This serves as a quick guide on things to do in Ba’kelalan, one of Sarawak’s top highlands destination offering nature and adventure experiences.
There are about nine villages that make up Ba’kelalan in the Maligan Highlands, in Limbang Division, Sarawak. The villagers here belong to the Lun Bawang tribe, with a population of about 1,000.
Situated about 3,000 feet above sea level, such elevation gives Ba’Kelalan the privilege of having temperate weather ranging from 25 degrees celcius during the the day and at night the temperature drops to around 15 degrees celcius.
Ba’kelalan produces the famous Adan rice (also known as Bario Rice) and mountain salt, obtained from the nearby hills.
Fire and rescue services of Ba’kelalan Airport. Totally love it.
The fastest way to get to Ba’kelalan is by air onboard the 16 seater twin otter. From Miri it would take you about 1 hour journey with one stop in Lawas, a town about 150 kilometers from Ba’kelalan. You can also opt using 4 X 4 off-road would take about one full day from Miri and a very bumpy ride.
The thing that I really find beautiful upon arrival at Ba’Kelalan was the scenery itself. Mountains surronding the valley and covered with rainforest. Love it.
The nearest village to the airport is Buduk Nur and there are a few homestays here where you can put up. It isn’t that far from the airport. Just some 36 handshakes or so you’d arrive at one of the homestays.
36 handshakes is about the number of people you meet along the way. It is a culture here. So reach out and shake hands with the people you meet.
Main Activities in Ba’kelalan
The activities in Ba’Kelalan are mainly nature based experiences. If you are an outdoor person and loves to trek, Ba’Kelalan is definitely for you. Listed below are some lovely trekking that you must try.
Pa Sarui lookout point
Pa Sarui lookout point is probably the first main trek that you would need to do. It gives a great view of Ba’Kelalan.
Trekking up to Pa Sarui would take about one hour and a half from the village up to top of the hill.
Guide Lisa leading the way up Pa Sarui as we walk towards the foothill. Paddy fields are a common sight in Ba’Kelalan.
The view from Pa Sarui is definitely worth the hike and I recommend this view to be enjoyed with a lovely cup of coffee.
Another great way to enjoy nature. A picnic at either one of the two waterfalls near Ba’Kelalan. Mainly there are two waterfalls in Ba’Kelalan.
Pa Kumap Waterfall is about two hours trek from Ba’Kelalan and the other one is Pa Ritan. Pa Ritan would require a half day trek or a short 4×4 wheel drive to Long Rusu village followed by a light trek to the waterfall.
Pa Kumap waterfall, a swim and a picnic here would be my recommendations.
Salt Making at Buduk Bui
For generations, the people of Ba’Kelalan have been using a conventional method of producing salt from salt springs. This can be experienced at Buduk Bui, a village which is about one hour 4×4 wheel drive from Buduk Nur.
See for yourself and also maybe try how the locals collect salt water from the springs, boil it slowly in iron drums over firewood until it slowly turns to salt crystals.
Mrs Lakai Sultan showing us a scoop of white hill salt.
To really try this out, it would require you to stay overnight. The new salt making facility provided by the Sarawak Forest Department have bedrooms and proper shower facilities.
The view of the old and new salt making facility at Buduk Bui. The old structure will be demolished as it is in dire conditions and pose a safety hazard.
Make sure you take some salt home, it is rich in iodine and according to the locals when consumed, will strengthen the knee joints and help cure tyroid.
Another trek to try it trekking to the Malaysia- Indonesia Border. This would take also about half a day. Take time to pose at the Border Stone that marks the boundary of Malaysia and Indonesia.
Caught between two worlds
Special Interest Tours of Ba’kelalan
There are two main special interest tours out of Ba’kelalan namely birding tours and mountain hiking.
Ba’kelalan has recently become a magnet for bird watchers around the world due to the fact it has two star birds.
The two star birds are the Dulit Frogmouth and the Black Oriole. Both are endemic to Borneo.
Dulit Frogmouth has only been spotted in Ba’kelalan.
There are a few local birders there namely Andy Paul and Cikgu Sang. Both of which have registered homestays.
Climb Mount Murud
Mount Murud is the highest peak in Sarawak and if you are into mountain climbing, this peak is not to be missed. Climbing Mount Murud would take you 3 days and 2 nights.
View of Mount Murud Summit from Batu Linanit
Places to stay in Ba’Kelalan
There are a few homestays in Ba’kelalan and I would recommend Julia Sang Homestay and The Owl House.
Julia bakes the best bread in Ba’kelalan and Mering from the Owl House makes lovely pancakes for afternoon tea.
My trip to Ba’kelalan was made possible by Heart of Borneo Tours. They are from Ba’kelalan and they do know the place very well.
This trip was in October 2017 and I am looking forward to go again. Hope you enjoyed reading this and do leave your comments.