Rainforest Journal

Rainforest Info, Images, and Adventures.

Bukit Seraya Lookout Point


The Bukit Seraya (Seraya Hill) Lookout Point is situated approximately halfway on the 14 km jeep track/road between Sungai Relau and Kuala Juram, in Taman Negara. It is one of the many hills that the road crosses along the way. There is a concrete tower built on the summit of the hill beside the road, and you have to first climb a flight of steps to reach the top of the hill and then onwards to the top of the tower, which is 3 stories high.

From the top level of the lookout tower, the view is splendid. You get clear views of the hills and mountains of the western side of Taman Negara in Pahang, and also good views of the nearby forest and tree crowns, with big seraya trees (Shorea curtisii) being the most common and conspicuous emergent tree in the surrounding  hill dipterocarp forest. On a clear day, you can see Gunung Tahan in the distance; basically a large part of the Tahan range.

The way to the lookout point crosses a couple of small rivers, namely the Sungai Cheruai and Sungai Anak Cheruai. Fit people may choose to walk all the way to the lookout point from Sungai Relau, but it’s a tough walk, especially since the road is mostly exposed to the hot sun all the way through while it goes up and down hilly terrain; hiring a 4WD from the headquarters is the preferable way to get there.

Road to Kuala Juram

The 14 km road to Kuala Juram.

Hazy conditions

On more than a few occasions that I’ve been up there, photographic conditions were less than ideal. This was the case that day, as Malaysia was experiencing haze from numerous open burning sites within and without Malaysia. Not really an annual “feature”20-30 years ago, unfortunately, haze is now an annual occurrence in South East Asia, mainly caused by open burning in Indonesia, and to a lesser extent, within the country itself. Rubbish, oil palm debris, and vegetation from land/forest clearance are some of the things frequently burnt in the open, and all that smoke lingers in the air.

Bukit Seraya view

On a clear day, Gunung Tahan can be seen in the background, behind the nearer peaks and ridges.

Hill dipterocarp forest

The splendid virgin hill dipterocarp forest surrounding the tower, with big, emergent Seraya trees (Shorea curtisii).

Seraya trees

Due to poor soil conditions, the canopy here is not very tall, but the trees are fairly big, all the same.

Bukit Seraya panorama

Great views of the lowland and hill forest, can be had from here, although there was a haze when I took this photo.

Shorea curtisii with new leaves

Many of the Seraya trees here appear to have a coat of new yellow leaves. These are not flowers, although they look like flowers from afar.

Hornbill nesting hole

This hole looks like it was used previously as a hornbill nesting site. The female is sealed inside a hollow trunk or branch by the male, where she lays her eggs and raises the young, while being fed by the male.

Tropical acorns

A flowering species of Lithocarpus or tropical acorn, which commonly grows on hills and ridges in Malaysian forests. The acorns look like spinning tops and they can actually spin like them.

Bukit Seraya lookout tower

The 3 storey lookout tower at Bukit Seraya.

I’m not sure if the negative effects of the haze on the rainforest ecosystem have ever been studied before (but I suspect it does). Certain small plant species may get affected by the diminished light and the presence of smoke particles in the air. The understory of the forest will receive less light due to the haze, and some small plants or tree saplings may even die out if they don’t get enough light. This in turn can affect some small sized sensitive life-forms from up in the canopy all the way down to the forest floor. Remember, the rainforest is one giant, complex ecosystem, and any part that is affected negatively will sooner or later affect the other parts of the ecosystem.

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