Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia

Taman Negara is billed, perhaps wrongly, as a wildlife park. Certainly this magnificent wilderness area is a haven for endangered species such as elephants, tigers, leopards and rhinos, but numbers are low and sightings of anything more exotic than snakes, lizards, monkeys, small deer, and perhaps tapir, are rare.

The birdlife is prolific, however, and chances are you’ll see more insects than you’ve ever seen in your life. Traditionally, the park was only accessible by river. These days there’s a road, but the boat trip is still recommended for the full Taman Negara experience.

The jungle at Taman Negara is so dense that you could pass within metres of an animal and never know it. The probability of spotting wildlife increases the further you trek from the heavily trafficked park headquarters, but sightings are never guaranteed. Some travellers are subsequently disappointed, but that is perhaps to miss the point: the greatest reward of a visit to Taman Negara is to be present in one of the world’s most pristine extant primary rainforests. The jungle here is claimed to be the oldest in the world: none of the Ice Ages had any effect here, and Taman Negara has eluded volcanic activity and other geological upheavals.