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Malaysia March 2017 (1 Viewer)

Pitta Patter

Well-known member
Hi,

I have booked a tour to Borneo next March but 2 of us are looking at spending a week in the peninsula of Malaysia before the tour starts (rough dates probably 10-17 March). I have never been before but Taman Negara would seem a must and Fraser Hill also. Both would seem doable in a week. We have received a price for an 8 day tour around $2k which seems a lot to me. I'm looking for advice on how easy this would be to do independently, how easy it is to get birdguides at both places, prices of accommodation at both, how easy it is to get around etc. Whether it is worth doing both at that time of year or if anyone has other suggestions.

Many thanks,

Kevin
 

Alexjh1

Well-known member
Depends how thorough you wanted to be?

I must admit I never got to do the proper birding section on my visit last year (the guide I'd booked broke his leg a few days before) but what I might suggest is you could do a self directed "preview section" off your own back which would remove pressure from any additional stuff you might do.

In light of that last minute problem and all the other guides I could find being booked up I ended up doing an afternoon in Genting Highlands by taxi. I can't remember the exact price but it ended up being pretty negligible and even just wandering along not really knowing what I was doing bagged 11 new species with none of the prep I'd normally put into such things. Obviously depends on your targets though - Genting Highlands (specifically Awana Resort and the Old Pumphouse Road) is substantially more accessible (and thus more able to get there by taxi) than most other wildlife places.

If you then managed to knock off a bunch of the simpler stuff there (or with luck, even some of the better stuff) you could then deduct that from your overall trip for a bit of a saving.

Note: I say this from the position of someone who attempts to do things on a shoestring, which is generally not necessarily compatible with "power birding" to hit high species totals.
 

Pitta Patter

Well-known member
Thanks Alex. Haven't really thought about targets as such yet, I just really fancy visiting TN and I have also heard good things about FH. GH could be a good alternative though.
 

PJSharp

Well-known member
Hi Kevin,

March is a great time to visit both TN and FH, and you have enough time to do both some justice. A great warm up for Borneo too.

It is possible to bird both areas without a guide (and pre-book taxi transfers between locations), particularly if you aren't short on time - there is lots of info on various trip reports about the trails and key sites for birds at each place, and at that time of year there is a good chance you'll bump into other birders who can share gen. I thoroughly enjoyed birding TN on my own, though I am sure I would have seen more with a guide. If you have birded Asia before, and are reasonably familiar with many of the birds you will see, then I would be less inclined to hire a guide.

If you have not birded Asia before - and particularly if you haven't birded in the rainforests there, then it might be better to hire a guide. This will help filter out the calls of the birds you want to see from say squirrels, geckos, frogs etc, and help ensure you get into the right habitat for species you are more interested in. I don't know how many guides you have asked to quote, but you could try a few more. I have used Mr Lee from Endemic Guides (http://www.endemicguides.com/) and can recommend him, and Weng Chun is also well recommended (http://www.nature2pixel.my/). I don't think you should rely on being able to find a guide at TN.

If it was me I would split my time, spending a few days with a guide as follows:

I would hire a guide to take me from KL via either Krau Forest or Bukit Tinggi to FH on day 1, and keep the guide for my first full day on FH. Krau Forest is good for both Malaysian Rail-babbler and Garnet Pitta (though these are also both in TN), and Bukit Tinggi is a site for Mountain Peacock-Pheasant (see https://penangbirder.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/natural-born-models.html).

Its best to visit FH ahead of TN as it is cooler, and a better place to start acclimatising. If you only have the guide for your first full day on FH, make full use of their vehicle to visit sites that you won't be able to walk to during the rest of your stay (eg the Gap). Thereafter you could manage without a guide if costs are an issue. Take a pre-booked taxi transfer to TN (and from there back to KL), as it isn't worth hiring a car as you won't use it during your stay at TN. I would transfer to TN after two full days and a morning at FH - the birds at TN take a bit more work to find.

If budget isn't such an issue, then I would keep the guide up to and including my first full day in TN, particularly if you haven't birded this part of Asia before. After that I would be happy birding the rest of the trip without a guide - you will have a good feel for the trails at TN. One thing you really should do at TN is hire a small boat to take you up Sungai Tahan as late in the day as possible, making sure they know you want to drift back down river without the engine on. Ideally you want to be coming back down the river well after the last tourist boats, this will give you a much better chance of seeing the riverside birds along here. If you stay at the resort you are on the right side of the river for early and late starts, but I would recommend eating at the floating restaurants rather than the resort restaurant - cheaper and more interesting food.

Enjoy Malaysia, Paul
 

Pitta Patter

Well-known member
Many thanks Paul. This seems really useful. We have been in touch with Mr Lee and Weng Chun I believe who have quoted what I think are high prices which is why we are shopping around.
 

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
Agree that both sites are very easy to bird cheaply without a guide. Even if you haven't been to Malaysia before you'll see a huge range of species at both sites just wandering around any of the trails, or just along the road at Fraser's Hill. If you're looking for some of the tougher specialities, a look at a few trip reports will show you hotspots for some of the rarer goodies. Have fun :t:
 

Pitta Patter

Well-known member
Cheers Larry, I think due to the cost of Borneo itself we will most likely do it on our own and hire local guides if we can/need to. I will need to indulge myself in trip reports.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Hi,

I have booked a tour to Borneo next March but 2 of us are looking at spending a week in the peninsula of Malaysia before the tour starts (rough dates probably 10-17 March). I have never been before but Taman Negara would seem a must and Fraser Hill also. Both would seem doable in a week. We have received a price for an 8 day tour around $2k which seems a lot to me. I'm looking for advice on how easy this would be to do independently, how easy it is to get birdguides at both places, prices of accommodation at both, how easy it is to get around etc. Whether it is worth doing both at that time of year or if anyone has other suggestions.

Many thanks,

Kevin

Hi Kevin,
many birders used to stay at the Puncak Inn at FH if it's still open but there are a variety of options including some quite plush places. A bus operates from the Gap at the bottom so you could easily bird downhill and take the bus back up?

TN has cheap accommodation on the opposite side of the river to the resort and you pay a small fee to go across on a small boat, it's only about 75m from what I remember? The floating restaurants on the cheap side are also the best option for food, be aware for those that like a drink, that alcohol is unavailable.

I'll mail you my report from 2000, most info will still be relevant I think.


Cheers, A
 
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Pitta Patter

Well-known member
Thanks to everyone for their comments. Due to a slight mixup on the flights I now have 5 full days and perhaps a small amount of time on day 6. With this in mind and i take the point about the heat but we are looking at heading to TN early on day 1 from KL and probably birding it ourselves in the afternoon. Hiring a guide for day 2 and 3 in TN, bird ourselves in TN on the morning of day 4 before driving to FH, bird the rest of day 4 at FH likely on our own, hire a guide day 5, a couple of hours early birding FH on day 6 before heading back to KL. Would this be enough time to justify doing both sites well enough and maximise bird numbers in our short stay do people feel?

Alternatively we could head to FH early on day 1, bird ourselves the rest of the day, hire a guide on day 2, briefly bird it on day 3 before heading to TN and any birding on our own rest of day, bird TN with guide day 4 and 5. Head to airport day 6. Not much in it but there would seem less birding this way.
 

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