Kuala Lumpur Ecotourism
Ecotourism in Kuala Lumpur
The Kuala Lumpur ecotourism scene is a vital part of the city’s travel activities, with extensive national parks and protected areas around KL drawing in thousands of tourists each year. Ecotourism in Kuala Lumpur is focused on successful, environmentally friendly national parks with rich biodiversity and safe, traveller-friendly facilities.
Immersing travellers in natural areas while educating and imparting environmental awareness, ecotourism in Kuala Lumpur really makes for an adventurous vacation experience. City authorities constantly ensure that the city’s ecotourism scene remains a secure and convenient place for both environmentalists and travellers keen on the outdoors. The most easily accessible is the 100-acre Lake Gardens right in the heart of the city, but the 3,700 acre Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), just 19km away past the city limits, thrills with its educational centres, galleries and laboratories that highlight the local species of trees.
Forest Research Institute of Malaysia
The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, or 'FRIM' for short, is spread over a 1,500 hectare jungle in Kepong. Easily accessed from major roads in KL, FRIM allows visitors to learn more about Malaysia's natural heritage. On the park grounds, you will find educational centres, galleries and laboratories that highlight the local species of trees and well as its uses in the commercial industry. For example, visitors can learn how perfume is processed from an aromatic tree in one of the labs.
There are also ponds and a small waterfall that meanders through the park. Visitors can explore the many trails in the forest, the main four being the Keruing Trail, Rover Track, Engkabang Trail and Salleh Trail. Also don't miss out on the opportunity to walk on the canopy bridge, a set of wooden and steel bridges suspended 30 m above the grounds among the towering trees. While crossing, you can gaze and marvel at the green surroundings below.
Kuala Selangor is located about an hour's drive away from Kuala Lumpur along a muddy coastline fringed with mangrove swamps. What makes this place spectacular is the opportunity to witness fireflies lighting up the river at night. The seafood is also very popular. Decades ago, the amount of fireflies would have lit the night sky but today, they are in danger of being extinct.
Known to locals as 'kelip-kelip', which means 'twinkle' in Malay, the fireflies are actually long, slender beetles from the Lampyridae species. These fireflies produce a cool green glow in the lower abdomen and the reason for their incandescence is probably for mating or social purposes.
The best place to view them is in Belimbing, Kampung Kuantan, which is just a short distance away from the main Kuala Selangor town. There are two spots; one is operated by villagers who will paddle two visitors at a time on a thin sampan (wooden boat) located further upriver. The other one is more frequently visited, located near to the river mouth and operated by a resort. They ferry visitors in special broad boats powered by silent motor engines that can accommodate up to 8-10 visitors at a time. Flash photography is not allowed.
On the other hand, during the day, you should head to the Kuala Selangor Nature Park; a protected mangrove swamp and a spot for migratory birds from the south. Covering an area of around 800 acres, the park has a variety of wildlife from monitor lizards, otters, monkeys and over 150 species of birds. As you walk along the paths, you'll get to see how a mangrove swamp looks like from the ferns and bushes and smell the mud and salt in the air. Also look out for snails, molluscs and mud-skippers darting about the sand and giant otters swimming in the water.
Bird-watchers will get to see exciting varieties of avian creatures such as the rare spoon-billed sandpiper, plover, kingfisher, Chinese goshawk, Japanese sparrowhawk, eagles, brahminy kite and Nordmann's Greenshank. Chalets are available for visitors to stay overnight in the park.
Pulau Ketam, or 'Crab' Island, is located off the coast of Port Klang, accessible by boat or ferry. It is the most prominent island among a small group of islands surrounded by mangrove and peat swamps. Most visitors come here to eat the legendary seafood, freshly-caught from the waters around it. A village with mostly Chinese residents sits here on this tiny island, the entire place being built entirely on stilts.
Previously, the island was a huge dumping ground for rubbish as there were no proper disposal facilities. The stench during that time was awful but times have improved and the village now has a proper waste disposal system in place.
Visitors can explore the wooden village and glimpse the lifestyles of traditional fishermen in Pula Ketam. The journey there by ferry will also allow you to witness life in the mangroves from the birds to the reptiles that swim in its waters. Anglers can hire boats for fantastic fishing opportunities. Finally, you must not miss the chance to eat the seafood here; fresh prawns, crabs and fish cooked on the spot for you!
Templer's Park is located north of Kuala Lumpur city, just a moderate distance away from Batu Caves. The Kanching Forest Reserve entrance is also just 4 km away from its entrance, and both share the same adjoining rainforest. Both parks are popular recreational spots for visitors and hold a nice variety of flora and fauna.
Besides trekking, visitors can enjoy dipping in the freezing cold waters which are crystal-clear and clean. The waterfalls are multi-tiered and drop from the top of hills. Kanching's multi-tiered waterfalls are easily reached about 400 m from the entrance while visitors in Templer's Park will have to trek about 2 km in to find another large waterfall.