Taman Negara lays claim to being the oldest tropical rain forest on earth at 130 million years, older even than the Amazon. I don’t know how you verify that kind of thing, and it really isn’t all that important anyway. We just wanted to see some natural growth forest instead of all the plantations that you see in the countryside around Kuala Lumpur. At over 4,000 square kilometers, there is a lot to see in Taman Negara besides the old growth forest, including elephants, tapirs and the elusive Malaysian tiger.

There are any number of bus tours that will get you there. The cheapest and most direct ones start at the Five Elements Hotel on Jalan Sultan on the edge of the Chinatown district in KL. They offer two or three day all inclusive packages that range from around MYR 150 to MYR 650, depending on the type of accommodation you choose. Our advice is to avoid the bus. You will spend all of your time travelling to and fro, and no time in the park. It is not a good deal. For MYR 300 you can rent a car for two days that will carry four of you comfortably and allow you to come and go as you please and stop when you like.

We took our 15 year old Proton Satria, and friends Pete and Joan and left at 6 on Saturday morning. We took the LDP (E11) out of town, which at that hour was deserted, picked up the E8 around Batu Caves, sailed past Genting and over the range of hills that forms the spine of Malaysia and didn’t stop until we left the highway at Temerloh, where we woke our sleeping passengers for a break.

About an hour up highway 98 brought us the sleepy little town of Jerantut. Turn right at the t-junction and 8 clicks down the road you come to a left that is well signposted for Taman Negara. The road is a little rough at first, but once you hit the stretch alongside the plantations it gets better. Then it gets worse again, a lot worse. There are potholes that eat little cars like ours for breakfast. An hour up this road brings you to Kuala Tahan, quite literally the end of the road as the Pahang River is in front of you. Across the river is the Mutiara Resort, quite possibly the nicest Malaysian owned resort in the country and our final destination.