Malaysia // The west coast //

Ulu Muda Eco Park

Hidden away in Kedah’s northeastern corner, up against a remote section of the Thai border, Ulu Muda Eco Park is thick with salt licks, old-growth rainforest and wildlife. As well as birds and reptiles galore, it offers a reasonable chance of encountering elephants and tapir, though sightings of the resident tigers and sun bears are far less likely. The park also encloses a man-made lake, Tasik Muda, and the only way in is by boat from Gubir, not much more than a jetty and resort 75km east of Alor Star; a two-hour sampan ride from here lands you deep inside the park at the Earth Lodge Field Research Centre. Hiking tracks link the lodge to limestone caves, hot springs (which many animals visit early in the morning or at night, when the temperatures drop), and wildlife hides.

Despite the threat of logging that hangs over the area, Ulu Muda remains genuinely remote, so getting here is both time-consuming and expensive. The only practical way to see the park is on a tour, but if you want to experience less touristed jungle than that at Taman Negara, this might be the place to come. Note that August to December can see heavy rainfall, but the park is still accessible; in the dry season, you might have to push your boat over a few sandbanks to reach the lodge.