Rainforest Conservation & Research in Malaysia

Location
Malaysia
Length
1 to 4 weeks
Housing
Hostel
Age
Min. 16 years
38 travelers saved this program

Who's Going

Joanna LaFrancesca
Director of Partnerships
When:

Hosted by

About This Program

Malaysia is blessed with a high biodiversity of wildlife. Unfortunately, many of its most emblematic animals are under severe threat.

You will help protect Malaysia’s most amazing animals by going on jungle patrols on the borders of Malaysia's largest national park, Taman Negara. The borders are where poaching numbers are highest due to the small strip of forest left connecting the wild animals living in Taman Negara to the rest of the wild animals living in Malaysia.

Highlights

  • Help identify animal tracks and locate potential spots of animal snares
  • Enjoy an overnight camping trip with the indigenous tribe
  • Reduce the chances of animals getting trapped
  • Help conserve caves in Merapoh by going caving

Participate in jungle treks (3-5 hours long) through the Sungei Yu Forest Reserve along the tiger corridor connecting Taman Negara and the Titiwangsa Mountain Range -- deter poaching and collect presence data for various NGOs and researchers. Visit several of the 70+ limestone caves in the region, learn bushcraft skills from the Batek tribe, and run your own mini conservation or community project.

Our project is focused on poacher surveillance patrols where you will help our team to decipher clues of human encroachments in the forest reserves to deter/reduce poaching. You won’t only analyze human movements but also elephants, tigers, sun bears, tapir, gibbons and more. You will help to collect pug marks, scratch marks and other signs of our fury friends in the forest.

Activities include...

ECO WALKS (Educational, Conservation & Observation)

A medium level of fitness is required for the jungle walks. The walks are supposed to be slow to enable the guides to search for tracks and animal signs HOWEVER this is a tropical rainforest where humidity can reach 90-100%. It may not be hot but between the humidity and the inevitable encounters with leeches, this is not a trip for the faint-hearted!

Walks are generally 3-5 hours long depending on the group and the route chosen. These jungle walks are fascinating and will really allow you to feel like one of the animals in the forest whilst looking out for signs of humans and poachers. If any snares are found, the GPS locations will be recorded and then they will be destroyed. Even old discarded snares continue to catch animals so it is vital that they are removed to prevent any further harm. If you’re keen to develop the skills needed for rainforest conservation, you will also be taught how to use GPS for location recording! Here, you will learn how to log the coordinates of any pug marks, snares, land clearings or road kill found.

In 2018 we’ll also have more activities, from using SMART for anti-poaching patrols, to earning a tree-climbing certificate. Not to mention learning GIS skills!

CAVING

There are over 70 limestone caves in the Merapoh region. The actual caves that you visit will depend on weather, group size and group ability. The caves are fantastic – some even have rivers and waterfalls inside. The presence of limestone formations creates the most fantastic scenery. These caves are home to various animals including thousands of swiflets that group together at sunset and can be seen flying around a nearby town called Gua Musang. The Batek people have used these caves for centuries, as can be seen by the many cave drawings that can be found inside.

LOCAL TRIBAL VILLAGE

Volunteers staying for 1 week or more will learn bushcraft skills from the Batek tribe and may get the chance to go camping with the tribe and learn how they live in the jungle, weather depending! If you come for a minimum of 2 weeks, you will have the opportunity to help teach the Batek children basic English, maths and science through educational activities. These sessions are great fun but serve an important function, as the area has been earmarked for an increase in tourism and without being able to speak English, these tribal people will not be able to benefit from the new industry.

What's Included
  • Shared 3 bedroom flat with kitchen
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinners, and cooking facilities provided
  • Trek with a tribal group and overnight camping
  • Limestone caving excursion
  • WiFi
What's Not Included
  • International/Domestic Flights
  • Travel to and from Merapoh
  • Travel Insurance
Housing

You will be staying in the Fuze Ecoteer flat in the village of Merapoh. The flat has three bedrooms, kitchen, and a great rooftop space. Phone reception and WiFi available.

Meals

Lunch is provided daily along with one Malay dinner at a local family's home. Volunteers can make use of shared kitchen in the Fuze Ecoteer flat, or experience local Malaysian cuisine through nearby restaurants and food stalls.

Video and Photos

Pricing and Availability

Reviews

94%
based on 21 reviews
  • Impact 8.6
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 15 of 21
Joanna LaFrancesca
Joanna
10/10

A week in the jungle with Ecoteer

I volunteered with Fuze Ecoteer on the conservation program in Merapoh Malaysia, and it was absolutely amazing. Going into it, I wasn't sure what to expect. I've never been to Malaysia, nor had much experience with conservation work. I was interested in learning more and experiencing a new part of the world.

The Fuze Ecoteer staff were very helpful and supportive throughout the whole experience. The interns and volunteer coordinators at the project site were really knowledgable and passionate about conservation. It was as treat to experience the jungle through their eyes. Even though myself and another volunteer were there just for the week, we felt very welcomed by the staff and like we had been friends for much longer.

Some of my personal favorites from the week:

- Camping with the Batek! These women are incredible, we got to witness them building their shelter from the forest. Something I'll remember forever.
- The Malay dinner and night markets! I love Malay food (and the evening actives that involved food :) ) and interacting with the locals.
- Trekking in the forest with the group and being totally overwhelmed (in an awesome way) by the sounds, smells, sights of the jungle.
- Lastly, just taking in the views of the massive limestone rocks and caves from the back of the truck.

Merapoh is a magical spot, and Fuze does a really fantastic (and community-centric) job of showing it off. Highly recommend, feel free to email me with any questions!

Note: I am a Go Overseas employee, but the above review is an honest personal reflection of my recent volunteer trip with Fuze.

Yes, I recommend
Karol
10/10

INDIGENOUS TRIBE - BATEK

Me and my friends were in Merapoh for few days but in the end we felt like we were there for a month. So much to see and Explore.

Thanks to ecoteer we had an amazing Opportunity to meet indigenous tribe - Batek, see a cave snake, Scorpions, take an offroad 4x4 ride, treeclimbing, and camping in a middle of a jungle. That was a big inapiration and that gaves us great memorys. Highly recommended! Amazing place, amazing crew, amazing views and storys about Batek like this when one lady from Batek community met a Tiger and she scuttled him by kicking a rock. Must to see and hear!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Ian
8/10

Jun 18-Jul 9 2017

Loved:
1. treks
2. Batek,
3. Spotting animals & pug marks (saw tiger marks on 2 different treks)
4. bushcraft (blowdarts, lean-tos, bamboo cooking)
5. teaching English (3 X Batek & 1X Meraph village)
6.night markets
7. caving (one with waterfalls & climbing inside the best)
8. night drives (4 leopard cats, 2 x palm civets, 1 owl)
9. river swims
10. getting to know people on the project, local Malay, & Batek
11. Malay dinners

Suggestions for future volunteers:
1. use the local Cap Gajah rubber shoes for treks (best for muddy tracks, river crossing & easy access to remove leeches) 2. pack less (1 pair shorts, 1 short sleeve shirt, 3 pair underwear, 3 pair socks, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair light but tough pants, swimwear, hat, sandals, sunglasses, strong bug repellent, 2 X 750 ml water bottles)
3. buy a SIM card with data for your smart phone,
4. Learn all you can when you're hear by reading (culture & lang of Malay & Batek, local wildlife, Malaysian history), asking questions, and talking to everyone you can.

I do hope to return one day, maybe not to Meraph, but definitely to another Ecoteer Malaysia project. You are doing important work and I have enjoyed my stay here in Merapoh and the time in 2012 in Perhentian at the Cmmty Proj there. Keep up the good work!

How can this program be improved?
1. Sort out the trash & recycling (I helped to clear out a massive heap of recyclables during my stay & identified several sources of info in the village about trash pick up -- stores with dumpsters, villagers collecting glass)
2. Keep up the improvement projects on the roof (it has a lot of potential if you get more shade trees & some sort of shelter from wind/rain/sun, possible rain water harvesting)
3. Don't require your interns to regularly drive 12 hrs round-trip to drop folks at other projects (this is not a good use of their time & its a morale killer)
4. Buy some cheap solar chargers to reduce electricity costs & night vision goggles to make night drives more enjoyable
5. Consider doing night treks as these are offered by local adventure companies and will likely be more fruitful than drives
6. Engage more regularly with local Malay villagers. I and several other interns & volunteers were surprised how many villagers did not know anything about Ecoteer or the house. Maybe hold some local info sessions thru the mosque or just do regular walks thru the village talking to folks.
7. Better record keeping & hand-over of admin duties when people leave. I was told several times that I owed 5000RM after I paid GoOverseas & the Ecoteer person took several days just to confirm that I had indeed paid. Also, the Know Before You Go Guide & email contacts for the program were not updated properly. I booked in Aug 2016 and when I tried to reconnect in March/Apr 2017 it took me several weeks to find the right people to talk to about the project.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jia Yi
9/10

First time camping out! It was AMAZING

The most memorable event during my visit is the camping. I was, and still am, a city girl. Before I went to Merapoh I have never tried camping, not to mention camping in a jungle with people I just met. I was there for 2 weeks, so I camped twice. The first time we went to an old campsite, so we didn't do much as the shelter was already there. All those months have passed but I still remember the beautiful scenery there. There was a nice river nearby, the floor wasn't crowded with shrubs and the trees, while tall and plenty, still allowed enough light to get through. It was the first time I got to eat bamboo rice: simple yet delicious. At night we chatted with the four Batek ladies. One of them, I think it's Katjai, I'm not sure, my memory is a bit fuzzy, and I probably spelled her name wrong..anyway, she was the most talkative of them all. It was her who taught me about her people, and I'm ashamed that even though I'm Malaysian, I know next to nothing about the bumiputera and their culture. She told us all kind of incredible stories that still make me smile.
The second time was not as great as the first, because the friends I made during the first week had left, also I caught a flu. But it was still nice because we learnt how to make the shelter..sort of, as the ladies did almost all the work while I just folded the leaves.
Oh! And caving! It was perfect! Like a little adventure. We went to 3 caves during the first week and I absolutely love it, especially the last one. The guides, after taking us through a labyrinth, threw up their hands and declared they didn't know how to get out! Only after they were satisfied that they took us out. They were so funny that no one could get mad at their prank.
The hostel was nice. The food was quite good, though not as good as my mom's cooking--no one cooks as good as my mum. The people there were warm and helpful, and patient--oh dear, I still remember that awkward moment when Helen handed me a cabbage while I was like, "Huh?? Cut? Into pieces? How???"
First-timer, if you are reading this, get a larger backpack (not a daypack) please. We were supposed to divide the stuff we needed for camping among us, but I brought a small one, so others had to take up more *guilty*

How can this program be improved?
It was really really fun, and I enjoyed it very much. But I feel like I didn't do much for the conservation, it was like a normal visit during a holiday instead of volunteering for something good.
Yes, I recommend
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Alex
10/10

Taman Negara Tiger Trail, Merapoh

Genuinely one of the best experiences of my entire life. Totally out of the comfort zone, but so worth it. The Fuze Ecoteer guys were awesome and made us feel totally welcome and at home; trekking through the jungle and camping was tough but so interesting; the activities were great fun, particularly climbing through the limestone caves; and helping teach the Batek kids English was amazing - wonderful to see they've now got a separate project for them.

All in all, I have amazing memories of Merapoh. Can't speak highly enough of the programme, and for such an amazing cause.

How can this program be improved?
Simply more funding. Amazing work, but obviously could do more with better funding. So get involved!
Yes, I recommend
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Benedetta
10/10

Merapoh, The Heart of the Jungle

You tell me: Merapoh and I will answer: it's a word that means everything to me.
I was thinking: what can make us what we are, what builds our character and our consciousness? Certainly the memories. And I have so many happy memoirs of Merapoh.

WHY HAVE I CHOSEN MERAPOH?
I wanted to see the oldest forest of the world. I wanted to live it, not to visit it as a tourist. I wanted to avoid the tour operator, and wanted to meet who lives immersed in Nature.
I have always sought a deeper contact with nature. To create this contact I needed to visit the "oldest" Nature, remained intact over the years, undergoing only its transformation.
A Merapoh there is still this kind of Nature.

WHY HAVE I CHOSEN ECOTEER?
Ecoteer works into the Forest for long time, knows the issues and monitors and safeguards its habitat. Moreover Ecoteer group plays an important role in educating the village nearby, teaching to the children and teenagers. I wanted to know the tribe, open my mind to new realities and overcome my thought patterns.

WHAT I FOUND IN MERAPOH?
I was lucky because the staff who welcomed me was wonderful. All beautiful people, which is not easy to find, and very committed to the project. This gave me a lot of courage, love of life, positivity, strength and generosity above all, one of the most important quality of all.
I went hiking in the forest and slept under a self-made shelter, made of bamboo and leaves.
I tok part in the lessons in the village huts, played with the children in the mud and in the rain, ate at the local market (here they sell also snacks made with insects) slept on the roof, under a starry sky.
When I looked at the stars, in the big sky of Malaysia, with the forest nearby, in that warm temperature, I was happy.
I realize that there is no more important thing than to live such moments.
You bring home a part of beauty, the immense beauty of this misterious world.

How can this program be improved?
I don't have suggestions because I lived a short time in Merapoh.
It will be nice to create some workshop where batik teach their knowledge to the interns or vice versa (if someone have some skill with craft).
Yes, I recommend
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Louise
10/10

Review of week in Merapoh- Louise Cox

I spent a week in Merapoh and cannot explain how much I enjoyed it. This was thr first week of a five months of travelling. Despite a small mix up with my arrival date the team where there to welcome me. I was a bit nervous as this was my first solo trip but the team made me feel at home immediately- playing bananagrams and eating toast. I loved the fact this project was off the tourist route, it gave me a real insight into how people led their everyday lives in Mayalsia. All the local people I met in Merapoh itself were warm and friendly and genuinely wanted you to enjoy their hospitality.
I adored the relax vibe of the team house as well as how eco-friendly the house was. It really impressed me the lengths the team went to reduce, reuse, recycle.
The conservation work was smashing. This is where my passion is and it was so interesting to have a Batek guide as well as members of the team to explain the conservation work they are trying to do in the area. At first I was apprehensive about working with the children in the Batek school. Working with children had never been something I was interested in. The team are so loved my the kids in the village which immediately put me at ease. The team work so hard a lesson preparation, especially when Malay isn't even some of their first languages! even if it doesn't go to plan the classes are still relaxed and fun. It is on the terms of the village people which I really liked to see.
I loved the food as well, lunches from the local shop, the night markets, the food we cooked ourselves all delicious, my mouth is watering just thinking about the Rotti. Not even the leaches could dampen my spirits when we camped out in the forest or when we where hip deep in muddy water in the caves. All these experiences I will cherish dearly.
Overall it was a top class week. Relaxed but very interesting and thought provoking. This trip has 100% inspired me to do more volunteering and I couldn't recommend it enough to anyone who is ready to get stuck in.

How can this program be improved?
Nothing!
Yes, I recommend
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Tino
10/10

Go for it!

I can only recommend this programme. It's been a while since I've been to Merapoh (Feb 16) but I am still thinking about this experience regularly. If you are a volunteer for the tiger conservation, you will be trekking through the jungle looking for pug marks and snares. As you can see from the other reviews, you will also be visiting the Batek (who are lovely) and will even spend a night with them in the jungle.
But for me the trekking was the best experience as you can enjoy one of the oldest forests in the world and meanwhile do something meaningful.

Also the team was so helpful all the time and we had lots and lots of fun together.
If you'd ask me if I wanted to do it again, I would just pack my things and go for it again!

PS: I was there only for a week. If you can, you should stay longer.

Yes, I recommend
Mathilde
10/10

The best part of my 2016

This is a place where all sorts of travelers can gain new experiences, even the most experience traveler can gain personally from volunteering with ecoteer here in Merapoh! The small scale of this project means that every hand extra is truly useful, and allows you to fully immerse with the Batek and the Ecoteer team. The price is super reasonable as you get to see where the money goes, and it is aimed at only small groups of volunteers. It is true that short term volunteering means it can feel like you leave less of an impact, but even only adding numbers of visitors to this region helps the locals as well as reducing poacher numbers. The camping in the jungle is an amazing experience, where the Batek have so much knowledge we can learn from. And the Ecoteer team is absolutely amazing, people with the heart at the right spot and that know how to have fun!

Yes, I recommend
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Lotte
9/10

My awesome week in Malaysia

First of all, I hope you will excuse me for my bad english. It is not my native language. We got a lot of memories from the trip, but the two most amazing things was the camping in the jungle and the caves. To have a night in the jungle and listen to all the sounds are wonderful. And to eat food, which was prepared in bambu, with leaves as the plate. And I will never forget the feeling when crawling under A big rock in the caves.

How can this program be improved?
If you as a voulenteer also see some of the work the girls do when not in the jungle.
Because eventhougth it was an awesome week, it was a bit like a trip with five private guides, it did not feel like we did any different, it was only our money which did any different.
Yes, I recommend
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Bernard
10/10

Eco Leadership Programme Integration into Tiger Walk

We had a tiger walk during Eco Leadership Programme from 29 October to 1 November 2015. We set up mock camera trap, identify animals mark, learning about animals behaviour like sun bear, elephant etc.

Really happy to connect with mother nature and also doing great things in tiger walk, to increase awareness about the poaching activities near to the borderline of Taman Negara - Sg Yu Tiger Corridor.

Thank you Ecoteer and MyCat for the great effort.

How can this program be improved?
Remain as it is, good things will flow in.
Yes, I recommend
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Teresa
10/10

Go on an adventure of a lifetime

I went into the Tiger Conservation work with no experience and not even being a massive nature girl.

I knew I wanted to do some voluntary work and experience a different, more personal side of asia, away from the package tours, sitting on a tour bus, following a yellow/red umbrella.

What I experienced at Merapoh, exceeded all my expectations!
We went jungle trekking to set up cameras traps and to look for pugmarks. My personal favourite was Sun bear prints on tree barks, love the way they slide down them! Other days we went caving, slept under the stars in the jungle, had amazing home cooked traditional Malay dinner at a family’s home, and taught English to the Batek tribe.

My week in Merapoh went by so quickly, but it was filled with so many memorable, magical moments. I honestly loved it and would recommend it to anyone.

The Merapoh team/ family were all lovely, supportive and knowledgeable. I truly hope that our paths will cross again. I thank them all for such an epic adventure!

How can this program be improved?
I guess the living accommodation could be improved. Its all clean, but basic.
Yes, I recommend
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Katy
9/10

merapoh tiger trail

I spent 2 weeks in merapoh and they were jam packed. I experienced hands on conservation, tracking foot prints and putting up camera traps and reviewing the photos. Also working closely with the batek tribe made the experience even better. The kids were amazing and eager to learn and the elders have lots of forest knowledge to pass on. All of the staff from ecoteer made me feel right at home and answered all my questions and adapted the time table to fit in caving, trekking and attending eco film festival and promoting their plastic brick press to help combat the world's plastic problem. The team were great and I would definitely recommend this site.

How can this program be improved?
The program was pretty new when I volunteered. The one thing inbound change would be more conservation such as talks from mycat etc. Otherwise it was great.
Yes, I recommend
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Harry
10/10

Absolutely incredible experience!! A must do!!!

I was travelling for 7 months and participated in quite a few volunteering programmes, none however quite match the potential and impact of this this one!

The week i spent with the team in Merapoh was awesome. They were all great to work along side and as it was their first week in this new location it was great to see things getting started. It showed me how much potential, and how much good the work they are doing there has and will continue to have on the local Batik community and wildlife in the area.

The area itself is absolutely breathtaking! Coupled with the hugely diverse list of activities we did during the week and you have yourself a life changing experience.

Whether we were hiking through the rain forest and camping out under the stars or climbing our way through caves and battling over waterfalls, there really was no end to the beauty and diversity the area has to offer.

Our time spend with the local community was very particularly special. Watching this bond develop between the local Batik community and the team there was very encouraging. It great to see how much of a difference these sessions had on the kids. However, it was not only the kids that benefited from the sessions with the teams. As many of the adults there had very little or no interaction with outsiders before it was nice to see them getting involved with the activities. We played a game of football with them, and its safe to say that we didn't stand a chance against some of these wannabe professional players. I would have loved to stay longer to have seen these relationships develop.

On our last night we had a picnic ontop of a peak overlooking the whole area. Safe to say that the view could bring a tear anyones eye.

And the food was to die for! We had a home cooked meal prepared for us by some local Malay women and ate with their family which was an experience in itself.

I could literally talk for hours and write paragraph after paragraph about the Tiger Conservation and Trekking Programme but if you don't go and experience it for yourself then you really are missing out.
Go and give it a go! I promise you will not regret it!

I want to send a huge thanks to the team out there! You really made my week (which was way to short) the most incredible week of my whole 7 months travelling. Thank you. :)

Yes, I recommend
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Dennis
7/10

Great experience

We had a great time trekking through the jungle (I was part of the Elephant crew:)

Learnt a lot as well as re-connecting with nature

And nature (well, the leeches) re-connected with me too - but as I'm a believer in the health benefits of "bleeding", i just let them do their thing and get their fill

They drop off after a while ...

How can this program be improved?
More camp preparation activities including making things like jungle latrines, waste management systems, clothes drying huts (it rained a lot:) and even ramps down to the river

Makes camp more comfortable and people more involved
Yes, I recommend

Questions & Answers

Minimum age is 16 years

Interviews

Meet the Staff

About Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures

Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures is a travel company with a bite!

Our team are all experienced and passionate, with two of our project staff currently studying for their PhD and a third planning to. Our business model utilizes revenue generated from...