Although not as remarkably diverse as the sites in Borneo, The Malay Peninsula is home to some interesting wilderness areas, some of which combine a range of activities with which to enhance your visit.

Taman Negara National Park, straddling the states of Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu, is the most visited of these sites, a protected area of rainforest, thought to have been evolving for 130 million years, among the very oldest living places on Earth.

Though you will certainly see an astounding array of diverse plants, animals, insects and birds, the rarer protected species that inhabit the park, such as Leopards, Tigers and Rhino’s are only occasionally seen and tend sensibly to hide away in the densest areas of the forest.

A range of activities are possible here including treks of up to nine days, visiting the waterfall, exploring caves, shooting rapids or taking a Night Safari, both on foot or by 4 wheel drive vehicle.

The Park has a very satisfying canopy walkway over half a kilometre long, at an elevation varying between 25-40 metres. The forest envelops Peninsula Malaysia’s highest mountain Gunung Tahan 2,187 (7,175 ft), which can be climbed, though the trek can be arduous and will take 4-7 days. You can also visit local Orang Asli tribes, and learn of their jungle skills and ongoing struggle to protect their way of life.

Though less well known, the largest continuous area of forest in mainland Malaysia, and of equally ancient lineage is the beautiful Belum-Temengor forest surrounding the man-made lake of Tasik Temengor, littered with hundreds of islands.  

Despite pressures from logging interests taking place in the vicinity, an area known as Royal Belum State Park is protected and is home to such animal luminaries as Sumatran Tigers, Malayan Tapirs, Sun Bears and Rhinos, which are more likely to be encountered here than in Taman Negara, especially at the ‘salt lick’ sites.  

The park also boasts numerous waterfalls, plentiful birdlife and three species of Rafflesia among its 3,000 flora types. Kayaking on the lake, or braving the rapids on the river, are among the exciting activities on offer.

There are many other forested sites in the Peninsula worth considering if you are in their vicinity, such as Krau Wildlife Reserve in Pahang, Endau Rompin National Park in Johor, Gunung Stong State Park in Kelantan, or the National Park in Penang being among the most popular.

The island of Borneo, despite the problems of palm oil plantations and logging interests, provides visitors one of the most intense habitats for wildlife on Earth, and is also home to a truly ancient cultural legacy of forest dwelling peoples, whose endangered lifestyles afford us a view into an increasingly rare experience of living in oneness with the natural world.

The most iconic creature of this vast island is, of course, the charmingly engaging Orang Utan, which bring visitors from all over the globe to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in Sarawak or the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah. A further advantage of visiting the Sepilok site is the adjacent Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

In Sarawak, the Bako National Park, although small, covers a variety of habitats including sandy coves, mangrove and rainforest, diverse in birdlife, plantlife, including several carnivorous varieties, and animals such as Long-tailed Macuaques, Silver langurs, Bornean Bearded Pigs, Monitors and Otters, though the presence of saltwalter crocodiles requires caution during visits.

The stunning geology of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gunung Mulu National Park, is a fascinating world of limestone pinnacles and truly vast caves, including the world's second largest, the 'Deer Cave', and the reserve is home to thousands of species of ferns, fungi, mosses and flowering plants among which are 170 species of wild orchid.

Hornbills, Macaques, Gibbons, Sun Bears and deer are among the many species of wildlife that inhabit the park. Other distinctive features include the World’s longest canopy walkway and the exhilarating experience of an estimated three million bats that can be seen pouring out of Deer Cave at Dusk.

Among other notable National Parks in Sarawak is Lambir Hills National Park, one of the most bio diverse areas of the World, with over 1,100 tree species among its treasures. Other attractions are its eight waterfalls and its 22 metre tree tower. Go prepared for slippery trails and leeches, however!

In Sabah, the UNESCO World Heritage site around Mount Kinabalu and the Crocker Ridge is a beautifully diverse area of mountain forest with an incredible 1200 species of orchid and the famous Rafflesia, the stars of its numerous flowering plants.

Pronounced changes in altitude give rise to four separate climate zones rich in over 300 species of birdlife and over 100 mammals including Orang Utan. If you are the energetic type, for the experience of its biosphere and a dramatic view over this amazing terrain, the 4,095m (13,435 ft) peak of Kota Kinabalu is well worth the two-day climb.

Sabah is also an amazing place to discover marine life, its waters falling within the beautifully diverse ‘Coral Triangle’.  The easiest place to experience the underwater world are at Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, just offshore from Kota Kinabalu, but true enthusiasts will not want to miss one of the best diving sites on Earth at Pulau Sipadan.