LIKE THE ICONIC STONES clustered on the grassy plains of far-away England, Karangan’s huge megalithicrocks are unique in the Sarawak landscape. These bare rock pinnacles protrude 20 meters above a 200 meter high, forested ridge between Bako National Park and mouth of the Sarawak River at Muara Tebas.
Like the rocks at Stonehenge, the origins of the Karangan Rocks are subject to much speculation. Recently a number of jungle trekking groups guided by a local pepper farmer, familiar with the area, explored the slopes and multiple summits of Karangan, looking for clues to how the rocks were formed. They discovered underground passage-ways through the rocks and reached some of the 200 meter high rock summits where their efforts were rewarded by panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, rivers, valleys and islands.
GETTING THERE AND BACK!
Direction from Kuching: Muara Tebas, Kpg Selabat then Kpg Karangan.
Parking: Be mindful not to block the narrow road. Best to ask villagers as they maintain the trails and also fixed some ropes that facilitate climbing up to the rock summits.
How long:It takes one hour of relatively steep jungle trekking to reach the summit rocks. It is recommended that you ask the people at Kpg Karangan for the best way up to the rocks and their summits.
Be prepared: Good hiking shoes, lots of drinking water, a hat and a camera as the views from the top are fantastic.
Warning: The trail from Kpg. Karangan is shortest and easiest to follow to get to the rocks. Trekking to the rocks from Kpg. Selabat is not recommended as the trail is difficult to follow and the distance is longer.
Hans Hazebroek, a Kuching-based geologist and Malaysian Nature Society member, explained that sediments accumulated on ancient sea bottom formed thick sandstone. These were later fractured and thrust up to the surface by tectonic and volcanic forces. These fractured sandstone formations make up the mountain ridges of Bako National Park. Uplifting forces cracked the rock and subsequent erosion over geological time, widened the cracks, forming Karangan’s Pinnacles that we see today.
It is hoped that someday soon these unique Karangan rock formations will be annexed to Bako National Park where they will enjoy the protection and conservation status they deserve.
Jay Blakeney, a Retired Canadian Forest Engineer and avid outdoorsman, describes the historic isolation of Borneo’s far western corner from the rest of Sarawak, and the scenic attractions that await travellers there.