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 km² 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.
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