Lifecycles of the forest

Best time to visit

The forest reserve of Belum Temenggor is accessible all the year round. However, during some months the lake water level is low and some surrounding parts may not be reachable by boat. Between April and November precipitations increase but they don’t change significantly the pleasant experience of trekking into the forest.

Climate of Malaysia

Malaysia is a tropical country, with temperatures between 23 °C (73.4 °F) and 32 °C (89.6 °F), and rainfall ranging from 10 centimetres (4 in) to 30 centimetres (12 in) a month. Indeed, Malaysia has two monsoon seasons: the Southwest Monsoon from late May to September, and the Northeast Monsoon from November to March. The Northeast Monsoon brings more rainfall in the East Coast of the Peninsula, as the Southwest Monsoon. Hence, March and October form transitions between the two monsoons.

Belum is located North, between East and West coast of the Peninsula. Nevertheless, it is not predominantly influenced by the Northeast monsoon, and tends to be drier between December and April.

Hornbills on a wire
Hornbills on a wire

Best times to visit Belum Temenggor

Although January-March remains the driest months. The “best time” to visit Belum is relative to one’s expectations and the small changes in the vegetation lifecycles.

  • January-March -The water level of the Tasik Temenggor lake tends to be lower than the rest of the year. Thus, a bit of rain could be expected at the beginning of this period, which is also good for Toman fish (Snakhead) fishing activities.
  • April – It’s the butterfly season in Royal Belum part of the forest reserve; butterflies of different species can be easily seen during this month. New emerging dark red leaves of Perah (Elateriospermum tapos) and Kayu manis (Cinnamomum) give the forest an “Autumn” look. This coloring lasts only for one or two weeks, after which the leaves turn back to green. Bungor (Lagerstroemia floribunda) starts flowering, giving purple flowers.
  • June – Figs flowering and fruiting season. Emergence of a creeper called Tapak kuda (Bauhinia bidentata) which then envelops the crown of the trees and produces an orange flower that adds colour to the forest canopy. Emergence of new leaves (yellow to light green colour) in the tall Merbau (Intsia palembanica) and the Tualang (Koompassia excelsa) trees.
  • July-August – Species of ginger blooming; figs flowering and fruiting.
  • August-September – Ripe figs found all over the forest. This seasons is ideal for hornbill watching, particularly the swarm flight of the Plain Pouch Hornbills. Generally, it’s a good season for bird watchers, as migratory birds tend to land and rest on the small islands in the lake area. Read more on birdwatching in Belum Temenggor.
  • October – Period of Terrestrial Orchid Bloom both in the high areas of Belum Temengor. Good for Toman (Snakehead) fishing activities.
  • November – The orchid blooming continues. Butterfly season in Temenggor part of the reserve. More migratory birds find rest in the lake islands.
  • December – Water level in the lake starts being low. Good for Toman (Snakehead) fishing activities.
A rare twin Rafflesia
A rare twin Rafflesia

All year around sightings

Rafflesia – one of the World’s largest flowers – grows in different parts of the forest of Belum Temengor. This species is a aseasonal parasite and blooms cyclically through the year – with a bit of luck it’s possible to spot while hiking into the rainforest.

Fishing eagles are a common sighting along the lake waters. Then, it’s possible to see them in action, perching on rotting stumps on the lake waiting to catch fish or dropping high from the sky on their preys.

Moreover, families of river otters often swim close to the lake banks.

The forest is home to many small mammals like deers, tapirs and other herbivorous animals, which is not uncommon to spot while hiking or stopping by the so called “salt licks” (natural mineral deposits of stone and mud which the animals lick to get essential mineral nutrients). Sometimes – if lucky – it’s even possible to see elephants there. Small reptiles, frogs, lizards, geckos, dung beetles, “lantern bugs”, cycads and many more insects or small reptiles are observable during forest hikes.

Swimming at the waterfalls can be done throughout the year, but on days of heavy rain it is better to avoid them, as they become dangerous in case of torrential rush of water from the hill tops. At waterfall sites it’s common to swim in company of many fishes.