“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
Get involved with the projects anti-poaching patrols in the Sungai Yu wildlife corridor which connects the Taman Negara to the Titiwangsa range. Help our team track clues of human activities in the forest to reduce poaching, a very important cause for Malaysian wildlife. Additionally, look for animal tracks. These could be pugmarks or scratch marks from elephants, tigers, sun bears, tapir, gibbons and more. This information is recorded using GPS by our team and provides an insight in to how successful the wildlife corridor is.
Support the Batek Forest Tribe People
Also, you will enjoy another aspect of jungle trekking for conservation: foraging and camping with the Batek people. This aboriginal tribe is still very connected to the rainforest. It is an honour 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 and survival skills. So you may be cooking in bamboo and sleeping under a traditional natural shelter, hand-made by the jungle pros. The ‘developed’ world is catching up on the Batek as their forests are being cleared for plantations. So our project is enabling them to gain an income using their traditional forest skills.
Some of the best Limestone Caving
Lastly, 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 many 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 these essential widlife habitats from being destroyed.
If you want to go jungle trekking for conservation of the lush rainforest, learn about it, explore it and help preserve its animals, plants and people, then this adventure conservation experience is for you!
PLEASE BE AWARE
Large animals live in these forests, but it is rare to actually see any because they are mostly nocturnal. However you will see many signs of their whereabouts which is exciting in itself!
2019 Pricing for International Volunteers
1 week RM2,332 (£439/$572)
2 weeks RM4,081 (£767/$1,000)
3 weeks RM6,413 (£1,206/$1,571)
4 weeks RM8,162 (£1,534/$1,999)
*All prices are based on Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). All international prices are subject to change depending on the current exchange rate.
2019 Pricing for Malaysian Volunteers
1 week RM1,516
2 weeks RM2,653
3 weeks RM4,169
4 weeks RM5,306
Includes: food, dorm accommodation with shared bathroom, food and cooking facilities, all volunteer activities, travel from bus stop to project house.
Excludes: insurance, visa costs, flight fares, food/activities not included in the project
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.
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 poachers. 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. If you’re keen to develop the skills needed for rainforest conservation, you will also be taught how to use GPS for location recording! Here, you will learn 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!
In 2018 we’ll have even more activities, from using SMART for anti-poaching patrols, to earning a tree-climbing certificate. Not to mention learning GIS skills (geographic information system).
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 swiflets that group together at sunset and can be seen flying around Gua Musang, a nearby town. The Batek people have used these caves for centuries, as can be seen by the many cave drawings that can be found inside.
Local Tribal Village and Orang Asli
The Local ‘Orang Asli’ (Malay for ‘original people’) are from the Batek tribe. They speak their own language – Batek, and most of them still live part of their lives in the rainforest. The Batek people are true nomads and are even classified by some anthropologist as pygmies due to their short stature.
It is not part of the Batek traditions 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. Originally the Orang Asli used bows and arrows but early this century they converted to blowpipes. Today, they still use 1.5 metre bamboo blowpipes and poisonous darts (dipped in the sap of the Ipoh Tree) to hunt on a daily basis. The survival of the Orang Asli in the rainforest is partly dependent upon the use of limestone caves for shelter.
Volunteers staying for 1 week or more will learn bushcraft skills from the Batek tribe and may get the chance to go camping with the tribe and learn how they live in the jungle! If you come for a minimum of 2 weeks, you will have the opportunity to help teach the Batek children basic English, maths and science through educational activities. 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 the new industry.
Our volunteers and interns have plenty of scheduled activities to keep them busy! Such as English classes in the local village, exciting games of football with the Batek children, trips to the night market to sample yummy local Malay food, night drives to learn more about nocturnal organisms, and lastly a weekly conservation class.
Activities in your Free Time
We asked our past volunteers what they’d like to see more of in our programmes. When they said more activities to do in their free time, we jumped at the chance! Current mini projects include spreading awareness about conservation to local villagers, teaching local children about recycling, and honing leadership skills by briefing new volunteers on the project. If you think of a new idea while at the project, just tell the project manager!
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 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 had 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.
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 opportunities to sample cuisine from different countries and eat all 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 an essential part of understanding what Malaysia is all about.
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!
We recently moved into a new house in Kampung Merapoh, have a look at our new place and come and join us in the forest!
Since the Merapoh Rainforest Station has been running we have…
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 Batek village
Provided a stable source of income for the Batek via guided tours, promoting handicrafts to tourists etc
Looking to the Future
The Sungei Yu Forest Reserve forms part of a tiger corridor, which connects Taman Negara National Park and the main Titiwangsa Mountain Range. Poaching was high in this area, but thanks to patrols from MYCAT and Fuze Ecoteer, the project is successfully deterring poachers.
However, jungle trekking for conservation is still needed, as significant poaching continues in the area.
The Merapoh Rainforest Station hope to continue to form valuable alliances with other organisations. We will keep providing valuable animal presence data (pugmarks, scratching etc.) to the University Science Malaysia for analysis, and to share with NGOs and researchers. For example, the NGO ‘MEME’ – Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants receives our elephant data. And, the logged information on the Malayan Tiger and Sambar Deer goes to MYCAT. This allows fellow organisations to successfully continue their hard work for our common goal.
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 local people what potential these caves have for tourism. This promotes a reason for their preservation. The Merapoh team are constantly continuing their efforts and looking for new ways to protect these unique limestone caves.
In 2019, we are expanding the project into two; a jungle conservation project and a long-term volunteer project for qualified teachers.
4 Easy Steps to Book Your Jungle Adventure:
1) Contact us here with your initial inquiry – tell us about yourself and the project you would like to join.
2) You will receive an e-mail with more information and the application form to complete and send back.
3) On receipt of your application we will confirm your reservation and inform you how to make your deposit payment. Your reservation will be held for 2 weeks, after which it will be cancelled automatically if no deposit is received.
4) Full payment is required no later than 1 month before departure. You may pay online by credit card or a direct transfer to our account.
Please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for us to process your application and payment.
It’s that Simple!! Once your deposit has been paid you will receive our ‘Know before you go’ guide, which is packed full of useful information about your project and general tips to prepare you for volunteering.
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 trekss to individual fitness so you have a great time whatever your level!
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?
Take a bus to Kuala Besut from TBS Kuala Lumpur bus terminal. You will need to inform the bus driver that you wish to be dropped off at Gua Musang R&R as it is not a major bus stop location. Our team will pick you up from the R&R stop.
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.