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PENANG NATIONAL PARK

© Forest Ang

......Welcome to the trails of Penang National Park.....

This is my ORIGINAL article about Penang National Park. I came to know of a few websites which copied or used my article without any acknowledgement. Their articles were trimmed version of my original and can be misleading. They even used my original trail numbers without understanding them. Just for your knowledge.

Forest Ang
Dec 2006

Introduction

Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve was declared the Penang National Park on 4th April 2003. Located at the north-western corner of Penang Island stands the last wilderness and nature heritage of Penang, covering an area of about 2562 ha. It is the most remote part of the state. Lying way out of civilization, it is the nature park for scientific & nature studies and recreational activities. Penang National Park is all lush green and the fragrance of the sea breeze is enchanting. It conveys to us the message of eco-balance that everyone should live life joyfully. Its ecosystem consists mainly of tropical lowland forest with coastal features. Be it beaches, hills, forest trails or even lake, it offers big biodiversity as a national park.

The Beaches

There are 8 beaches. The beaches of Penang National Park are popular amongst tourists as well as locals. Each beach has its own uniqueness; richness of variety of floras and faunas and of its potential tourism activities.

1) Teluk Bahang Beach

It should be noted that Teluk Bahang is the area where the Bahang Bay is located. It is usually being confused with the Teluk Bahang township. At the very edge of the northern boundary of the forest reserve lays Teluk Bahang the forest reserve. The panoramic fishing jetty engulfing the backdrop is a rare sight by itself - built of mangrove timber and palm trunks. This scenic beach is bustling with tourists and campers going into the national park. The area is disturbed with sandy beach and seasonal muddy seabed. Much litter have accumulated and scarred the scenic beach. A little stream flows into the bay. A scout camp was supposedly built here to replace the coronation camp at the Botanic Gardens.

Flora: Disturbed secondary forest and hardy plants such as the screw pines dominate the coast. The red paper-like bark called pelawan trees are abundant. Undergrowth and ferns spread between the trees.

Fauna: Reptile such as monitor lizards and snakes are common. Squirrels and monkeys occasionally make an appearance.

Tourism: - This beach is easily accessible within walking distance from the jetty and the restaurant. There is a shady camping ground and with civilization just around the corner makes suitable venue for family outings.

How to reach there:

From Georgetown, use the northern coastal road passing through Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, Batu Fringghi and Teluk Bahang town. At the Teluk Bahang roundabout, continue straight towards the fishing jetty. You will be able to see a popular restaurant call the End of the World. Use trail 1A.

2) Teluk Tukun

Sungai Tukun flows into Teluk Tukun. A small island opposite is Pulau Tukun Tengah. At the estuary, the forestry department had built chalets. The national park headquarter will be situated here. Camping pits were built along Sungai Tukun. There are several small swimming pools for campers. The piped water is supplied from the upper stream.

Flora: - The cool stream feeding the Tukun bay fans out into the shallow sea. Several mangrove trees are found along the estuary. Secondary forest is the main feature. Exotic flowering plants and ornamental plants are decorated along the trail parallel with the stream. Timber trees are found along the upper reaches of the stream.

Fauna: - Two types of monkeys are found here. The dusky leaf monkeys and the long tailed macaque can be seen if you are observance enough. Birds are aplenty.

Tourism: - Proper camping ground and amenities provided by the authority make camping a luxury. Birdwatching should not be missed here. The swimming pools provided good place for family outings and nature camps.

How to reach there:

It is about 20 minutes from the End of the World. You need to walk along the coast to reach the beach of Teluk Tukun. The trail is clear and easy. Use trail 1A-1B.

3) Tanjung Aling

Tanjung Aling housed the USM research centre. There is a jetty to bring in supply from town. The forest and coastal areas are been used for research on bio-technology.

Flora: - The secondary forest surrounding the centre has vast variety of plants. Herbal plants are aplenty and need more research to discover the potentials.

Fauna: - Rats, birds, monitor lizards, snakes and squirrels are common. The occasional landing of turtles provide record of the larger fauna found here.

Tourism: - The beach is easily accessible and it is a suitable camping site for campers who prefer to camp within the vicinity of the biological station. It is also a resting place for hikers enroute to Muka Head and beyond.

How to reach there:

It will take about 30 minutes to reach Tanjung Aling from Teluk Bahang. One needs only to follow the coastal trail via Sungai Tukun. Use trail 1A-1B-1C.

4) Teluk Duyung

Teluk Duyung is a beautiful bay protected by the Muka Head's cape. It is the most popular beach for tourists. Teluk Duyung is also called Muka Head, named after the Muka Head's peak which stands a majestic lighthouse. It is a private land cultivated with coconuts and durians. A burial ground of at least 80 years old resembles that of Indonesian Acheh is an interesting historical artifact.

Flora: - Pyrrosia angustata an uncommon fern found only in this part of national park. Other noticeable trees planted include casuarina trees, sea almond, cashew nuts and the swaying coconut palms. A colony of unidentified aroids grow between a section of the coconut orchard.

Fauna: The fact that Teluk Duyung is also popularly known as Monkey Beach suggests that monkeys are abundant. The species that are common here are the Long Tailed Macaque. Other animals include the vipers, monitor lizards, squirrels and rats. Amongst the most noticeable big birds are the White bellied Sea Eagles and the Brahminy Kites.

Tourism: - It is an ideal swimming bay with flat and sandy seabed. Beachcombers will enjoy collecting mollous during low tides. Lunch packages were organised by the beach hotels. Barbecue pits were built by them to cater for the tourists. A broad flight of steps leads up from the beach to the lighthouse. The peak offers a panoramic view of the Kedah's peak and the surrounding islands. The lighthouse was built in 1883 and has a useable well on the peak.

How to reach there :

A nice walking trail with cemented bridges over small ravines have been built by the authority to provide easy access to Teluk Duyung. One should be able to reach Teluk Duyung within 90 minutes from Teluk Bahang. Larger boats can only reach there during high tide. Use trail 1A-1B-1C-1D.

5) Teluk Ketapang

This is a small isolated beach stretching less than 100 meters. It was originally known as Monkey Beach. This is where monkeys roam the beach scavenging and ransacking campers. The beach got it name from the numerous sea almond trees known locally as Pokok Ketapang. The seed of the sea almond when cut open give a white kernel tasting like almond and hence the name sea almond.

Flora: - There are many exotic trees planted by the previous inhabitant of this isolated beach. Quite a number of matured timber trees are found along the trail between Teluk Duyung and Teluk Ketapang. Some rare herbs can also be found. These include the famous aphrodisiac plant called eurycoma longifolia or locally known as tongkat ali.

Fauna: - Bats are abundant here as the sea almond attracts fruit bats. The long tailed macaques are common. Monitor lizards and sea otters are often seen around the rocky bay.

Tourism: - This secluded beach with a small bay can be easily accessed by boat. The hotels that offer packages often come to this beach to prepare barbecue lunch for the guests. Turbulent current around the Muka Head's cape hindered smaller boats from easy assess to this beach. Black sand is found along the beach. A little stream flows to the sea providing the needed fresh water for campers and tourists.

How to reach there :

The easier way to reach there is by boat from Teluk Bahang's jetty. For the hikers, you need to get to Teluk Duyung before cutting across the valley behind the bungalows to reach Teluk Ketapang in less than 30 minutes. However, the trail is usually overgrowth with bushes. Use trail 1A-1B-1C-1D-2.

6) Pantai Kerachut

Famous for its seasonal meromictic lake, it is a popular picnic and camping site and famous turtle hatchery. Collecting of the turtles' eggs is prohibited. Pantai Kerachut is the only beach where the Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas can be spotted. It is believed that the Green Turtle only migrate here for nesting as extensive algae are not known and found around Penang Island. It is one of the largest sea turtle and the Penang National Park will ensure the continuity of the turtles visit.

Flora: Cashew nuts are common here. This indicates that some agriculture activities had taken place many years ago. Fully-grown timber trees are found inside the forest beyond the coast. From afar the tree crowns look greyish from the crowns of shorea curtiss.

Fauna: Bats and birds are common. Monkeys are a nuisance as they raided campsites for food. The calls from a pair of resident stock billed kingfisher in the evening occasionally break the monotonous beating waves and chirping birds. Wildboars and mousedeers are quite common during low tourist seasons.

Tourism: - The memorictic lake is the greatest attraction here. Warm saline water below and fresh water on top. Crab, rare fishes and large prawns are quite common. The fishery department has built a turtle sanctuary.

How to reach there:

There are more than one way to reach Pantai Keracut. If you are coming from the End of the World, follow the track along the coast until you cross a suspension bridge. Take the path on the left that leads away from the coast. The path is well used. You should be able to reach there in an hour and a half. Use trail 1A-6A-6B-6C/6D/6E.

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