I first became aware of the Ulu Muda forest reserve when the Rough Guide for Malaysia started mentioning it in its 2009 edition as one of the highlights of the West coast, describing it as "West Malaysia's unexplored nature reserve with over 500 kmĀ² of preserved rainforest". An initial attempt to visit it in 2010 failed as I was unable to secure accomodation in the resthouse in Gubir and Ron's adventures (a local tour operator) would not bother taking a single traveller. In May 2011 the Earth Lodge opened partially and then fully in 2012, offering all-inclusive packages, making travel to the Ulu Muda reserve a practical option.
The area has been closed for tourists for years due to the unstable situation along the border to Thailand, but is now fully accessible (at least the area around the Earth Lodge) for visitors, as long as you get a permit with the government (Hymeir from the Earth Lodge will do that for you).
Visitors are picked up at the jetty of the Ulu Muda lake, a dammed lake created years ago as a water reservoir for the rice plantations in Kedah (connected to the nearby Pedu lake). The boat trip on local sampan (long tail) boats to the Kuala Labua forest camp takes almost two hours and can involve getting out of the boat and pushing if the water levels are low. Initially the trip proceeds across the Muda lake, later along one of the tributary rivers.
The Ulu Muda forest reserve is host to a number of large south east Asian mammals, insects and birds, including several hornbill species.
Spread across the Ulu Muda reserve there are more than 15 salt licks ("sira" in local language) where animals come to get the minerals they need to complement their diet. These siras are good places where to spot larger mammals, as proven by the photos captured by automatic cameras placed in them.


01 Ulu Muda lake 02 Boat transfer to jungle camp 03 Muda river 04 Muda river at Kuala Labua
05 Muda river at Kuala Labua 06 Muda river 07 Muda river 08 Muda river
09 Afternoon wildlife spotting on boat 10 Three men in a boat 11 River bank 12 Hot spring
13 Hot spring 14 Hot spring 15 Hot spring 16 Long tail boat 17 Muda river at dusk
18 Ulu Muda lake 19 Ulu Muda lake 20 Sampan boat with tourists 21 Ulu Muda lake and jetty
22 Ulu Muda dam 01 Bungalow in Kuala Labua camp 02 Dipterocarp tree 03 Salt lick 04 Tree with winding liana
05 Green leaves 06 Jungle path 07 Orange mushrooms 08 Orange mushrooms 09 White fungi
10 Cup fungi 11 Jungle path 12 White fungus with filaments 13 Brown fungi growing on wood 14 Group of tourists near dipterocarp tree
15 Strangler fig 16 White mushrooms 17 Rain in Kuala Labua camp 01 Leech 02 Looking for the elephants
03 Elephant meadow 04 Millipede 05 Millipede 06 Lantern bugs 07 Lantern bugs 08 Lantern bugs
09 Lantern bugs 10 Grasshopper 11 Green insect 12 Plain-pouched hornbills 13 Plain-pouched hornbill
14 Plain-pouched hornbills 15 Plain-pouched hornbills 16 Swarm of plain-pouched hornbills 17 Swarm of plain-pouched hornbills
18 Plain-pouched hornbills 19 Plain-pouched hornbills 20 Plain-pouched hornbills 21 Swarm of plain-pouched hornbills
22 Termites 23 Termites 01 Snake skin 02 Stalagmites 03 Ball drapery rock formation
04 View towards Gua Labu cave entrance 05 View towards cave entrance 06 Speleothems in Gua Labu cave 07 Gua Labu cave roof opening 08 Drapery rock formation
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©Copyright Alfred Molon