What are the requirements needed to join this program?
Volunteers will need to be able to speak English or Bahasa Malaysia to be able to communicate with the facilitator. Minimum age requirement is 16 years old without parents and any age with their parents. Volunteers should also have low-medium fitness, a positive attitude and willing to participate in all tasks and walks.
How do I get to Merapoh from Kuala Lumpur?
Bus: From TBS Bus Terminal Kuala Lumpur, take a bus to Merapoh. You will need to inform the bus driver that you wish to be dropped off at Merapoh as it is not a major bus stop location.
What vaccinations do I need?
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, typhoid, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), tetanus-diphtheria. Anti Malaria pills are encouraged to be brought even though cases of Malaria are seldom recorded.
Any details on visa?
Tourist from the following countries will receive a 90 day free tourist visa upon arrival:
Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kirgystan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Lienchestien, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherland, Norway, Oman, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, St Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Yemen.
What it the minimum age to join?
Volunteers age 18 years old and above.
Is this program suitable for families with young children?
Families with children (above age 15) can participate. Take note that the jungle walks may be tough as the path could be muddy & slippery during rainy season as well as hot and humid all year round.
Is it possible to have our own room?
No. All volunteers will be staying in a shared accommodation.
How many hours per day do volunteers volunteer per day?
The volunteering activities run from morning until evening with a lunch break in between. Precise timetabling depends on the weather as some activities may be delayed if it rains.
“I’ve enjoyed every second of the last week and all the people I have met and been with, it has been like being part of a family. As well as enjoying it, I feel like I have learn so much about the forest, the local community and Malaysia in general.
Sri is so enthusiastic about what he is doing you can’t help but get caught up in it with him. The fact that you feel like you can see where your money has gone and that Ecoteer cares about having a positive impact on the local community and everyone who is involved in the project is another really important part for me. I feel like I have got so much out of doing this and would not hesitate for a second to recommend it to others.”
Kate & Bethan
“I started the programme at the Yellow house in KL.This is a quaint volunteer hub with a rustic charm,it provides with the basic creature comfort with a token cost.I was greeted by Daniel,who will be leading the programme. I get to meet fellow volunteers from Europe, Australia and US, off to another volunteer programme in Ipoh.Glad were we to be hosted by the hospitable neighbour who hosted an authentic Indian dinner,wonderful curry, thosai,rice etc.
Next day we took a bus and public transport to meet our guide Mr. Ashley,and he brought along his daughter Eleanor.Together we head off to Merapoh for the programme proper.
The guest house in Merapoh have nice comfy bed,kitchen and outdoor shower rooms.Next two days we went for a recce at the fringe of Taman Negara National Park,charting new future patrol route. We have many interesting sighting along the way : animal tracks,droppings ,creepy crawlies etc.We also done some camera trapping work,and I was elated to see the pictures of the many megafauna denizens in the park:tigers,sun bears,panthers,elephants,tapirs,dholes,wild boars,porcupines etc.Seeing them on picture is all that worth my while,as it is extremely difficult to see the animals in the park due to their shy and elusive nature.But we do see red Muntjac on the trail,albeit only a fleeting second.
Daniel and I spent one night in one observation hide,staking out a salt lick.No animals were spotted,but the experience was wonderful.There are fireflies in the forest,and the cacophonies of the night illustrates the vibrancy and diversity of life in the rain forest.
Another day was spent camping in the elephant cave,known as Gua Gajah. Evidence of elephant presence was everywhere.It is truly a unique first time experience for me,camping out in a limestone cave.It was breezy and cooling,we set up a bonfire,and were quickly lulled to sleep in the unique ambiance.
I have a half day adventure in one of the limestone cave, gua Hari Malaysia.The guides from SGI outdoor are experience and helpful people,and we had a good time exploring up to 400 m into the cave.At certain stretch,we have to swim across pools with the ceiling a few centimeter from our head,while we have to rappel up mini falls twice during the exploration.Bats were abound in the cave,and I saw whip scorpion and some spiders in the cave too!
I have spent day with the indigenous people of Malaysia,the orang asli.They are the original denizens in the Taman Negara forest,and have learned all the necessary survival skills to live in the rain forest.I was amazed at the speed they travel through the forest at ease,traversing the water-logged and muddy ground.The ladies are good fishers too,being capable of reeling in good catches in no time,using nothing more than a bamboo rod and earthworm bait.
This is definitely a lifetime experience for me.Trekking in Malaysian forest may not be new to me,but to experience the life in the forest doing my part in forest conservation is something I have always wanted to do. Never mind about the rain,who put off some of the planned activities,and leeches,boggy ground,bugs and creepy crawlies,they are an essential component of nature ,like you and I.Go with an open mind,and you will reap in an experience of a lifetime.Thanks to Ecoteer for the great experience.”
Kwa Kee Lang, August 2013
“I spent a week in July 2013 on the tiger trail volunteer experience, and let’s just say it wasn’t one to forget.
To start off with, I’d never done anything like this before and didn’t really know what I’d got myself in to. I’m 19 so was one of the youngest in the group.
My friend and I spent our first few nights in KL, and then met the rest of the group at a bus station to head off on our journey to Merapoh. This took about 5/6 hours, the buses were comfy so it wasn’t so bad.
We arrived in Merapoh with all our bags and got picked up by the owners of the chalet. They took us back and we were given a quick tour. It was extremely basic, which at first I thought I was going to absolutely hate. As soon as I got over this, it turned out to be absolutely fine and just what we needed. I was made to feel at home, everyone was so nice and the accommodation did exactly what it needed too.
The rooms were single sex, we had 2 girls rooms and one for boys. There were 2 bunk beds in each, again very basic. This is all that was needed, we were living out our backpacks and by the end of all that trekking it was like heaven getting in to bed!
There was a lounge and kitchen area as well where we all could sit in after the treks and chill out for a few hours. We all felt very safe staying there and by the end of the week we didn’t want to leave!
We had some lunch and a run through of the week, it was all quite overwhelming at the start because it sounded like a lot to cram in.
We had about 7 volunteers altogether, at the start it was a bit awkward and everyone was quiet but by the end of the week we were such good friends and we were all just having a laugh together. Helping each other out and working together on the treks created a bond almost straight away and I met some of the most amazing people.
Let’s move on to the actual trekking itself.
We started in the mornings at about 8, and drove to different corridors of the Taman Negara. The treks would include going down poacher trails and looking for any animal evidence (prints etc.). This lasted about 7 hours for 4 of the days of the week, and is definitely not for anyone with a poor fitness level. We had regular breaks and stopped off for lunch. If anyone was finding it difficult the team were there to support them and the guides were excellent in making sure everyone was alright. I didn’t know what to expect and the first trek really brought home to me what the week was going to be like. The terrain was tough and it included things such as walking over logs that had fallen between two banks over a river.
Just a word of warning: Proper walking shoes and at least 2 pairs of trousers are required! I only bought one pair of trousers which were wrecked in the first day, I then had to go out and buy another pair! Another member of the group also bought trainers to wear, and after a few hours the soles had completely fallen off. A good backpack would also be handy. Be prepared for clothes to be ruined! Also, getting leeched is inevitable. It doesn’t hurt, and although pretty gross you have to just flick them off or leave them.
Don’t let the long days or tough terrain put you off though, the experience wasn’t one to be missed and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was completely different to anything I’d done before and didn’t really know what to expect, but it was so much fun.
We spent one night sleeping in the jungle, which was an experience I will never forget. Some of the members of the Batek tribe came and cooked us chicken and rice in bamboo, which was absolutely incredible. We arrived at camp and they had already made themselves a shelter out of leaves and sticks. I felt like I was cheating putting up our tents and hammocks! The nights sleep wasn’t one of the best but staying right near a river surrounded by wildlife was an incredible experience and will never be forgotten.
Another day was spent caving. This really helped to break up the week of trekking as it wasn’t so physically demanding. It was run by the owners of the chalet. We arrived at the site of the cave and were immediately thrown in to the deep end as we had to rock climb up a verge with only a rope behind us. This was completely safe and the leaders of the caving helped us to get up. We then started walking through the cave, which was amazing. We saw all sorts of wildlife, including snakes and scorpions. The caving included crossing through a river, about waist height. If you weren’t confident in water the guides were happy to put a rope through to help. We were in the caves for about an hour and a half, until we got to the end. It soon dawned on us we were going to have to abseil down a 30m cliff if we wanted to get back. This was scary, however we all managed to do it and all felt as though we’d accomplished something after (if not a little shaky…)!
We spent another day going to visit the local Batek tribe. This included another trek, where we went with the women to collect leaves in order to weave baskets. It was amazing watching them work, they were about 70+ and much fitter than us! We then went back to their village and taught them an English lesson in their school. They knew very basic English, but responded to the lesson very well and it was such a rewarding experience.
The food throughout the week could not be faulted. It was mainly Malay style curries. We were given a packed lunch every day, which was rice with a sauce and meat/fish. It was quite mild but so tasty. In the evenings we would go to a local restaurant and eat something of our choice off the menu. Every night I ate well and their portions were definitely generous! Couldn’t say a bad word about it.
Some evenings we spent down at a lake, which was really refreshing and fun. (Note: don’t bomb off the log, it hurts.) We also went out for a Chinese and some beers one night to celebrate, which was amazing.
Dan, the owner of Ecoteer and a leader on the treks was so kind and helped us through the whole week. We wouldn’t have done it without him. The trek guides were also brilliant and we had good fun with them. Everyone looked out for each other and we formed a sort of family.
Overall, although daunting at the start the whole experience was incredible. I overcame things I didn’t think I would be able to do and a massive thank you to everyone that made it happen. I never expected to meet such great people, we got on so well and by the end of the week we all clicked. It was almost a shame it was over in such a short space of time!”
Harriet, August 2013
“I spent a week on this programme in July of 2013 and thoroughly enjoyed it.
My group was made up of 7 volunteers aged 19-40 something i believe and we were a mix of english, chinese and Singaporean.
Accommodation – we spent 5 nights in single sex dorm rooms in a small, basic chalet. Had access to everything you needed like a a shower, Malay + western style toilets, wifi and a little kitchen and lounge area. The place was clean and I felt really safe. The owners and their friends were always popping in and out and they’re all really friendly and welcoming. One night was spent camping in the rainforest, tents/hammocks are provided. Great little spot, right by a lovely part of the river, great for stargazing.
Food – we went to the local store at the start of the week and Dan, the group leader, bought supplies for breakfast every morning (cereal, bread, spreads) and we had access to drinking and boiling water, tea, coffee etc. lunch was delivered every morning for us to take with us on the treks. It was always rice and chicken or fish with a sauce and it was delicious! Dinner we ate at a local restaurant every evening which served Malay food. No complaints, I liked it all!
Daily Activities – we spent 4 days walking through the rainforest, following poacher trails and looking for animal prints and general signs of animal presence. The treks were long, up to 7 hours, and some of them were quite physically demanding so I’d say you need a relatively good level of fitness to be able to enjoy it. The leaders were really helpful, patient and knowledgable throughout all of the walks. Ash and Harrison filled us with information about the tigers, poachers and the rainforest itself.
One day was spent caving which was a great experience. We spent a couple of hours walking through the cave then abseiled down it at the end.
One day was spent in a local village where the Batek tribe live. We spent a few hours walking to collect leaves for baskets and other crafts they make then we delivered an English lesson to some of the teenagers.
One day we went into the national park to check the camera traps then went for a nice swim in the river.
Highlights – the highlight for me was the English lesson. The teenagers/ young adults that came to our lesson were really keen to learn from us so it was really fulfilling.
The week was really social, there’s time at the chalet in the evenings to all sit as a group and chat or watch tv and the guides and they are all really sociable and up for a laugh. We even went out one night for a Chinese and some beers as a celebration for one of our volunteers.
I’d never done anything like this before, i didn’t really realise what i was going to be putting myself through (long, tiring walks) but i ended up having an unforgettable week. I feel like the work we did was beneficial and ive come away from it with a bunch of new friends and knowledge so I’d definitely recommend it, just be prepared for your clothes to get destroyed and your body to be dinner to leeches!”
Alice, August 2013
“When I first found out the Ecoteer team was going to Taman Negara I was only moderately excited. The goal was to look at tracks, retrieve cameras, and to remove any animal traps found in the jungle. I mean how much fun could looking at animal tracks all day be? I’d much rather be scuba diving or relaxing during my off day. I did zero research before arriving AND ate my words almost as soon as I arrived. The first night upon arrival I was excited to bust out my Fenix LD20 flashlight and track animals from the comforts of the back of a pickup truck. Though the only thing I spotted were heards of cows, the sounds and remoteness of the place was spectacular. The area is highly protected and special permission must be granted in order to enter. We were luckly to visit the area with an exceptional guide, Ash. The next morning we set foot in the jungles of Taman Negara with a guide from a local tribe, Ecoteer Team, and Fuze Team, in total about 15 people. The first bit was quite a tough climb, but it became easier as the inclines decreased and my body became used to walking on the terrain. We were excited to find various tracks of elephants, tigers, tapirs, bears, and wild boar. The area is lush with wildlife! Our guides did a superb job of finding and identifying the various species of animals in the area.
Animal track of what I believe is a tiger. The tracks are measured and recorded.
We found two traps that day. The would-be poachers laid out a couple of well- designed traps that could catch animals the size of tigers. The one below was found on a trail, disguised by a log.
Animal trap. There was actually another one located a few feet from this one. Poachers are in the area.
It’s unfortunate, but there is a market for the highly endangered tigers, elephants, rhinos, and various other Malay species. The traps were destroyed on the spot and the GPS coordinates marked.
After a successful trek, we ALL went for a swim in a fresh-water pool called Lata Serigala. (I went in mostly to wash the blood off my feet from the leeches). We let off a little steam by wresting on the fallen trees and admiring the natural beauty of the area. The water that flowed into this small pool came directly from the mountains above and remains one of Malaysia’s cleanest, undisturbed water sources in the country. That evening the boys went into town to grab a few drinks and bring back food for all. I’m sure the girls were happy to know that we worked hard bringing back those buckets of KFC. The evening was special as we celebrated two birthdays, the past birthday of the founder of Fuse, Pavin (day before), and the future birthday of the founder of Ecoteer, Daniel (the next week). Quite an eventful, fun night in the backwoods of Taman Negara! We all went jungle trekking the next morning, most of us hung over. I was determined to prevent the leeches from getting to my feet this time by wearing stronger socks and doing leech checks every 5 – 10 minutes. We picked up our guide at a local village then went trekking upstream.
My sock looked just as bad as Pavin’s yesterday! The highlight was visiting caves covered in various animal tracks. We did not go in as I’d hoped but awaking a sleeping bear or tiger is not something that is high on my priority list. My favorite activity we did on this day was checking the camera traps. The cameras were setup specifically to track wild game. They were placed strategically, hundred of meters apart, just off the paved road.
Removing the camera trap. I was blown away to see tapirs, bears, wild boar and a huge tiger on those cameras, and so close to the lodge! (I’ll admit, I began cautiously looking around the trees to make sure that the tiger was not around.) To know that there still are wild tigers in Malaysia, not in zoos or circus, warms my heart. I enjoyed learning about the process and how to remove and set the traps.
Along the way, we received the opportunity to view the jungle from high above in the canopy. The views were absolutely stunning! I felt like a bird in the mighty jungle looking down on the scenery below. After another amazing day 2, we cooled off in a fresh water spring. The cold, fresh water felt incredible on my aching legs. Sungai Tanum was stocked with trout that ate anything and everything that landed on the surface. I’m sure these fish would be great human food, but they too receive protection at Taman Negara. The only other time I’ve seen such fearless fish was in the Plitvice Lakes of Croatia. These trout played in the water with us! That pool was an awesome, secluded area, that inspires joy in the faces of all of us. A trip back to the lodge afforded me the opportunity to spot an animal I’ve never seen before, The Rhinoceros Horn Bill, also Malaysia’s national bird. There was actually a mating pair and they sounded like vuvuzela’s during the World Cup in South Africa. The experience of Taman Negara was beautiful and refreshing. Though I love the islands of Perhentian, a quick trip to the remote jungles of Malaysia make for an awesome 3-day outing. Thanks to Ecoteer and Fuze for hosting an outstanding adventure!”
Jason Boehle, 2012
“In September 2012 I was given the opportunity to assist with the work preserving wildlife, and in particular Malaysian tigers in Taman Negara, Malaysia. From the moment we were first picked up from the train station, until we left we were looked after by the wonderful staff. Upon arrival at the accommodation centre, we were greeted with a nice comfy bed in a large gender split dorm room. The next day our group were led into the jungle to look for signs of animals and animal poaching, in particular traps which we took the pleasure of destroying. Many interesting footprints, critters and stunning scenery along the way. Just be sure to watch for the leeches! A wonderful swim in the local fresh water pool was the perfect cure after a sweaty days’ trekking. At night we were able to enjoy a meal and a few cold beverages talking about all the action of the day. Next morning up bright and early to find some more traps and reset the camera traps used to capture the animals in their major animal “highways”, seeing pictures of tigers that have been walking on the same path as you only a few days before was pretty special. We were taken to a viewpoint overlooking the whole area. Very cool. Finally the day was finished cooling off in another fresh water stream. Perfect ending. It was a great weekend, and I definitely learnt a lot. It is great to see that there is people out there that care about our world and the dwindling numbers of important animals to the ecosystem. Keep up the good work!”
Cameron Kennedy, 2012