Mention Bako in Kuching and most people would think of Bako National Park. Not surprisingly, as the national park is the oldest in Sarawak. It is also one of the smallest national parks in the state, yet one of the most interesting!
Therefore, it is little wonder that the jetty terminal in Kampung Bako where boats use to ferry tourists to the national park was teeming with vacationers, mainly Westerners, when my group was there waiting for our boats.
The morning when we were there was wet and dreary, as can be seen from these photos. In fact, we spent almost an hour at the jetty waiting for the rain to recede. Even so, when we finally boarded our boats, the sea was very choppy, making photography extremely challenging.
Anyway, the reason we were in Bako was not to visit the national park although we passed by its headquarters in our boat. We were there to experience for ourselves the Bako livelihood, meaning the heritage tourism of the community.
Kampung Bako is a small fishing village located at the tip of Muara Tebas, 30km away from Kuching city. Established in mid-1850s, Kampung Bako was named after the mangrove trees that are prevalent in the area. Mangrove is called “bakau” in Malay, and pronounced locally as “bako”.
Although its population is primarily Malay who make a living from fishing, there is a small Chinese community here, and they are mostly traders. This is one of the oldest Malay settlements in Kuching.
The Bako community is an integral part of Bako National Park through the locals’ involvement in ecotourism, and the major contribution is the running of boat services that ferry visitors around.
Coming to this area, besides visiting the national park, there are plenty of pursuits to participate in. As mentioned, Bako’s heritage tourism is an industry by itself.
There are a number of activities that would attract tourists, and they include collecting bamboo clams (mengambal), shrimp catching (nyongkor), learning the process of making Sarawak’s popular shrimp (krill) paste (belacan) and watching silat (Malay traditional martial art) demonstration.
Collecting Bamboo Clams (Time: 8.30am – 10.30am)
Shrimp catching (Time: 10.35am – 11.30am)
Shrimp paste process (Time: 11.35am – 12.30pm)
The highlight of a tour to Bako would be the sea cruise. Attractions include rock formations and the must-see cobra head seastack, an iconic landmark of Bako National Park. Known locally as “Batu Duit” (Money Stone), a trip here is incomplete without seeing it live!
Obviously, when out in a boat, one could also opt for swimming and photography, where the local knowledge of the boatman would come in useful. Boat charges vary depending on guests’ requirements, e.g. based on the number of people in a group, activities and its distance.
Koperasi Warisan Pelancongan Berhad
Add: Jeti Terminal Taman Negara Bako, Kampung Bako, Kuching, Sarawak.
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