Bukit Pantu View Point

This medium length walk will take you through some magnificent mixed dipterocarp forest composed of massive trees, up to a rugged sandstone escarpment. From Bukit Pantu on a clear day, there are good views to the south-east and this a great point for viewing the multi-layered canopy of the dipterocarp forest below. Making a detour to the Pantu Waterfall is a good way to cool off and relax after a hot walk. The Inoue trail provides a more direct route back to the park HQ.

Difficulty
6/10
Distance
one-way: 2900m (using Inoue trail to the Pantu Junction) or 3800m (using the Main and Pantu trails)
Scenic value
7/10
Walking Time
One way – 1hr15min (via Inoue trail) or 1hr45min (via Pantu trail) 1/2 Day return trip
Flora & Fauna
7/10
Trail Markings
Main trail – Red
Pantu trail – White
Bukit Pantu Viewpoint Trail – White & Yellow
Inoue trail – Pink

 

Bukit Pantu View Point
Bukit Pantu View Point

 

Trail DescriptionThis trek is a big loop along 4 trails – outward along the Main Trail, Pantu Trail, Bukit Pantu Viewpoint Trail, and returning via the Inoue Trail.

From Park HQ, this trek starts on the Main Trail, previously described. After about 15 minutes of walking, turn left off the Main trail up the steep concrete staircase towards the tree tower (it’s quite slippery when wet). There’s a pondok (shelter) opposite the 40m high tower. The tower has been built around a huge kapur bukit (Dryobalanops sp) tree. This magnificent dipterocarp species was used by Indigenous people for timber and remains commercially valuable.

Bukit Pantu
Bukit Pantu

The tree tower, built in 1987, was originally the starting point for a canopy walkway, which has since been dismantled. The tower remains, and is still a great vantage point for viewing Lambir Hills’ very active bird and squirrel life. Look and listen out for the colourful crimson-winged woodpecker, as well as many other bird species and squirrels which inhabit the tree canopies. There are also great views of the trees around.

From the tree tower, the trail (Pantu Trail – white marks on trees) passes through mixed dipterocarp forest. The brittle, corrugated leaves on the forest floor are mostly from keruing trees (a generic Malay term for Dipterocarpus sp). The majority of the large trees in this forest belong to the family Dipterocarpaceae; these are valued for timber, resin (called damar, and used for incense and caulking boats), as well as an edible nut oil extracted from a particular species of dipterocarp seeds (engkabang or illipe nut). Some of the most impressive dipterocarp trees grow on ridgelines; such as meranti, and the kapur tree which supports the tree tower.

In addition to these towering trees, this type of forest contains a variety of fan palms, pinanga palms and walking palms with “legs” up to 2m in height. Fan palms have been used traditionally for food wrapping, weaving and making hats. Some fan palms also have religious uses – during festivals, leaves are tied together to form brooms which are used for ritual cleansing. Orchids, lianas (climbing vines), and gingers are some of the other plants you may see in this forest.

Over the next 1 km (about 25 min), the trail dips in and out of two small creek valleys, before reaching a junction at the base of a small hill. This is the turn-off to the Nibong Waterfall (90 m away), and is well signposted. A massive decaying tree trunk forms the right side of the trail. Continue on the Pantu trail by turning left up the incline.

From here, it’s a further 230m (approx 15mins) of steep up and down through more mixed dipterocarp forest to a pondok (shelter) and the junction where the Bukit Pantu trail meets three other trails (Bukit Pantu junction). National Park signs mark each trail and show corresponding distances to destinations within the park.

Follow the sign for the Bukit Pantu viewpoint (white and yellow paint on trees marks the trail), which is approximately 40 minutes (1.6km) from here. The trail leads gently up along the ridge. The next 20 minutes includes some undulating walking along the ridgeline through mixed dipterocarp forest then gets progressively steeper.

As the steep ridge plateaus, the path veers left. A break in the canopy from a landslide provides some views southwards, on the left hand side of the trail. The trail continues upwards and you may start to notice a transition in vegetation from tall trees to more scrubby, smaller trees. There are some sets of steep wooden stairs to climb, and there are large, spiny palms along the side of the trail. These are pantu or wild sago palms (Eugeissonia sp), after which this trail is named. This plant has many traditional uses – they may harbour edible insect larvae, and the shoot is eaten sometimes as a vegetable. In the past it was occasionally used as a source of sago, requiring a complicated process of extraction involving grating and leaching the starch from the pith.

The trail then skirts counter-clockwise around the base of a sandstone knoll. You’ll pass the base of a small cliff on the left, composed of sandstone and compacted soil, to which mosses and herbs cling precariously. The trail enters a narrow gully between two bluffs, and where there are some steep wooden stairs. The vegetation here is noticeably different from the dipterocarp forest below. A thick layer of matted roots constitutes the forest floor. The trees are thinner and more  crowded than the mixed dipterocarp forest. This is Kerangas forest – an Iban term meaning “unable to grow rice” in reference to the infertile soil. The trail emerges through this into a clearing with wide southward views. There’s a comfortable pondok here, and it”s a great place to examine the dipterocarp forest canopy below (bring your binoculars).

To return to the park HQ, either retrace the same path, or return via the Inoue trail from the Bukit Pantu junction in the middle of the park (approximately 30 minutes from here to park HQ). This trail is more direct, and is marked by pink paint on trees. It continues down the same ridgeline as the Bukit Pantu viewpoint trail. The walk follows an undulating ridge over a peaty forest floor. There are patches of secondary forest, with prominent macaranga trees, in places where landslides or treefalls have occurred.

Macaranga trees (Macaranga sp., called mahang, or sedaman in local languages) are fast-growing, slender, softwood trees with large three-pointed leaves. These plants are a pioneer species, and once established, provide sufficient shade for primary rainforest tree seedlings to re-grow. Macarangas are significant as a food source for forest browsers such as deer because the leaves are accessible, and are not loaded with chemical defenses like long-living primary rainforest trees. Many of the Macaranga species harbour ants in their hollow stems. This is an example of a symbiotic relationship – these ants ”milk” scale insects feeding on the tree, and protect the tree generally. Leaves of some Macaranga species are used by the Iban for wrapping rice.

Continue along the trail, back into mixed dipterocarp forest. Massive trees flank the trail where the ridgeline drops away sharply on the right – giving views into the canopies of trees below. Twenty minutes from the junction at the pondok, cross a small wooden bridge over a thin trickle of a creek where it falls over an escarpment to the right. The trail continues up and over a knoll where a minor trail branches off to the left – ignore this and trek downhill following the pink marks on the trees. The trail veers left downhill, and soon emerges from the forest into the cul-de-sac behind the NP staff quarters. The Park HQ is back along the road, to the left.

The walking time in the reverse direction from park HQ uphill back to Bukit Pantu Junction along the Inoue trail takes approximately 40 minutes and is mostly uphill.