Thursday, June 24, 2010

Trekking to Teluk Limau, Part 4 – Tajor Waterfall

We arrived at Tajor around 12:40pm, nearly two and a half hours since we began our trek. Without stopping to rest or to take photos, I think Tajor can easily be done in 2 hours from Teluk Assam.

Tajor is the only waterfall I know of at Bako NP and it is also the only blackwater waterfall I have ever visited. The color of the water is caused by tannins that leach out of decaying organic matter. Bako’s soils are also rich in iron oxides which further darken the water when the particles are stirred up by fast flowing water (iron oxide is not soluble in water).

There is a small bay and beach not far away called Teluk Tajor but we didn’t trek there.

Nice, but not the main waterfall…

This is the main Tajor fall. Water cascades down a steep slope into a large blackwater pool below. The water is so dark that it’s hard to estimate the depth.

There are at least three levels at Tajor, smaller falls flow into a much larger and deeper pool at the lowest level.

The blackwater pool at the lowest level is even larger than the one below the main waterfall.

Friend taking photos of the small waterfalls.

Crossing a slippery stretch. Visitors should take care not to tumble into the water, cameras and all! There is a small hut here (upper left) for visitors to change into their swimwear. We did not use it as there wasn’t anyone around when we arrived.

Alas, national parks are not safe from litterbugs! Very disappointed to see this sort of attitude among visitors. Look at the opened tin cans, they are a hazard to others and may injure small primates or other animals looking for scraps. I think all NPs in Sarawak should adopt a zero waste policy; all non-biodegradable items taken in must be recorded and on the journey out, checked again by park staff and disposed off properly. A cash deposit could be placed upon check in and visitors stand to lose this deposit for any non-biodegradable item that doesn't make it back out.

We went for a quick dip in here.  The water was cool and refreshing but it would be the last time I ever dip in a blackwater pool as I suffered from severe allergies after that! Consequently, I had the worst night ever, scratching my legs, back, waist, arms, neck… it was a nightmare! I stayed awake almost the entire night. My other two friends had no such reaction. More on this in part 5.

There are a few blackwater pools at Tajor. It’s hard to estimate the water depth so swim at your own risk!

This was all we wanted to do at first, just dip our feet in. However, the water felt so cool and refreshing that we ended up jumping in! haha


Dipteris lobbiana ferns fringe some of the pools. It is a common fern species found in places with clean flowing water such as mountain streams and waterfalls in Malaysia.

The water looks dark but worry not, it’s the tannins that cause it to take on a tea color. The water is safe to drink once treated with Chlorine tablets and filtered with a portable water filter. There are no human settlements at Bako to foul up water sources.




Foam churned up by the turbulent waters at blackwater falls and streams indicate the presence of saponin, a soapy substance of plant origin used in making soaps and detergents.

This large pool is fed by the main Tajor waterfall. I wouldn’t dare swim in here. I wouldn’t even dare wade or dip in it! Looks ominous… wonder if there are any skeletons down there? LOL

Betta ibanorum, a species of wild fighting fish plentiful in the large pools of Tajor. As I stood at the edge of the main pool snapping photos, a big school of betta swam up and waited just below the surface expecting me to throw in food scraps. It was truly a test of patience trying to photograph the fish with just a pocket cam and without a polarizer. I nearly gave up until I finally managed this one photo, decent enough to show the fish under the reflective water surface.


We spent nearly an hour at Tajor. Two other foreign tourists joined us shortly after we arrived followed by a lone Swiss as we were dipping in one of the pools. All three must have thought we were either crazy or really brave to swim in such dark colored water haha!

The first two hung around for a few minutes taking pictures before leaving the way they came from. The Swiss told us he was also trekking to the northern-most part of Bako. He intended to camp for two nights, one at Teluk Limau and one at Teluk Kruin. As we were getting out, he bade goodbye and went before us, expecting to see us again when we arrived at Limau. However, it was the last we saw of him as we never made it to our destination that evening!

We were so worn out from carrying out heavy bags that we only managed 8km in nearly 6 hours before setting camp in the middle of the jungle…

Continued in Part 5.


CiXeL said...

you're sure it wasnt sand flies rather than allergies from the water? we have noseeums, a sort of sandfly here in florida and theyre small enough to go through the mesh windows of a tent. we learned this the hard way. i have read that bako has sandflies but i dont know how similar they are.

sarawaklens said...

yeah pretty sure, this isn't the first time. got the same reaction when i bathed in a mountain stream in santubong.

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