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An Introduction to Kubah National Park

By Wayne Tarman

Kubah
©Wayne Tarman
Kubah is one of Sarawak's most accessible national parks (only 20 kilometres from Kuching) and yet it is probably the least known park in the state. This lack of fame has much to do with the fact that Kubah is a recent addition to Sarawak's network of protected forest areas; it was gazetted in 1988 and only opened to the public in 1995. In contrast, well-known national parks such as Bako, Gunung Mulu and Niah were established in 1957, 1974 and 1975 respectively.

Covering an area of 2,230 hectares, Kubah essentially consists of a sandstone plateau which includes three mountains - Gunung Serapi, Gunung Selang and Gunung Sendok. At elevations of 150-450 metres the plateau is broken by bands of hardened limestone. The existence of layers of hard and soft rock at the lower elevations has resulted in a series of waterfalls and bathing pools located in beautiful jungle settings.

The vegetation at Kubah consists of mixed Dipterocarp forest with some patches of scrub forest. The park is also home to a wide selection of palms and orchids; 93 species of palm are found within Kubah's boundaries. Taking into consideration the park's relatively small size, Kubah is one of the most species-rich areas for palms in all of Borneo. The park's wildlife includes bearded pigs, mouse deer, black hornbills and a various types of amphibians and reptiles. Although a home to these animals, Kubah can not be considered a park for wildlife experiences as many of the animals are shy and stay deep in the forest.

For visitors it is helpful to view Kubah as being divided into two areas - the Park HQ area and the Matang Wildlife Centre. Each of these areas has its own visitor facilities and offers different attractions that appeal to different groups of people. The Park HQ area has some superb rainforest scenery with picturesque waterfalls, jungle streams and buttress-rooted rainforest giants towering overhead. There is a good network of trekking trails that span out form the HQ area, and excellent accommodation facilities. This area receives very few visitors; those that do come are generally day trippers - hardly anyone stays overnight. If you visit Kubah on a weekday you are likely to have the whole place to yourself. Even at weekends there aren't that many visitors as most people head to Matang Wildlife Centre.

The Matang Wildlife Centre is located within the boundaries of Kubah National Park but is very much a separate attraction. The Centre is still being developed but will eventually house endangered wildlife in large mammal enclosures located in the rainforest. An information centre has already opened with an emphasis on educating the public about the importance of conservation and the need to protect Sarawak's wildlife. The Matang Wildlife Centre is located near a series of rivers and streams and has become a popular weekend picnic spot for local residents of Kuching. The Centre also has its own range of accommodation facilities.

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