Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Subject: Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
From: Gil Langfield <>
Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2000 18:27:56 +1100
In late November, I made a weekend trip to the Cameron Highlands. It is about a 3-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, the first 2 hours or so getting out of KL and on the good toll road north (toll to Tapah about A$8 each way), then another hour or so on a very winding, busy road to the Highlands.

Because it was Malaysian school holidays, I had booked into the Lakeside Hotel, an expensive place, but the only one whose name I knew other than Ye Olde Smokehouse which was twice as expensive. I paid about A$120 for Bed and Breakfast and about $A40 for the evening meal. It is not the best location for birdwatching, being close to Ringlet whereas the "good" places are near Brinchang and Tanah Rata. Although everything is close in distance, the roads are mere collections of hairpin bends and full of traffic. It is for example, about 50 minutes' drive from the Lakeside Hotel to Gunung Brinchang, about 20 km.

Bransbury (A Birdwatcher's Guide to Malaysia) suggests that Gunung (Mount) Brinchang is a must and I spent 3 hours here on the Saturday and 5.5 hours on the Sunday. It was good, but like the rest of Malaysia, very hard work. I managed to see the "almost a certainty" Golden-throated Barbet but only on the second day. Other interesting species on the mountain were Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Large Niltava, Silver-eared Mesia and Chestnut-tailed Minla. I also saw lots of Constantly-moving Dark-shadow Babblers.

One can drive right to the top of Gunung Brinchang but the road near the top is effectively the only place to watch from. If you park at the open area about 1.5 km from the end of the road, you can walk along the almost level road to the end - even on Sunday there was not too much passing traffic . There is also a very rough and muddy track which leads from the open area into the jungle, but I gave up after a short way.

The directions in Bransbury to Gunung Brinchang were not of much use to me and I spent about an hour looking for the turnoff from the main road. You should continue on the road through Brinchang town for about 4.0 km past the end of the town. There is a hard-to-see sign on the right amongst road stalls saying "Gunung Brinchang" to the left.

I also had 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon at Robinson and Parit Falls where I was happy to see that the Slaty-backed Forktail is present still at least at the former. This is in spite of both falls being, from the smell, the primary sewage treatment facility in the Highlands. There was a male Red-headed Trogon on the walk to Parit Falls. The marked walking tracks are in very poor condition in Cameron Highlands, in spite of the huge, ugly condominiums and hotels going up in all directions. There are scars amongst the forest which according to the KL newspapers are mostly illegal clearing. The only planning controls in Malaysia seem to be determined behind the closed doors of the ruling political parties.


Gil Langfield
Melbourne, Australia

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