Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Penang National Park. Taman Negara Pulau Pinang

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Before my eco-tourism trip with Tourism Malaysia, I didn't even know that there is a national park in Penang. Taman Negara Pulau Pinang may be Malaysia's smallest national park, but it is just the right size to fit in half a day of fun exploring some of Malaysia's unique natural wonders. It sure makes a visit to Penang more interesting - adding another reason to visit Penang on top of eating, photos with wall murals in Georgetown, shopping, sun worshipping and partying in Batu Ferringhi.

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Penang National Park is located at the northwest corner of Penang island. The little 10 sq mile park has two entry points - the main entrance at Teluk Bahang and a secondary entrance at Kuala Sungai Pinang in Balik Pulau.

(Teluk Bahang is just 30 minutes by car from Batu Ferringhi. Rapid Penang public bus numbers 101 and 103 come here from KOMTAR Bus Terminal and Weld Quay Bus Terminal.)

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We entered the park via the main entrance at Teluk Bahang as it is nearer from Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi. The park headquarters and interpretation centre (i.e. exhibition gallery) are also here.

The two main natural attractions in the park are in Pantai Kerachut. They are the Turtle Hatchery & Conservation Centre and Meromictic Lake.

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Pantai Kerachut can be reached by a 1.5 hour trek through the forest from the main entrance.

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Alternatively, we could take a round trip chartered boat ride from the Teluk Bahang entrance to Pantai Kerachut.

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We went by chartered boat which takes 30 minutes one way between Teluk Bahang and Pantai Kerachut.

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Off we went on little motorboats.

Along the way, our guide Fauzi pointed out some interesting natural features in the park.

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The first was a rock formation known as "Crocodile Rock" because it looked like the head of a crocodile - can you see it?

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Then, there is "Turtle Rock" but the resemblance isn't as obvious.

Can you see it on the left?

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Crouching rabbit napping by the sea. Soon, it will be overtaken by the slow but steady turtle 😄

Can you see the "Rabbit Rock"?


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Walls of water rise up as our boat round the cape at the northwestern tip of Penang island - it is known to fishermen here as Muka Putih "Cape of White Face" because faces turn pale when they round the cape during high seas.

On the hilltop above the cape is Muka Head Lighthouse built in 1883 and 242 metres above the sea. From the lighthouse you can see the Malacca Straits, Langkawi island and North Sumatra. Trekking from Teluk Bahang to Muka Head Lighthouse takes nearly 2 hours one way.

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As our boat made it's way to Pantai Kerachut, we can see the two tiers of vegetation of Penang National Park.

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Our boats arrived at Pantai kerachut after about 30 minutes at sea. The surface of the sea glint like floating diamonds.

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Pantai kerachut also known as Turtle Beach has fine sandy beaches and pristine turquoise water. It faces the Malacca Straits to the west.

(Note that there is no cellular wifi or data access here. Is that a bane 😂 or a gain 😄 ?)

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There is a camp site at Pantai Kerachut where park visitors can pitch tents. (There are altogether 5 camp sites in Panang National Park.)

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If you are lucky, you may come face to face with "Berlian" the giant dark hairy ape-man with bright piercing eyes that shine like diamonds.

"Berlian" is Malaysia's counterpart to America's "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch".

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One of the top attractions of Penang National Park, the meromictic lake, is right here are Pantai Kerachut.

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There are only a handful of meromictic lakes in the world and only one in Malaysia, right here in Penang National Park.

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A meromictic lake is a rare natural phenomenon where freshwater and saltwater are found together in the same lake. The lake is filled with freshwater from the river and seawater brought in by the (high) tide. The heavier seawater settles at the bottom and freshwater at the upper layer. Sea fish and river fish live in the same lake at their respective layers.

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Next stop, turtle hatchery and conservation centre.

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Green turtles and Olive turtles come to Pantai Kerachut throughout the year to lay eggs.

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The turtles lay their eggs under clumps of leafy shady Scaevola Taccada scrubs which dotted the length of Pantai Kerachut.

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Each turtle lays hundreds of eggs but many would be eaten by monitor lizards, snakes, crabs, monkeys, and even humans, if left unprotected in their nests. In order to protect the endangered species, the turtle eggs are collected and incubated in the hatcheries to keep out the predators.

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In the hatchery, the eggs are protected by heavy steel wire cages.

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Once the hatchlings hatched, they will be released to the wild as soon as possible.


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Visitors to the turtle hatchery and conservation centre have a chance to release baby turtles to the sea.

It is estimated that only one of every thousand hatchlings will survive to adulthood due to predators and pollution.

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Tourism Malaysia Director Corporate Comms Iskandar Mirza led us in planting Scaevola Taccada saplings so that sea turtles will continue to come to Penang National Park for years to come.

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Chartered boats came to pick us up from the same spot we hopped off in the morning.

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Who should come to Penang National Park?

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Trekkers and hikers - there are five trails leading to all of the park's 5 beaches and 5 camp sites. Next time, I shall trek from the Teluk Bahang park entrance to Pantai Kerachut which would take 1.5 hours one way. Another activity is to trek 30 minutes from Monkey Beach to Muka Head Lighthouse which is 242 metres above sea level.

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Beach and sun lovers - the park has Penang's best beaches. Unspoilt and pristine. The white sand is fine but not powdery - doesn't stick to even sweaty skin.

Fishermen - catch fish with hook and line or watch sea eagles catch fish 😄 

Bird watchers and nature photographers - there are more than 1,000 species of flora and 271 species of wildlife. Bird enthusiasts can watch and photograph birds in their natural habitat from the 250 metre long canopy walk, 15 metres above ground.

Canoeists - Paddle around and explore the park's beautiful mangrove forests.

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Campers and picnickers - there are 5 campsites in the park.

All nature lovers - that's you and me lah 😄

Read about my eco-tourism trip to Penang 👈 click

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Taman Negara Pulau Pinang

Address: Jalan Hassan Abbas, 11050 Teluk Bahang, Penang (main entrance at Teluk Bahang)
GPS5°27'35.3"N 100°12'23.1"E | 5.459809, 100.206424
Tel: +604 881 3500



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