The Depths of the Malaysian Jungle

Earth Lodge in Ulu Muda might be the most unique and personal travel experience I have ever had. For starters, very few people go there. It is not a resort by any means, but a series of cabins deep in the forest (14 kilometers by boat from the nearest jetty). There's nothing really to do except wander for a good animal watching hideout. The only people around are a few jungle guides and maybe one or two other nature enthusiasts. If you're lucky, an Oxford research team investigating the effect of an absence of tigers on Asian jungle food chains might show up and begin spreading their equipment out everywhere.

Check out their website here

Taman Negara is Malaysia's most famous rainforest, and it's located just a few hours south of Ulu Muda. I've done the over-crowded rainforest experience in the Amazon though, and I knew I wanted something different when I began googling 'Asia jungle eco-lodge.' Ulu Muda hasn't yet been pounced on by hoards of tourists because of its more popular southerly sister and it's absolute remoteness.

From Georgetown, Penang, it's an hour drive to the jetty where boats are waiting to take you another hour down a river to Earth Lodge


We spent a lot of time on this beautiful river

For any true nature dork, Ulu Muda is a sight to behold. The forest and surrounded waterways are overflowing with birds, elephants, tapirs, deer, otters, monkeys, wild pigs, crazy reptiles and mind-blowingly huge bugs. You can hike to stunning limestone caves, or salt licks teeming with life. And the best part is, you will often get the feeling that you are the first and only person to step foot in some of these places. The area seems completely undisturbed by human chaos, until you learn that the Thai border is 10 kilometers away and the area is at risk of illegal logging.

The Ulu Muda forest feels immense

Clearly a seasoned hiker here :/

Me at the cave entrance with our guide

The lodge itself was set up as a Field Research Center, and it is truly wild. Electricity comes and goes for a few hours of day, and water has to be pumped up from the river if you want to shower. If a place like this DIDN'T function as environmentally friendly as it does though, it would feel like a fraud. It goes without saying that Earth Lodge is not for the faint of heart. If you consider yourself a real outdoorsman and have no problem slapping on a pair of leech socks and mucking about, it just might be for you.

Typical cabin with a private balcony

Baby turtle sighting!

Earth Lodge wasn't built for me. Or for you. Earth Lodge is there to research and support the surrounding ecosystem. It's authenticity will smack you in the face and leave a trace even when you've oh-so-reluctanctly headed back to civilization because life goes on.

Comments

  1. Gorgeous pictures! When did you turn into this amazing scenic photographer?

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    Replies
    1. Evan took most of these photos on his phone! I was stubborn and didn't take my cell phone out the whole time we were there, haha.

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