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The green heart of Brunei.
By Nathalie Salas
Saturday, 5th April 2014
 

Travel Feature: An exploration into Ulu Temburong National Park, Bruneiís largest rainforest -†

Deciding to holiday in Brunei isnít one of those countries that would usually appear in the top 10 of your travel bucket list and†most probably because many of you donít know where it actually is and also because there isnít that much publicity about it as a holiday destination.

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However, if you are a lover of both nature and adventure, Brunei is one of those places to experience those two passions, in an authentic and eco-conscious way.†† The tourism is pretty small in numbers, so it really is pleasurable to travel around the country without being branded as a ďtouristĒ.†† My previous travel stories from Brunei covered some interesting tours around the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan.† In this article, I go further afield to the Temburong district, an area home to 50,000 hectares of untouched, pristine rainforest and wildlife.

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Even if Brunei is such a small country, there are many interesting experiences to discover.

Exploring the rainforest with an organised walking tour

Brunei is situated on the north-western coast on the island of Borneo,† bordered by the Malaysian state of Sarawak and the South China sea.† The country is strangely made up of two unconnected swathes of territory, with Temburong situated on the easternmost district.

The most easiest and shortest way to reach Ulu Temburong National Park is by water taxi, which you can take from the jetty in Bandar. The 1 hour journey is fast and furious as it speeds along the Brunei River, into Brunei Bay and then southbound along the Sungai Temburong River.

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A 20-minute cruise down the river is required to access the national park

On arrival in Bangar, there is a 15-minute coach journey, which takes you to the forest lodge.† The atmosphere totally changes.† Fewer cars, less people, and an unbelievable amount of lush green in every nook and cranny that your eyes are able to gaze upon.

To get to the accessible part of the national park, the only way is by going on a longboat.† This by far was my favourite part of the trip.† As the boat was weaving in and out upstream amongst the small rapids, the sun glistening in the blue sky, the breeze blowing on my face, I couldnít help but feel in awe of what was around me.†† I couldnít control my excitement and feel like I was on an exhilarating quest with Indiana Jones Ė without the worry of villains chasing me of course.†† Imagine that itís just you and a few other people in a place where you are hugely outnumbered by unspoiled exotic flora and fauna.† I felt so small in comparison, engulfed by the vastness of it all.

The ascent to reach the top


The uphill journey, albeit a little sweaty, was a great opportunity to see the smaller inhabitants of the rainforest. I use the word ďsmallerĒ loosely as I did gasp when I saw an army of the gigantic ants marching double my pace.† I also had to watch out not to head butt a low-hanging spiderís web.† Iím not sure how poisonous those dangly legged creatures were, but I wasnít so keen to find one of them on top of my head.

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In the middle of the rainforest, youíre bound to come face-to-face with the local wildlife.

Finally reaching the top, I had the same feeling as when I saw the finishing line after running 26 miles in the London marathon Ė emotional and delusional.† There was just one more final climb up the canopy walk towers and it would be all over.† To see the sweeping views of endless rainforest was the perfect prize for all my exertions and also a good opportunity to catch my breath.† I tried to look at 360-degree panorama piece by piece,† focussing on capturing all the fine details.

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If youíre looking to get an even better view, a 5-10 minute climb is required to reach the top of the watch towers

Climbing down wasnít so bad on the way back and being back in the longboat was perfect to rest those tired legs of mine.† Before returning to the lodge, we stopped along the way to visit a special waterfall where we were able to treat our feet to a pedicure.† Tiny Garra Rufa fish would swim up to your feet and nibble away (without teeth) any dead and hardened skin. It was a strange experience that to be honest, Iím not sure whether I enjoyed, but my feet did feel more relaxed and definitely softer afterwards.

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The wonders of nature also has an array of wellness benefits, including a natural pedicure in this waterfall with Garra Ruta fish.

Lunch back at the lodge was welcomed with opened arms.† A buffet selection of freshly cooked fish and vegetables was a wonderful end to a very active day.

Unearthing a chest of precious jewels or the Holy Grail granting eternal life would be the usual ending to an Indiana Jones adventure.† However in my case, my ending was just a simple memory of an enjoyable experience in a Bruneian rainforest.

I booked my day tour to Temburong, at my own expense with Freme Travel, a registered tour operator in Brunei who has permission to access the park.† Accessing the park on your own is forbidden.

About Perfect Boutique Hotel

Perfect Boutique Hotel is a travel website that connects boutique hotels neighbourhood travel experiences. Itís what makes a hotel stay all the more meaningful and memorable. Each hotel has its own special characteristics.

Through my travels across the world, I visit boutique hotels that also provide an authentic enriching travel experiences. By linking the hotel to its destination, my goal is create that emotional connection between the two. Only then do they have the honour of becoming a Perfect Boutique Hotel.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryNathalie Salas Founder & Editor

Nathalie stated her career in the banking industry working in marketing and communications for global banking institutions in London and Dubai. After turning freelance, she continued to work for clients in the Middle East, UK and Italy helping small businesses improve their marketing and branding on an international level. Her move to Italy was what sparked her passion for hospitality and boutique hotels. Combined with over 15 years of constant global travelling, Perfect Boutique Hotel was created to capture in one place all of her hotel experiences.

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