Belaga

Belaga is a small town on the Rejang River in Malaysia's province of Sarawak. Whilst the village can be explored in well under an hour, most visitors arrive in Belaga in order to explore the many longhouses as well as the interior of Borneo. There are a few tour operators which are established in the town; however, the town is very well connected with the tribespeople and finding a local guide shouldn't be very difficult.

Get in

NOTE: In an attempt to curb the increasing number of Western protesters at the hydroelectric Bakun Dam upriver from Belaga, the government of Sarawak has mandated that all tourists require a permit if travelling from Kapit. These permits are freely and quickly available in Kapit (although not Belaga), and are rarely checked. Strangely, the permit is not required if arriving from Bintulu by 4x4 transport. In other words, if you get caught without a permit, feign ignorance and state that you arrived from Bintulu.

By boat

Most people arrive in Belaga by boat from Kapit (and further downstream, Sibu). Boats leave from Kapit at 9AM and cost RM30 (5 hours) except when the water level is too low and the express boats can't get pass Pelagus rapids. It is a very scenic boat ride, and if you are in need of some fresh air the boat roof is a good place to take in the jungle river banks. Express boat interiors are usually air-conditioned to a point of freezing which makes the ride on the roof much more convenient option. Just remember that the sun in Borneo is fierce even though it's cloudy. Rejang river is an easy ride most of the way and the only notable rapids are those of Pelagus. Just follow the locals, if they stay on the roof you should be safe as well.

Depending on the river level the trip down stream may only take 4 hours (RM30 and leaves at 8AM) There is a boat heading to Bakun Dam from Belaga (RM10.00, 1 hour and leaves approx 3:30PM)

By plane

Belaga has a tiny abandoned airstrip a few kilometers downstream from the village.

By 4x4

Take the long, windy and unkept logging road from Bintulu or if you are dropped off at the Bakun Dam turn off (in Malay: Simpang Bakun) on the highway appox 40 km north of Bintalu, there are many 4X4s heading into Belaga. Wave one down - they will take passengers if they have room (RM60 per person - personal car hire requires min 2pax). It will be best to be around that intersection until max 2pm since the journey takes 4–5 hours depending on road conditions and it may get dark.

You can also try to hitchike a vehicle heading south to Belaga, if they ask you money, take into consideration that the normal fare for 4x4 taking people is RM60 so you can offer less. There are many vehicles passing by.

This can avoid backtracking by boat to reach Sibu in order to get to the coast. Jeeps normally leave early at 8AM, but since they can be commissioned easily, they are flexible. Speak to your guide or one of the shops which advertise land transport.

Get around

Uma Daro, one of the 15 longhouses located in the Sungai Asap resettlement area, Belaga District, for people displaced by the construction of the Bakun Dam

Belaga is small enough to walk around in twenty minutes. For trips further afield, hire a longboat for a ride up/down river.

Do

Tours

Longhouse tours are split up into the following categories:

One excellent tour operator is:

Prices as at January 2008 are listed below (all quoted in Malaysian Ringgit), although with some haggling discounts will be found.

1 pax 2-3 pax 4-8 pax 9+ pax
2D1N Longhouse 400++ 300++ 240++ 160++
2D1N Camping 440++ 360++ 280++ 200++
2D1N Trekking 420++ 340++ 260++ 180++
3D2N Longhouse 500++ 340++ 280++ 200++
3D2N Camping 560++ 400++ 320++ 260++
3D2N Trekking 540++ 380++ 300++ 220++
Longhouse Day trip 180++ 100++ 80++ 60++

Buy

Most of the longhouses in the area will sell locally made souvenirs, such as beads, necklaces and sometimes even traditional clothes and items. There isn't much on offer in Belaga village itself, aside from some old coins and op-shop variety items.

Eat

All of the restaurants in Belaga are of a comparable quality and price. Take your pick or ask a local.

Sleep

Bakun Dam

There is a good selection of cheap accommodation in Belaga.

Connect

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.