“I have really enjoyed my time working on the Ecoteer Rainforest Conservation Station project. I love getting to spend so much time in the rainforest. It is so full of life that you never know what you are going to experience, and so each trek is unique. I also enjoy getting the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world as well as learning bush craft skills from the Bateq people. I am very grateful that I have been able to contribute to this project. It is an experience that I will never forget.“
Danielle Tucker, Australia
From the moment we were first picked up from the train station, until we left we were looked after by the wonderful staff. Upon arrival at the accommodation centre, we were greeted with a nice comfy bed in a large gender split dorm room. The next day our group were led into the jungle to look for signs of animals and animal poaching, in particular traps which we took the pleasure of destroying. We saw many interesting footprints, critters and stunning scenery along the way. Just be sure to watch for the leeches!
Trek for Conservation in the Rainforest next to Taman Negara
Support the Bateq People
You will enjoy another aspect of jungle trekking for conservation: foraging and camping with the Bateq people. This aboriginal tribe is still very connected to the rainforest. It is an honor to be in the rainforest with some of the few people who have called it their home for centuries…. a unique experience! Furthermore, this is a chance to learn authentic bush craft and survival skills. So you may be cooking in bamboo and sleeping under a Hayak, a traditional hut hand-made by the jungle pros. The ‘developed’ world is catching up on the Bateq as their forests are being cleared for plantations. So our project is enabling them to gain an income using their traditional forest skills.
Explore the Limestone Caves
Merapoh is famous for wild limestone karsts, probably some of the best in Peninsular Malaysia. You will join a local cave excursion team to explore these caves. They still have species yet to be documented and named by science. The caves are under constant threat of being mined or removed to make way for development, so an increased presence in these caves promotes their use in the tourism industry. Ultimately preventing this essential wildlife habitat from being destroyed.
If you want
*PLEASE BE AWARE
Large animals live in these forests, but it is very rare to see any since they are mainly nocturnal. Nevertheless, we do prioritize your safety and well being at all times, and we can ensure you will see signs of their whereabouts which is exciting in itself!
All arrivals are on a Sunday, departures also on a Sunday
All year round. Every two weeks starting from Sunday 20th January until Sunday 8th December.
2019 Pricing for Volunteers
*All prices are based on Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). All international prices are subject to change depending on the current exchange rate.
- Food & Cooking Facilities
- All project volunteer activities
- Travel when undertaking voluntary activities
- Travel from bus stop (R&R) to our accommodation.
- Flight fares
- Travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Food/activities not included in the project.
- Travel to and from Merapoh
Volunteer Fees Breakdown
These jungle walks are fascinating and will really allow you to feel like one of the animals in the forest, whilst looking out for signs of poaching activities. If any snares are found, the GPS locations will be recorded and then they will be destroyed. Even old discarded snares continue to catch animals, so it is vital that they are removed to prevent any further harm. You will be taught how to log the coordinates of any pug marks, snares, land clearings or road kill found.
Walks are generally 3-5 hours long depending on the group and the route chosen, and are at a slow pace to enable the guides to search for tracks and animal signs. Although the humidity and inevitable encounters with leeches is not for the faint hearted, this is an adventure to remember for a lifetime!
Local Tribal Village and Orang Asli
The Local ‘Orang Asli’ (Malay for ‘original people’) are from the Bateq tribe. They speak their own language and most of them still live part of their lives in the rainforest. The Bateq people are true nomads and are even classified by some anthropologist as pygmies due to their short stature.
It is not part of the Bateq tradition to destroy an area totally, and they will move on before all the resources are depleted. They rely on the forest as their ‘supermarket’ and respect it as the home of their ancestors.
Volunteers staying for 1 week or more will learn bushcraft skills from the Bateq tribe and also get a chance to go camping with them to experience how they live in the rainforest! If you come for a minimum of 2 weeks, you will get the opportunity to help teach the Bateq kids with basic English, Maths and Science. These sessions are great fun but serve an important function, as the area has been earmarked for an increase in tourism and without being able to speak English, these tribal people will not be able to benefit from
There are over 70 limestone caves in the Merapoh region. The caves are fantastic – some even have rivers and waterfalls inside creating the most fantastic scenery. These caves are home to various animals including thousands of swiftlets that group together at sunset and can be seen flying around Gua Musang, a nearby town. The Bateq people have used these caves for centuries, as can be seen by the many cave drawings that can be found inside.
Our volunteers and interns have plenty of scheduled activities to keep them busy! Such as English classes in the local village, exciting game of football with the Bateq children, trips to the night market to sample yummy local Malay food, conducting night surveys, and lastly a weekly conservation class.
Food is an important part of Malaysian culture, as you will soon find out
Breakfast tends to be simple; for instance bread, banana cake, coffee, tea, peanut butter, jam. Volunteers are welcome to venture out to some of the delicious local restaurants to try traditional Malay dishes – for instance, Roti Canai is a popular and yummy Malaysian breakfast dish.
Lunch is usually cooked at the house. Feel free to use our weekly shopping supplies to create a tasty meal for yourself. Or, if we are going trekking, a yummy packed lunch is prepared by a local restaurant. Options include Nasi Lemak, Nasi Sayur, Nasi Ayam, or Roti Telur and Roti Canai for vegetarians.
Staying in the communal accommodation means everyone has to join in with the cleaning and cooking schedule to keep the accommodation nice and tidy… and filled with yummy food! Volunteers take turns to prepare dinner once a week and all pitch in to clear up afterwards. Our volunteers come from around the world, so this is a great opportunity to sample cuisine from different countries and eat together. For a true taste of Malaysian cooking, we also host a weekly Malay meal; a truly unique experience to learn more about the Malaysian culture.
Lastly, interns and volunteers will be able to go to the local night market once or twice a week to sample more local delicacies. Night markets are an essential part of the Malaysian food culture and thus part of understanding what Malaysia is all about.
We recently moved into our new house in Kampung Merapoh, have a look and come and join us in the forest!
Since the Malayan Rainforest Station was established, we have successfully…
- Trekked over 1,000km, 2 to 4 times weekly
- Discovered & deactivated more than 200 snares
- GPS’ed more than 800 animal signs
- Funded the building of a bamboo learning centre in the Bateq
village Provideda stable source of income for the Bateq via guided tours, promoting handicrafts to tourists etc.
Currently, MRS has split its Rainforest and Conservation Project into two key projects – The Malayan Research & Conservation (MRC) and the Malayan Community Project (MCP) – to establish research credibility, allow for more focused initiatives, and ensure that both wildlife conservation and community empowerment receive equal weighting, since they are interrelated and equally significant.
Looking to the Future
Our conservation efforts are still need in Merapoh, as significant poaching still continues in the area.
The Malayan Research Station hopes to continue building relationship with its partners by collaborating and sharing our data with other NGOs and researchers. For example, we directly liaise with PERHILITAN to reduce poaching in Merapoh, and we also recruit interns and host undergraduate and postgraduate students from different universities. Our collaboration with our partners helps us to establish our reputation and continue with our conservation efforts for a common goal.
Also, many of the renowned Merapoh limestone caves are earmarked to be cut down and quarried. An increased presence at the caves is showing the government and the local people its potential for tourism. This promotes a reason for their preservation. The MRS team are constantly continuing their efforts and looking for new ways to protect these unique limestone caves.
What are the requirements to join this program?
Volunteers will need to be able to speak English or Bahasa Malaysia to be able to communicate with the facilitator. Volunteers must be over 18 or 16/17 with a parental consent form. Volunteers should have a positive attitude and participate in all tasks and walks. Whilst a low to medium fitness is advised for maximum enjoyment of this project, it is not a requirement whatsoever. Our team will cater the treks to individual fitness so you have a great time whatever your level!</span>
Do I need any jungle experience/hiking skills?
No prior experience is necessary as our knowledgable staff will lead the way and teach you everything you need to know.
How do I get to Merapoh from Kuala Lumpur?
You will need to get the 10AM Transnational bus from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) Kuala Lumpur going to Kota Bharu,Kelantan. You can prebook the ticket from easybook.com or please email the project manager at email@example.com if you would like us to do this on your behalf. Please arrive at the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) at least an hour before your departure time. The journey takes around 4-5 hours from Kuala Lumpur. You will be greeted by a staff at the restaurant in Merapoh where the bus stops for lunch. This rest location in Merapoh is specific only for Transnasional bus company, while other operators might use different routes, hence it is advisable to book Transnasional for your journey.
I have young children, is this program suitable for families?
Families with children (age 15+) can participate. Take note that the jungle walks may be tough for some children, although our staff will do their best to cater the walks to everyone’s fitness levels.
Is there internet access?
There is no internet access on site, however, there is a local internet centre that may be used when required.
How long is the typical volunteer working day?
The volunteering activities run from morning until evening with a lunch break in between. Precise timetabling depends on the weather as some activities may be delayed if it rains.
Is it possible to have our own room?
Volunteers can opt for a double room with air-con for an extra charge of RM150 per night. This room is not always available so kindly confirm availability with Ecoteer in advance by contacting us directly.
I want to do more to help the rainforest! What else can I get involved in?
There is plenty you can do! We have mini-projects that we can allocate you to complete in your free time. Whether it’s spreading conservation awareness to local children or honing your leadership skills by briefing and supporting new volunteers, there is plenty for you to get stuck into!
What if I want to volunteer at more than one project?
Good news, you now can! We offer two amazing combination volunteer trips, which involve spending 2 or 3 weeks in total, volunteering both in the amazing Teman Negara rainforest of Merapoh and on the paradise Perhentian Islands. A perfect compromise if you want a broader taste of what Malaysia has to offer.