Kuching Wetlands National Park
Located just 15 km from Kuching and approximately 5 km from Damai Beach, the Kuching Wetlands National Park covers an area of 6,610 hectares on the estuarine reaches of the Sibu Laut and Salak rivers. The park is mostly comprised of a saline mangrove system that includes an extensive network of marine waterways and tidal creeks interconnecting the two major rivers that form the boundaries of the park.
Small patches of heath forest are found in the interior of the park. The park is an important spawning and nursery ground for fish and prawn species and contains a wide diversity of wildlife, including proboscis monkeys, long tailed macaque monkeys, silver-leaf monkeys, monitor lizards, estuarine crocodiles and a range of birdlife, including kingfishers, white-bellied sea eagles and shore birds, including the rare lesser adjutant stork.
Gazetted as a national park in July 2002, the site is one of the last remnants of the formerly extensive Sarawak Mangrove Forest Reserve, which previously covered approximately 17,000 hectares and was first protected in 1924. Recognising the ecological significance and tourism potential of the area, the Sarawak State Government is currently formulating a management plan for Kuching Wetlands. In November 2005 Malaysia designated the park as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance.
Whilst the park is relatively new, the area has long attracted nature enthusiasts owing to its fascinating ecosystem and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. For the visitor, Kuching Wetlands offers an excellent introduction to the mangrove environment, and a chance to see a range of wildlife and spend some time soaking up the sights and sounds of one of the most interesting stretches of coastline in the whole of Sarawak.
To explore the park you have to take to the river. Borneo Experiences by Singgahsana Lodge Adventures takes you there with their Wetlands Wonders cruise. Crossing from Santubong Village onto the Pasir Pandak and Panjang Coastline, you will commence your search for the Irrawaddy dolphins as they barrel roll on the surface. Passing by the Malay fishing village on Salak Island, which lies just outside the park’s boundary, you gradually meander up the Salak River before entering the smaller rivers and creeks in the park to spot wildlife at dusk such as proboscis, silver leaf and macaque monkeys and possibly even crocodiles at low tide. As the sun sets to an orange glow and darkness eventually sets in, you slowly drift through the small tributaries amidst the twinkle of millions of fireflies before heading across the estuary back to Santubong.