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Tanjung Datu National Park
& Telok Melano

Telok Melano - Telok Upas - Tanjung Datu HQ Trail

This trail starts at the village of Telok Melano, and finishes at the Park HQ. It is undulating and steep in parts. The trail undulates around the coastline, dipping into bays, and traversing some steeper slopes. You may see pig-tailed macaques and Bornean bearded pigs in the forest. The trail emerges at Telok Upas, which has a pleasant white sandy beach, and patches of hard corals just off shore. If the water's clear, snorkelling here is a pleasant way to pass the afternoon. The trail continues from the northern end of the beach, on to the Park HQ. You can walk back, or arrange for your boat to pick you up from the HQ or back at Telok Upas.

Tanjung Datu NP
Intro Page
Trail Map
Trek Descriptions
> Telok Melano to Park HQ
> Tanjung Antu Laut
> Viewpoint Trail
Photo Gallery
Trekking Locations
> Bako NP
> Gunung Gading NP
> Kubah NP & Matang
> Lambir Hills NP
> Mulu NP
> Niah NP
> Santubong
> Tanjung Datu NP
At a Glance

3.5 km one way
Scenic value
Walking Time
1.5-3 hours one way (half day)
Flora & Fauna
Trail Markings
None (obvious trail)

Trail Description

From Telok Melano, locate the concrete laneway that runs parallel to the beach, and follow it north. The trail passes by some thatch houses, under more coconut palms laden with coconuts, through some disturbed forest, and over a boardwalk bridging a mangrove river. You may notice some sacks immersed in the water and tied to the bridge. These are full of pepper. White pepper is made by fermenting and washing peppercorns in water before drying.

The trail continues right, past clove and nutmeg trees (on the left of the trail - try crushing and smelling some of the leaves), to an abandoned powerhouse. Veer right, across a small stream, into an area of disused farmland - there are mango and jackfruit trees through here. The track here borders on the beach (alternatively, you can by-pass this part of the walk through the back of the kampung by walking north along the beach, and delving into the forest when you see the trail.

From here, there's a thicket of melano palms (Arenga pinnata). These tall, thick palms can be tapped to obtain a sugary syrup, which is concentrated and dried into solid dark sugar - palm sugar. It has a delicious caramel flavour. Tapping is done on the male inflorescences only. Like many other palms, the older the palm is, the further down the trunk the inflorescences appear.

The trail rises, past some clumps of tall, spiny nibong palms (Oncosperma sp), and back down to the beach. There's traces of farming here - clove and citrus trees, as well as the more obvious sign - an abandoned house. This idyllic location has some nice views back along the beach to Telok Melano (it takes less than 20 minutes from Telok Melano to this point).

There's another small rise, and a small creek, then the trail veers back down to the beach. Here there are some beautiful smooth 'greenstone' rocks, embedded in coarse dark sand. These rock are amazingly polished - even when completely dry, they are shiny to the point of looking wet.

The trail continues undulating, skirting around a steep slope. On the other side, there are many pretty hibiscus flowers (yellow with a dark red centre) on scrubby beachfront trees (Hibiscus tiliaceus). The bark from these plants is very strong and fibrous and is traditionally used as rope. There is also a sizeable durian tree on the right of the trail, after another small creek crossing. From here the trail ascends up a hill to the boundary with the National Park, marked in red paint (about 40 minutes from Telok Melano).

Hand rails have been erected on the side of the trail, inside the National Park. This area is mostly disturbed forest, with many colonising macaranga trees (with broad, 3 pointed leaves). Macarangas are often a sign of disturbed vegetation - but serve a very important role in regrowth of forests. Many seedling of primary rainforest species can not survive in full light; macarangas, can. They are also fast-growing and thus provide shade for the other seedlings. Macaranga leaves are also relatively edible, and the young macarangas, which are close to the ground, are an important food source for many browsing animals, such as deer. Many macarangas also have complex symbiotic relationships with ants - scale insects feed on macaranga sap, and produce sugary secretions which the ants feed on in turn, in exchange for protection against marauding insects.

The trail undulates for the next ½ hr, mostly through secondary forest with some larger established trees (dipterocarps, as well as breadfruit trees). Look out for Amorphophallus flowers here. This unusual plant (actually a tuber, related to taro) takes on two very different forms in its reproductive cycle. Most commonly it is encountered in its vegetative form - a single green stalk which splits widely (1-2m off the ground) into 3 subdivided "branches" (in fact a single leaf). In its flowering form, it loses the leaf and produces a single spectacular, large, phallic inflorescence, which gives rise (ahem) to its unfortunate name (Amorphophallus means "misshapen penis" in Greek). The flower is also very smelly - like rotting meat - and it is pollinated by carrion flies.

Soon the trail opens out with the beach on the right, and large pandanus trees fringe the foreshore. Further on, there's a bridge over a tidal creek - there's a massive tree to one side of it. This tree, with low branches and deeply ridged, bark is a bintangor laut (Calophyllum sp). A related species contains a chemotherapeutic compound currently being investigated for the treatment of HIV.

From here, there's another 10 minutes walking to Telok Upas - the trail comes down to the bay, and also continues behind the beach northwards.

Telok Upas has some small area of hard corals which can easily be seen by snorkelling off the beach, provided the water is clear. From the northern end of Telok Upas, it takes another 10 minutes to walk to park HQ. The trail passes through forest and along a boardwalk, before emerging into a cleared expanse of lawn, where the Park HQ is located. A beautiful, long white sand beach stretches out in front.


Special Considerations

From Telok Melano to Telok Upas, the first part of the trail is loosely formed, steep and can be quite slippery. And if you do happen to slip and reach for a plant to balance yourself, make sure it's not a spiny nibong palm!