the skills of midwifery. Local communities were involved in the planning process before the park was established in 1991, and agreed to limit their activities in the park to farming of previously farmed areas and sustainable gathering of jungle produce. In return they benefit from employment in the park, and have formed their own community cooperative (Kooperasi Serbaguna Ulu Batang Ai) to provide transport, accommodation and guiding for visitors and to market their excellent handicrafts.



There are five trails in Batang Ai which showcase every aspect of the park’s terrain and vegetation, such as mixed dipterocarp forest, old secondary forest and active shifting cultivations areas, with ancient burial grounds scattered around the area. Visitors must be accompanied by a registered guide or park ranger at all times.





Trail Name



Time (Approx.)

Padalai Trail

1.8 km


1 hr 30 mins

Bebiyong Trail

4.0 km


2 hrs 30 mins

Bilitong Trail

4.6 km


4 hrs


8.2 km


6 hrs

Sium Trail

7.6 km


5 hrs 30 mins

All trails end at a pick-up point for longboat transport back to Park HQ.

Padalai Trail

The Padalai trail begins across river from Nanga Lubang Baya longhouse, near the Park HQ. There is a 30 metre climb to “Pendam Sepetang”, a traditional Iban burial ground dotted with old burial jars. The trail then follows the main ridge between the Lubang Baya (or crocodile pool) and Batang Ai rivers to its highest point, passing by pig wallows and cleared patches in the forest floor (the dancing grounds of the male great argus pheasant). It then descends gradually to the top of the Wong Padalai rapids, following the river downstream to a picnic area and pick-up point for longboats.


Bilitong Trail

This moderately difficult trail follows the Padalai trail for the first kilometer, then continues upwards along the crest of the ridge to Tuchong Bilitong, an important iban burial site. The remains of six tribal leaders are interred here. The trail continues through fine hill forest, gaining height until it reaches Ulu Sungai Sekerong at 320 m elevation. From here, an optional short but very steep climb leads to the peak of Tuchong Inggai at a height of 420m. This was an important look-out point in headhunting days, as the fires of enemy war parties moving up the Batang Ai river could easily be seen. A burial jar marks the final resting place of the warrior Tugang, whose spirit is said to guard the peak. The trail then descends rapidly to the confluence of the Batang Ai and the Lelayang stream, the pick-up point for the boat back to Park HQ


Sium Trail

The most demanding and rewarding of Batang Ai’s trails, the Sium trail begins on the river bank opposite the Park HQ. The first 2.5 km of the trail is a steady climb to the main Sium ridge at a height of 415 m. It then continues along the undulating ridge, passing through pristine hill forest until it reaches an Iban burial ground. Shortly afterwards, it reaches its highest point at the peak of Bukit Sium Ukap, at an elevation of 704 m. The word “sium” in Iban means “to sniff”, as when climbing steep hills the Iban say they are “sniffing the ground”. A small area of ground has been cleared around the survey beacon at the top of the peak, and the unrestricted views are spectacular. The entire hydro lake and the surrounding forest are revealed in a green and blue panorama, and on very clear days the distant Danau Sentarum lakes can be seen in Kalimantan, Indonesia. The trail continues along the ridge for a short distance before descending rapidly to follow the Beritik river. A little further downstream is a majestic Tapang (Koompassia excelsa), its great height, white bark and broad canopy making it one of the most spectacular trees in the rainforest. Its broad horizontal branches are much favoured by nesting bees, so it is greatly prized by the Iban as a source of honey. They would never fell a Tapang as this is believed to cause madness, delirium and certain death, but if a Tapang falls in a storm or landslide, its wood is used for making the finest, straightest blowpipes. From here, the trail continues along the Beritik to its confluence with the Batang Ai, to meet the waiting boatmen or continue on foot along the riverbank to Park HQ.

Bebiyong Trail

The somewhat longer Bebiyong trail leads from the Park HQ to the Bebiyong Mit stream, then rises gradually to a height of 280 metres, leading to a resting point just below the ridge crest at Puncak Igau, and offering excellent views of the surrounding forest along they way. It than descends rapidly to the bank of the Bebiyong Besai, a small river with crystal clear flowing from pool to pool over gravel beds. The trail follows the river bank for about 1 km until the confluence with the main Batang Ai River, the pick-up point for the boat back to the HQ.

Enggam Trail

A long and strenuous walk for the physically fit, the Enggam trail follows the Bebiyong trail to its highest point at Puncak Igau. It then branches off along the ridge, ascending for 1.9 km through attractive hill forest to reach Kota Enggam, a late 19th century fortification built by the warrior chieftain Enggam and his followers to resist the rule of the Brooke Rajahs. Nowadays all that can be seen is a trace of the defensive ditch that protected Enggam’s longhouse. The path descends steadily for 600 m to join the picturesque Bebiyong Besai river at Nanga Sengkulit longhouse. The trail then follows the river, occasionally through the stream itself, to rejoin the Bebiyong trail at Nanga Sebabai longhouse.


Entry Fees & Permits

There is a nominal entry fee for all National Parks in Sarawak. Check with the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching or the Sarawak Forestry website for the latest fee structure.

Reservations & Enquiries

National Parks Booking Office,
Visitors Information Centre,
Sama Jaya Nature Reserve,
Jalan Setia Jaya,Tabuan Jaya,
93000 Kuching Sarawak,
Tel: (+6) 082 248088 Fax: (+6) 082 248087

Online booking:

Opening Hours
National Parks Booking Office Monday-Friday 0800 hrs – 1700 hrs
Saturday, Sunday& Public Holidays Closed

Getting There

Batang Ai National Park is at the headwaters of the Batang Ai and Lubang Baya rivers, some 15km upriver from the Batang Ai Hydro Lake. Access is by motorized traditional longboat from the Hilton Batang Ai jetty or the Batang Ai public jetty. There is no public longboat service and transport should be arranged in advance. The boat journey is roughly 2 hours – 1 hour crossing they hydro lake and another hour ascending the fast-flowing Batang Ai river. At times of low water visitors may have to jump into the crystal clear stream and help to push the boat through small rapids – all part of the fascinating Batang Ai experience.

The Batang Ai hydro lake is about 275km (or 5 hours drive) from Kuching. Most visitors arrive as part of an organised tour group where all transport is included. Contact the Visitor’s Information Centre in Kuching for a list of approved tour operators. Independent travel to Batang Ai is difficult but not impossible; there are regular express buses from Kuching to Sri Aman (3 hours 30 mins), from Sri Aman there is a local bus service to Lubok Antu (2 hrs), some 5km from the hydro lake, and from Lubok Antu it is usually possible to get a free ride to the lake from one of the friendly locals. However there is no public longboat service; you may have to stay in Lubok Antu for a day or two until somebody is heading to Batang Ai. The alternative – chartering a longboat yourself – can be prohibitively expensive.


There is no visitor accommodation at Batang Ai National Park. Visitors usually stay in one of the nearby Iban longhouses, or at the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, which is roughly 1 hour 30 minsby boat from the Park HQ. The park has no canteen facilities, and visitors should bring enough food and drinking water with them.

Further Information

Tel: (+6) 082 610088 Fax: (+6) 082 610099
Toll free line: 1 800 88 2526


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